Review: 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less) by Thomas Frank

Genre: 160

Pages: nonfiction, productivity

book review

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five

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I’ve followed Thomas Frank and his youtube channel and podcast “college info geek” for a few years and picked this book up before the new schoolyear, my last year before university. You know that guilt you feel when you’re not prepared enough? I picked up this book wanting to get tips on a better school – life balance, but honestly I was not expecting a lot of new information. I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of productivity resources out there more than most my age. Even though I’ve seen a fair share of College Info Geek youtube videos, I think I’ve gotten A LOT out of this book! It’s obvious that there’s a lot of research behind it, this book is truly like a summary of ten main things you can improve, giving me valuable details. When the topic becomes too in-depth he refers to a couple videos of his or what you can further research or other books on the topic. I am definitely watching the videos on note taking in the next week, along with trying to figure out what’s the most effective way for spaced out repetition.

Some of the many steps that I found valuable to me: tips for organization, a more systematic way to resolving problems and asking for help, tips for actively reading text books, different ways to take notes, recipe on how to write essays. There were also some that were just comforting, like how to learn math and agreeing on how bad group projects are. I took notes while reading it, to have for later in the semester as well, and hope to implement some changes one after the other and see what works for me. I really how Thomas Frank gives different alternatives to do a thing and that it’s easy to focus on one or two steps and bettering your productivity and create habits in that area. Whether you’ve already been interested in productivity or just want to get better grades, reading this book is a good first step.

I paid one dollar on amazon, beut you can also get it for free here: https://collegeinfogeek.com/get-better-grades/

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | Audiobook Review

 

 

Genre: memoir

 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: 

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the audiobook

It’s the best kind of audiobook (in my opinion), where the author narrates the memoir he wrote. Trevor has the perfect voice for these things already, and the emotion, power or softness he brings really brings out each element of the book. Would definitely recommend the audiobook, as well as the story.

 

the story

 

Trevor Noah is known as a comic and host of The Daily Show, born and grown up in South-Africa before also getting big in USA.

Every detail in here is fascinating. I’ve watched Trevor on tv occassionally, I knew the bare minimum about him growing up in South Africa and being a kid of mixed race when that was illegal under apartheid. In this book I also got to know about everything from how complex South-Africa is considering all the different groups of people who lives there, with eleven (!!!) official languages, to how his relationship with his amazing and strict mom was when he grew up. There’s so many stories he tells, some funny, some heartbreaking, most either both or a place in between. Among all of this is some sturdy thoughts on change in society and how he views the world and people.

“We tell people to follow their dreams, but you can only dream of what you can imagine, and, depending on where you come from, your imagination can be quite limited.”

Trevor speaks six languages. That and his ability to be a chameleon in social settings is some of the qualities that led to his success, as he talks about in here. Also religion seem to be out to kill him, as the many trips to church with his mom sometimes ended in kidnappings and catastrophies. I applaud the way these stories are told, with the seriousness they need and a lot of humor. I’m a bit unnerved by how Trevor manages to tell some stories so calmly, and still sound perfectly honest and genuine. That’s a skill or a mindset I still can’t tell where comes from.

The ending is heartwrenching and filled with tension, but then he takes it all around to his mom’s belief again and I was crying. There’s some things in this book that most would see as too unrealistic if it were fiction, including his step-father nearly killing his mom. I don’t know what to say to this other than it felt like a book that someone had poured their truth and soul into, and I honestly encourage everyone to read it. Most articles I’ve seen of this book talks about how Trevor was in jail for a week, but it’s the “smaller” things it’s worth it for. Like how he acquired a cd burner and started a dj business, and what that meant. Or how his mom didn’t let risks derail what she did in her life.

“People love to say, “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” What they don’t say is, “And it would be nice if you gave him a fishing rod.” That’s the part of the analogy that’s missing.”

 

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli | Review

Pages: 90

Genre: science, physics

okay, I’ll admit I chose this book because of its beautiful cover. I mean look at it:

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In this book you get basic concepts and breakthroughs in physics described in a poetic way. It’s a short book with seven brief lessons (who would’ve guessed), well-written and focused on keeping the reader interested. At points the explanation is overly simplified, even for someone who’s about to take (basically) her first physics class, but I understand how more information might’ve destroyed the flow of the writing. It would’ve been better with footnotes (or something similiar) leading to more in-depth sources so you can actually understand the thing being explained.

The book got better the further into it I got, and lesson five on heat was perhaps the most interesting. Maybe because that was the one I knew the least about beforehand? Rovelli’s explanations was mostly good, but I was frustrated more than once at the tendency to mention a concept or name and never explain it further. I basically had wikipedia open, which I don’t feel should be this necessary.

It’s a good book for the person who’s not into physics and don’t usually think about the concepts on how tiny/big the world are and so on. It’s clear that the author knows what he’s talking about, both in the subject and the writing. Not to mention the beautiful cover and marketing. Personally the book was a nice read, but I didn’t feel I got much out of it. Made me realize I might as well open my actual physics textbook, if only I remember where I’ve buried it.

Upstream by Mary Oliver | Book Review

Genre: essays, poetry

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“I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someoone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”

 

I’ve only recently fallen in love with Mary Oliver’s writing and poems. Upstream is a collection of eighteen lovely essays about how Oliver fell in love with poetry as a child, drawing inspiration from nature and simply seeing things throught her eyes. She talks about the poets she likes; Whitman, Emerson, Poe and Wordsworth, and how they’ve contributed to her understanding of the world and of poetry as an art. It’s all incredibly fascinating, I especially loved the bit about Poe.

 

It’s a book for someone who is interested in poetry (you don’t even have to know a lot, just look at me) or have read and liked any of Mary Oliver’s poetry. There’s a few good lessons in here, but also a lot of beautiful writing. I still prefer her poems, but I would definitely say these essays gives more insight into her thoughtprocess and person. The cozy, calm feeling I got when I looked at the cover was the same feeling I got when I read the texts inside.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Synopsis

What does it take for a well-off young man to donate all his money and wander into the Alaskan wilderness (north of Mt. McKinley) with minimal equipment prepared? August of 1992 his body was found, four months later. After the author wrote an article on him, he chose to continue investigating what had happened and who Christopher McCandless was. It leads to this book about the events leading up to the event, how McCandless took the name Alexander Supertramp and it wasn’t his first trip alone. He had gone to Mexico and back in a kayak and wandered the US for years, meeting people who mostly got a good impression of him. It’s strange how he affected certain people, even if it’s looked at with the lense of his death becoming a nation-wide story. Alexander himself wrote about his months in the wilderness and took picture of the place, he underlined thoughtful philosophical quotes in books like anyone. But not everyone meets such an unfortunate end all alone, after having eaten something toxic or simply starving to death.

“I read somewhere… how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong… to measure yourself at least once.”

My thoughts

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I didn’t get as much out of this book as I was looking for. Mostly because it’s not Alexander/Christophers story. Obviously, since he’s ufortunately dead. His notes was the most interesting part of this book, along with the interviews of the people who met him. The author adds other similiar stories, some more interesting than others, as well as own experiences. It comes in an odd place that makes it seem more like filler than if it had been towards the end, as an extra information. There’s not enough material to justify the length of the book, which makes the middle part more boring than necessary. Other than that, the authors writing was good. There’s no romanticizing the events that occurred, but at the same time there’s given reasons for why people choose to live solitary, off the grid that way or want to be in the wilderness.

who was this person?

Personally I don’t agree with the voices claiming Christopher to have a death-wish, had overly romaticized the trip or that he’s a hero for doing something so daring and breaking out of the average life. There certainly seems to be elements of all three, he was too unprepared in the end, he seemed to be escaping and he seemed to be spontaneous. He’d already travelled a lot and been on the road, so he wasn’t straight out from normalcy and college. The last person who saw Christopher alive warned him about the dangers as he noticed he didn’t have much gear, even gave him some, but figured he wouldn’t stay out there that long. This is the part of the story where I question how in his right mind Christopher was, and what his plans were originally. But even with this there wasn’t one personality trait or fault that automatically lead to his death. He got unlucky, in the end. I think that’s the main idea I’ve gotten from this book that I wouldn’t have from articles that claim he was one thing or another. People have done stupid shit and survived, even in the wilderness of Alaska, but McCandless got unlucky.

I wonder if Christopher would’ve liked the book himself. Maybe not. I wanted to know what lead to him wanting to spend time alone out there, as well as what went wrong, and could’ve liked a more direct layout of the theories when it became obvious there were no final answer. I would recommend the book if you’re very interested, if not I think articles online or even the wiki page would be a great place to start. I haven’t yet seen the movie “into the wild”, but I’ll keep you updated when I do. I’m expecting that to give a much more “McCandless as a daring hero” vibe than this book, but maybe not.

Have you ever wanted to spend time alone in the wilderness? Can you imagine what would lead a person to do what McCandless did? I’m still wondering why he changed his name, any ideas?

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

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That is the longest title i’ve seen in a while and it fits exceptionally well.

This book’s a part journal, part running diary of the famous author Haruki Murakami, and was the first novel I read by him. I still found this book interesting, even if I’m not a runner – not at all.

My thoughts

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– this book is about running and so much more – 

I was looking for motivation and insight, which I got, in a way. There’s a lot of reasons to read this book. The writing’s fantastic and so is the self-reflections and general thoughts it included. I like Murakami’s view of the world, which is a weird thing to say, but his thoughts on why he’s running and his stories are interesting in themselves. Like when he sold his jazz club to become a full-time author because it was what he wanted. He went against common sense, but he gives his reasons to why that didn’t stop him. And there seems like nothing will stop him from running for a while either, which still baffles me that one could genuinely enjoy.

– i will never run a marathon but – 

What surprised me the most was the meditation aspect of long-distance running and why someone deliberately cause themselves pain, like Murakami running a marathon in the scolding heat of greece’s summer, on his own. I’m no stranger to pain, but that’s something else. And Murakami doesn’t seem to understand it completely either, only that he wasn’t about to do it again.

When Murakami wrote this book, in 2005, he’d run somewhere around 24 marathons, which I have to be amazed at. He’s been running longer than I’ve been alive. It was really interesting to search for the reason to why he’s be able to keep putting effort into something so demanding for so long. Definitely something to strive for, but it doesn’t mean I’m about to go running anytime soon. I now believe some enjoy it, but they can keep it. I find my meditational exercise elsewhere, even if I didn’t realize it before this book. 

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– Murakami on writing –

“Writers who are blessed with inborn talent can freely write novels no matter what they do – or don’t do. Like water from a natural spring, the sentences just well up, and with little or no effort these writers can complete at work. Occassionally you’ll find someone like that, but, unfortunately, the category wouldn’t include me. I haven’t spotted and springs nearby. I have to pound the rock with a chisel and dig out a deep hole before I can locate the source of creativity. To write a novel I have to drive myself hard physically and use a lot of time and effort. Every time I begin a new novel, I have to dredge out another new, deep hole. But as I’ve sustained this kind of life over many years, I’ve become quite efficient, both technically and physically, at opening a hole in the hard rock and locating a new water vein.”