Thoughts on: Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh

This is the story of a sociology student who gets a unique opportunity to study, hang out with, and even act as a stand in for, a gang leader. Itโ€™s a great peak into the underground economy and organization of the public housing projects in Chicagos most crime ridden districts.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œWas is possible, I wondered, to be in the projects for any length of time and remaining neutral; an outsider an objective observer?โ€

๐Ÿ“ Independent prostitutes got beaten up 4 times while affiliates (w. pimps) only got beaten once per year on average.

๐Ÿ“ Prostitute Price List:

๐Ÿ’ต Blowjob: 10-15$

๐Ÿ’ต Intercourse: 25$

๐Ÿ’ต Anal: 50$

๐Ÿ˜ข

๐Ÿ“ Gangs told their foot soldiers and people in the public housing who to vote for in elections.

๐Ÿ“ The way the people hustling in the projects had to pay different people for protection (pimps, building supervisors and the gangs) reminded me of a quote from The Story of Civilization, talking about the birth of the state tax: โ€œIt was better to pay bribe to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all.โ€

Itโ€™s a good book, but I wished for less personal drama and more scientific analysis.

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY: The people of the Robert Taylor public housing projects will most likely have even fewer options to gang life in the future, as jobs for unskilled laborers is eliminated by automation and AI. My next read (Give People Money) is about Universal Basic Income which might turn out to be a key ingredient to end this type of poverty.

3/5

Photo credit: @literaryjargon

Whatโ€™s your next read? ๐Ÿค”

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 2) – The Near East

The second part of this tome (1200+ pages) is focused on the Ancient civilizations of the Near East; Egypt, Persia, Babylonia, Judea etc..

๐Ÿ“ โ€œIt is in the nature of an empire to disintegrate soon, for the energy that created it disappears from those who inherits it.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Persia was founded by a stoic people, but within a century it was destroyed by people binge-drinking and eating all day; โ€œspending their geniuses on sauces and desertsโ€ ๐Ÿฐ. What state is our current civilization in? ๐Ÿค”

๐Ÿ“ Egypt: โ€œMachinery was rare because muscle was cheap.โ€

๐Ÿ“ The hanging gardens of Babylon was considered considered one of the Wonders of the World. Legend has it that Nebuchadnezzar II had it build for his wife who was not used to the desert and longed for her lush homeland.

๐Ÿ“ There where thousands of Gods. With time minor deities merged and became mere aspects of major ones.

๐Ÿ“ In Judean prophets talked about the need to be moral rebirth. Jeremaya asked for circumcision of spirit as well as the flesh in his strange phrase: โ€œCircumstance yourself to the lord, take away the foreskins of your heart.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY:

One theme that stood out to me is how civilizations raise from hard labour and sacrifice, just so that future generation can have it go down the toilet by forgetting these hardships and fall victim to hedonism. ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿšฝ

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY 2:

The accounts of the religious believes in the different civilizations fascinates me to no end. How similar their stories are to ours and how much we still can find intact or reshaped in todayโ€™s religions.

โš–๏ธ VERDICT:

Now we get into the meat of the book and it has taken on another rhythm. I have mixed feelings about this second part of book. Itโ€™s is still brilliant but itโ€™s getting hard to retain the information. The problem might lie in the way the book is structured, using the same template to describe each civilization, one after the other, making it overwhelming.

Check out Part 1 for more in this review series.

What are you reading these days? ๐Ÿค”

Instagram Photo credit: @cinefile_25 , @eruchdah

Find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estรฉs

Women Who Run With The Wolves explores folk tales and myths through a jungian lens with the intent to help women reconnect to the instinctual self, the Wild Woman archetype.


๐Ÿ“ Classic tale beginning:

โ€œโ€œOnce there was, and ones there was not…โ€ This paradoxical phrase is meant to alert the soul of the listener that this story takes place in the world between worlds where nothing is as it first seems.โ€

๐Ÿ“ The animus can pollute your flow of creativity with self doubt. One with a polluted river will not be able to take compliments; โ€œBeautiful? This old thing? Well, it nothing really, look at all the mistakes I madeโ€.

A well-developed animus has excellent borders. An artist that puts up a sign outside her house: โ€œI am working today and am not receiving visitors. I know you think this doesnโ€™t mean you because you are my banker, agent, or best friend. But it does.โ€ ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿป

๐Ÿ“ Original stories where often morphed to fit religious beliefs. Pagan symbols became Christian symbols. Sexual parts where removed and animals became demons. ๐Ÿฆ โ€”> ๐Ÿ‘น

๐Ÿ“ There is no more reliable sign that a person has spent time with Ugly Duckling status at some point or all her life than her inability to digest a sincere compliment. We have all know people like this… ๐Ÿฆ† ๐Ÿฆข

๐Ÿ“โ€œSometime educated guesses can be made about the wounds of childhood by closely inspecting what matters adults irrationally lose their tempers overโ€.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œIf you donโ€™t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never beginโ€ ๐ŸŒฒ


Itโ€™s beautifully written, very mystical in its tone, and I can sense the impact this book must have had on women throughout the years. As a male reader I canโ€™t fully relate to all aspects of it – and itโ€™s ok, itโ€™s not written for me -but there is a lot of value in this book nevertheless.

For me the biggest takeaways are the stories themselves and their interpretation. I also found the chapter of creativity truly profound.

โ€”

3/5


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

The Laws of Human Nature: Discover Your Dark Side

Recall Britneyโ€™s 2008 breakdown, Clintonโ€™s sex affair and the behavior Nixonโ€™s behavior in the White House before his resignation?

โ€œWhen we experience those moments when people reveal their dark side, we see something come over their face; their voice and body language of alteredโ€” almost as if another person is confronting us, the features of the upset child suddenly becoming visibleโ€ – Robert Greene

Carl Jung called it The Shadow.

The Shadow consists of all the qualities we try to deny about ourselves and repress. You can try really hard to cover up these aspects but they will pop back up sooner of later. You can see glimpses of it showing from people in moments of stress.

โ€œYou can throw out Nature with a pitchfork, but sheโ€™ll always come back.โ€

Hiding The Shadow side of yourself takes energy. You must be adept to see when The Shadow is appearing in yourself and others.

The Shadow also tends to show more with age. โ€œLater in life we tire of the masks we have been wearing, and the leakage is greater.โ€

Iโ€™ve started to study Jung but I havenโ€™t read up on the concept of The Shadow yet. What Iโ€™ve got from The Laws of Human Nature is an introduction that left me wanting to know more – What reading do you recommend on the Shadow and Shadow work? Letโ€™s confront our dark sides! ๐Ÿค”

Thoughts on: โ€œTo Kill a Mocking Birdโ€ by Harper Lee

I knew nothing about this book going in, except that it is a classic and probably written by an American.

I could have read up on why it is considered a classic and why it has stood the test of time before I started to read it and write about it here. But I didnโ€™t. I enjoy to be thrown into an experience not knowing what to expect – to approach books with a Beginners Mind, so to speak. After posting this I will read up on the history of the book, itโ€™s impact and itโ€™s cult status.


๐Ÿ“ โ€œWhen I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I was not supposed to do anything that requires me to wear pants.โ€ said Jean-Louise. Girls where expected play with tea sets and be a sunshine to others.

๐Ÿ“ The chapter about when the kids where tasked to read for the malignant dying morphine addict, Mrs. Dubose, really struck a cord with me.

๐Ÿ“ To kill a mocking bird is to destroy innocence.

My guess is that what makes this book special is the way it challenges gender stereotypes and how it shines a light on prejudices regarding race and class. But maybe even more striking is the beautiful way in which it is written and how it takes you to another time and place.

Itโ€™s a great book, but I wouldnโ€™t consider it mandatory reading for my purposes, which is to get a deep understanding of the human condition and what constitutes reality.

3/5

Have you read it? What classics are you intending to read this year? ๐Ÿค”


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists!

Thoughts on: โ€œLost Connectionsโ€ by Johann Hari

For a long time depression and anxiety has been believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and the solution is a lifetime pill popping. Hari challenges this idea, both the cause and the solution.

____

His research shows 9 very different causes for depression – Disconnection from…

1. Meaningful work

2. Meaningful values

3. Other people

4. Status and respect

5. Childhood trauma

6. The natural world

7. A hopeful and secure future

8. & 9. The real role of genes and brain changes.

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ โ€œYou are not a machine with broken parts you are an animal whose need have not been met.โ€

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ When asked how many friends people have, โ€œzeroโ€ is the most common answer.

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ Anxious and depressed people are prone to gaming addiction. Games have groups and teams, clear goals, and provides a sense of control.

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ Anti depressant Companies (who often finance studies) only publish what makes their product look good. Just like when we take selfies, we discard the double chins and post the one where we look ace! ๐Ÿคณ

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ The more people value things, the more likely they are to be depressed.

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ Obesity and loneliness are equally deadly.

โ€”โ€”

๐Ÿ“ Studies show that depression is in fact to a significant degree a problem not with your brain but with your life.

โ€”โ€”

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY: I have not been depressed myself (I donโ€™t think?) but like most people I have had periods that has been darker and more anxious than others. Reconnecting to the 9 areas pointed out by Hari definitely improved things for me. Whether it was starting to run in nature (6.), Meditation (5.), read books (2.) or work on this Insta account (1. & 3.). Unfortunately โ€œReconnectionโ€ is not as commercially lucrative and easy to package into a product as antidepressants.

โ€”โ€”

We all have people around us, friends or family members, that suffer from depression. Reading this book helped me gain a deeper understanding why modern society is a breeding ground for mental disorders.

โ€”โ€”

This books is a serious contender for Book of the Year for me – and itโ€™s only beginning of February. โค๏ธ

โ€”-

What actions and habits in your life protect you from depression and anxiety? ๐Ÿค”

โ€”โ€”

5/5

โ€”โ€”

Photo credit: @thelavinagency


Get the book right here or find other amazing reads in my reading lists! Also, if you want more notes from this book then checkout the Extended Notes, right here!

Thoughts on: โ€œMutantsโ€ by Armand Marie Leroi

Spontaneous sex change, cyclops and mermaid syndrome and conjoined twins. The tall and the very short. Albinism and rapid aging. No stone is left unturned when Armand Marie Leroiโ€™s takes us on a journey though the biology of the bizarre – and beautiful.

This book โ€œ..is not only about the human body as we might wish it to be, but as it is – replete with variety and errorโ€.


๐Ÿ“ Mutation arise from errors made by the machinery that copies or repair DNA.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œWe are all mutants, but some of us are more mutant than others.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Clitoris = Penis

๐Ÿ“: โ€˜I do not want to be embarrassed by your black body at Daddyโ€™s graveโ€™ said her mother. Rita Hoefling was a white girl in the apartheid society of South Africa who suddenly turning black. At first she got subtle racist remarks and by the end of her transformation she was denied attending her own fathers funeral.. racism is dumb.

๐Ÿ“ Preformationists= They believed the egg contained the entire embryo (complete with limbs) and that embryo had itself it owns sperm or egg which in turn contained embryos ad infinitum.

๐Ÿ“ In conjoined twins the skew toward femininity is overwhelming: about 77 percent are girls. No one know why this is.

๐Ÿ“ Boys who are castrated before puberty grow up to be unusually tall.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œWomen of all cultures seem to prefer men who are on average five centimeters (about two inches) taller than themselves.โ€


The human body is amazing. This book feels like it celebration of the most haunting, weird and wonderful shapes the human body can take. It leaves me in awe.

4/5

What are you reading these days? ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“š

Check out more great books in the Reading Lists!

Thoughts on: Canโ€™t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Goggins, Goggins, Goggins! This guy is proper crazy!

He managed to escape an abusive family situation and decided become a navy S.E.A.L. The problem was that he was overweight, uneducated and unprepared. This was the starting point for the man that grew to become one of (if not THE), toughest endurance athletes Iโ€™ve come across.


๐Ÿ“ About his abusive childhood home: โ€œGlossy surfaces reflect much more than they revealโ€. Great expression!

๐Ÿ“ โ€œMotivation is bullshit.โ€

๐Ÿ“ โ€œI brainwashed myself to craving discomfortโ€. Schedule suffering into your life.

๐Ÿ“ Itโ€™s funny, humans tend to hatch their most challenging goals and dreams, the ones that demands the most effort and promises absolutely nothing, when we are tucked into our comfort zones.

๐Ÿ“ Ran 100 miles without training, on broken legs, pissing blood.

๐Ÿ“ Had the world record for most pull ups in 24 hours in 2013 (4030).

๐Ÿ“ When you think you done your upmost youโ€™re probably only at 40%.


โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY:

The most common excuse Goggins hears for not working out is that people donโ€™t have time. We get it, we all got stuff to do. โ€œYou must win the morningโ€ and master the dark hours, when your spouse and kids are asleep, he says.

So, how do I act on this? Iโ€™m waking up 05:30 for the coming 66 days. The extra time in the mornings will be used for exercise, meditation, reading and writing.

โ€”โ€”-

โš–๏ธ VERDICT:

This book made me add another 10km on my regular run last Sunday. There where two reasons: First, the book is really solid and I didnโ€™t want to turn off the audiobook. Second, Goggins made me realize Iโ€™m not putting in even half the effort I could.

This book will challenge you to set the bar higher for yourself, If you can look past the Navy jargon..

What your morning routine? ๐Ÿค”


4/5

๐Ÿ“ท credit: @portlandpickers


Check out my reading lists for more great books!

Favorite Books of the Year 2018: โ€œDemianโ€ – Hermann Hesse

A short and moody novel that revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding oneself. Growing up in a protected and pious middle class home he eventually has to face the real world. Sinclair gets a new mysterious classmates, Demian, who guides him to detach and revolt from the superficial world of form and awaken to his true self.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œAll I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?โ€

This is most memorable fictional book Iโ€™ve read this year. A coming of age story with strong connections to Jungian psychology and symbolism. It came to me at a perfect time; Since I, much like Hesse did when writing the book, just โ€œbegan to explore the writings of Freud and Jung on dreams and archetypesโ€. Something that really influenced Hesses writings.

Read the full list of favorites or check out previous lists right here!