Novel Reactions: kaddish.com

After the first few chapters of kaddish.com, I did not know how to feel. I’d expected the book to tell the story of Larry’s misadventures over the 11-month mourning period for his father. So after the first part ended, and Larry came home, and that was that, I’d felt short-changed. I couldn’t make sense of it. Suddenly, Larry was Reb Shuli, teaching at the school. How? His (re)conversion from atheism felt rushed. What? Like it’s hard to convert your heart?

Eh, anyway, I read on. I’ve always been a fan of Nathan Englander’s writing, and I began to think that perhaps it may have been too easy or predictable for the story to have only been set over that period of time. Of course. We needed to make it all the way to a midlife crisis and see that some actions do have lasting consequences. And we needed to make up for our mistakes. What lengths do we go to make amends, and when do we call it a day?

Only remember, … if you don’t find what you need over there, in this life it’s permissible to forgive oneself too.

Nathan Englander, kaddish.com

No need to answer. I’ll just leave that here. Also, I haven’t come across a quote I liked that much in a while. I needed that.

Although the synopsis on the book jacket was a little misleading (i.e. the story was not about the 11-month mourning period, but then again, who told me it would be anyway?), the rest of the story flowed well. I liked the story. It was also funny in a different way… in an ‘omg no, don’t do that!’ kind of way. Man, what a character.

Novel Reactions: Magpie Murders

It’s been more than a month since I last finished a book. I’ve been swamped with work and (re)socialization that I’d always been too tired to commit to a book. The past week, however, I’d been (sick and) stuck at home with nothing better to do but read (Netflix/the computer screen slowed down my recovery), so I dug up Magpie Murders from my box of unread books. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure if I would even be able to finish the book:

  1. I had never been interested in reading whodunnits (please don’t ask why I have the book); and
  2. The book was two inches thick, and I didn’t know if I could commit.

Surprisingly, I had made good progress after one day of reading. By the end of day two, I was a little more than halfway through Magpie Murders that I knew I could finish the book. I picked up the book again over the weekend and basically inhaled the second half of the book. I was pleasantly surprised at myself.

Then again, the pleasantries end there. It might be because I simply am still not interested in whodunnits, but I felt just okay with the book after I’d finished with it. Yes, I sped through it, but I didn’t fall in love with it. Thinking about it that way, I am a little disappointed because I have another murder mystery (The Word is Murder) in my tbr, and now I am somewhat less excited to read it. I have to say, though, Magpie Murders was easy to keep picking back up, unlike other books that my mood reader self has not had the energy to finish lately. It was a great book to read after my unintended hiatus, and I feel a little better knowing that Anthony Horowitz also wrote The Word is Murder; I’ll at least be able to finish that book, for sure.

Now I’m thinking that maybe I just need to give whodunnits another chance. Perhaps, but not so soon. I’ll pick up The Word is Murder in due time. For now, no real complaints; I’d just prefer to read something different afterwards is all.

Short Bites: Peep Show

Another story in Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, “Peep Show” takes us on a reflective journey.

In a weak and impulsive moment, a man takes a detour into a strip club. He knows he shouldn’t, but, heck, we are all entitled to make our own mistakes, so let him God. The man buys five tokens even if he’d only intended to see one show. Right. Well, I don’t think the main character enjoyed the four other peep shows that followed, but I did.

As always, Nathan Englander provides us with a lot of detail that it’s easy to visualize the story, the peep show. The first one wasn’t very surprising, and I was wondering what on earth I was getting myself into, but then the four others that followed were out of this world, and I needed to see how it ended. I’m not sure I would ever want my own peep show, but from an outsider’s point of view, that was one hell of a show. I can appreciate.

Novel Reactions: INSPIRED

I learned a lot from Marty Cagan’s INSPIRED. Now that I’ve joined the Product side, I could actually relate to a lot of the things mentioned in the book. The book isn’t just for startups; INSPIRED also covers issues faced in larger companies. But if you’re not a product manager or not a product enthusiast, this book won’t work for you. This book is very specific to the job, for which reason INSPIRED has been so successful and helpful to its target audience.

Manage your expectations: although the book’s subtitle is “how to create tech products customers love,” INSPIRED focuses more on how to build a great product team and how to foster an innovative culture. Ideally, this would serve as a foundation for product managers to lead their teams to create great products, but for anyone looking for a how-to manual or direct instructions, try something else. (In Chapter 58, Marty Cagan mentions Sprint, which I’d already planned to read sometime after anyway.)

Great foundation. I would recommend to aspiring or current product managers in tech companies, startup or not.

Reading as an Extrovert

Reading is probably one of the most classic pastimes for introverts.

Introverts recharge by spending quality time on their own, and reading is a great way to pass the time. It is probably also quite calming for people; it’s nice and quiet, with no need to engage in the chaotic world that we all live in.

Except that I’m an extrovert. I recharge by meeting up with people and chatting them up. I can be loud and obnoxious, and just the right amount of social interaction can keep me going all day or night, minimal drinks required. If you ask me whether reading relaxes me, the answer is it does not. I won’t even try to read after a long day at work because I would feel more drained than I had just been. It would then be as if reading became a chore, and I would get all worked up because why do I have so many books to read anyway? What was I thinking?

Oh, yes, now I remember: I love to read—only I read when I’m already relaxed. I do not read when I am rattled because solitude does not calm nor recharge me one bit. I am a morning person, and I feel at my best while the sun is out. I feel calm when I wake up to the morning sunshine, so I read while I eat breakfast and drink coffee. I read before I face the challenges of the day, even if it is only for thirty minutes, because it is such a joy to read, and I will make sure it stays that way for me.

If I’m tired, I actually look forward to talking to people and telling them about my day, in person or in social media. I need the interaction. Not surprisingly, I’m reading at a slower pace than I was a few months ago. I was on vacation then. I’m not too bothered by the change of (reading) pace though because I’d rather have a pleasant time reading than get burnt out doing so.

Extroverts need to recharge, too—just in a seemingly counterintuitive way.