Books Reviews

What I’m Reading In August (2018)

It’s almost been a year since I did a ‘What I’m Reading post’ but I’m bringing it back primarily to keep track of the books I’m reading for the eventual backlog of book reviews In sha Allah. There are a few second reads included in the list as well.

Daring Greatly – How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown (Status: Finished)

Blurb: Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision in Daring Greatly, the #1 New York Times Bestseller and TED talk hit that encourages us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly and courageously. Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative, or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable.

Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect. But in a powerful new vision Dr. Brené Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that vulnerability is in fact a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.

Daring Greatly is the culmination of 12 years of groundbreaking social research, across the home, relationships, work, and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees.

You can read my book review here.

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Status: Finished)

Blurb: In this dazzling debut novel, four young brothers in a small Nigerian town encounter a madman, whose prophecy of violence threatens the core of their family.  Told from the point of view of nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, The Fishermen is the Cain and Abel-esque story of an unforgettable childhood in 1990s Nigeria. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his extended absence to skip school and go fishing.

At the forbidden nearby river they encounter a madman, who predicts that one of the brothers will kill another. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact – both tragic and redemptive – will transcend the lives and imaginations of both its characters and its readers. Chigozie Obioma emerges as one of the best new voices of modern African literature, echoing its older generation’s masterful storytelling with a contemporary fearlessness and purpose.

You can read my book review here.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Status: Midway)

Blurb: Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can’t name and don’t understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we’re embarrassed. That fact is whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. The introvert/extrovert divide is the most fundamental dimension of personality. And at least a third of us are on the introverted side. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity and Van Gogh’s sunflowers.Yet extroverts have taken over. Shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negative. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are.

In Quiet, Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She gives introverts the tools to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with real stories, Quiet will permanently change how we see introverts – and how you see yourself.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin (Status: Two Chapters In)

Blurb: To the dismay of her ambitious mother, Bolanle marries into a polygamous family, where she is the fourth wife of a rich, rotund patriarch, Baba Segi. She is a graduate and therefore a great prize, but even graduates must produce children and her husband’s persistent bellyache is a sign that things are not as they should be. Bolanle is too educated for the ‘white garment conmen’ Baba Segi would usually go to for fertility advice, so he takes her to hospital to discover the cause of her barrenness.

Weaving the voices of Baba Segi and his four competing wives into a portrait of a clamorous household of twelve, Lola Shoneyin evokes an extraordinary Nigerian family in splashes of vibrant colour.

The Empathy Instinct: How To Create A More Civil Society by Paul Bazalgette (Status: Quarter)

Blurb: Empathy is the power of understanding others, imaginatively entering into their feelings. It is a fundamental human attribute, without which mutually co-operative societies cannot function. In a revolutionary development, we now know who has it, who lacks it and why. Via the MRI scanner we are mapping the human brain. This is a new frontier that reveals a host of beneficial ideas for childcare, teens challenged by the internet, the justice system, decent healthcare, tackling racism and resolving conflicts.

In this wide-ranging and accessible book full of entertaining stories that are underlined by the latest scientific research, Peter Bazalgette also mounts a passionate defence of arts and popular culture as a means of bridging the empathy gap.

As the world’s population expands, consuming the planet’s finite resources, as people haunted by poverty and war are on the move and as digital communications infinitely complicate our social interactions, we find our patience and our sympathy constantly challenged. Here is the antidote. Culminating in a passionate manifesto on empathy, The Empathy Instinct is what makes us human and what can make us better humans.

Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday (Status: Midway)

Blurb: It’s wrecked the careers of promising young geniuses. It’s evaporated great fortunes and run companies into the ground. It’s made adversity unbearable and turned struggle into shame. Every great philosopher has warned against it, in our most lasting stories and countless works of art, in all culture and all ages. Its name? Ego, and it is the enemy – of ambition, of success and of resilience.

In Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday shows us how and why ego is such a powerful internal opponent to be guarded against at all stages of our careers and lives, and that we can only create our best work when we identify, acknowledge and disarm its dangers. Drawing on an array of inspiring characters and narratives from literature, philosophy and history, the book explores the nature and dangers of ego to illustrate how you can be humble in your aspirations, gracious in your success and resilient in your failures.

The result is an inspiring and timely reminder that humility and confidence are our greatest friends when confronting the challenges of a culture that tends to fan the flames of ego, a book full of themes and life lessons that will resonate, uplift and inspire.

 

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