Books I read in August, 2020

The books and my thoughts

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

This book showed up in my recommendations after I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Lale and Viktor were both prisoners at the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. While The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story of survival, Viktor E. Frankl goes beyond. As a psychologist, he tries to crate hope from a situation where one would expect none. Life in the concentration camp taught Frankl that our main drive or motivation in life is neither pleasure, nor power, but meaning. Frankl speaks of logotherapy which is aimed at carrying out an existential analysis of the person, and, in so doing, to help him uncover or discover meaning for his life.

In reading up on logotherapy after this I found that there is an institute dedicated to logotherapy – Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy.

Notably I also found a paper that relates Burnout to lack of existential fulfillment and meaning. It’s definitely worth a read. Burnout Syndrome and Logotherapy.

A quote from the foreword

Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person), and in courage during difficult times. Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it.

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

My first anthology in a long time!

This is the first time I have read poetry in a long while. So I have nothing profound to say. The poetry explores the cycle of life and the emotions it contains via the imagery of nature.

Here are my favourite lines from the title poem, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude:

And you, again, you, for the true kindness
it has been for you to remain awake
with me like this, nodding time to time
and making that noise which I take to mean
yes, or, I understand, or, please go on
but not too long, or, why are you spitting
so much, or, easy Tiger
hands to yourself. I am excitable.
I am sorry. I am grateful.
I just want us to be friends now, forever.

What’s better than an anthology where the poet thanks you for reading their work?

Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It by Scott Kupor

I’m a PM, so it was about time I started reading about angel investing, VC and the glamorous world that lives on Sand Hill Road. Scott Kupor’s book aims at demistifying the VC world to potential entrepreneurs and does a great job of breaking down the term sheet.

However, he leaves the part about getting in the door to a VC shrouded in the same amount of mystique as before. Entrepreneurs need to prove their mettle by getting in the door themselves. Which obviously means, entrepreneurs will continue to look like the VCs that support them. My bet is on crowdfunding and angel investing having more diverse applicant pool before VCs ever get there. 🙁

Definitely read the book to get an understanding of the technicalities at play, however don’t expect this book to attempt to acknowledge or solve for the elitism at play.

On my 2020 reading list

Non Fiction

Poetry

I am starting my journey to read more poetry by reading the words of Black poets.

This was inspired by Books Are Magic’s list of 14 Brilliant and Beautiful Black Poetry Collections

Looking for recommendations

Earlier this month I shared my reading goals from here on, so inline with that I am looking for recommendations in the following areas:

  • Poetry
  • Urdu fiction – please note I haven’t read Urdu in 11 years, so any recommendations should be geared towards absolute beginners.
  • Audiobooks – I am going to start running again and am looking for audiobook recommendations to listen to while I run.

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