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.

Novel Reactions: Dreyer’s English

This one captured my heart from page one. It held no punches, and Benjamin Dreyer wasted no time in telling me that I should really stop using filler words in my writing. (I did that on purpose.)

This book is a great guide and refresher to the rules of writing, and I plan to reread it (maybe) once a year to make sure I don’t fall back into my bad writing habits. With that said, Dreyer’s English is a reference book that I will definitely keep within arm’s reach especially whenever I need to make a point about the usage of “lay” as opposed to “lie.” Add on to this the non-use of apostrophes for pluralizing words. Please, stop and think, people. Perhaps I can give this book as gifts to those people just to get my point across? I will need to stock up on the book though, and it isn’t that cheap…

The target audience of this book is the adult American. This book talks about rules of American English and not British English. (Yes, these are distinct.) I noticed while reading that Filipinos blend the two English languages, so if you don’t live in America, don’t feel too affected by some of the rules in this book—unless, of course, you are writing in American English then by all means, yes, please follow these rules.

All in all, this was a highly informative and entertaining read. Who said learning can’t be fun? (Correct answer is no one—learning is always fun.)

Short Bites: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” (the title story of this compilation) is about the generation(s) of Jewish Americans that grew up after the holocaust. For the most part, they’d lived generally worry-free lives, with some members of the generation eventually moving “back” from the US to Israel.

Speaking of US and Israel, this story does touch on some differences in culture between those in the US and in Israel. While those difference may exist in the details, some things, such as love and family, are universal.

Nathan Eglander spent the first part of the story creating context and building out this little world. Yes, it can get a little specific, but this story focuses on the universal things—things that anyone regardless of race and religion can relate to. While you need to know of Anne Frank and of the holocaust for context, the question asked at the end of the day is quite universal: do you trust your neighbors?