Thoughts on: “To Kill a Mocking Bird” 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 didn’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, it’s impact and it’s cult status.


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

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

📝 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.

It’s a great book, but I wouldn’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? 🤔


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Thoughts on: “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

The story revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding ones self. 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.

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📝 Abraxas: A deity combining the godlike and the devilish.

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📝 “All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?”

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📝 “When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

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⭐️ Takeaway:

About the previous quote: If that’s the case – and by observing this phenomenon for a while I believe there is some truth to it – then even when someone irritates us, we can use that as an opportunity to learn more I out ourselves. I kinda like that quote for that reason.

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📊 My Amateur Jungian Analysis: Sinclair is the “Ego”, Kromer his “Shadow” and Demian the “Self”. Lady Eve is the “Anima” (the unconscious feminine side of a man). One of Jungs anima levels is even named “Eve”. By opening up to Lady Eve, Sinclair becomes complete. He and Damien become one.

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⚖️ Verdict:

This a mysterious and short (100 pages!) coming of age story for philosophically minded reader. Pauses for contemplation are needed between each chapters. The best 3$ spent this year!

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For those who read already: What do you think Demian did to get Kromer of Sinclair’s back?

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What short book blew your mind recently?

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4/5

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Demian, Synchronicity & Carl Jung

I picked up Hermann Hesse’s “Demian” and believed it could act as a pallet cleanser after my binge-reading of books revolving around jungian psychology.

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Haha, bad call! Already in the introduction I read that before writing the book in 1920 “Hesse began to explore the writings of Freud and Jung on dreams and archetypes”. Something that apparently influenced his writing to a large extent! 😂

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Was this synchronicity (or a meaningful coincidence) at play, to use a concept introduced by Carl Jung? 🤔

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I failed in my mission to move away from Jung, but the book started off so strong that I couldn’t put it aside. Now it is finished and a review is on it’s way! 👌🏻

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“When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

Hermann Hesse – Demian

What’s brewing? New book Arrivals!

I’m very excited about the books I received today! Have you read any of them? 😀🤔

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In the stack:

📖 “Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator”

📖 “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

📖 “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just show up”

📖 “The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us”

📖 “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell

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On the headphones:

🎧 “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

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Thanks to everyone for showering me with book recommendations in the comments! I write them all down. You are the reason I’ve discovered so many fascinating books that I might otherwise have been unaware of. Thanks! 🙏

Thoughts on: “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall Rosenberg

Rosenberg teaches you practical skills for getting your needs met in a peaceful way. “Nonviolent communication helps us create a more peaceful state of mind by encouraging us to focus on what we truly wanting rather than what is wrong with ourself and others.”

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Mediocre writing and terrible narration aside (for the audio version that is), this gem of a book is likely to change the way speak to yourself and others in a profound way.

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📝 “When my consciousness is forcused on another persons feelings and needs, I see the universality of our experience”.

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📝 In cultures that judge, violence is more prevalent.

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📝 It’s important that we take responsibility for our feelings, and that we in no way imply that what others say and do makes us feel the way we do.

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📝 J. Krishnamurti: “Observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence”.

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📝 It might be worth trying to pull out of people what they really mean with what they are saying to find out what needs aren’t met. Your initial interpretation might be wrong! And It’s not our fault, society has not conditioned us to express ourself properly.

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📝 When you find you inner critic getting on your case about something you did, then ask yourself – What unmet need of mine is being expressed through these statements?

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

We need to be precise in our speech.

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“Non-Violent Communication” is the perfect compliment “Crucial Conversations”. Read them both and master the principles (easier said than done!) and you will have saved yourself and the people around you from a ton of unnecessary suffering.

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If you could add one more book to create the holy trinity of communication books, which one would that be? 🤔

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4/5

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Photo credit: @monica.bitar (instagram)

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Thoughts on: “Wanderlust” by Rebecca Solnit

If there is a way to read a book in the “wrong way”, I might actually have done it with this one! I listened to a book about walking while running.

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“A history of walking” is a bit misleading because it feels very superficial as a history book. It more a collection of musings and digressions around the subject of walking in the context of culture and history.

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Walkings influence on philosophizing/writing/thinking, women’s rights to roam freely, the “walking gardens” of leisure class, political marches and the auto-mobilization of public spaces are some of the topics covered. Sound kind of dry and boring but for some reason (and I can’t really put my finger on why), it kept my interest all the way through. ———————

📝 About the car mentality of modern day America: “People seem to have a mental radius on how far they are willing to walk, and it’s shrinking.”

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📝 Flâneur: A stroller. A connoisseur of the the streets.

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📝 Rousseau believed that the original man wandered the forests in solitude, living a simplistic life. This was what we ought to emulate. Most of his philosophy was born during his long walks.

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📝 Walking has been much more accessible to men than women. And this is still the case today. Restrictions and risk of physical abuse has limited women’s access roaming freely. 2/3 of American women are afraid to walk their neighborhood at night.

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📝 Back in the day the treadmill was used to punish prisoners sentenced to hard labor.

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⭐️ Takeaway: I should pay attention to my health. I would love to be able to still wander around during my autumn years without interference from bad knees, back problems or obesity.

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This is definitely not for everyone but if you, like I do, enjoy walking just for the sake of walking it might be worth your time.

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3/5

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Thoughts on: “Design of Everyday Things” by Don Norman

Sometimes you need something completely different. This was a palate cleanser book for me.

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Engineers are too logical at times, while people are not. As a game developer, you something hear people complaining: “They are playing it wrong!” when you first let people outside your project group play the game for the first time.

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Are the users really at fault? Maybe we have to accept human behavior the way it is and not the way we want it to be? This is the main point of this book; when people fail to follow the products complex rigid rules, the operator are blamed for not understanding. It should be the other way around and it’s the designers job to make sure that’s the case.

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📝 Conceptual model: An explanation, usually highly simplified, of how something works.

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📝 Root-cause analysis: asking “why?” until the ultimate, fundamental cause of the activity is reached.

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📝 Semiotics: the study of signs and symbols.

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📝 Mapping: the relationship between two sets of thing. I.e lights mapped to switches.

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📝 Learned helplessness: Failing several times by accident and thereby start to doubt ones capabilities.

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📝 Skeuomorphic design: incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies even though the no longer play a functional role. I.e implementing “old car” sounds into electrical cars.

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📝 “All artificial things are designed.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: It’s not my fault that I can’t turn on my parents oven.

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This books falls very close to being a straight up textbook, but great examples and interesting anecdotes keeps it entertaining all the way. You won’t look at a man-made object the same way again! I learned a lot from this detour into design.

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When was the last time you threw yourself into a book on an unexpected subject? 😀🤔

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “American Kingpin” by Nick Bilton

A failed physicist libertarian created the “Amazon of drugs” on the dark web, banking on the anonymity of Bitcoin and Thor (a web anonymous browser). His name was Ross Ulbricht and the site name was “the Silk Road”.

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He wanted to challenge the government led “war on drugs”, which he saw as a huge failure, and create a safe way to purchase drugs and while doing so, save tens of thousandths of people from prison sentences for minor drug abuse. The goals was to become such a powerful force that governments would understand that legalizing rather than fighting drugs was the solution.

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📝 The first items sold on the page was Ross’s homegrown magic mushrooms.

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📝 It did not take long before vendors started to sell fake passports and money. Lab supplies, forged documents, guns, spyware.

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📝 Then came the next level stuff:

Poisons – cyanide, which kills you in 7 sec was sold with a copy of “The final exit”; An e-book guide to suicide. Soon body parts, like marrow and kidneys, came online.

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📝 Ross and his partner, Variety Jones agreed that selling these things where all good as long as there where where consent between buyer and seller. Except on one point: Heroin.

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📝 Variety Jones had a problem with the Silk Road selling heroin. In prison he had seen what heroin did to people. Prisoners where drug tested randomly – but only Monday – Friday. Pot stayed in your system if you did it during the weekend but Heroin did not… so many took to heroin and nobody smoked pot. Making prisoners take a weeks worth of heroin In a couple of hours just to ride out the withdrawal symptoms for until it was Friday again. Hell!!

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💭 Thought!💭: For me It’s always fun to google the faces of the characters in books like these when you reach the end of the book. They usually look very different from what you expect!

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🔁 Follow up: I need to read about Heroin.

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Anyhow, this is excellent narrative non-fiction of a real world “Breaking Bad”-story. You get to follow the tale of the Silk Road from its inception to its shut down and its one hellauva ride!

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei” by John Stevens

My major feat this summer was to inflate a pool in preparation of a BBQ party (see pic. 2). Due to lack of proper equipment it had to be done manually. It took quite some time and effort on my part to get it ready; But I persisted and felt a little bit of pride afterwards.

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When the guests arrived their reaction was; “That’s crazy! I can’t believe you didn’t use a pump for that!”.

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Now cut to the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei:

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Instead of being dressed in traditional black Buddhist clothes, they wear white, the color of death. They carry a knife in their belt. This is to take their life if they fail in any element of their practice. Knife for self-disembowelment – belt for hanging.

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These buddhist monks and super athletes reaching for enlightenment in the here and now thought physical movement.

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Their training schedule is crazy. The “1000-Day Marathon”, a big part of their practice, takes 7 years to complete. For the first 5 years they run a marathon a day for 100 days straight. This is repeated 7 times. For the last 2 years the distance is increased to two Marathon distances a day (84km!). They also throw in a 9-day fast into their practice, with continuous meditation, without water and sleep, to keep things interesting.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY: When we get familiar with feats like these, either through books or elsewhere, our ability to complain about trifles is diminished.

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Our standards and expectations of ourselves and others are so low nowadays… SO LOW.. (at least in Sweden where I live), that learning about stuff like this can, at least temporarily, raise the expectation bar a bit. So that you don’t get too cocky for blowing some air into a pool. Or praise the one that did it. 😀😎

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And yes! It’s a great book! The writing is so-so but the content is truly fascinating!

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5/5

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