Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Books Read in August

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman.
The story: Ove is the definition of grumpy old man. He's bitter, cranky, judgmental, and rude. He sees the world in absolute black and white. He's the guy in the neighborhood who makes sure no one breaks any rules and no one has any fun. He's mad, and he wants everyone else to be mad, too. And then new neighbors move in next door, and Parvaneh, the wife, just keeps loving him, no matter how prickly and exasperating he is.
Me: I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I feel like, between Ove and Harold Fry, I've seen the redemption of two wonderful old men this summer. This is a novel of tremendous tenderness, sadness, and joy. You can't help but feel utter hope in the human race upon reading this book. It reaffirms what we all know: that beyond a bitter exterior can rest a heart of pure gold. Highly recommended.

The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner.
The story: Many years ago in the Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner set out to find the happiest places on Earth. In his newest travelogue of sorts, Weiner looks for the smartest places in the world. Why were places like Athens, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Vienna, and the Silicon Valley hotbeds of creativity? Why did geniuses seem flourish there? Are geniuses born or made? What are the attributes of a creative place? Weiner takes us on a tour of eight different places, studying the characteristics of that city and its geniuses. It's a historical text, sociological study, and travelogue all together.
Me: So, I was off my usual 4-5 books this month because this book took me a little over three weeks to get through. Three weeks! There are so many great questions raised and interesting fodder for discussion, such as:
• Is creativity contagious?
• Are we more creative in crowds?
• Is chaos an essential ingredient to creativity?
• Does it take a city to raise a genius?
• Why do pockets of geniuses seem to flourish and then fade away?
I love the idea that “what is honored in a country will be cultivated there." What are we stifling in America by boxing in our future geniuses? It's a sad thought. This was our book club pick for September, and it was a fascinating read. I took copious notes and look forward to discussing a variety of topics with my fellow book club members.