Tag Archives: BookRecommendations

Review: Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

“Although I’m only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong.”

Hitler’s obsession with having a “pure” race lead to an unspeakable period of barbaric and brutal war against the Jews and other million others targeted for racial, ideological and political reasons. When he became Chancellor in 1933, he did not waste time in starting his anti-Jewish operation.

There was mass transportation to concentration camps where imprisonment, mass gassing, death from starvation and diseases, and other merciless crimes against humanity took place.

The years from 1942 to 1945 were a time when Jews from all over Europe were sent to these concentration camps and it is during these years that Anne Frank put down pen to paper to pour down her account of the time she spent in hiding with her family, another family of three and a friend.

Anne’s diary entries begin in June 1942, on her 13th birthday, about a month before they go into hiding. In July they go into hiding in a building where his father’s office is and here begins their two-year hiding.

Anne records the atmosphere in their dwelling, describing the environment itself, the food, the daily activities that are mostly reading and writing, and the rows that take place among them.

Below them, on the ground floor is a warehouse that is used during the day, and at that time they have to stay as quiet as possible to avoid getting caught. As grim and tragic as their circumstances are, Anne expresses hope and a positive outlook on life.

“I’ve found that there is always some beauty left — in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.”

There are times when she writes about her pain, depression, crying herself to sleep but her writing still bursts with impressive wisdom, maturity, introspection, intelligence and wit.

Her diary shows her depth of feeling, things she doesn’t share with anyone else but feels so strongly about. Her opinions are strong and she has an independent mind, as well as a clear direction that she wishes to take after the war.

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

There are many things to enjoy about this diary, especially Anne’s belief in freedom, despite the confines she and her family are in where freedom has been taken away from them.

She expresses a belief – freedom for people to live in peace and freedom of self. In the midst of fear of being discovered and taken away, she still shows courage and cheerfulness.

Her thirst for learning is unquenchable. She finds comfort in reading, learning and writing. In the depth of a miserable situation where the future is unpredictable and she has no idea about the other side of the war, she still commits to absorbing knowledge and creating.

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”

I enjoyed The Diary of a Young Girl because of how it can shift one’s perspective on their own suffering and worries. It’s inspiring and informative in the way that it takes you into her contemplation of the war. It’s also a good read for people who are interested in history and war.

The last diary entry is on 1 August 1944 and shortly after an informer tells on the family. Their place is raided and they’re taken away. Anne died in 1945. Only her father survived and when he returned after the war, he found the diary kept by his office workers. Anne had wanted to become a writer and to publish the diary, and her father published it in her memory.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Review: Jazz by Toni Morrison

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”

The early 20th century marked the growth of jazz music in America. In the 1920’s the music spread into parts such as New Orleans, and Harlem, the ‘City’ where we find the characters in Jazz. The music began way before it was labelled jazz, from the days of slavery when people would sing to pass time, to bleed away the sadness with their voices and to keep the African voice alive.

Louis Armstrong

What sets jazz music apart is the element of improvisation, which gives artists the ability to express themselves in any way they want, and still keep a soulful and enjoyable rhythm. This element is what I first noticed about the way this story mirrors the genre itself.

Middle-aged Joe Trace meets eighteen-year-old Dorcas when he’s selling cosmetics at her aunt’s place. Thereafter begins their affair and months later when Dorcas grows tired of him, he shoots her after following her to a party. Joe’s wife Violet arrives at the funeral and slashes the dead girl’s face with a knife. Some weeks after the funeral Violet starts visiting Dorcas’s aunt and the visits become regular. Meanwhile, Joe is lost in deep grief for this dead lover.     

Jazz music has travelled with black African-Americans, their experiences, struggles, pains, and joys, through song and dance. The narrator, whose identity we don’t know, tells the story and relates the scenes in the same change of notes, short and long, as in jazz music. We encounter the love triangle in many parts of the book, repeated in a way that reveals something new or reminds us of something we know.

Toni Morrison splits open the characters and feeds us the right pieces throughout the story, creating a sort of web that takes from their pasts and connects back to the present, to the love triangle and its tragedy. We discover pieces from these characters’ fractured identities and come to understand how they are connected without them knowing they are, and why they behave the way they do.

I read Sula before Jazz and whereas with the former I loved the story and the characters more, with the latter I absolutely loved the storytelling. It felt like I was reading a long beautiful poem. I do have to mention, however, that I had tried to read it about three times and couldn’t get past the first chapter and once I finally got into it I figured it was because you have to stay with the narrator and not get lost. For me, it required my full attention, unlike other books that I’ve read with less focus and could still follow.

Jazz is an unforgettable piece of art. It’s powerful literature that achieves the goal of leaving the reader moved and having learned something deep and valuable about the human condition, as good literature often does. The characters come to you in flesh and bone, and throughout the story, you taste their realness and hear their voices. Their individual stories, which the narrator reveals by travelling back and forth through time, become so palpable and make it possible for the reader to keep diving in for more and more.

Brilliant. Exquisite. Important.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Review: Tribes by Seth Godin

“We need you to lead us.”

The Internet has broken down geographical boundaries and made it easier to create movements, groups of people who share ideas, and spread messages of empowerment and growth. These groups are called tribes and they’re flourishing everywhere. Tribes is about these movements and the connections they have, the connections that need you as a leader to create a platform where they share the same belief and spread their ideas.

Seth Godin reminds us that these leaders of tribes can come from anywhere and can be anyone. The barriers of leadership have been brought down and it’s no longer left to top executives or managers to lead. And so, Godin asks, why not you? Why not now?

“I’m not sure where I’m going. I’ll lead.” – Emmanuelle Heyman

He recommends two things to create a movement – shared ideas and a way to communicate. Godin talks about being a heretic, an outsider, someone with novel ideas and someone willing to step forward to make a difference. He does agree that fear exists but that you should drown it out by telling yourself a different story. There is no way around discomfort but through it.

Just as he has mentioned in Linchpin, he reminds us again of the need to ditch the factory path. Tribes do remarkable things, they do innovative things and the marketplace rewards innovation. In Tribes he also strongly discourages sheep behaviour, or what he calls sheepwalking. Leaders of tribes initiate and where they’re told an idea is stupid or impossible, they go first.

I’ve read Purple Cow and Linchpin and this one is my favourite.

It addresses a problem that organisations have – people stuck in the status quo and being afraid to lead without authority. He provides effective solutions. In this fast-paced world where people are constantly in search of remarkable products and services, organizations need everyone, regardless of their position, to lead.

What I love about Seth Godin’s books, is the way he writes in a free and simple way. Anyone can understand. As a marketing guru one would expect his work to speak only to those with an ear trained for marketing but anyone, in any career, can grasp his message and most importantly, use it.

I’d recommend it for people who want to do away with mediocrity and are in search of a way to use their passion and vision to spread great ideas and change. If you want your product or service to really meet your customers’ needs and make sure that you build connections that lead to more connections, then grab a copy of Tribes. It will inspire you and change the way you see and do things.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For more of his work, visit his webiste, Seth Godin

Title: Tribes

Author: Seth Godin

Published: Piatkus, 2008

Genre: Self-help