Tag - books

I read a book: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of biographies to begin with, so I knew I’d really enjoy this book. And enjoy I did. This crazy roller-coaster tale of the life of Steve Jobs grabbed me from the first chapter and the only thing that prevented me from finishing this faster was the sheer size of the book. It was too large for me to lug around when I left the house.

(I’d have purchased the Nook version, but I was appalled that the actual hardcover only cost me $5 more than buying the pixels.)

Steve Jobs’s accomplishments are well-known. He was the creative mind (genius? maybe…) behind all of Apple’s successful products and a few of the not-so-great ones. He was one of the men who gave us Pixar’s beautiful and touching movies.

I knew he was impossible to please and a viscous taskmaster of a boss. What I didn’t know was how much of an ass he was.

Stubborn, spoiled and sometimes stinky, Jobs screamed, sulked and cried until he got what he wanted. He screwed over his friends, berated his employees, and blatantly favored his son over his daughters. He even purposely parked in the handicap spot at Apple rather than have his own CEO spot. As he whirled like a manic-depressive Tasmanian devil through Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond, Jobs was surrounded by the most indulgent and enabling supporting cast ever assembled. But he possessed some kind of Svengali-type power that kept these people on his side and fully participating in his distorted reality.

The author, Walter Isaacson, kept me reading and more surprisingly, CARING about this gigantic diva, even when he did things like use his wealth and connections to get a new liver sooner in Tennessee rather than wait longer on the California transplant list. Isaacson did a great job explaining what made Apple products so innovative without bogging the text down with tech talk. He also gave a nice peek into the world of the super-wealthy, a world where sitting President Bill Clinton stays in one of Jobs’s houses while he visits Chelsea at Stanford.

The appearances by another Bill, Bill Gates, were my favorite parts of the book. I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and mellow through the years.

You already know Steve’s rise began in his parent’s garage, and you know it ended prematurely in October of 2011. This book will fill you in on all of the juicy stuff in the middle.

PS: I’m a PC.

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I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh this book…this amazing book. Not only is it completely TRUE, but I think I ran through every emotion possible.

I was sad for Henrietta’s death. I was amazed at all of the progress that came as a result of her (legally taken without consent) cells. I was angry at the culture of abuse, poverty and philandering that surrounded the Lacks family. I cried like a baby when Deborah and Zakariyya looked through that microscope. I was proud of Deborah’s determination to learn about what happened to her mother and her sister. I was puzzled by the ethical questions surrounding the HeLa cells.

And then I donated money to the Henrietta Lacks Foundation because I am one of the biggest bleeding hearts you’ll ever meet.

When does research based on tissues taken without consent cross the line from noble to questionable? Is it when people and/or institutions profit from it? What if the profit is only increased prominence? I have no answers, but I’m glad that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks offered me these questions to think about.

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Onward: Grande low-fat half-caff story of how Starbucks survived and thrived

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its SoulOnward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of how Howard Schultz, once he became CEO (sorry, Howard, but I capitalize it) of Starbucks again, managed to turn around the company’s finances during the recent recession by modernizing it while remaining true to its mission. “Onward” is how he signs his memos, in case you’re curious.

I enjoy going to Starbucks, so I was predisposed to enjoy the R&D and marketing stories of the various products (Pike Place Roast, VIA, Vivanno) that I’m familiar with. One thing this book proves is that Schultz knows and loves coffee! When he writes about coffee, his words seem to leap off of the pages and take on a life of their own. Make no mistake — this is a CEO book. Victories are loudly and frequently trumpeted and defeats are quickly glossed over. There is frequent name dropping and back-patting.

Oftentimes, the narrative jumped back and forth through time. While I understand that it was to demonstrate how different projects and events came to pass, it was a bit jarring to go from Schultz being 4 months into his CEO post back in time to the meetings he had two months before he decided to take the post. Reading the transcripts from memos, meetings & earning calls grew tiresome. I work for a national corporation and once you’ve read one memo (especially the “shared sacrifice” type) you’ve read them all.

If you don’t like Starbucks, I think this book will annoy you to no end. But if you like real-life stories of corporate derring-do, pick up this grande sized read.

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