Kim Kardashian

She continues to lark about as cameraman starts to walk away. “Excuse me, are you leaving?” I’m Kim Kardashian. I’m the dopest of the ropest person in this class. I’m dope on a rope. When someone off camera interrupts, define “dope”, Kim, she answers “Dope is Kim”. / Kim Kardashian, 5th grade

Sean Smith’s biography Kim portrays the life of world’s top reality tv star. It’s no other than Kim Kardashian. The book was first published in 2015 and it describes Kim’s childhood in Beverly Hills, her Armenian roots, her turbulent relationships and of course her rise to become what she is today.

I’ve long been fascinated by reality tv. I don’t like watching it but I like how genius the concept of it is. Basically making fun of people, of usually very rich or very pretty people when in reality they’re far from that.

This book is a light read and it reveals a very different kind of Kim. Kim who as a girl dreamed of being not Madonna, but a wife and a mother.

The book covers Kim’s life pretty well. Describing the parents and siblings of Kim and then explaining her childhood growing up in Beverly Hills. Then, we move on to her dramatic relationships. She married for the first time in 2000 with Damon Thomas, later filing for a divorce, then she had a short marriage with Kris Humphries before meeting her current husband Kanye West. As for career, she appeared first on few episodes of Simple Life, then leaked a sex tape (coincidence, I don’t think so?) and then launching ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ in 2007.

I liked how book offered some insight to the reality tv (which we all know is scripted). For example, the book tells about that one time when Kardashians hired a porn star to be a babysitter. Funnily enough, they filmed Bree Olson for like 15 hours and in the end, her footage amounted to just barely over 5 minutes in the show.

And yes. It’s not that easy to be a reality tv star. As the book states, if you’re an actress, you can win an Oscar or an Emmy. A musician like Kanye will win applause for taking home a Grammy or a BRIT Award. Problem Kim has as a brand is: how can she be judged to be successful?

“People who think Kim can’t be taken seriously because she posts are confusing because she posts naked pictures of her famous rear online are confusing the brand with the person.”

I liked reading this and I like Kim more now because of this book… I think biographies like this give you a basic idea of who the people are as well as some basic facts about them. However, I do enjoy more reading autobiographies or biographies that have been written together with the person of interest (as that of Elon Musk) so that is why I call this light. Also, what the hell with the star sign and star chart chapter that went on for about 9 pages? I don’t know why the author decided to include it?
3/5 stars

How-To Read Kim & Fun facts
1. It’s very light read. Smith has written a ton of biographies, so far I’ve only read two but he’s pretty good. Not an expose but still entertaining. Like did you know, Kim is very religious?
2. Bunim/Murray … Google that. Are they genius or are they just taking over the tv? …And the world?
3. A brand or a person? And what to keep in mind when we watch reality tv.

Thoughts? Reality TV… yay or nay?

Picture credits: cover of the book, Kim Kardashian featured image: Kim Kardashian profile shot by Shelby Skrhak, Weekend Update Kim Kardashian Saturday Night Live Nicki Minaj by Zennie Abraham

The 33 Strategies of War

“Do not fight them. Instead think of them the way you think of children, or pets, not important enough to affect your mental balance”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

The 33 Strategies of War is a 2006 book written by American author Robert Greene It is a book that describes war tactics… in your own life, in everything from business negotiations to family quarrels…

You might remember my earlier review: 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene’s first book. I guess numbers are attractive and so I half-accidentally stumbled upon this book on Audible and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The 33 Strategies of War is a book that combines the knowledge of great classics such as  ‘Art of War’ and ‘On War’ and expanding that knowledge and making it much more practical to use these strategies in your daily life.

 

“Events in life mean nothing if you do not reflect on them in a deep way, and ideas from books are pointless if they have no application to life as you live it.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

I loved this book. It gives you countless  and countless of good guidelines on how to lead your life. Although, from time to time that advice can be quite realistic or even brutal. Preface of the book starts with some nice examples from Greek mythology. Ares was the greek god of war,  however Athene was the goddess of warfare and that is the often case in other mythologies. Point of war is not in killing, but in strategy. Not being the pawn, but the player.

Book has been divided into different strategies of warfare, every chapter giving you more insight on them. These strategies include: Self-directed warfare, organizational warfare, offensive warfare, defensive warfare and unconventional (dirty) warfare. Every chapter of the book contains own sub-strategy and it is (just as in 48 Laws of Power) purely genius. Couple of examplesfrom chapters under the dirty warfare. Chapter 23 is called Weave seamless blend of fact and fiction. Point of this chapter is to teach you how to confuse and to distract your enemies from what you are doing or what is goind on around them. Feed their expectations and manifacture their reality to match their desires. Or Chapter 28 is called: Give Your Rivals Enough Rope to Hang Themselves: The One-Upmanship Strategy.  “Life’s greatest dangers often come not from external enemies but from our supposed colleagues and friends who pretend to work for the common cause while scheming to sabotage us.”  Point is to confuse our enemies in these games they are playing.

“Your mind is the starting point of all war and all strategy. A mind that is easily overwhelmed by emotion, that is rooted in the past instead of the present, that cannot see the world with clarity and urgency, will create strategies that will always miss the mark.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

To most of you, all of this might sound shocking, terrible and you might not to want to use these strategies though I think everyone should at least know of them. I adored this book also because it made so much easier to understand world politics and actions of world leaders such as Trump or Putin. It also has enabled me to see through people and recognize the strategy they are playing if they are. What I didn’t quite like about The 33 Strategies of War was how often it repeated the same examples used in the previous book. It was good in a way because I knew the example and could see it both from strategy and power perspective, however I still wanted more of novel ideas.

5/5 stars

“You may think that what you’d like to recapture from your youth is your looks, your physical fitness, your simple pleasures, but what you really need is the fluidity of mind you once possessed.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

How-To Read The 33 Strategies of War
1.
If you love Art of War and On War, this should be your next read. And it’s perfect for history lovers.
2.
Quite a heavy book, it will probably take a while and for that it is the perfect book to listen to on your way to work for example.
3.
Umm… business is business?

Check out this awesome video:

Featured image: Photos: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons…Soldiers in front of the wood of Hougoumont during the reenactment of the battle of Waterloo (1815), June 2011, Waterloo, Belgium, British artillery in action by John Warwick Brooke . And the video is linked here from the youtube site

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?

Night by Elie Wiesel

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Night, first published in 1960s is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end of the Second World War. 

I read Night because of my earlier read Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. In that book, Sapolsky had quoted Elie Wiesel and that quote is stuck in my mind. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It’s unimaginably deep quote. If we do not care, if we stay silent,  if we do not pick sides, the world will fall apart. I don’t think I’ve realized it before or not to full extent of that it is a great crime to remain silent. And so I was intrigued by this book.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Night (again I listened to it) was shocking, beautiful, torturous read. It describes undescribable horros and undescribable pain. Thinking about the book makes causes me to shiver. I felt like  crying so many times but at the same time I couldn’t stop listening to this book.

Let’s start with the title. Night. It’s not just the darkness outside but also the darkness within. It’s not a night you’d imagine at first. It’s a night so full of smoke that you cannot breathe. Despair so strong that the dawn will never come. A Night that does not end.

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

People lost hope and stopped believing in their God. Because why would God be silent through all of this. As one man describes: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” It’s a scary read because it also describes how people lose not just their belief but also their humanity. Cruelty becomes a new norm. People turn against one another as self-preservation takes over. Words like Brother, Father, Friend are meaningless.

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Audio performance by acclaimed George Guidall was just a stunning one. I felt like it was Wiesel himself was telling the story as Guidall’s voice truthfully carried all the impossible pain.  My audio book also included Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and preface to new edition of the book and it made me so mad. Original version of the Night was over 800 pages long and it was cut basically every time it was published. And author had to plead and beg to get his work published in many countries. Imagine that.

I feel like I’m unworthy to review this book. I could write thrice as long review from what it already have and still I wouldn’t be able to describe this properly. I guess for me, the most important lesson from this and from Wiesel was how neutrality kills. How indifference kills.

Night touched me to the very core. It’s brutal but necessary read. One of the best reads of my life. I loved it and I will be haunted by it.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Night

1. Just 120 pages but it feels like 1000 pages long.  It’s a heart-wrenching book and even though I would like to urge everyone to read this, it’s a difficult book and I know some will find it hard to stomach. Then again, you have no right not to know.  We must take responsibility for humanity’s sake.
2.
Night is a trilogy so there are two more books to read: Dawn and Day. I’ve heard they’re more fragmented than Night but I cannot not leave them unread.
3.
It’s a beautiful book. Yes, it’s about holocaust but Wiesel’s thoughts on all his experiences are  uniquely expressed. So many lines make you stop and think.

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Have you read this? Thoughts?

Featured image: Smoke (Public Domain)

The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy is J. M. Barrie’s most famous work, in the form of a 1904 play and a 1911 novel. It tells the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and has many adventures on the island of Neverland that is inhabited by mermaids, fairies, Native Americans, and pirates.

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I think Peter Pan was something that I first learned about through Disney’s film adaptation many years ago. I think no matter in what format you first learned about this story, it will always be a story of making the impossible possible by believing. And that one must believe in fairies.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

There are many magical things about Peter Pan’s story. The story is wonderful. Something magical happens and three ordinary kids are taken to a magical land. The Neverland and to find it you must find the second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. And there they encounter many different kinds of adventures.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Characters are one of a kind, I think. There’s the one and only boy who would not grow up, Peter Pan, a young boy dressed in leaves and the only one able to fly without the help of Tinker Bell’s golden fairy dust. And Tinker Bell. I understand very well why she became the messenger of Disney’s magic. She’s no fancy fairy, she mends pots and kettles and even though she’s usually helpful and kind to Peter, from time to time she’s also ill-behaved and vindictive.

“Tink was not all bad: or, rather, she was all bad just now, but, on the other hand, sometimes she was all good. Fairies have to be one thing or the other, because being so small they unfortunately have room for one feeling only at a time. They are, however, allowed to change, only it must be a complete change.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Then there’s The Darling Family and the children: John, Michael & Wendy Darling. The lattest one is the eldest one of the children who likes the idea of homemaking and wants to be a mother which she sort of also becomes for the Lost Boys. I never liked Wendy’s character for some reason. & The Lost Boys, sad but fascinating idea about how they turned up in Neverland. And then also one of my all-time favorite villains: Captain James Hook. Who wants to kill Peter Pan. Not so much because Peter cut off his right hand but because Peter drives him to madness. Oh and the ticking crocodile.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I really adore Peter Pan, however, I can’t quite bring myself to give it 5 stars review as there were a couple of things that I did not like: Wendy was really annoying and the last chapter of the story was also rather annoying. I think perhaps the book would have been better without it. And then the background of this story is a sad one.

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

4/5 stars

How-To Read Peter Pan
1.
A dear child has many names. This novel goes by different titles such as: Peter Pan or Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up or Peter and Wendy. If you’re looking for one with illustrations you might want to look for Peter & Wendy.
2.
There are two prequels to Peter Pan’s story called: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens: “Before he flew away to Neverland, the little boy who wouldn’t grow up dwelt in the heart of London, with birds and fairies as his companions.” and  The Little White Bird where only few chapters are about Peter Pan and the rest focus on Barrie’s ponderings. I think only Peter Pan’s story matters but if you’re a fan, I warmly recommend the first part too.
3.
You can read and download Peter Pan and all the other works by J.M. Barrie for free at Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16
4.
Don’t get me started about Disney’s adaptation. I love it. And it’s nice to read the story after you’ve seen the film. The novel is a bit darker.
5. Clap your hands and say, ‘I believe in fairies!’

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Thoughts? Did you first read Peter Pan or see the Disney adaptation of it?