Every day, you should give yourself a little present, be it a cat nap in your office or a good cup of rich dark coffee (so said Special Agent Dale Cooper in the hit TV series Twin Peaks). It’s sound advice if you ask me. This week’s gift to self consisted of time off; two lazy days of not much more than reading, going for walks, and otherwise hanging about.
You’d think I’d have read a huge pile of books, but this wasn’t the case. I finished my four and am in the middle of two audiobooks and six other titles.
Suite française by Irène Némirovsky was excellent. I read it in the original French version, and it was long but worth it. This book is destined to become a classic. The author, who was killed in a concentration camp in 1942, wrote about her adoptive country just as the Germans invaded. The book is actually incomplete in this printing (only two of the projected five parts of the tale are contained therein), but each unit is separate. The first section represents the experiences of a variety of Parisian characters as they try to flee the capital, and the second, life in the countryside with billeted soldiers.
The next book of the week was The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar. A graphic novel that won the prestigious Prix Angoulême a couple of years ago, this was a great little story set in Algeria and told from the point of view of a witty cat who, for a spell, could talk aloud. As a rule, my favourite kind of graphic novel is the French-inspired variety. I love the dark lines and illustration style. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to be translated so I could buy them for my library.
The reputable and prolific orientalist Bernard Lewis wrote the next book, entitled The Multiple Identities of the Middle East. This interesting and short book does much to illustrate how different groups in the region perceive themselves and others. The text was full of tidbits (yummy), and pointed things out that I hadn’t thought about before. For example: in Christianity, state and church are completely separate from the get go; this is not the case for either Judaism or Islam.
The last book I read doesn’t really fit in with the rest, having to do with customer service and work, but I started it last week and had to finish it. Overpromise and Overdeliver was actually really helpful, discussing what the author Rick Barrera calls ‘Touchpoints’, which are the zones of contact between the customer and your organization. I think I shall pass this one along to a few of my employees, as it has a lot to teach.
Next week will be really busy and I likely won’t be able to read as much, but I look forward to it nonetheless.