Sunday, January 22, 2012

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson

I am not sure exactly why I put "Steve Jobs" on my wish list of reading but I did.  When I received my Nook at Christmas it became the first book I bought. Not the first I downloaded but the first one that wasn't free.

Walter Isaacson wasn't particularly receptive to Steve's pitch to write his biography in the beginning.  He is well known for his biographies of Einstein, Kissinger, and Benjamin Franklin.  Was Steve Jobs looking to be accepted in that group of men by approaching Isaacson, or was he simply looking for a biographer that could do his story honestly and with integrity?  Isaacson gives Steve the final word ("and one more thing...") in the book which I think best answers the question.  Steve's biography is an authorized, no holds barred book, and is a legacy to who he was.  Isaacson agreed to write the biography and Steve's terms were that he was to interview everyone, friend or foe, and write the truth.  Steve would have no control over content and even suggested Isaacson interview people he knew would only have unkind things to say about him. His only control over the book became the cover photo.

I found the story very intriguing from Steve's young life through his young death at age 56. The book starts off with a list of characters, the key players in the story, that encompasses several pages.  I read through them not even considering committing them to memory.  In the course of the book, the ones that became more memorable to me than others were the people of his personal life.

My perception of Steve is someone very narcissistic.  He demanded complete control over everything and was not a man to use social niceties or even common courtesy to make his point.  In business that may be one thing, but I was so astounded how anyone can bring it to their entire world.  In deed many of his personal relationships were strained and/or estranged because of his manner.  I highly respect the people who could work within the scope of his personality and make it work.

Much of the story centers around the Apple company, of course, since it is Steve's legacy and what he is known for.  Like Steve, his company demands full control, which is why Apple products don't work with other products.  I'm still a bit mystified that we have iTunes available to PCs after reading the book.  In the end I am not sure whether to hate Apple or love Apple.  One integrated product controlled from source to end user seems to make sense and definitely has become a superior product.  But I am not sure how I feel about how some things came about.  Although the products are indisputably good, is it good that there seems to be little or no competition in areas such as the iTunes store?

Although Steve refers to any other products as "shitty" and "crap," there are other products that can compete with Apple, although they are continually losing market share to Apple as Apple integrates all it's products in seeming perfect synchronization.

I don't feel I can adequately comment on Steve's personal business style (if you can call it that).  But I am left to wonder, based on Apple's own history, if the company can continue to maintain such a complete control on product design and development.  Through all phases I felt Steve had to constantly demand things done his way to his standards. Although there are others at Apple who appreciate that, I am not sure it's a culture that can be maintained without him.  His way is great products before profit which is not the common way of thinking in our world.  Can his genius be carried on without him?

Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner

Over the Moon at the Big Lizard Diner
by Lisa Wingate

As I was catching up on my reviews a few days ago I felt I had more to write about and sure enough, I found another book I had read without taking time to review it.  I think this may be the last of the missing reviews, but I could be wrong.

I've read Lisa Wingate before, Tending Roses, and was just so-so about the book.  But I was willing to give her another try when I saw this book at the Cincinnati Public Library book sale.  I'm glad I did.  It's a light read, chic lit to be sure, with a mystery to be solved.  I love this kind of story that requires little brain power on my part but keeps me entertained.

Lindsey Attwood is a paleontologist and a single mom. She accepts an assignment on a ranch to find out who has stolen some ancient artifacts.  She is soon involved with an outlaw humongous white dog, a horse that hates her and a very attractive rancher. Of course there is romance and misunderstandings to conquer. 

I will be more than happy to read another of Ms. Wingate's novels.  Of course my reading list in the meantime has continued growing and growing so it may be a while before I get to read her again.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Devil in Pew Number Seven

The Devil in Pew Number Seven
by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

My first "borrowed" Nook book!

I felt a little pressured to read this book in a hurry because my understanding of "borrowing" electronic books is that they disappear after a set amount of time.  Perhaps I needn't have worried as this one seems to still hanging out on my Nook, although it's number is "0."

Somehow this book wasn't quite what I expected it to be and yet I don't know why I expected anything different.  A pious young man and his wife and children are invited to evangelize in Sellerstown, NC where they are then encouraged to stay and share their ministry through a church in need of a new minster.  They become beloved to their new community by all but their nearest neighbor who begins a campaign of terror to try to drive them out. 

Tactics to scare the Nichols out of town include bombing and dynamiting very near their home and shooting at the house, into the children's bedrooms under the cover of darkness.  FBI and ATF people are called in but are unable to stop the attacks. The Nichols family stays on as Mr. Nichols is willing to give his life for Jesus and not be run out of a town that supports him.

Not surprisingly, disaster does come to the Nichols family, although not from the source I expected. But the effect of the event is magnified even more by the years of mental torture the family had been under, making it even harder to bear and recover.

More than anything the message of this story is forgiveness.  The unwavering theme throughout was the ability of this family to forgive the horrible actions against them, and continue to pray for the man who perpetrated them.  The final chapter of the book became "preachy" to some extent, but still was necessary to explain why the author, Nichols daughter Rebecca, forgives as she does and continues to believe in a loving God. 

I found it hard to keep reading of the terror this family with it's young children were going through when they were so unwilling to leave.  I kept thinking of the story of the man sitting on the roof of his house during  flood.  A man came by in a canoe to rescue him, another in a motorboat, and a third in a helicopter.  To each he said, "No thank you, God will save me!"  He eventually was swept away in the flood and drowned. When he got to heaven and asked God why he didn't save him, God answered, "I sent you a canoe, a motorboat and a helicopter.  What more did you want?"  Likewise, could this family not have devised a way to minister to this community and done something more to ensure their own safety?

A very sad story, to be sure.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pretty In Plaid

Pretty in Plaid
by Jen Lancaster

It's been a couple three or four months since I actually finished this memoir and I have to beg off doing a very detailed review. 

Growing up Jen always had a good idea of who she is and her importance in the world.  Whether she was the most popular kid in class or just thought she was, she always moved ahead with the self assurance that she was destined for greatness.  She writes about herself and her experiences candidly and humorously.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Woman in Red

Woman in Red
by Eileen Goudge

I'm a bit behind on blogging my reviews of books I've read and therefore I doubt I can do them justice, based on my short memory.

Note to self:  write review before starting next book!

Woman in Red tells the story of a woman released from prison and trying to resume her life in a small town on an island in Washington.  Nothing is the same when she returns to her home town.  She's now divorced, her son is reluctant to be with her and effort is being made by some citizens to force her to leave.  She becomes friends with a man who comes to the island to take over his grandfather's estate, the home of the artist of the mysterious painting of the woman in red.

The story is told in the past and the present.  The grandfather, and the woman's grandmother (who is the woman portrayed in the painting) resided on the island during the war.  Despite the remoteness of the island it did not remain untouched by the fears and hatred of the distant war.  Times were hard and for some, even harder when the war was over.

A story of unrequited love tenderly unfolds that lasts throughout the lifetimes unfulfilled.  As a reader I was anxious for the present day couple to discover it and in the end, wanted the story to go on just a bit longer to read of their reactions.

I lived for a short period of time in the islands that this story is placed in.  Most of the details were fictionalized as was the island and the town.  The start of the ferry route to the island was real, however as was a particular book store mentioned.  But the women's prison and it's location were fictionalized.  For some reason I found these things annoying.  I would have preferred all fictionalized locations or all real.  But that's just me.