July 31, 2008
This article entitled “Great Unread Books: What Classic Are You Ashamed To Admit You Have Never Read?” makes me laugh. First of all, it is highly unlikely that even the most dedicated individual could manage to read every so-called great book ever written – that list is as endless and subjective as a list could be. You might as well try to watch every “great film” or see every UNESCO World Heritage site; sure, you can try, but that at that point you are probably doing little more than checking items off your list.
Anyways, despite having not checked every book in the literary canon off my personal list, there are not any that I am actually ashamed to have not yet read. I also read a lot, and as a former English major, I certainly had the incentive to read and study more great books than many people. However, there is one gaping hole in my collection.
Since I am a female writer, people tend to assume that I am a fan of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Now perhaps I’m a bit of a traitor to my gender, but I have never actually finished any of their books, and I don’t intend to do so any time soon. I’ve never even made it all the way through the movie versions, although there is something charming about the Bollywood adaptation.
Are there any books you can’t get through, or have consciously chosen to leave off your personal list? On the other hand, are there any classics you’re planning to read soon?
May 1, 2008
How did you end up living where you do? Did you put a lot of thought into it, or did you relocate for your career, or to be near family? Or have you always lived in the same general area?
Richard Florida’s (The Rise of the Creative Class) new book, Who’s Your City?, is based on the principle that living in the right place is central to one’s happiness and general satisfaction- that “choosing a spouse and choosing a career are important life decisions—but perhaps even more predictive of our all-round personal happiness is our choice of living location”.
Although the book drags a little, he makes a really valid point – and I know that I’m much happier living in a major city than just about anywhere else (granted, I didn’t really need a book to figure that out). And of course, I’m a freelancer who can work from anywhere with a decent internet connection, so I have more freedom of movement than most – but I would much rather live somewhere where the “creative class” clusters and is valued.
Richard also argues that the world isn’t so much flat as it is spiky – there are places where certain types of people gather -
“Today’s key economic factors—talent, innovation, and creativity—are not distributed evenly across the global economy. They concentrate in specific locations. It’s obvious how major new innovations in communications and transportation allow economic activity to spread out all over the world. What’s less obvious is the incredible power of what I call the clustering force. In today’s creative economy, the real source of economic growth comes from the clustering and concentration of talented and productive people. New ideas are generated and our productivity increases when we locate close to one another in cities and regions. The clustering force makes each of us more productive, which in turns makes the places we inhabit much more productive, generating great increases in output and wealth.”
February 24, 2008
Frans Johansson’s excellent book, The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, and Cultures is now available for free online.
From the book’s Amazon page:
“Johansson, founder and former CEO of an enterprise software company, argues that innovations occur when people see beyond their expertise and approach situations actively, with an eye toward putting available materials together in new combinations. Because of ions, “the movement of people, the convergence of science, and the leap of computation,” a wide range of materials available for new, recontextualized uses is becoming a norm rather than an exception, much as the Medici family of Renaissance Italy’s patronage helped develop European arts and culture.”