Archive for the ‘Business / Self Help’ Category

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I confess I’m addicted to stationery. . .

In Book Reviews,Business / Self Help,CannonballReadX 2018,Non Fiction,websites on March 11, 2018 by mrsdillemma Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

StationeryI’ll start this post with a confession, I am guilty. 100% guilty. Guilty of being an absolute stationery addict – I geek out over a new colour highlighter, a unused pristine notebook, when I discovered washi tape I thought my life was complete. . . but just don’t get me started on fountain pens, because I’ll never stop.

I’m not sure where my fascination with stationery started, school lists perhaps? But now I guess I’m one of those who like to think that a new notebook might just be the start of that great unwritten novel. Perhaps an unhealthy interest in stationery no longer need be embarrassing . . . .

When a friend @childhoodgames loaned me James Ward’s Adventures in Stationery I was enthralled. I have dived in and out of this book over the longest time – I really should have returned it months ago, its one I’m not sure if I could read cover to cover but being able to dip in and out, devouring a chapter at a time was utterly refreshing.

I have subscribed to Ward’s blog ( https://iamjamesward.com/ ) and must admit would love to attend his annual Boring conference ( https://boringconference.com/ ) He promotes his collection of boring ( book / blog / podcast / events / conference ) as a”a celebration of the ordinary, the obvious and the overlooked” – sounds so banal, but its got me well and truly hooked.

Ward’s writing is elegant, he writes in an understated way with just a dash of very dry humor thrown in for good measure – the books tone is just light enough to be entertaining. Its funny, charming and far more interesting that I was expecting and I was expecting a lot.

Each chapter tells the history of one type of stationery; the pencil, the pen, erasers, filing products, journals. . . and tells it in great detail. Who knew the minutiae of the development of iconic brands ( too name just a fraction; Parker, Moleskine, UHU, Tipp Ex, Stabilo, Sellotape ) could be so utterly fascinating. Throughout Ward provides a collection of interesting facts that will cause you to stop and think, to perhaps reassess your perceptions, well maybe not that deeply – but they will provide a good hearty chuckle.

The only thing I would suggest might trouble some readers is the overtly British sections, there are few but they could be totally un-relatable which might put a reader off, for me it was the icing on the cake – having spent a portion of my childhood at school in the UK I found the mention of the Berol handwriting pen ( https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/berol-handwriting-pens-blue-ink-pack-of-2/21069819 ) brought back so many fond memories I spent a good hour trawling through the WHSmith website.

Wards conclusion is an interesting piece about the need for stationery in a technological age and the crossover that exists between pen & paper and the digital world – he argues that we still need the personal touch of a handwritten letter, a jotted post-it note and even a paper clipped file. So, If you’re a stationery addict, or if you live with a stationery addict then this book is for you – get amongst it.

As an aside, in his introduction Ward mentions Present and Correct; https://www.presentandcorrect.com/ “the most wonderful stationery shop in London” I am absolutley obsessed with their asthetic, their product and their customer service. If you have ever wanted to purchase the quirkiest most unusual, most perfect stationery gift then look no further.

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sound bitten

In Book Reviews,Business / Self Help,Non Fiction,websites on March 4, 2018 by mrsdillemma Tagged: , ,

inkEarlier this year I responded to a shared Jordan Peterson You Tube video with the sentiment, “Oh, for fucks sake” ( I may have included a gif . . . ) This dragged me kicking and screaming into a debate about postmodernism, gender, feminism and consent. Yip, pretty heavy stuff. I was both fascinated and terrified by this obtuse character I had never heard of – He was being painted as one of the most influential public intellectuals in the English-speaking world. A once obscure psychologist and universtity professor he is beloved by the alt-right and has given voice to the conservative silent majority.

His opinions cover every facet of modern culture and he has managed to package his wide ranging theories into bite sized sound bites – enough to grab a wide audiences attention. He has 886,000 you tube subscribers and 43,148,271 views across 275 uploads.

Now, the real reason Im writing this, he’s written a book. ( https://www.whitcoulls.co.nz/new-releases/new-release-non-fiction/12-rules-for-life-an-antidote-to-chaos-6331349 ) I really want to say I’ve read it and I can offer an only slightly biased review and move on. But I can’t bring myself to buy the goddam book. I’ve read a lot of reviews; both the salt of the earth goodreads rants & the more academic journalistic pieces, both positive and negative but no-one can convince me a) I’m gonna love or b) I’m gonna hate it. I’m not really mad that Peterson is writing books, I’m mad that such a book is getting so much attention and here I am contributing to that. . . .

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feminism wrapped in a glittery pink bow? #nothanks

In Book Reviews,Business / Self Help,CannonballReadX 2018,Feminism,Non Fiction,websites on January 20, 2018 by mrsdillemma Tagged:

CBR10.1At a time when gender politics are making headlines in every major newspaper every day Feminist Fight Club should be a must read, but I’m not so sure it is.

Bennett’s fight is against the patriarchal construct not against individuals but what that then does is reduce her ability to discuss topics that are really at the heart of workplace sexism; sexual harassment and pay disparity. Neither topic gets but the  briefest of mentions.

Bennett states that the Feminist Fight Club is about creating a more egalitarian environment for everyone and that is that stead she has created a set of tactics to fight workplace sexism – sometimes they are just good old fashioned common sense and sometimes they are more complex. One upside to the way she writes is that the book is a collection of vignettes that have no real connecting narrative thread so you can read the chapters in no particular order.

Feminist Fight Club is infuriating, at times its laugh out loud funny and full of what I call mantra gems – those things you’re supposed to say to yourself in the mirror first thing in the morning. . . but Bennett is writing for the buzzfeed generation, her turn of phrase and creativity with the English language is at times overtly stereotypical, she has created a millennial feminist slang that really doesn’t need to exist. The Feminist Fight Club is trying to be Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In for those just starting out.

You might find its tactics useful and relevant but they might not be – at a pinch, what it can do is open your eyes to the implicit, insidious and downright ugly behaviour we, as women, have ignored for too long.

Bennett’s content is aimed squarely at her target audience, the 20-30 something female that may not have been enticed by Lean In. It attempts to counter the Business Books are boring adage by engaging through quizzes, humour, illustrations and lists – but by packaging her ideas in the literary equivalent of a pink princess dress she pretty much lost me.

Reading Feminist Fight Club should have been a joy but it wasn’t but Bennett has made me rethink my interactions and check myself, and I guess for that I’m thankful – but tied up in a pretty pink glittery bow. No thanks. 

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I’ll be Mrs Messy Then! – Tim Harford’s Messy:The Power Of Disorder To Transform Our Lives

In Book Reviews,Business / Self Help,CannonballreadIX 2017,Non Fiction on April 22, 2017 by mrsdillemma Tagged: , , ,

CBR9 15Tim Harford’s Messy is an exploration of how the highly valued human qualities; creativity, collaboration and resilience can all benefit from a little bit of mess. By embracing the by-products of disorder and confusion we can grow, develop and flourish.

Each chapter outlines a specific topic that can benefit from a little bit of mess; perhaps by creating a new path which leads to improved outcomes. He provides concrete examples to back up his theory, he identifies what the mess disguises itself as ( no, its not always just the pile of washing on the chair in the corner of the bedroom. . . . ) and how it could help in our everyday lives. Harford also includes scientific research from fields as diverse as the neurosciences, psychology, anthropology and social sciences to back up his claims.

One example really stood out to me; Imagine that you live in London and catch the same train at the same platform at the same time every day to get you to work. Then imagine that a strike closes 171 out of the Tubes 270 stations – This happened in 2014 and 1 in 20 of those who developed a new route out of the mess that situation created continued to use that route; it was either cheaper, faster or in some way preferable to their old route. All they needed was a little bit of mess to seek out something better.

Harford’s writing is academic but not overtly so, it is easily read and not at all difficult to understand. His message is powerful and will find you searching for examples of mess in your own life; he proposes an counter-intuitive idea that our mess can contribute to our success.

Now get out there and get messy!