Dec 31, 2013

Reading in 2013

So I spent the last weekend at my parents' house. Seeing me busy reading the whole day, my dad teased me, "How can you suddenly love reading that much? Has Yasmin stopped sharing you about the books she read?" I laughed. He knows me well.

In my entire life, I have always been surrounded by avid readers - just to highlight some, my dad has shelves of books that can speak on his behalf, Yasmin even runs an online book rental that provides services to help bookworms--like herself--to rent and/or lend books from/to each other (I'm proud of her), and Nancy, boy, she reads books that are just lethal for their thickness (if you know what I mean). Each and everyone in my inner circle never failed to feed me with something I don't know and that's mostly because of their fondness of books. However, instead of becoming a reader myself, I took the advantage of getting the information/knowledge from them. I know, I had been spoiled.

I can't remember exactly since when, but within the past few years, especially this year, I found my own interest in reading. And not only to my dad's surprise, to my own surprise, I've spent more time than I could ever imagine to read. I read while traveling, in the evening right before I go to sleep, in the weekends, and whenever it's possible.

Books I read in 2013. I've read all books in the left,
and I'm still working my way through the books in the right

As I try to maintain the habit myself, I would like to share this habit with everyone else. And I'm going to start it by making some recommendations of the best picks from those I've read this year. Here they are (no particular order applied),


THE LEAN STARTUP, by Eric Ries

Some of my fav bits:
The question is not "Can this product be built?" In the modern economy, almost any product that can be imagined can be built. The more pertinent questions are "Should this product be built?" and "Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?" (p. 55)
Sustainable growth is characterized by one simple rule: New customers come from the actions of past customers. (p. 207)
Many entrepreneurs, if not all, has that kind of drive - "I know better!" That is, I think, what motivated them to start their venture in the first place. In running their business, entrepreneurs are known for having that perseverance and determination that many interpret as "it's only a matter of time" until they reach their success. Those two things aren't completely wrong, yet however, they are lacking of something in some ways.

In The Lean Startup, Eric Ries points out the importance of validation and measurement of each path and/or progress every entrepreneur takes. He proposes the scientific methodology to be adapted in every business in order to assist entrepreneurs to succeed. The book suggests that it's good for entrepreneurs to have assumptions, but it's more important to validate them. It's nice for entrepreneurs to have perseverance needed, but it's essential to know when the time to pivot.

I love how things get a lot more practical as the chapter goes on.


RECLAIM YOUR HEART, by Yasmin Mogahed

Some of my fav bits:
After years of falling into the same pattern of disappointments and heartbreak, I finally began to realize something profound. I had always thought that love of dunya (life) meant being attached to material things. And I was not attached to material things. I was attached to people. I was attached to moments. I was attached to emotions. So I thought that the love of dunya just did not apply to me. What I didn't realize was that people, moments, emotions are all a part of dunya. What I didn't realize is that all the pain I had experienced in life was due to one thing and one thing only: love of dunya. (p. 17)
If our 'love' for something makes us willing to give up our family, our dignity, our self-respect, our bodies, our sanity, our peace of mind, our deen, and even our Lord who created us from nothing, know that we are not 'in love." We are slaves. (p.51)
This book means a lot to me for it redefines my understanding about many things. Just to highlight one, Yasmin Mogahed redefines the word "love" and takes it to a better state. Reading her book, I think, my perception of life won't be the same way again.


PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM, by Kyung-sook Shin

There were three novels that I read this year. And this is the one that I enjoy the most. The different perspectives from each section really intrigued me that I did shed a tear every once in a while (ye, judge all you want until you read it yourself).

Anyway, as you see, I didn't quote the book as I don't have it with me (I got it from Yasmin through her book rental, ReadingWalk), but I remember that I called my mom after some chapters, feeling the need to look after her the best way I can. Beautifully-written indeed, it touched my heart deeply.


THE ENTREPRENEUR MIND, by Kevin D. Johnson

Some of my fav bits:
When you start your business, lose the ego immediately.. There's a difference between being confident and having an ego that's too big for your own good. Confidence attratcs people; ego repels them. (p. 33)
Starting a business to be successful is like getting married to have sex. People too often focus on the benefits of the undertaking rather than the true purpose. (p. 212)
When you become an entrepreneur, you don't receive a superhero outfit with a big "E" on the front of it. Although you are indeed superhuman--having taken an ocean-sized leap that many would never consider, having solved complex problems, and having turned a passion into profit--the ordinary person doesn't value your superpowers. And when you become successful, Gotham won't throw you a party to thank you for helping to save the economy; it will probably just send you a higher tax bill. (p. 220)
The Entrepreneur Mind is a pool of insightful short stories of Kevin Johnson. It doesn't merely tell the glorious moments while he plays all his roles - a husband, a mentor, a leader, and of course, mostly as an entrepreneur, but it also reveals his rainy days being one, without any sugarcoat here and there.

Being an entrepreneur myself, I could relate to many of his stories and it's revealing to know that I'm not alone for someone has been there done that.


DALAM DEKAPAN UKHUWAH, by Salim A. Fillah

Some of my fav bits:
"Kami memutuskan..." kata kaka beradik penggugat tiba-tiba menyeruak, "untuk memaafkannya." Mereka tersedu sedan. "Kami melihatnya sebagai seorang yang berbudi dan tepat janji. Demi Allah, pasti benar-benar sebuah kehilafan yang tak disengaja jika dia sampai membunuh ayah kami. Dia telah menyesal dan beristighfar kepada Allah atas dosanya. Kami memaafkannya. Janganlah menghukumnya, wahai Amirul Mukminin."
"Alhamdulillah! Alhamdulillah!" Ujar Umar. Pemuda terhukum itu sujud syukur. "Mengapa kalian tiba-tiba berubah pikiran?" tanya Umar pada kedua ahli waris korban.
"Agar jangan sampai ada yang mengatakan," jawab mereka masih terharu, "Bahwa di kalangan kaum Muslimin tak ada lagi kemaafan, pengampunan, iba hati dan kasih sayang." (p.416)
I heard about Salim A. Fillah just recently and I think it's safe to say that he is one of authors whose books I look forward to! I've read his seven books which each always centers the story on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions, combined with histories from around the globe and current researches. It's remarkable how he does that, not to mention, how he manages to extract the lesson learned for the readers.

In this book, Salim shows how beautiful Islam teaches its people to treat each other and it's shown by the life of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions. It was hard for me not to shed a tear while reading this.