Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

One of my friends recommended I read Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, a memoir about how Nike came to be. At first, I didn’t feel like I could empathize with Phil Knight nor root for him. (IDK, he seemed too smart or something too good to be true.) But I read on because I was curious why my friend liked the book so much.

For the most part, I felt okay with Shoe Dog, but there were two good things that stood out as I read on:

  1. the (blind) passion the original employees had for running, or at least for the shoes; and
  2. the innovative spirit of Coach Bowerman and the adjustments he made to shoes to increase his athletes’ performance.

Overall the early days of Nike was an impressive story. It’s hard to believe that Nike was ever an underdog, but I think its original staff had big hearts and insane drive that were essential to the company’s eventual success. Not a bad read.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown showcases the (perceived) roles we play in society. Particularly, the role of the Asian immigrant in a Chinatown. Although it works with stereotypes and generalizations, many of the points raised felt justified. I felt a little sad for the main character when I was reading; it’s not easy to be a minority in your home country (and, no, you can’t “go back where you came from” when you’ve always been home).

The book is written as a script, and the format spoke a lot to the commentary that Yu was making. The story itself was a little hard to follow (it felt choppy), and there were a lot of monologues as the main character realized certain things about himself. For some reason, I don’t want to spoil this book for others, so I won’t delve into the details.

This one is a quick read, and it is easy to digest. I can imagine this book resounding to many on a personal level, but it might be hard to appreciate for those who don’t have enough context or familiarity with immigration stories.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is generally well-loved by readers. In my own circle of friends, those who have read the book absolutely love it. Whereas other people would find this as an encouraging sign to read the book, I delayed reading it—what if I didn’t like the book? Well, I had to deal with it. (I was supposed to be on a book buying ban, so I had to read the unread books on my shelf before purchasing new ones.)

The first thing I noticed was that the book lacked an introduction. When it comes to nonfiction (bar memoirs), I don’t care for spoilers; I’d like to know the gist of the book up front. That way, I’d know if I want to invest more time in the book or not. I felt uncomfortable reading because I wasn’t sure what point Harari wanted to drive home, so I felt I was reading a research paper blindly.

Other than that, I had a pleasant time reading Sapiens. Some parts of the book felt like throwbacks to my grade school and high school classes—finally, all of the terms I’d memorized back then made sense to me. I am glad I read Sapiens now because I developed a stronger appreciation for the things I learned in school, albeit through memorization.

Perhaps the most memorable section for me was the one on empires. Admittedly, we wouldn’t be where we are today if the Europeans hadn’t set out to explore (and exploit) new territories—for God, gold, and glory, I remember from school. But the path to today was not one of roses, and it’s chilling to think about the violence and deceit that happened throughout history, ending on a global scale only as recently as 75 years ago.

I’m glad I read a physical copy of the book. Although I’m not used to reading off glossy-ish white paper, I enjoyed looking at the photo exhibits, which I wouldn’t have been able to properly view on my kindle. It took me two weeks to read the book—pretty good time considering it was nonfiction—and if I hadn’t made it clear already, it was a good read. I don’t have strong opinions about it, but I did appreciate Harari’s efforts in keeping readers engaged in the book.