Maira's Books

In January of 2005 I started this blog as a record of books I’ve read as I was afraid I would forget what I have read. I have often referred back to my own blog to remember a book's contents or see what I have read by an author. I have enjoyed passing my books on to friends or recommending books to read. I know I have missed recording some, but in general I try to keep up with what I have read or listened to.

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Location: Kalamazoo, MI, United States

I am a librarian at Waldo Library at Western Michigan University.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011)

Whew! Finally finished this lengthy biography, but well worth it. I had to stop in the middle and read some other books, as I could not take reading about Steve Jobs being such an asshole (term often used in the book). I definitely did not want Isaacson to write it any differently, I just couldn't take huge doses.

I started my computing life with Macs, as they were the first to be able to "speak" Latvian, and have always admired Apple products and ads, and so also Steve Jobs. I did not realize that he was born a month after I was, so it means that we grew up with the same cultural influences. I had read all the books he listed as early reading, and at the end he still reread the Autobiography of a Yogi every year. I have only reread it once, but it was one of the books that changed my perception of the world. We grew up around the same music, though I never got as into it as Jobs. Lots of similar cultural influences, even if he grew up on the west coast and I  was on the east coast. I could totally relate to him walking into board meetings with bare feet. I had a period during college, when I went either bare-foot or in boots. That was before stores had the "no shirts no shoes no service" signs. Unlike Jobs,  I did believe in washing. I also went through a vegetarian phase, though Jobs was a very picky vegan till the very need. And obviously I don't have anything near the intelligence or creativity of Jobs, but I can relate to it and admire the intersection of humanities and technology he was able to embody in his products. I use that intersection in my library work.

It was just fascinating to read how much this man and his teams at Apple and Pixar changed my world. I was a strong Mac user up until I started working at the university, where for networking purposes I just had to move into the PC world. My son was at the appropriate age that I went to see all the first Pixar movies. Though I myself have never owned an iPod, I observed the way my son just took to it instantaneously and had a much wider world of music open to him though this device. But to read how it and iTunes Store transformed the music industry is fascinating. I do not own an iPhone (but  in the book, the much maligned Android), but am on my second iPad. I feel like I am an amateur user of both, my son just laughs at me, but I get a whole lot about what Jobs talked about in how we use these tools - how we hold them, etc. I experienced an Apple Store only recently, when I had to have something fixed on my son's Mac and was impressed with the services offered, the layout, and was astonished how busy the store was in the middle of a weekday.

The book was everything a book about Jobs should be - full of details about him, his family (tastefully so), colleagues, and the development of each product. I don't feel the book sugar coated anything, which is just the way Jobs wanted it. Obviously Isaacson talked to hundreds of people and was able to be present at numerous official and unofficial occasions to give this detailed, many sided story of the man and his companies.

I am thankful for the presence of Jobs and his influence on my world. I am amazed by the patience of his wife Laurene, to support this amazing, but undeniably difficult man. I am glad that he could put a Zen-like simplicity and high quality in all of his products, but am sorry he could never find that Zen like calm within himself.


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