Friday, December 5, 2008

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (Tal Ben-Shahar)

NOT a self-help book (thank god...) but an excellent introduction to "modern" theories on the search of happiness (cf Flow by Csikszentmihalyi). The author actually is a Harvard lecturer... funny what people learn at Uni these days...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A thousand splendid suns (Khaled Hosseini)

Like the Kite Runner - an amazing read, which confirms Hosseini's amazing gift as a writer. What the hell was this guy doing working as a doctor ?? I guess he has certain qualities like compassion which are well suited to both fields. A masterfully written story of honor and friendship that spans the lifetime of the 2 main women characters - inspirational.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Don't eat this book (Morgan Spurlock)

Have to confess I am a big Spurlock fan... a very well documented book, based on his "field research" for the Supersize Me movie. You will never look at your Big Mac the same way after reading this book... very informational and entertaining at the same time.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coming Collapse of China (Gordon G. Chang)

A very long (100 pages too long...) rant about why China's economic and political system is supposedly going to crash in flames - or rather, what yet another US writer sees in contemporary China as the seeds of its future demise (rather than the US'). At some point the author seems to be suggesting China could implode like URSS. The book is generally quite well documented and gives some insights into the inner workings of the Communist Party and its influence on state-owned enterprises. I found the chapter on the (alleged) insolvency of Chinese banks particularly ironic in the current context, after 3 of Wall Street's top 5 investment banks went belly up - as far as I am aware, the People's Bank of China is still standing...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Once you have given up trying to pronounce the name of the author, you can focus on what lies past the cover page... ie an insightful work on the nature of true happiness and the means to achieve it. Cleverly written and accessible without any prior knowledge of psy-sciences. Does not give ready-made answers (this is NOT one of these fuck!ing self-help books) but just gently holds your hand for a few steps along the (oh so long...) way to happiness.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The China Fantasy: Why Capitalism Will Not Bring Democracy to China (James Mann)

Beyond the question of the viability of China's one-party political system, this book missed a chance to seriously debate one of the key topics of economie politique: does economic (and to some extent social) progress always walk hand in hand with an increase in political freedom ? Clearly the author takes the view that it will not be the case for China, but it would have been interesting to extend the analysis to other historical examples. A book still worth reading, although being very US-centered and seeming at times to look at the issue through a keyhole.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The average american male (Chad Kultgen)

Does what it says on the tin...average, bordering vulgar, and frankly gross at times. The girlfriend character is particularly irritating (sooo cliche). This is what a certain type of men's magazines would like women to accept as normal male behaviour (poor things, it's in their nature, can't help it really...) - well that makes me happy to belong to the other half of humanity ! Not money wisely spent as far as I am concerned...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author (Richard Dawkins)

Not what you would expect from the title... this is the revised edition, with a foreword from the author explaining how this seemingly "wrong" choice of title brought him underserved criticism. Recommended for nerds like me who have an interest in post-Darwinian evolution theory (and for all of you who always wanted to know why eggs are bigger than sperms...withouth daring to ask your biology teacher)

Friday, May 16, 2008

The end of faith (Sam Harris)

Necessary reading for troubled times... however not the best in class when it comes to rational criticism of faith-based religions. If you have to read only one, pick "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins instead.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The luxury of time (Jane Tomlinson)

Inspirational and humbling. I miss you Jane.

I am Charlotte Simmons (Tom Wolfe)

Another masterful piece of writing from the author of the "Bonfire of the vanities". Full of drunken frat boys and teenage insecurity. Unputdownable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Letter to a Christian Nation (Sam Harris)

Exposes the contradictions of modern days ultra-catholic America. Very US-focused but still worth a read.