Lessons learned From Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean in: An illustrated guide

Posted by admin on Feb 21, 2014 in books, geekery, lists, opinion

Sheryl Sandberg Job Advice

I recently read Sheryls Sandberg’s Lean In and have a few thoughts I wanted to share about it. First, the book is not half as intimidating as it looks from the outside.  The intimidation wasn’t the title,  the cover photo or the feminist message you knew it contained, but the actual size. The hardback size. Bound, big and heavy. The publishers went for the “serious” cash rather than the mass return, and published a book that looked very big and weighty. It looked long. It felt like it would be worthy. It turned me off.

Fast forward a few months and I downloaded it on my Kindle. And I discovered the book is short. Really short. 24% in and I’m at chapter 5. There are eleven chapters. And it’s SO easy to read. It’s essentially a self help book which uses Sheryl Sandberg’s career as a framework. Sandberg is surprisingly honest and open about her personal failings and her family life. She shared anecdotes about crying at work. She revealed her mistakes. She talked about regrets, such as being insensitive to pregnant women (before she’d experienced it). I learned about how she grew up (who knew she was from Miami?), her parents, her sister. I was impressed with her before, but now I like her.

I feel that the publishers did a disservice by releasing a hardcover copy of the book as a lot of people who could have benefitted from this probably didn’t read it. But now that I have – and enjoyed it – I decided that I’m going to break it down for all the people who are to time poor or lazy.

A lot of the lessons in the book are about the way you look at things. It’s about the angle, not the events. Yes, she acknowledges gender discrimination, wage disparity and social issues. But she doesn’t try and make you change the world. She offers practical, useful advice on how to make the best of a flawed situation, and maybe make some bigger changes along the way. I’ve been quoting certain phrases to people, and that’s pretty rare for me, so the following nuggets are ones that stood out for me personally.


This is a question that Sandberg suggest using when approaching a job role you want. It’s not about you- it’s about what you bring to the company. Read more…

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The last 8 months in books: May-December 2011 reads

Posted by admin on Jan 5, 2012 in books

The amount of books I read is simply getting ridiculous. Not so much for me- I can easily cope with the heightened surge (summer days/holidays= parks/beaches= abundant literature consumed) but trying to carefully write up everything I read coherently is just not working anymore. I’m so far behind on my book updates that I feel I’ll never catch up again, so I’m going to try a new tactic. Rather than read, summarize and elaborate, I’m now going to list what I’ve read and the few key ones that have stood out will get a more in depth evaluation. If you’re curious about a book I haven’t expanded on, comment below and I promise I’ll answer/ mini review and query if that helps you with your summer reading list.

I’m not certain exactly how many books I read from January to May 2011, but I’m going to conservatively estimate 14 based on this list here. That takes my total to approximately 104 books read in 2011. Yes, some of them were short young adult fiction, and a few were novellas/ Charlaine Harris’ work (read and you’ll know what I mean), but overall, that’s a total I’m happy with.

Last year I enjoyed a lot of young adult fiction. There’s something about the immediacy of this genre that really appeals to me, the intensity of the emotions, the way all the characters really do feel the centre of the universe and just how raw and ready everything is- people experience rather than evaluate and there’s something very exciting of being this involved in the story. During my exploration of this genre I discovered Kevin Brooks, and was really impressed. Kevin is a gritty author with a wonderful way with rhythm and his stories lure you in and don’t let go. The pace is fast, the words bright, and the books all have a sense of magical realism- despite documenting mundane activities. It’s the combination of what might be with the reality that makes these so gripping.

I also managed to finally read some of Sophie Kinsella’s earlier work, whilst she was using the pseudonym Madeleine Wickham. I was warned they were ‘in a different style’, but I didn’t expect them to be this bad! The Tennis Party was a dry tale of middle age and wine, with family complexities and friendship lies. It was so dull, it felt like Jilly Cooper had written a book whilst high on Robinson Fruit squash, it flowed badly, you simply didn’t care about anyone and-worst of all- it wasn’t funny at all!

Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller was fantastic- I had thought it might be sordid or titillating but it actually really resonated and you felt the awkward despair at the illicit affair and understood how it occurred. The two women had this strange Freudian dependent relationship and it was an eerie book to read. I really wanted to like 100 Years of Solitude but I found it hard going, the book meandered around and though it was beautiful in parts I didn’t find myself really connecting and it was a struggle to finish.

Read on for the full list of the 104 books I read this year! Read more…

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Now I know my ABC3D

Posted by admin on Nov 16, 2011 in books, geekery, random

It’s well documented that I’m a massive fan of eReaders, but I still have a place in my heart for the humble paperback novel. Occasionally a book comes along that makes you think that eReaders don’t deserve their acclaim, as though you might be able to get a video onto a Kindle Fire (if it’s ever in the UK) you certainly couldn’t created a 3D wonderland such as abc3D by Marion Bataille.

Educational AND a work of art! Bataille has created a beautifully styled pop up book that teaches children the alphabet in a clever and innovative way and the attention to detail is amazing. It really takes the notion of pop up books to a whole new level and I love how seamlessly the letters flow into eachother.

The red, white and black colour palette is striking and gives the book a sense of maturity, whilst still being suitable for a younger audience and she has even made the cover lenticular, for added coffee table nous.

£10 from Amazon

[via the Bibliomouse]

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Books I have read from November 2010 – May 2011

Posted by admin on Oct 7, 2011 in books

The ‘Books I’ve read‘ feature is the least popular feature I have on my blog. Frankly, none of my readers cares at all what tomes I’ve been devouring, so rather than share them  with you monthly I’m now going to do a huge round up every couple of months. This is more for my benefit than yours; after accidentally half reading the same book twice (the cover had changed, and if I reread a book it’s intentional) I find this list a good way to reference my reading habits. Here are the latest additions to my reading time, and you’re free to skip right past this and go read about crazy geek watches, or to my article on how to get a refund from the Apple and Android app stores.

{PS; Extra Note- this has been sitting in draft phase for a good while now, and then I accidentally reread the same book AGAIN (they’d changed the cover) so enough is enough, and I’m now back to listing} To make these mini synopsis more palatable to both you and me, they’ll be distinctly shorter, with only the stand out books meriting a paragraph or two.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

It’s odd to read what’s considered a ‘classic’ book and realize how full of sex, drugs and general frippery it is. The acclaim for the book is not because it is particularly well written or will move you to tears, more that it was shocking for the time, and gives us a modern day Jilly Cooper novel in an era when women were more restrained. It charts the tale of three women. all dazzlingly beautiful, a singer, and actress and a model; from childhood insecurities right up to the pinnacle of their success- and their falls. A nice romping read, ‘Dolls’ are pills taken to enhance mood, a nod to the Dexedrine amphetamine generation. Froth, frippery and fornication blend in a novel that’s every bit as racy as the cover jacket.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer/ New Moon by Stephanie Meyer/ Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer/ Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

Note: The Twilight series ruined me. I read all four books in in one week and afterwards I was left empty and withdrawn. It wasn’t that I wanted more of the story -all teen pathos and way too much female limpness;  rather that I’d somehow exhausted my thirst for books, I was sated, quenched, over run by words upon words and I had ten days with no literature other than the daily Metro newspaper. It was an odd time- I’ve never had book exhaustion before, and hope I never will again. I genuinely had zero desire to read, a very strange affair for me. In brief, Bella Swan meets a vampire masquerading as a human, falls in love, gets told they can never be together and pines for him. Over and over for the period of four books. It’s readable, but like reality TV- you can’t turn away and you want to slap every character hard int he face. The one plus point is that the books are better than the movies.

The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris

So sweet, the words wrapped around me like a cashmere cloak of loveliness and the prose sparked something warm and gentle within me. I loved Chocolat, but having read that so long ago, I’d forgotten just how velveteen Harris’s words can be and how neatly they capture sleepy suburbia, magical realism, and the type of indolent laissez faire style that only the French seem to have. Set in Montmarte, this story follows on from Chocolat with a new home for the family and new fiends to combat. This time it’s not the kindly ones, it’s a new witch who uses her powers indiscriminately and who has plans of her own for the sweet little chocolate shop that Yanne has painstakingly created. She changes the way the wind smells, yet forces the family to confront what they want out of life.

Twitchiker by Paul Smith

Take one grumpy freelance journalist, a marriage newly consummated and a love of Twitter and what do you get? One man’s decision to see if he can visit the polar opposite to his house (the other side of the world) getting there on nothing more than freebies from friendly Twitter followers. Can you social network your way round the world- and will the kindness of strangers really stand you in good stead? Paul holds no punches back, from thoughts on how this may affect his relationship to worries that potential Twitter friends are axe murdering Nazi’s. It’s an engaging tale, and one that truly heralds the birth of social media. One of the most poignant examples was when Paul was in SXSW and no one there offered to help his quest- it took a ‘non scene’ Twitter follower to help him continue his journey round the world. Did he make it? Read and find out. Read more…

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How the $79 Kindle Touch will change the eReader educational market

Posted by admin on Oct 4, 2011 in books, news, opinion, technology

Amazon just announced news of its first ever tablet, the Kindle Fire which has a swish seven inch screen with a dedicated browser (called Silk) and looks to take on the iPad as a serious contender. OK, it’s like the iPad Lite, but with the weight of the Amazon inventory behind it might be the first tablet that makes it into the mainstream- did I mention it’s UK (estimated) retail price will be £125 compared to the most basic iPad at £399- you do the math.

However, I’m actually more intrigued and excited with the news that they’re selling a new Kindle eReader for $79 though (that’s the US price) as this might finally be the breakthrough device which puts eReaders firmly on the curriculum. Up till this point eReaders were a covetable piece of property, but one that many people felt were slightly unnecessary- or out of their pricepoint.

This lowered retail price puts buying a Kindle well into impulse buying territory and practically guarantees that every other household will be finding one under the tree this Christmas. With prices dropping in such a manner, I can imagine that Amazon will next turn its sights into making the Kindle a mandatory school accessory.

We’ve already seen the proliferation of iPad use in high end private schools, but a device like the Kindle- with the associated bulk buy discount and personalized profanity filters- would be Amazon’s way of consolidating the eReader hold, as if they make it into mainstream public education their dominance will be unrivalled for the next 20 years or so. Thee do exist fairly sturdy school eReaders already- the Ectaco educational eReader for example, but costs and compatibility issues often outweigh the fact that you can drop them and throw them around. Read more…

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The Science Fiction whale maps the genres rise

Posted by admin on Jun 30, 2011 in books, geekery


How does one map an entire genre of fiction? Can this even be done without horribly under representing some areas? This is just what Ward Shelley has attempted with his Science Fiction Whale diagram, entitled the History Of Science Fiction which you can see in much greater detail on Ward Shelley’s website here (or here). He has mapped the evolution of the genre, from the early days of literature right up to the cyberpunk era, and the mass of tentacles above encapsulate decades and trends in this field- even including Ron Hubbard and the Dianetics movement!

I think the archetypal whale was a great choice as the basis of the diagram, as a whale’s size is immense and seems like a good fit for the size of the task at hand. I can also draw some allusions to the use of whales and their kin (the Kraken immediately springing to mind) being common refrains in many books (similar to how the King Arthur fable plays out in many science fantasy novels) and the mysticism imbued with ‘creatures of the deep’ is a good reflection of the science fiction genre, which seeks to learn, explore and create.

I was happy to see some of my old favourites included in this chart- such as Ray Bradbury, Greg Bear and Douglas Adams. I also had a small eye roll at the inclusion of a ‘soft’ science fiction category, and the selected authors such as Octavia Butler (agree) and Margaret Atwood (disagree). That’s part of the joy of the genre however, as you’re allowed to make up your own mind as to who are the masters of it, and the fact that Shelley likely compiled this whole list himself warms me to him, and makes me disinclined to contest the order of some of the names- fiction is after all a very personal affair so I’m happy to agree to disagree on certain points.

I love how thorough Shelley has been with this diagram, and I also found that this not only maps the history of this branch of literature, but also my own love affair with science fiction, as I can personally point to the different branches my reading has taken and sigh in happy familiarity at the inclusion of authors that feel like old friends.

[via BigThink]

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A Novel iPhone charger for book lovers

Posted by admin on Apr 22, 2011 in books, geekery, technology

I’m a lover of all things booky, and think this book/iPhone dock is amazing. It’s a fully functional dock that has been installed into a real life book, and there are a variety of books to choose from. Current ones on offer include classics such as Huckleberry Finn, Jane Eyre and Little Women as well as authors like Tom Clancy and Joseph Conrad. The books used are gorgeous, with thick spines and glossy covers with embossed lettering. The charging cord has been secured into the book, which has then been sealed shut (sigh) and is a very cool way of docking your iPhone or iPod.  Necessary? Definitely not, but very desirable all the same. Read more…

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