Sunday, July 30, 2017

What I'm Reading Now

I recently finished The Airbnb Story, which is highly unlike most of what I read. In the past, I haven't read a lot of (or any) nonfiction and while that's changing, the nonfiction I read is still mostly memoirs and some life improvement/motivational reads. But this topical, business, technology read caught my eye, recommended on LinkedIn, and I checked it out of the library. And read it in three days. It took me longer than a fantasy novel of the same length might have, but a few years ago, I probably wouldn't have gotten through this book at all. It covers the founding, development, and current state of the company Airbnb, which, interestingly, boasts three founders who have all stayed together and only one of whom is an engineer, and which is still not yet a public company. Like the author notes, it's still just the beginning for this controversial company that's been around since 2008.

I think what made a difference for me now is I have something to grab on to here, some context. I'm aware of Airbnb, and although I haven't used it, would be willing to. It's a concept in my orbit as a millenial, though I've typically couchsurfed with friends or friends of friends. Nonfiction, especially business or technology related, was always so abstract to me, much more abstract than Middle Earth or Narnia. It's a funny thing, realizing that just now in my life, am I beginning to feel a little, just a little, grounded in the real world.

Speaking of more practical books, I'm also in the middle of reading Radical Candor: How to Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. I really like the concept and was finding it useful, until I reached a section on gender politics in the office, and got so annoyed that I'm questioning the rest of the book. Besides taking an extremely surface-level gloss over complicated gender issues, Kim Scott ends the section with the infuriatingly naive statement: "We must stop gender politics." Ummm...yes, because that is something we can stop, just like that. I'm not advocating for gender politics, but they exist for a reason, and we can't just 'stop' until underlying social issues are resolved. This disappointed and distracted me from a book I was enjoying. It reminds me of when I read Kant's Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime in college and I was like, yes, yes, yes, throughout the first section..and then it devolves into all kinds of disgusting nationalist stereotypes, and I was just like, Kant, I can't trust you anymore. Kim Scott...I don't know if I can trust you anymore.

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