• Books

    Flash Boys by Michael Lewis

    I first heard about this book when Lewis was interviewed on “The Daily Show.” I was intrigued right away because the story centers around a Canadian trader and banker. This book was a bestseller in Canada as well. The concept of the book interested me, and even more so when I heard that it might have been optioned for a movie. In the Sony email leaks scandal, it was revealed that Aaron Sorkin dismissed the idea of writing the script even though he’d been already paid for it. One of the reasons was that there weren’t many leading Asian actors. I was not a huge fan of Sorkin’s work before, but knowing that about him really irked me.

    I think this book would make a nice movie. Better than The Social Network or the upcoming Jobs movie any way. I feel this is a serious topic of exploring the American and global financial markets. Furthermore, Lewis has written about a literal cast of characters.

    Over the last few years, I have read more non-fiction than ever. I have been exposed to many journalist-authors such as Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Pollan, and now Lewis. Most of these non-fiction writers capture audience by bringing in standard fictional narratives emphasizing real people. I feel Lewis is one of the best I’ve read in awhile in terms of using that technique. He also explains things using “You.”

    As I get older, I have been reading more non-fiction and I’ve began to deconstructing the style and prose. I found a lot of this story had an element of Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey with Brad and his colleagues being the heroes. Another technique is the very faint personality of Lewis that comes through. Just a tiny little bit (more than Gladwell, but less than Pollan).

    All that is to say, I really enjoyed this book. It really was like reading a novel. I will preface it to say that I have taken Economics courses and even went to a school with a strong Econ background (though I never Majored in it). I was never great at Econ or Finance, but I probably have more than the average layman’s understanding and interest in the global markets. Some of the technical stuff would not be interesting to most readers; however, I think the background and personality of the people involved can draw people in. I became interested in these people who became like characters in a novel.

    I would not necessarily reread this work, but I enjoyed myself and learned a number of things about High Frequency Trading so it delivered on that. I guess the movie will never be made. Oh well. For more on this adaptation that won’t happen, this blog post on Fiction Diversity covers my feelings.

    Read July 19-23, 2015.

  • Books

    Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

    In all the Kingsolver books, the setting and natural landscape become a secondary or even central character. The protagonists also have an interesting relationship with their environment through various interactions. It can be with a political or environment aspect, but it is often a very spiritual and transformative journey for the protagonist.

    The beginning of this novel was a bit difficult to read. Cosima aka Codi, the protagonist, was depressed and lethargic in the beginning. She has issues as we learn, but then she became more real as I read about her and in a couple of moments, relatable. Slowly, as I do with Kingsolver characters and novels, I began to be moved and touched by moments in the book. I enjoyed the romance as well; as usual, it was not the central aspect of the book, but a great touch.

    It was a lovely little novel. I enjoyed this excerpt:

    Codi here’s what I’ve decided: the very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope… What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness. Enough to eat, enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.

    All I ask is for a book to make me feel and think. I consistently do with Kingsolver’s works. I’ve read most of them now and will continue to do so.

    Read July 12, 2015.

  • Books

    The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

    Even though I am a perpetually single person, I find reading books about relationships and romance interesting from a sociological and psychological point of view.

    This is one of the most well known of relationship self-help books and I knew most of the concept of it by reading the author’s website awhile back. This book was very easy to read which is probably one of the reasons it was so popular. The book also has a very Christian
    bent which is something that I did not need. I think the themes in the book are rather universal for couples.

    I noticed some of the advise in the book came natural to me. For example, the idea that people should write their feelings at various times and places in their day as a way to help them express their feelings. As an uberintrospective person, I do this naturally, but it’s a good technique for those who are not analytical or whom assess their relationship often.

    A couple of lines from the book that I felted echoed with my own experience of relationships (romantic or otherwise: “Being sincere is not enough.” and “Love is a choice and cannot be coerced.” I think both are things that fairy tale movies do not necessarily tell you.

    Reading the book confirmed my “love language”. My rankings:

    1. Quality Time
    2. Acts of Service
    3. Words of Affirmation
    4. Physical Touch
    5. Receiving Gifts

    At first, I felt like Words would above Acts, but if I look at my own childhood, Acts is more important for me. I grew up in a culture where my parents did not verbally tell me they loved me nor would they compliment me. As I grew older, I knew and appreciated that they loved me through their acts of service.

    Overall, I think this book reaffirms what most relationship and psychology experts think is the best way of maintaining a long term relationship: kindness and generosity. The Atlantic had an article about this specifically last year. I feel like reading that article more or less was the same as reading this book.

    Read July 11, 2015.

  • Books,  Fitness,  Food,  Knitting & Crafting,  Movies,  Travel,  TV

    Sunday Salon: Summer’s Back!

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    Hello! It’s been awhile since I did a Sunday Salon. I’ve missed it, but life has really gotten in the way.

    This weekend has been hotter than the standard here. I love that it’s sunny and bright out, but I like to be in the shade or indoors in this kind of weather. It’s relaxing so I like to read! I read one book yesterday and anticipate more day.

    I officially started my job this past Monday. The job is the same one I’ve been doing for a year now, but I was made an employee. This is good for me since I now have some financial security and benefits to boot! Working full-time on this project has been tiring though and does not leave a lot of room for me to keep all my hobbies.

    It’ll be easier if I just do a quick run down on things:

    Books: I hope to read one more book today and start another. I really have not been reading much this year, but hopefully I can catch up this summer to complete my humble 52 books goal this year. I just have too much other stuff going on in my life.

    TV: Was off for a couple days for Canada Day and spent that time and this past week watching: “Sense8,” “New Amsterdam,” “Humans,” “Unreal”, and “The Borgias”. I recommend them all in various ways. Two are airing now.

    Movies: I went to see Magic Mike XXL in a cinema VIP lounge experience. As someone who no longer really goes to the cinema, I loved the comfortable and bigger seating. So much so that it makes me think I’ll do it again this year. Movie was really fun as well.

    Food: I usually bake at least once or every other week, but I didn’t this past week due to the weather. Made a really nice Orange Ricotta loaf the other week though. I haven’t baked bread in over a month. I made a really good black bean and quinoa salad for lunch last week. Now I’m a bit stumped on what I will eat this week for lunch.

    Fitness: I’m not running 🙁 A couple weeks after I completed my half-marathon in May, I noticed some pain in my inner calf. I think it’s a minor stress fracture. I’m going to go to physiotherapy soon to check it out. I have a 10K in early September that I still hope to run. In the meantime, I am trying to ride my bike and I’ve been doing some yoga.

    Knitting: Finally finished those socks I started in September. No photos yet. I am really not knitting anymore.

    Travel: Maybe heading down to the USA for a couple days in August. I am also planning a holiday back to the UK in the autumn. Hope to get that finalized soon. I can’t wait to travel abroad again!

    Real Life: Work has complicated things and I had some issues with my neighour the last two months. I really hope things will be calmer now. My friends and family are still very important so I am prioritizing them more in the warm months.

    Whew! I think that should be a long enough update. I will continue to blog about my books. To those of you still reading this blog, thank you!

    Have a happy week!