Dharma Bums had been recommended by numerous friends while I was living on the road. The friend I was visiting in England had it on his bookshelf, so I started the books journey while abroad, borrowing a copy from the library upon returning home.
My Review: One Thumb Down, One Thumb Up
Perhaps I needed to read this book earlier in life as it simply did not resonate with me. The writing style of Kerouak was all right, but the plot just seemed to be meandering, as these young boys were living on the road and having these adventures to discover themselves. Even though I had just been living on the road, I just simply couldn’t relate with the characters as our journeys were anything but similar. Though we were both living this simplistic life and enjoying nature, I didn’t feel like I was meandering.
I read only ½ the book, trying to force myself to grudge through the remaining pages due to friend recommendations. Yet, I caught myself simply not reading and figured I should spend my time elsewhere. Perhaps the book got better with each page, but after spending 1/2 the book being anything but captivated, it was time to move on.
A funny story though…. I went out bouldering one day with a friend and randomly asked him what book he was currently reading as I am always looking for book suggestions. He told me he had been reading a book, but wasn’t liking it, so was in the process of finding a new title. I inquired which book he hadn’t completed and it was ironically Dharma Bums. =)
Have your read this book? If so, what are your thoughts?
Water for Elephants is a novel about a traveling circus during The Great Depression that incorporates a handful of rumored-to-be-true stories Gruen unearthed in her research.
My Review: Two Thumbs Up
The book seems to be either loved or hated in the review forums I have visited. I personally loved it, finding it to be an enjoyable book I couldn’t put down. Disapproval of the book is usually based around two points: the discussion of ill treatment of humans and animals and the inclusion of some sexuality. As a novel (and not knowing any of the facts Gruen had discovered in her research), I found it to be well written, jumping back and forth between the main character’s life memories. I would highly suggest it.
Have your read this book? If so, please feel free to post up your review.
I’d been meaning to read the book The Last Lecture for the past few months, finally finding the time to do so on my trip.
Book: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
Review: The last lecture was written by a well known virtual reality Carnegie Mellon professor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the young age of 46. In preparation of his looming death he presented his last lecture about the lessons he learned in life as a memento for his children. The last lecture was given on September 18, 2007 and Randy passed away on July 25, 2008.
I read the book and watched the below video. Having the actual book made for easy reference, but watching the video integrated the emotional, personal element to the discussed topics.
I had a whole handful of favorite points, but decided to only write about the main focus of the lecture here on the CragBaby blog. (I will soon be posting some other thoughts, more business related, on the Wasatch Girl blog).
The lecture’s main topic was Really Achieving One’s Childhood Dreams. Randy’s very first slide listed his childhood dreams with the rest of the slides augmenting how they were completed (or sometimes not completed) and ways to go about turning these dreams to reality (including such topics as being honest and educating oneself for the position desired, etc.) Randy’s goals consisted of the following:
Being in Zero Gravity – Completed this through an academia project, but creatively thought of a way to be included
Playing in the NFL – Didn’t achieve, but professed to learn more by never actually making it
Authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia – Completed. He was asked to write this article and can be found in the Virtual Reality Section.
Being Capital Kirk – Never WAS Captain Kirk, but he met Captian Kirk
Winning Stuff Animals – Completed
Being a Disney Imagineer – Completed
His dreams were an impressive list and made me contemplate my life goals. It actually seemed easy for me to rattle off my life goals as they haven’t changed much in the past years, but putting them in writing is always a good exercise. My goals and updates would be the following:
Feel successful in my career – It is real important for ME to feel successful in my career, NOT to be a partner of someone who is successful. I want to feel like I personally can find a niche in my career. So far I I have been quite fortunate to have my first job being in the venture capital industry and a position that I truly love. However, I have a long ways to go before feeling like my work is of up most importance and directly tied to a company’s / firm’s progress.
Live Overseas – I would really like to achieve this goal this year. I would love to live in Europe, preferably France, Spain, Italy or Switzerland. However, I would also enjoy living in New Zealand or Hong Kong.
Be able to fluently speak three languages – Currently I only speak English. =) Language seems to be real difficult for me to grasp as I have studied French and Italian in the past and feel like my little brain doesn’t retain. However, for the past 3 weeks I have been actively studying French again. In fact, you readers will soon see some elementary French blog posts in the near future.
Continue to travel to a new destination annually – so far, so good.
Complete a Master’s degree at a well respected school – I have not yet started into a master’s program because I feel like the appropriate timing for this will be in a couple years after I have another job under my belt. Getting into a school of choice is a whole different issue. =) I would love to go to a well respected school for the sole reason that I am simply a girl from the rural town of Helper, Utah. Everything I have is a direct result from my work and determination and nothing to do with my family or their financial affairs… and I just want to see if I could work my way into a good school. =)
Be involved with humanitarian efforts – This is actually a real important goal to me, but I haven’t done anything to even work towards it, besides volunteering at home. At home I volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages (a fair trade organization) and donated platelets as often as I could (which were used in the local cancer hospitals). However, I would ideally like to be more directly involved with UN affiliated programs or am actually real interested in Micro Finance Institutions such as Unitus and Kiva. In fact, a move to the micro-financial realm would actually make sense career-wise for me.
It’s interesting to actually write out these goals as doing such resulted in two take-aways for me.
A couple goals that are of up-most importance to me, I have either not even started to work towards or have just recently started. Why I am procrastinating?
My hobby of climbing, where I spend incredible amounts of time, is no where near my list of goals. Huh. It seems to be more of a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy, but not what I find to be important in life. Perhaps I should soon tone down my time devotion in this area?
I would highly recommend reading or watching the Last Lecture. And if you do, please let me know your thoughts. Did you like it? What were your favorite topics? Why? Or, even if you don’t read the book, I would love to hear your life goals and the status of each.
I recently read the below two books and wanted to share the reviews here on my personal blog. I am currently looking for a new book to read and would gladly welcome suggestions.
Book: Bringing Down the House Author: Ben Mezrich Plot: Based on the true account of the MIT students who became proficient card counters, winning millions of dollars from Vegas casinos. The book retells the story of one specific student from his learning curve, to his numerous wins and through the completion of his gambling career. My Review: Excellent read that is impossible to put down once started, except of course to pick up some poker chips and a deck of cards.
Book: There Are No Children Here Author: Alex Kotlowitz Plot: A novel based on the real lives of two young brothers growing up in the Chicago projects. My Review: A somber tale that fully describes class division and the seemingly inescapable trap that has been created by the current state of subsidized housing. Fantastic read that leaves one moved to try to find a solution to this problem.
My good friend Sam suggested I read The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck. It was based around the character Ethan Hawley and his pursuit to regain the riches his family once held. In order to do so he sacrifices his morals that in the end leads him further down a road of unhappiness. As I was reading the book I was somehow often taken by surprise at pivotal events, resulting in me re-reading a couple of the sections to ensure I was thoroughly understanding the plot course. Perhaps it was due to the busy holiday season when I was attempting to read the novel and the span of time between picking up the book. Or perhaps I just overlooked some foreshadowing. Steinbeck had mentioned that the book addressed the degeneration of morals in the book, so looking back perhaps the purpose was to show the domino effect of small moral sacrifices and the possible huge end result. Overall an interesting read.
Within the last couple weeks I completed The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. I was EXTREMELY grateful when the last page was turned as I was utterly engrossed in the book, resulting in all other areas of my life, especially my homework, to suffer. The novel was written around the the biblical character Isaac and his lineage, focusing mostly on Jacob and his family. It was written from the perspective of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, augmenting the brief biblical tale with a robust story. The book was very well composed and a fantastic read.
I recently completed The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho. In the book there was a quote I thoroughly enjoyed and thought I would share on this blog. At this point of the story, the main character Elijah (as from the Christian Bible) is traveling and meets up with a farmer who allows him to stay for a couple of days. The farmer states:
“I have long seen people passing through here on their way to Sidon and Tyre. Some of them complained that they had not achieved anything in Akbar and were setting out for a new destiny.
One day these people would return. They had not found what they were seeking, for they carried with them, along with their bags, the weight of the earlier failure. A few returned with a government position, or with the joy of having given their children a better life, but nothing more. Their past in Akbar had left them fearful, and they lacked the confidence in themselves to take risks.
On the other hand, there also passed my door people full of ardor. They had profited from every moment of life in Akbar and through great effort had accumulated the money for their journey. To these people, life was a constant triumph and would go on being one.
These people also returned, but with wonderful tales to tell. They had achieved everything they desired because they were not limited by the frustrations of the past.”
I loved this quote as I believe Coelho nailed it on the head that our level of happiness is a result of our outlook on life and willingness to create success in each place we inhabit.