What I read during the lockdown

As the lockdown measures slowly ease, and we are getting back to some short of normality (at least temporarily), I was kinda reflecting on what I did the last months. I became a dad recently, and I was already 1 month at home on parental leave to help my partner and just the moment that I was supposed to return to the office the German government announced the lockdown and thankfully the company I worked for decided to ask us to work from home, so I am in total more-or-less 3 months at home.

It was a tough period because of corona, because of being a first time parent is not the easiest thing on the world, because my grandma passed away and I was not able to travel to attend the funeral… nevertheless I try to keep the positive things out of this period, one of them was definitely that I had the opportunity to spend more time with my family and see the development of my son more closely, another thing is that being at home you save a tone of time to do the things you like, that you would otherwise spent on transportation. For me one of these things is reading. As the song goes “There is Beauty In The Struggle, Ugliness In The Success”.

(If you are into reading and you have a GoodReads profile, here is mine, let’s connect)

So here is what I read during this period:


Man’s searching for meaning

Viktor Frankl shares his harrowing experiences in a concentration camp during Hitler’s reign… but this book is much more than that. Many times I had to stop reading and reflect. There are many books that claim to change your life. I am not sure what “change your life” means but this book will make you at least think a bit deeper about it.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

My rate: 5/5

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World

This books was a positive breath inside this corona media negativity and fear, written by a doctor who fought Ebola. The aim of the book is to fight ignorance and show how little we know about the world, specially how we the Westerners see other parts of the world.

“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.”

My rate: 5/5

The leadership gap

Unfortunately that was a book that could be just a blog post… The author finds some “archetypes” of leadership styles and some gaps, then each chapter is a short story of someone that seemingly has this leadership style, then usually focuses on a word and finds its “deeper” “spiritual” meaning in Greek, Hebrew or Latin… blends it with some quotes from famous people and follows with a few paragraphs that say the same thing again and again and more-or-less that is it. Not much to keep after I read it, really disappointing.

My rate: 2/5

9 lies about work

It’s a paradigm-shifting book, specially if you work in deeply corporate enviroments, it’s very provocative, specially if you are one of those people who believe in some of the stereotypes about work it tries to debunk.

“While people might care which company they join, they don’t care which company they work for. The truth is that, once there, people care which team they’re on.”

“The best people are spiky, because uniqueness is a feature, not a bug.”

My rate: 5/5

Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life

I read this book mainly because it was one of the books suggested by Bill Gates, and as a new parent I was looking for a parent related book to read. I was expecting some hands-on advices and tips, but is more of a story on how the author build some schools and how developed their curriculum. Maybe is a good book for teachers, not sure if is so beneficial for parents.

“Simply put, mastery is when you become good at something, autonomy is when you have some measure of control, and purpose is when you’re doing something for a reason that is authentic to you.”

My rate: 3/5

23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism

A manifesto against neo-liberal free-market policies, not by a communist but by someone who believes in regulated capitalism. Fascinating stories (I was shocked reading that GM was doing business with both sides during World War 2). Although it make seems that is a book about capitalism written by a leftish economist and you pretty much know what to expect, I trully enjoyed this book because the author is supporting his idea with historic facts.

“Equality of opportunity is not enough. Unless we create an environment where everyone is guaranteed some minimum capabilities through some guarantee of minimum income, education, and healthcare, we cannot say that we have fair competition. When some people have to run a 100 metre race with sandbags on their legs, the fact that no one is allowed to have a head start does not make the race fair. Equality of opportunity is absolutely necessary but not sufficient in building a genuinely fair and efficient society.”

My rate: 5/5

Predictably Irrational

I got interested in behavioral economics lately and this was the first book I read about the topic. Dan Ariely through a series of experiments try to analyse why some of ur desicions are so irrational although we like to believe that all of them are rational.

“We usually think of ourselves as sitting the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we made and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires-with how we want to view ourselves-than with reality”

My rate: 4/5

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Not bad, not great. Nevertheless, the book has some valuable insights. If you are looking for a more complete/deep view on behavioral economics, better check the Predictably Irrational.

“People can have two different mindsets, she says. Those with a “fixed mindset” believe that their talents and abilities are carved in stone. Those with a “growth mindset” believe that their talents and abilities can be developed. Fixed mindsets see every encounter as a test of their worthiness. Growth mindsets see the same encounters as opportunities to improve.”

My rate: 3/5

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Short and decent. It can be read in a few hours and has some valuable advices-tips. Not a bad book certainly, not a great one either though.

“Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.”

My rate: 4/5

Published 21 May 2020

Engineering Manager. Opinions are my own and not necessarily the views of my employer.
Avraam Mavridis on Twitter