Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book Review - Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

If you enjoyed Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is worth a read.  

Delivering Happiness is the autobiography of Hsieh (pronounced Shay), who sold his first company to Microsoft for $265 million at age 24. 

He is now CEO of Zappos, the online shoe retailer that was acquired by Amazon in 2009 in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion. 

Not bad for a 35 year-old whose business ventures began at the age of nine with a worm farm. 

While I enjoy reading business books, when I started The Reading Experiment it was not my intention to review them. However, I really liked Hsieh’s story and he has some great life philosophies. 

Delivering Happiness doesn’t have the same level of glitz, glamour and adventure as Losing My Virginity. 

But Hsieh has the same entrepreneurial spirit and infectious enthusiasm as Branson and his journey to fame and fortune is equally remarkable – plus, Hsieh is an all-round nice guy. 

About halfway through, Hsieh explains the Zappos company values, its corporate culture (the company has been ranked 15th in Fortune magazine’s Best Companies to Work For list) and its obsession with customer service. This was my favourite part of the book. 

I also enjoyed Hsieh’s insights at the end of the book into what makes people happy. 

My only criticism is that Zappos doesn’t ship to Australia :) 

Would you like to read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh? 

Here’s where you can buy it online: 


Book Depository US 

Book Depository UK 

Fishpond Australia 

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 


*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy this book via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%). 

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. 

Happy reading! 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Have you ever wanted to run away and join the circus? 

You will after reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. 

You don’t read this book so much as discover it. 

It’s like chancing upon an old wooden trunk in the corner of a dusty attic and opening it up to reveal hidden treasures inside. 

Set in the late 1800s, The Night Circus tells the story of Celia Bowen, daughter of Prospero the Enchanter, and Marcus Alasdair, protégé of sorts to the mysterious man in the grey suit. 

A battle of skills awaits them. But what is the Challenge? When will it take place? And how does the mysterious Le Cirque des Reves – The Circus of Dreams – fit in? 

The Night Circus is an enchanting book. I was captivated and intrigued from its opening pages. 

Morgenstern creates vivid scenes of circus life filled with acts to delight and amaze. I could almost smell the scents of caramel and bonfire wafting from its pages. 

The Night Circus is Water for Elephants meets Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory meets Cirque du Soleil meets Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind. 

Would you like to read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern? 

Here’s where you can buy it online: 


Book Depository US 

Book Depository UK 

Fishpond Australia 

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

*Please note: You won't pay more if you purchase via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%). 

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. 

Happy reading! 

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Friday, October 28, 2011

My Brush with Fame - Li Cunxin, author of Mao's Last Dancer

I’m feeling very inspired. Today I met Li Cunxin, aka Mao’s Last Dancer

What an extraordinary man.

I was lucky enough to be invited by stockbroking and financial advisory firm Prescott Securities to a business lunch at which Li was guest speaker. 

Spot the book groupie – I think I was the only person in a room of 200 people who brought with me a copy of Mao’s Last Dancer for Li to sign. 

Many of you may be familiar with Li’s story – he was born into bitter poverty in Chairman Mao’s communist China yet went on to become a world-famous ballet dancer. 

Li’s story is one of courage and determination and if you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak I encourage you to do so. 

One minute he had the room in tears as he recalled his early years in China and his parents’ struggle to put food on the table. 

The next minute he had us all laughing at his first encounters with life in the West. 

Then we were all in tears again as Li told us of his parents’ love and their immense pride and joy in seeing him dance for the first time. 

He even threw in a couple of ballet moves for good measure. 

It was truly inspiring to hear Li speak. 

After all that he has been through, he remains humble and down to earth. I must admit to being a little bit star struck when I had the opportunity to meet Li after his presentation when he very kindly signed my book. 

If you haven’t read Mao’s Last Dancer, I highly recommend it. You can buy it here from The Book Depository*. 

Thank you to Prescott Securities for giving me the opportunity to meet Li and hear him speak. 

*Please note: You won't pay more if you purchase via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%). 

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading! 

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review - Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

The Slap meets Desperate Housewives in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom

It’s one of those books that can polarise opinions so, like The Slap, you’ll probably either love it or hate it. It would certainly make for some great book club discussions. 

Set in modern-day American suburbia, Freedom is the story of the Berglund family. 

On the surface, they’re your typical all-American family. Walter is Mr Nice Guy while Patty spends her days baking cookies and doting on her children.

Scratch beneath the surface, however, and all is not as happy families as it seems. 

Freedom contains flawed characters who I didn’t really like, yet I felt compelled to read their story. 

While I didn’t fall in love with this book, it did leave an impression on me and I appreciated its deeper themes about freedom and what it really means to be free. 

Love it or hate it, Freedom is worth a read. 

Would you like to read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen? Here’s where you can buy it online: 


Book Depository US 
Book Depository UK 
Fishpond Australia 
Amazon US 
Amazon UK  

*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy this book via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%). 



Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading! 

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Friday, October 7, 2011

It's carnival time!

Visit The Reading Experiment at The 80th Book Review Blog Carnival. 

You'll find my review of Jennifer Egan's A Visit From The Goon Squad along with 34 book reviews across various genres written by book bloggers from around the world. 

Thanks to carnival host Clark from www.residentreader.blogspot.com

Happy reading! 


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review - The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Imagine taking a handful of characters from TV’s Mad Men and transporting them to the heart of the African jungle. 

Consider how out of place they would be.

So too the Price family in Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible.

I very nearly didn’t read this book. I didn’t think I’d be able to relate to a family of missionaries who move to the Congo.

I wasn’t expecting them to be an all-American 1960s family (tyrannical father aside) with a penchant for Betty Crocker cake mix, pink angora twin sets, sweet sixteen parties and ice-cream cones.

To say they are out of their depth in the Congo would be an understatement. 

What on earth are they doing there?

Their situation seems comical at times. If only it wasn’t so tragic. 

If you enjoy books that make you think, you will love The Poisonwood Bible.

Barbara Kingsolver takes the reader on an epic journey to show what can happen when two very different worlds collide. 

She packs a lot of food for thought into this book. Just when you think you’ve got it all covered, she gives you something new to think about.

I could get into a long discussion about The Poisonwood Bible.

But you’ll enjoy it more if you discover it for yourself.

Thank you Jan for recommending The Poisonwood Bible to me.

Would you like to read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver?

Here’s where you can buy it online:


*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy this book via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%).

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review - A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

If you’ve ever felt a little bit lost and wondered where life will take you, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From The Goon Squad is worth a read.

A kleptomaniac, a burnt out record producer and a group of teens discovering sex, drugs and rock n’ roll are just a few of the eclectic mix of characters in this award-winning book.

A Visit From The Goon Squad is their coming of age.

Egan writes with wit, care and humour in this interconnected collection of short stories.

She creates a tapestry of characters whose lives evolve and intersect as their stories progress.

A Visit From the Goon Squad visits each character at key turning points in their lives. It explores how we get from A to B, what can happen when life takes a detour and the impact of the passage of time.

As you move from chapter to chapter, pay close attention to the minor characters and names that are mentioned in passing. Chances are they will turn up in a major role later on.

It’s fun trying to pick the potential comebacks and discovering what has transpired between one story and the next.

Also, look out for the chapter told entirely in Powerpoint slides – surprisingly, this was my favourite chapter in the book (if only all Powerpoint presentations could be so engaging).

A Visit From The Goon Squad is the recent winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction and the 2011 National Book Critics Award.

Would you like to read A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan?

Here’s where you can buy it online:

Book Depository US
Book Depository UK
Fishpond Australia
Amazon US
Amazon UK


*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy this book via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%).



Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!

Find The Reading Experiment on Facebook here and on Twitter here.


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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review - Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Don’t be misled by the title and jacket description of this book.

They will have you believe that Caleb’s Crossing is about the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University in 1665.

Don’t get me wrong – this is central to the story and is the reason Geraldine Brooks wrote this book.

However, alongside it is the equally powerful story of the book’s narrator, Bethia Mayfield, and her detailed account of life as a woman in the mid-17th Century.

I love historical fiction and also recommend two of Brooks’ previous books:
  • People of the Book: A book lover’s delight – a book that tells the story of a centuries old book.
  • Year of Wonders: The story of an English housemaid and her village during the 1666 plague.
In Caleb’s Crossing, Brooks creates a work of fiction from scant historical fact.

She goes to great lengths to recreate the life and times of the era, when Native Americans were commonly referred to as “salvages” and women were required to live in the shadow of men.

She creates a strong contrast between the fiery spirit of Native American traditions and the sobering repression of English Puritan ways.

While I enjoyed the story of Caleb, for me, Bethia’s story was the real drawcard of this book.

As she narrates Caleb’s story and his “crossing” to English ways, Bethia also introduces us to the issues facing women of her era.

It is saddening to see her sharp wit and intelligence silenced by the prejudices of her time.

It also made me wonder: if women had been able to speak up throughout the ages, how different would the world be that we live in today?

Thank you to Sarah for recommending this book to me.

Find The Reading Experiment on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Would you like to read Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks?

Here's where you can buy it online:

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon



The Reading Experiment also recommends:

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon




Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Book Depository
Amazon



*Please note: You won't pay any more if you buy these books via these links, but they will give me a small referral fee (5%).

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!