Alibaba’s World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business

by Porter Erisman

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 256pages ( roughly 4 days )
  • Type: Business, Technology, Entrepreneur
  • My Rating: ***

Book Review:

This is a story of how Alibaba, from a small company survive and overcame their problems, its like a David versus Goliath story. Mr Porter was the International PR person when Alibaba started, he gives his perspective of his observations over at Alibaba.

From their relationship with Ebay, Yahoo and Google, the ups and downs, the author did a good job writing an entertaining journey when he working there. I have not read the other book on Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built, I always think it is always good to look at as many perspectives as possible.

The quote i like from him is

” I’d joined Alibaba thinking I might learn something about business. But the most valuable things I’d learned from Jack were about life.”

At the end of the book he did gave 40 takeaways on what he learnt at Alibaba e.g.

  • In the Spring Prepare for Winter
  • Entrepreneurs Don’t Complain About Problems—They Solve Them
  •  Don’t Dwell on Mistakes
  • Embrace—Don’t Run Away from—Tough Decisions
  • Have the Team Work for the Goal, Not for the Boss
  • Don’t Let It Get Personal

 

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Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

by Cathy O’Neil

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 272pages ( roughly 4 days )
  • Type: Current Affairs, Big Data, Technology
  • My Rating: ****

Book Review:

O’Neil’s background is in education as a Math Professor after which she went to be a Hedge Fund analyst and she also sat with the Occupy War Street as well.

This book is about how Big data and Mathematical algorithms if used wrongly and blindly can lead to continuous negative feedback loops. She argues for the good and the bad of relying on such methods.

The Mathematical formulas were used to assist humankind, to be more efficient and to help save time and resource so that we can ultimately have a better quality of life. However, the intent will alter how the data will be used.

She used examples ranging from education, to policing , search engines , insurance differentiating and how we are fed with information discreetly. This is a great book for people to expand their understanding and be expose to how corporations utilize all the data that we provide to them as individuals.

The Elephant Vanishes

By Haruki Murakami

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 336 pages ( roughly 1 day )
  • Type: Fiction
  • My Rating: **

Book Review:

The Elephant Vanishes is a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami and i feel naturally it is near impossible to like all the short stories, there are some hits and some misses but i think different people with a different focus will appreciate the stories differently.

I think it is important to read, it expands your horizon, it is a form of sharing, sharing of views, perspective, ideas, experience and life. All it requires from you is time and effort to read, its different from sitting down on the couch and watch TV or movies whereby information are spoonfed to you.

Moreover, i find that Movies are compressed version of books and some movies have no meaning at all. Most of them are myopic or single theme that are not able to expand one’s viewpoint. Same for TV series.

The story On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning is pretty interesting. I guess the bottomline of the story is talking about YOLO, and should make full use of the opportunity that has been given to you. ( I personally think this is quite an cool and short story to share with people Just for them to think about, you know you pass by that person you think might be the girl or guy of your dreams and you may only have this one chance )

Sleep talks about how a person may perceive reality when that person has insomnia. My take is insomnia combine with depression is a deadly concoction. I think it is extremely important for the person to share with his or her love ones on their condition so that can seek help.

Quotes:

“I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.”

Sputnik Sweetheart

by Haruki Murakami

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 229pages ( roughly 1 day )
  • Type: Fiction
  • My Rating: *****

Synopsis:

Story is a about a young aspiring writer Sumire, whom has her own quirky side that can’t fit the world, dropped out of school to pursue her passion of writing. Met this older lady Miu and fell in love with her, suspecting herself to be a lesbian. She confides everything to her best friend K, the narrator.

One day he recieved a call from Miu that Sumire has mysteriously disappeared.

Book Review:

Beauty of Haruki Murakami style of writing is how he is able to describe scenes so masterly. I can envision that myself there and he don’t really use bombastic terms, just for example “I switched the receiver from my left hand to my right”, simple subtle gestures that speaks volumes.

Reading his book motivates me to read more books, he has the knack  to inspire, to imagine the infinite possibilities and his range of topics are quite wide.

The book is nicely written, deals with issues like Loneliness and about how we deal with loss.

Quote:

“Somebody once said if it’s something a single book can explain, it’s not worth having explained. What i mean is don’t leap to any conclusions.”

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence. We draw ever nearer to the end of our allotted span of time, bidding it farewell as it trails off behind. Repeating, often adroitly, the endless deeds of the everyday. Leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness.”

 

Strength In US Dollar

USD has been appreciating since Brexit, coupled with President elect Trump’s promise of tax cut and infrastructure spending. Lately all the fundamental news are positive for America which also allow the USD to appreciate.

Points to ponder

  1. Strong USD will make exports more Expensive
  2. Any revenue coming from other parts of the world will be lower due to the exchange rate as well
  3. Cheaper to import which will hampers the need to lower the deficit
  4. None US based Companies that issued USD denominated debt bonds will have to pay a higher price.

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Generation A

by Douglas Coupland

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 320 pages ( roughly 2 days )
  • Type: Sci-Fi
  • My Rating: *

Synopsis:

Storyline is about the world invented this drug that makes people ok with being alone and how this resulted in the bees dying off and going extinct ( the story is not even about this )

5 different people in different parts of the world were stung by 5 bees when the world believed that bees were extinct. 5 were confined and observed, the story continues in which they are supposed to help find the cure to getting the bees back.

You can read the book to see how the story goes

Book Review:

I did not know what to expect from this book, there were some parts of the book i find quite amusing, like the Superman story and how a Rock concert can turn up into a no holds bar battle royale.

The book took up about 50% of content to build up the 5 main characters but I don’t see how the characters were really built up. Maybe i am not used to this style of writing and the ending was pretty abrupt.

 

 

The Paper Menagerie

By Ken Liu

  • Difficulty Level : For All Ages
  • Length : 13 pages ( roughly 15 min )
  • Type: Fiction
  • My Rating: *****

Book Review:

 

I think i read this short story many years ago, did not recall the name, but reading this again does bring back memories.

This is a short story about Memories and kinship, about the relationship between a Mom and her son. Mom gift to her child were paper animals (Origami), the magical aspect of it is she has the ability to breath life into them and they were able to play with her child.

There aren’t an ending and i guess it was purposefully done this way as well, to invoke each reader to have their own interpretation as well as for them to reflect on their relationship with others.

Link to story : The Paper Menagerie

Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith

by Sarah Bessey

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 259 pages ( roughly 2 days )
  • Type: Religion, Spiritual dissidents
  • My Rating: ****

Book Review:

For someone whom is questioning his or her own faith in Christianity, this is a nice book to read. The author talks about her faith from childhood, to how she felt disillusioned, taking a break from God, and how she found her faith back.

Her personal journey in terms of how she view her faith, the structure and the ministry. Her story telling format is very easy-going, you will feel like you are having a casual sit down conversation with a good friend but dealing with a heavy topic.

What is important is how one person come to terms with their own faith. Faith is like an ongoing relationship. The process of knowing nothing, learning and asking.

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Sex Object

by Jessica Valenti

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  • Difficulty Level : Adult
  • Length : 205 pages ( roughly 2 days )
  • Type: Memoir & Autobiography, Women & Gender
  • My Rating: ***

Book Review:

The author is writing this book base on her life experience and point of view of how she grew up as a girl to lady to woman. It gives first hand experience of how she felt and how she dealt with the circumstances during that time. The content is very in your face and also showcase some raw scenarios that some of us may not be accustom to.

I am thankful for this book, it exposed some parts about how some women are treated and it happens all over the world even at this moment in time.

This book exposes the many events in her lifetime as a woman, her hope is to enable all women to be treated equally.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

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  • Difficulty Level : All Levels
  • Length : 178 pages ( roughly 1 day )
  • Type: Fiction
  • My Rating: *****

Book Review:

This is a short novel by Neil Gaiman who is also famous for his Sandman series.

It is beautifully written, I am pleasantly surprised that he is able to use such a simple theme and weave a story that takes you into a world filled with imagination and substance.

I have difficulty expressing how i felt when i finish reading this novel. It is as if i have just finished an epic dream, filled with compassion, love, adventure, mystery and hope.

Summary:

A middle-aged man goes back to his hometown to attend a funeral and he was drawn back to revisit his childhood friend place. Over there, he recollects his memory of when he was age 7 and we are never given his name. And he goes into this dark and beautiful fairytale.

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