When Steve Jobs passed away last year, I was surprised by how hard his death hit me—I think it's because I've been a loyal Apple fan since childhood and because every single Apple product I've owned has had an element of surprise and delight for me, from my family's green iMac to my first-generation iPod to my MacBook, iPhone and iPad. Materialistic? Maybe. True? Absolutely. (And by the way, if you haven't watched Jobs' 2005 Stanford University commencement speech, you'll want to do that. Like, right now. I've even made it easy for you: Here's the link.)
Anyway, Isaacson's biography was really good—straightforward in tone, easy to read if a little slow at first, and a true testament to Jobs' incredible, unique genius. It didn't shy away from shining a light on Jobs' notoriously difficult personality, either, which I appreciated and which gave the book its “spice,” so to speak. I also loved reading about Jobs' involvement with Pixar, which I knew sadly little about, and the chapters leading up to the end of the book—and the end of Jobs' life—are genuinely poignant. Jon Stewart was right when he said in a tribute that it felt like Jobs had so much more left to give; there is not a doubt in my mind that he would have continued to amaze and revolutionize the world for years to come. If you're an Apple fan—or even if you're not—you should read this book. I came away so inspired and am trying to figure out how to channel that into something productive.
So now I'm in that interesting predicament of wanting to start a new book but also wanting to read something equally good. I downloaded a couple of samples the other night and can't choose, so I need you to help me (pretty please?). Here's what I'm considering (feel free to add suggestions!):
- Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. It seems like everyone has been reading this lately, and I have to admit that even the 30-something sample pages I read sucked me in. If you've read it, is it as good as everyone says?
- Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Again, have heard lots of good things about this from both coworkers and the Internet, and I'm a sucker for a good "I went to the woods to live deliberately"-esque tale.
- Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House, by Meghan Daum. I read about this in Holly's post about what she read in 2011 and it sounded really interesting. It's not my top contender, but Holly's glowing endorsement—and the fact that, as you know if you read her blog, she's an excellent writer herself—makes me curious about it.
- The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Like a man-goes-into-nature story, I am also a sucker for a good coming-of-age story, and this seems to have that wrapped up. A coworker read this and raved about it, as did my blog-friend Mary, but I've heard it's helpful to have some knowledge about baseball going in or you'll miss some of the story's nuances/references—true or no? (As we are aware, I know very little about baseball, but I still enjoy it.)
Photo of Jobs via Door Sixteen