Breaking Night

“Many nights, I longed for home. But it occurred to me as I struggled for a feeling of comfort and safety: I have no idea where home is.” — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

Breaking Night is a memoir of Liz Murray that describes her journey from living on the streets to making it into Harvard. The title Breaking Night means staying up through the night until the sun rises. Liz was born to drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, when she lost her mother, she found herself on the streets.

Eventually, Liz went back to school and then was awarded with New York Times scholarship which enabled her to go to Harvard.

I listened to Murray’s book on Audible where the author had narrated the book. It was really touching and saddening. When Liz and her sister Lisa were growing up, their parents would use all the money received from welfare on drugs so after burning through that money in two weeks, there was no money left for food or anything else. Liz occasionally went to school and she was somehow passed up in grades every year. When she was twelve, she tried to get a job to buy stuff but no one would hire her as she was too young. And then, one day her mother sat her down saying “I’ve got it, baby I’ve got it. I’m sick. I have Aids”..

“Life has a way of doing that; one minute everything makes sense, the next, things change. People get sick. Families break apart, your friends could close the door on you”. — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

I don’t know. It’s really hard even to start to process all the hardships described in this book. I was often walking around in a daze because I was so impressed and bothered by the book. The childhood spent figuring out why your parents are acting like this and what they do behind closed doors or living in an apartment where shower was flooding so badly you had to stand on a bucket.

And then the AIDS, the abusive boyfriend, having no place to live while figuring out the studies and where to keep the books and making through it all. It was really something special. I very much enjoyed reading this and would rate the book 4/5 stars

“But avoidance allows you to believe that you’re making all kinds of strides when you’re not.” — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

How-To Read Breaking Night

1. It’s very inspirational and will help you realize that sometimes your dreams are closer than you think. And that sometimes you have to make choices like Liz made between pizza and a bus ticket.

2. It’s not one of those annoying self-help books. If you know what I mean. Okay Murray does say “It took everything I got” a lot but other than that it’s just facts and how she kept trying. There are no senseless life advices to be found here.

3. Audible and the audiobook edition is wonderful because author has narrated the work herself. I warmly recommend it.

Have you read this? Would you be able to make it if you were homeless?

The 48 Laws of Power

“Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Kuvahaun tulos haulle 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power is a self-help work  by Robert Greene. It is  seen as a modern day classic. As the title says, the book is about 48 Laws that will help you to achieve a position of power and to master it.

This book stunned me. People want different things in life, however if you want power then this book is the one you must read.  I really loved this book. I don’t think there is a clearer book about power. There’s Art of War by Sun Tzu, yet that only gives vague tips that are open to all kinds of interpretation.

“To succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions. But even if you succeed in gaining such self-control, you can never control the temperamental dispositions of those around you. And this presents a great danger.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Book follows an interesting formula, it starts by stating the law of power, for example: Law 10. Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky. Then the book explains the transgression of the law and interpretation: Law 10: If you associate yourself with people who seem to attract misfortune then you might be infected with this misfortune as well. Then, observance of the law and interpretation: Book tells us an historical example of Lola Montez and every man who associated themselves with her was doomed (great men like Ludwig I of Bavaria fell). Keys to power: this part explains step by step instructions on how to follow this law. For example, with law #10: if you are gloomy by nature, try to associate yourself with cheerful people, if you tend to avoid human company, surround yourself with sociable people, only associate yourself with successful people in short. Last part of the book formula is Reversal of the law explaining when you should behave exact opposite from what the law tells you to do. I might be confusing transgression and observance of the law parts but I hope you get my point still.

“Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

I like how 48 Laws of  Power tells you to do the exact opposite of what many others will try to tell you. It tells you to play games, wear masks and never trust another person completely no matter who they are to you. Never let other people to pull you down and always take credit even if you didn’t do it. Cunning, isn’t it? I loved the various historical examples in this book. For example, I was aware of the fact that Rubens barely painted any of his painting himself, he rather relied on the students of Rubenshuis, however I did not know that the great Thomas Edison did this as well. Edison might be remembered as one of the greatest inventors of our time and what he really was a cunning businessman. ‘War of the currents’ is not just about whether AC or DC was better, it was about Edison ruining Tesla’s reputation. He most surely did not come up with ideas for 1, 093 patents under his name by himself.

And stories of countless emperors, kings and rulers as well as  some amazing con artists. Like “Count” Lustig who sold the Eiffel Tower twice and who managed to con 5000$ from Al Capone just by showing Capone some good will.

“…But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will turn wild and cause you grief.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

It’s a long time since I have read a book as good as this one. Audio version on Audible was nearly 24 hours but it was definitely worth it. Simply wonderful book.
5/5 stars

How-To Read 48 Laws of Power

1. If you’re familiar with Art of War and have liked it, this is very similar to that. It’s one of those books you should keep on your nightstand.
2. Ste Davies has written a wonderful review (link) of this book also including all the laws and a nice graph, check it out. Laws alone even without explanations make a lot of sense.
3. Over 500 pages long so it’s quite hefty book so take it slow. Or I would recommend the Audible version. It is long as well, however the narrator was just wonderful. He had a powerful and clear voice which suited this book really well.
4. Be careful about applying these laws in your own life. You absolutely should apply them, however if you just suddenly start taking credit of all the ideas of other people, I can imagine what will happen to you. Be tactful and patient, power is like playing chess.
5. If you are not that interested about power and cunning people (I know it sounds evil…) I still warmly recommend this book for all the historical facts it gives.

Cover image source: Statue of Janus

Thoughts? Have you read this? Would you be interested in reading this?

How to Take a Road Trip

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

On the Road is a novel by American author Jack Kerouac, it’s based on the road trips of Kerouac and his friends across America. The novel was published in 1957 and it is  Roman à clef (novel about real life) featuring many key figures of the Beat movement: William S. Burroughs (Old Bull Lee), Allen Ginsberg (Carlo Marx) and Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty) represented by characters in the book, including Kerouac himself as the narrator Sal Paradise.

“A pain stabbed my heart, as it did every time I saw a girl I loved who was going the opposite direction in this too-big world.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I saw ‘On the Road’ audiobook in the library and having never listened to audio book before I thought it was about time I did. Listening to ‘On the Road’ took only about two hours and I listened to it while I was riding a bus home. I think it was more enjoyable than listening to music. I liked the voice of Carradine and it was sort of interesting experience, however, I didn’t really get the point of this novel. I’m not sure if it had one. I get the title but somehow I expected this to have more self-discovery, self-knowledge, more lessons learned, more of something else than what this was. And I guess it’s freedom and fun to drive across the states like that but I like to have at least some kind of plans. Moreover, I didn’t quite like the way this was written even when I was only listening to this. Sentences are all broken, endless stream of thoughts and again where was the point of the whole road trip. Sometimes it works for me, with this it didn’t. What I did like was the American culture & road trip culture and there were some funny moments like when Sal Paradise who hadn’t eaten for days hitchhiked with a man who purposefully was starving himself.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

2/5 stars

Tips

1. If you want to read this but can’t bring yourself to read the actual book, audiobook read by Carradine is a good option for you. And it only takes about 2 hours to listen to it :D
2.
I think this book is more suitable for male readers for those of you who like road trips. If you don’t like unplanned road trips, I’m sure you won’t like this.
3. If you want to learn more about the Beat Movement, literature that explored and influenced American culture in the post-World War II era., this is the book for you. And I guess if you like authors like: William S. Burroughs or Allen Ginsberg. Otherwise stay away.

                                         Buy On the Road audiobook on Amazon

“I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Have you read On the Road? Do you like audio books?