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Weekend read: 25 rules for living from a 26-year-old

I’ve chosen this weekend read not because I agree with everything it says, nor because I consider it’s author particularly well qualified to write on the subject. But Ryan Holiday’s “25 rules for living from a (semi-)successful 26-year-old” from Thought Catalog is one of those trashy list-based “articles” that, to my mind at least, falls just on the right side of provoking a bit of fairly superficial self-analysis in the reader.

I offer it as a sort of antidote to the frequently long and heavy articles I suggest as weekend reads… we all need a rest from time to time!

This 2,068th post was filed under: Weekend Reads.

2D: Working late

My last 2D feature was on being late… and this one continues the theme of “lateness”. I hope you won’t conclude that I’m obsessed!

My first recommended read on the topic is “Oh, stop your whining!” by Jean Adams on the Fuse Open Science Blog. Unlike my usual 2D selections, it’s not a long article. But Jean’s reflection on her own changing perceptions around people’s work:life balances made me reflect on my attitude.

I think, like many people, this is something I struggle with to some extent. I don’t feel I overwork (at least not very often), yet I frequently stay in the office until late into the evening or arrive early in the morning, I frequently read and respond to work emails at weekends and on holidays, and struggle to say “no” to anyone offering extra work.

I don’t expect others to do the same. In fact, one of the pleasures of catching up with work out of hours is the lack of distraction, and the fact that I can reply to emails without them bouncing straight back. If everyone did the same, it would be far less satisfying!

Occasionally, I’m given cause to reflect. I recently got annoyed at someone who, when realising I was on holiday, refused to continue an email conversation. When someone called my view of time off “abstemious” – as a compliment, I think – it played on my mind. And when I saw Jean’s post, I wondered again about my work:life balance.

I rationalised, as I always do, that if I’m happy then the balance is good. But perhaps an occasional pause for reflection on the topic is no bad thing.

My other selected article on this topic looks at working “late” from a slightly different perspective: in the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse writes “Working late, by choice or not” about those working beyond the typical retirement age in the United States.

I was particularly struck by the story of Dr Rafael Garza, who is still doing ward rounds at the age of 87… having moved to a new specialty at the age of 74. I suppose that if I’ve still got (at least) sixty years to go in my present career, I’ve got plenty of time to work out the best work:life balance…!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,067th post was filed under: 2D, , , , .

Weekend read: Dancing with black widow spiders

As someone who isn’t a fan of spiders at the best of times, this Weekend Read slightly freaked me out – yet intrigued me at the same time. Jeffrey Delviscio writes in the New York Times about being bitten by a black widow spider.

This 2,066th post was filed under: Weekend Reads, , , .

Review: Burning the Page by Jason Merkoski

Jason Merkoski was on the team at Amazon which developed the Kindle. This book gives insights into how the process of developing the Kindle felt, and gives a personal account of Merkoski’s relationship with books and his ideas of where the medium is going.

These multiple strands make the book a bit of a mishmash of genres, which (no doubt) makes marketing it somewhat tricky. Despite this, I felt that it hung together quite nicely as a whole, though it is undeniable that it reads a little more like a flowing conversation than a planned essay.

Merkoski’s passion for books shines through this volume – not least because of the anecdotes he relates about the difficulties of coping with the number of books he owns. Given his love of books, I was surprised by his level of excitement about a future in which books have changed to the degree that they no longer contain the written word. In the medium-term, he imagines books which are intercut with short movies and games – not so far from what we seen on the iPad today. This fills me with dread, because it seems to me that this limits the reader’s imagination.

Yet, despite my reluctance, I can see that his prediction is probably accurate. Blockbuster books already often have filmed “trailers”. Games with written stories and intercut scenes (e.g. the Professor Layton series) are enormously popular. Convergence between formats can surely only become more common.

And his long-term predictions are still more frightening. With strong overtones of sci-fi, he suggests that authors’ imaginations will be “downloaded” into readers’ minds. Again, despite my personal reluctance, it’s hard to disagree that more efficient communication of ideas is likely to be the direction of travel.

The anecdotes about working on the Kindle project which are intercut into the story gave a little insight into the project, and were described with passion and enthusiasm yet were not overdone. They provided a valuable grounding to offset the flights of futurology, and I think the combination worked rather well.

I should point out that the book includes interactive “bookmarks”, which are conversation-starters linked to Jason’s website. Because I read this book pre-publication, I didn’t use these, so can’t comment on how well they really worked. The questions posed often provided food for thought, regardless of the fact that I didn’t discuss them with others online.

All-in-all, this was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read for a little while. It may be hard to categorise or capture in a nutshell, but it was nonetheless thought-provoking and engaging. I’d certainly recommend it.


Burning the Page is available now from amazon.co.uk, in paperback and on Kindle.

This 2,065th post was filed under: Book Reviews, .


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