Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

At first I was hesitant to read Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood because it did not sound like a book I’d want to read in 2020. As someone who doesn’t watch tv (to clarify, I watch tv shows online; I don’t watch tv-tv), I had no idea whom Trevor Noah was, and I was confused how “funny” was one of the adjectives used to describe this book. So when my friend loaned me this book, I didn’t read it immediately. (My excuse was that I was finishing off another book, which was true anyway, but we all know it’s possible to switch off…) However, I’d had this book on my tbr a little too long for a borrowed book, so I read it (in the same year I borrowed it at that).

OK, so the book was funny. I couldn’t believe that I laughed at some moments—I was reading about apartheid after all. Reading through the highs and lows made me appreciate Trevor Noah’s storytelling skills. It’s as if he knew what his readers were feeling as he wrote, and to make sure we readers don’t feel the need to throw him a pity party, he’d ease the mood. What skill. I enjoyed reading so much that I looked Trevor Noah up and watched some The Daily Show episodes on YouTube. I think I should start watching talk shows. And now I’m thinking I probably should have gone with the audiobook. Or I should listen to the audiobook in the future.

Yes, so overall, Born a Crime is a great read. I should have mentioned sooner that Trevor Noah painted a good picture of his childhood South Africa, so, as a reader, I could easily imagine the streets he walked and the shenanigans he got into. This is a big deal for me. (When I’m not able to visualize the scenes, I feel meh about the book.) Where it got iffy for me was how the book ended. I’m all about reading books that feel complete, and I felt like the Born a Crime jumped to its ending. It didn’t feel seamless to me (huh, he skipped how he went from dj to comedian?) that I felt underwhelmed (wait, it’s done?) when I finished the book. I’m not sure what I’m looking for exactly, and this is a minor minor detail that I can let go of, so I will.

Verdict: This is a darn good book. I’m glad my friend loaned it to me, and I will gladly tell others to read it, too. I haven’t read too many stories about Africa (pretty sure I can count them with my fingers), so this was not only an entertaining but also an informative read.

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book of the Kingkiller Chronicles, a trilogy that is probably never going to see its final book published. I don’t understand the hype. It took me three months to finish The Wise Man’s Fear, and towards the end, I was only reading for the accomplishment of having finished that 1,347 page book. Overall I had the same feeling as I did with The Name of the Wind—the books didn’t feel like their own stories; they were obviously written to be part of a series. That said, I don’t feel too invested in the trilogy, and I think I will survive if the third book simply never comes out. (However, if the third book does get published by some miracle, I would still read it.)

Let’s talk about The Wise Man’s Fear more. Although I finished The Name of the Wind in a significantly shorter amount of time than I did The Wise Man’s Fear, I enjoyed the events in the second book more. Although the first book introduced us to this interesting new world, I liked that Kvothe was more established in the second book. His interactions with his friends were fun to read, and his adventures had more consequences to them. He now had some things (bar money) to lose, and he needed to take more calculated risks. However, similarly to the first book, some events dragged out. While the events at the university were interesting, I found myself asking when the rest of the story would unfold. I also felt his conquests in the Fae dragged out, but I did enjoy reading about his training with the Adem. It’s always interesting to learn about different worlds and cultures.

Despite the number of pages I’d read, I still don’t like Kvothe. There’s something off about his personality that, while I am impressed by his accomplishments, I simply don’t find myself rooting for him. I did love his interactions with people—Wil, Sim, Devi, and Tempi were all interesting characters (Tempi is probably my favorite supporting character, but Devi is an obvious favorite, too), but I didn’t particularly like Kvothe’s arrogant air and dramatic flair. (This is one of the reasons why I couldn’t get too invested in the trilogy.) So let’s see. If a third book does get published, I’ll read it and see if I still feel the same way about Kvothe. If not, meh, oh well.

Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

Crossing the Chasm resonated with me as I work at a tech startup. Although I am not in a marketing role, the book gave me an appreciation for things I’d always taken for granted, such as the whole product, since, as an early majority consumer (yup, let’s be real—I’m not an early adopter), I’d never been able to pinpoint what exactly I look for in tech products. This was an easy and entertaining read on tech marketing. There was no or minimal jargon tossed around, and I found the industry-specific examples helpful.

However, if you’d taken even a basic marketing class in college, the first half of the book will be very familiar to you. There were some extra notes on each stage of the technology life cycle, but nothing major major, that I worried for a bit that the rest of the book would be the same. Thankfully, the second half took a more interesting turn—Moore set the stage during the first half and drilled down basic concepts. Of course, if you’d taken up marketing as your college major, which I didn’t, the second half would have probably been very familiar to you still.

Overall, the book is well crafted. Every chapter made sense—none wasted—and all of the concepts tied in seamlessly. The writing is approachable, which made for easy reading. I’d recommend this book for non-marketing specialists interested in high tech and go-to-market strategies. Otherwise, this book is a little too specific to be appreciated by the general public and might be too simple to be appreciated by professional marketers.