Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuck

In Crush It, Gary Vaynerchuck evangelises the opportunities that the digital age brings, allowing people to turn their passion into a source of income.

This nonfiction book closely assesses various social media platforms and captures the myriad ways in which the career landscape has changed with the turn of the century.

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Anyone who has ever wanted to learn more about business thinking and digital presence has most definitely heard of Gary Vaynerchuck. At least that’s the case for me.

Crush It and Crushing It are two books that I’ve procrastinated about reading for years. And when I finally picked up the former, it wasn’t with the conscious thought of what I’d find there.

A lot of what the author speaks about is common knowledge now. But considering that the book was first published in 2009, I really really wish I had picked it up earlier.

Imagine having put into practice all these lessons about brand-building and content creation a decade ago. It puts life into perspective and stresses the importance of timing.

Nevertheless, I’m glad to have read the book, at least now.

The enthusiasm with which Vaynerchuck talks about transforming your passion into your job is infectious. This go-getter attitude that comes across from his writing is the most motivating factor about the book.

You also get to read some personal anecdotes that show you what the author’s journey has looked like. I enjoyed reading those sections immensely!

On the whole, I’d recommend Crush It to you if you are looking to adopt the right mindset to thrive in this digital age and set the foundation to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

Freelance editor, Mouse agrees to clean out her grandmother’s house at her father’s request. Located in an isolated town in North Carolina, the house is a hoarder’s heaven full of boxes of trinkets, shelves of creepy dolls, and old newspapers.

When Mouse finds her stepgrandfather’s journal entries hinting at strange beings holed up in the forest behind the house, Mouse gets a little too close to the mystery.

I got introduced to T. Kingfisher’s works just a few months ago. And I’m surprised that I hadn’t heard about these books before because they are right up my alley.

While I was initially going to start with The Hollow Places, when I read that The Twisted Ones has cryptic diary entries, an abandoned house, and a forest-y terrain, I caved and started reading it.

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I think the author hit a bulls-eye with Mouse’s characterisation. Had it been any other person, I don’t think they would’ve been as sceptical or even foolhardy at times.

The plot developments can be justified only because of who Mouse is. I liked her constant chatter with her dog, Bongo, and her sense of humour. Her character voice is easily one of my favourite aspects of the novel.

Just thinking of the potential this book had makes me wish it had been executed better. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as engaged by the story as I had hoped to be.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished reading it, and to be frank, all of it is just a blur in my head.

I even contemplated DNF-ing the novel several times. My curiosity to know what Mouse would discover and how she would get out of that dangerous situation was the only reason I persevered.

There are a couple of scenes that are spooky in hindsight. But I wouldn’t say that I was terrified while reading them.

The book has a perfect atmosphere, and the author crafts some great dark imagery. It’s the execution that takes away from the impact of the storytelling.

And to make matters worse, there were many instances where I couldn’t follow what Cotgrave (Mouse’s stepgrandfather) had written. There were just too many layers there, which left me baffled.

All in all, I liked reading some parts of The Twisted Ones. I just wish the writing was better poised to make the horror of it all truly unsettling.

I’m currently reading What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher. This one has made it to the final rounds of the 2022 Goodreads Awards, and I can see why!

Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack

A personal development book that explores how introverts can make the most of their innate characteristics to navigate their networks, Networking for People Who Hate Networking features situational examples and theories that unpack the key strengths introverts can channel for a better professional life.

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This was a quick read. The author’s writing style is encouraging and conversational, which definitely helped make the content palatable.

I went into the book expecting to find specific, actionable tips about improving my networking skills but was mildly disappointed. Firstly, the suggestions the author makes are quite common, and relevant to people with either of the personality types.

Secondly, a significant part of the narrative has to do with ideas and concepts rather than activities to practice.

Each chapter felt more like a delineation of introverts and extroverts, their mannerisms, thought processes, etc.

This is not to say that the book is not helpful at all. Devorah Zack does a good job of identifying and aligning personality traits to various circumstances. If you are looking for guidance along those lines, go ahead and pick up this book.

I was looking for something else. So, this one wasn’t for me.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield

Margaret Lea works at her father’s antiquarian bookshop. When she receives a letter from famous author Vida Winters, inviting her to write the author’s biography, Margaret is drawn by the mystery of it all.

In unravelling the author’s story, Margaret comes face to face with a truth that has been lurking in her periphery all her life.

Diana Setterfield’s writing is easily the selling point of this novel. Atmospheric, character-driven, and full of intrigue.

Copyright © 2022 Meera Nair

She teases out her character’s inclinations, secrets, and innate nature with the ease of unwinding thread from a spool. At first glance, there isn’t a lot of depth to Margaret’s backstory. But once she finds a hidden box in her parent’s room, you begin to realise why she finds Vida’s story appealing.

It’s a medium-paced novel. There’s ample plot development at any given stage so I was thoroughly engrossed while reading The Thirteenth Tale.

I loved the narrative structure, with chapter sections alternating between Margaret writing Vida’s story and conducting her own research about what happened at Angelfield house decades ago.

While I expected the presence of the Angelfield house to be chilling, much like in The Haunting of Hill House or The Hacienda, it’s more tragic than scary.

It’s a testament to Setterfield’s flair for writing that sensitive topics have been explored in such a subtle manner. A lot of these events occur in a behind-the-scenes, fade-to-black style. So you aren’t really forced to sit through graphic descriptions.

Nevertheless, here are some trigger warnings – loss of family, neglectful parenting, rape, violence, mental instability

There’s so much that doesn’t meet the eye about the plot progression. And honestly, that was the cherry on top of the cake.

Although there are some horrible characters in the book, the storytelling aspect of the novel is what compelled me to keep reading.

The execution of the plot would’ve been drastically altered if the protagonist had been any less subdued, personality-wise. For such a story, it’s important to have a main character who wouldn’t overshadow Vida Winter’s essence, and that’s exactly the role Margaret plays.

All in all, The Thirteenth Tale surpassed my expectations. It has letters, troublesome twins, a gothic mansion with buried secrets, and characters with an undying love of books. What more could you want?

It’s a piece of narrative brilliance that I would recommend to fans of gothic mystery novels. Easily one of the highlights of my 2022 reading.

The Networking Survival Guide by Diane Darling

A practical guide to creating, sustaining, and benefiting from a network, this non-fiction book by Diane Darling is one of the quickest introductions to networking backed by anecdotes and social principles.

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What surprised me the most about reading The Networking Survival Guide is how succinct the content is.

There’s no fluff, no beating around the bushes. The author gets to the point quickly. In fact, most of the sections are full of bullet points.

While I hadn’t given networking much thought prior to this, I picked up the audiobook on Storytel to see how it could improve my professional life. And I must say that Diane Darling shares some great advice.

There were a couple of chapters that I felt warranted a bit more of an explanation. And some that had information which may no longer be as relevant in today’s professional sphere. But to be fair, I read the 2nd edition of the book which was published a few years ago.

Some topics that you can expect to read about are conducting network inventories, mannerisms, providing value to your connections, seeking referrals, navigating events, creating networking assets/ collaterals, and so on.

I’d say this was a great first book to read about networking.

I most definitely intend to get an ebook copy, so I can make notes and re-read this a bunch of times, and implement the actionable tips Diane Darling shares.

Are there any other books on networking that you would recommend to me?