June Books

June books included a read-aloud pirate story, a business book, a memoir, a psychological thriller, and a collection of comic essays.

Treasure Island — This was a read-aloud to the six year old. We stuck with it, and he was intently interested in the plot but suffice to say Robert Louis Stevenson was not writing for the modern child. Chalk it up to general old-timey seafaring words that certainly aren’t in my working vocabulary (f’oc’s’le??!?), challenging pirate dialogue, and an author who never misses a chance to say ‘undulating’ when he could say ‘waves.’ Afterwards, we took out the classic starts version from the library, which is definitely the way to go.

Girl Decoded — I found this to be an okay memoir bolted on to an underwhelming book about AI. It’s written by Rana El Kaliouby, who has a PhD in computer science and recently sold her start-up focused on the intersection of AI and emotions. There are some interesting contrasts between El Kaliouby’s life growing up in Egypt and her experiences as a PhD student at Cambridge and as a researcher in the US. But overall, the memoir aspects of the book felt light on introspection and heavy on the personal-brand building. The AI sections of the book felt like a rundown of companies without much tying them together. On the whole I was disappointed with this book and wouldn’t recommend it.

Traction — This is a very practical, tactical book on the systems and processes that makes small businesses run. The broader methodology (EOS) is a well-defined set of tools that is implemented by consultants around the world. As someone who runs a small business, and thinks about operational systems and process as a hobby, I found it super helpful and am excited to experiment with some of the frameworks. If you do not run a small business and/or do operations for funsies, then probably not for you.

The Push — This is a thriller built around a new mother’s struggles and a family’s tragedy. I raced through it in about a day. Given the subject matter is rather dark, it feels wrong to say I thoroughly enjoyed it, but yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wow, No Thank You — This is a collection of essays from Samantha Irby. I had never read any of Irby’s work before, and I enjoyed most of the essays. (There are a few where she adopts the construct of starting every sentence/paragraph with the same few words, like “Hello, 911?” I found those hard to read, even though the jokes were good.) But I think I would prefer to read essays like this once every month or two in the New Yorker, rather than back-to-back over the course of a week. I don’t think you get the same oomph when you read them all at once.

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