#bookaday One that makes me laugh: Notes from a Small Island


This particular #bookaday challenge made me realise how few books have really made me laugh. I think most book that leave their mark do so because they are suspenseful, melancholy, shocking or thought-provoking. Few are actually laugh-out-loud funny.

Bryson’s Notes on a Small Island is insightful and well observed. His wit keeps you turning the pages and I identified with his observations all the more now that I am living abroad. I see England and its people differently.

Bill Bryson was born in Iowa and spent 20 years in England before moving back. He says, “I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans according to a Gallup poll, believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”

This is typical of his style, able to make jokes lovingly and without overtly pointing a finger or causing offence. I enjoyed this. It was a gift, which makes it more special.

#bookaday The one I always give as a gift: Quiet: The Power of Introverts


A book that I have recently been lending out and buying for friends is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t stop talking. I first discovered the author from a TED talk. If you haven’t discovered TED, I can highly recommend the site. TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost every topic, from Science and Technology to Philosophy and Psychology and beyond.

I have learned so much from these and, in particular, Susan Cain’s talk on Introverts. If you are an extrovert please don’t switch off. There is every chance that you are living with, related to or working with one. The book is an eye-opener, let me tell you.

I was captivated by Susan’s talk and a lot of her research was a revelation to me. She graduated from Princeton and Harvard, and worked first as a Wall Street Lawyer, and then as a negotiations consultant. The book was born out of her difficulty with public speaking.

She highlights the power if ‘thinkers’ and has written a manifesto for introverts in which she quotes Ghandi:

In a quiet way you can shake the world.’

She believes that the power of quiet is greatly underestimated and underrated. It is to introverts, she says – Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak – that we owe many of the great contributions to society. She discusses the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture.

I’ve been building up to a post on writers as introverts and extroverts, so maybe you’ll find it here some time in the future. I can’t recommend the book highly enough.