When recovering from major surgery, you have to relax and ask others for help, take naps to revive your energy, and enjoy walks that get longer each day. My recovery is going well, especially because one way for me to relax is to read some good books, scan magazine articles looking for the relevant and outstanding ones I want to return to later, and go online to find the Opinion pieces in The New York Times. Below are the most interesting ‘reads’ that span interest for a variety of ages from those their twenties to those moving on in life.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson captured my attention and engaged me for five days from page one until the end of the text on page 571. The ‘official’ biography of Jobs includes details from his eating habits to his volatile behaviors to his finding a type of peace when he introduced Apple’s revolutionary products. I’m glad that I read it. The list price is $35 but I got it through Barnes & Noble for a total with discounts of $16.54.
Jobs’ death and the book have generated a plethora of written stories and articles, interviews on the radio and TV, and commentaries and reviews on the book itself. I agree with Joe Nocera (The New York Times) that Isaacson seemed that the author was too gentle on Jobs. Criticizing, demeaning, and insulting competitors, colleagues, and employees—plus friends—was outrageous untamed behavior. Yet, that area was treated in a gentle way.
Following the look of the cover of Isaacson’s book, Fortune Magazine put a similar picture of Jobs on the November 7, 2011 cover and in large print offered: “Steve Jobs: The Biography—An Exclusive Excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s New Book.” Note there were four additional covers after the first one; a creative approach to leading with different stories in different media areas.
The next book I think I’m going to read is First Family: Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis, the Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation. As he did in a similar fashion in Founding Brothers, in First Family Ellis “brings America’s preeminent first couple to life in a moving and illuminating narrative that sweeps through the American Revolution and the republic’s tenuous early years.” Ellis is a wonderful author who can give you an enlightening reading experience.
I bought Full Circles, Overlapping Lives: Culture and Generation in Transition by Mary Catherine Bateson about five years ago but didn’t pick up the book until my recovery. A cultural anthropologist and the daughter of the renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead, Bateson “…helps us think about the great divide that we all live with but few discuss: the enormously different life experiences of members of different generations” according to Deborah Tannen, author of You Just Don’t Understand. Since I enjoyed that book, I decided to find another by Bateson. Composing a Life was the book I wanted but when I went to buy it there was a newer and more interesting book: Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom. In the description on the back cover says that, “She redefines later adulthood as an opportunity to understand our deepest priorities and potentials and challenges us to use it to pursue new sources of meaning and ways to contribute to society.” Note: there is a Margaret Mead Film Festival from November 10-13 at the Museum of Natural History.
In addition to reading, I read most of the magazines that I get by subscription and were given to me cover-to-cover. In the Atlantic, I read “What, Me Marry? — In today’s economy, men are falling apart. What that means for sex and marriage” by Kate Bolick. I sent a link of this very interesting essay on changing demographics and society’s culture to the young women in their early twenties and their mothers.
Another excellent article was “Hacked!” by James Fallows. After his wife’s e-mail account was hacked, he took “A trip to the inner fortress of Gmail, where Google developers recovered six years’ worth of hacked and deleted e-mail, provides specific advice on protecting and backing up data now—and gives a picture both consoling and unsettling of the vulnerabilities we can all expect to face in the future.” A fascinating and informative read that makes me wonder the safety of all that is on the web.
MORE: For women of style and substance (translated: over 40) was one of the three magazines that a dear friend of mine brought to me. A compelling article was Your New Job Security Starts Here by Virginia Sole-Smith who feels that “A stable work future isn’t about finding a lifelong employer. It’s about being able to land the next professional opportunity—which means mastering the digital job hunt.”
Working to be a leader requires being kept up to date and I’ve had time for that during my recovery—and more. I’ve also had time to think about how I am going to compose my further life.