Recently consumed culture

Lately we’ve been watching loads of documentaries and I’ve also managed to finish a string of books. Here’s a list and a few words about them:

Broken Paradise by Cecilia Samartin

A fantastic book. Really deserving of the 5 star rating it has on Amazon.com. Samartin writes in a way that make you feel stupid for ever attempting to write something yourself. It’s beautiful and passionate writing about a topic she obviously feels very strongly about. The book description.

Cuba, 1956:¬†Cousins Nora and Alicia are accustomed to living among Havana’s privileged class — but their lavish dinners, days at the beach, and extravagant dances come to an end after Castro’s rise to power. Food becomes scarce, religion is forbidden, and disease runs rampant. Although Alicia stays behind while Nora emigrates to the United States, both of their identities are challenged as they try to adapt to the changes forced upon them. As the situation in Cuba deteriorates, Alicia is beset by bad fortune, while Nora — whose heart is still in Cuba — painfully assimilates into middle-class U.S. culture. Letters between the cousins track their lives until Alicia’s situation becomes so difficult that Nora is forced to return and help. But what she finds in Cuba is like nothing she ever imagined.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

Creative people are not the most productive and disciplined in the world – that’s at least what the stereotype tells us. The founder of Behance, Scott Belsky, tells us how it can be otherwise and how we can make sure to be both creative and productive at the same time. Very interesting and thought-provking.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

A brilliant book about thinking and specifically intuitive thinking. Book description: Intuition is not some magical property that arises unbidden from the depths of our mind. It is a product of long hours and intelligent design, of meaningful work environments and particular rules and principles. This book shows us how we can hone our instinctive ability to know in an instant, helping us to bring out the best in our thinking and become better decision-makers in our homes, offices and in everyday life. Just as he did with his revolutionary theory of the tipping point, Gladwell reveals how the power of ‘blink’ could fundamentally transform our relationships, the way we consume, create and communicate, how we run our businesses and even our societies.You’ll never think about thinking in the same way again.

The Queen of Versailles

A dark and upsetting documentary about a billionaire couple wanting to build the largest home in America. It really shows that money and intelligence aren’t linked. I got mostly amazed and pissed-off at the same time, but it was very entertaining viewing. IMDB description:

A documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they begin construction on a mansion inspired by Versailles. During the next two years, their empire, fueled by the real estate bubble and cheap money, falters due to the economic crisis.

Searching for Sugarman

Academy award winner and rightly so. Fantastic documentary about a forgotten musician who gets his just revival. IMDB description:¬†Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez.

This World – Cuba with Simon Reeve

This documentary about the mystical and enticing country of Cuba goes well with Broken Paradise. Simon Reeve is a good presenter and you really get an understanding of how Cuba has been run over the years.

Romes Lost Empire

An interesting watch for Rome junkies such as Lenah and myself. It shows how new technology can change the way we learn about history.

Rome – a history of the eternal city

A more dry take on the history of Rome, but still very interesting. With such a fascinating history you really understand why it’s called The Eternal City.

Jiro – Dreams of Sushi

If David Siegel (the billionaire in The Queen of Versailles) is the time-share king, then Jiro is for sure the king of sushi. Endearing documentary about passion for your craft and really believing in what you do.

Canada – Richard Ford

The latest novel from one of my favorite writers. I loved The Bascombe Trilogy, and liked this one too, but it was definitely a slower read. If you have patience with reading fine, but lingering writing, check it out. From the back cover:

When fifteen-year-old Del Parsons’ parents rob a North Dakota bank, his normal life is altered forever, and a threshold is crossed that can never be uncrossed. His parents’ imprisonment threatens a turbulent and uncertain future for Del and his twin sister, Berner. Fierce with resentment, Berner flees their Montana home for California. But Del is not completely abandoned. A family friend spirits him across the Canadian border toward safety and a better life. There, afloat on the Saskatchewan prairie, Del finds only cold refuge from Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and alluring American fugitive with a dark and violent past.

Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery, Del struggles to remake himself. But his search for grace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with the forces of darkness that shadow us all.

Inside the Saudi Kingdom

Interesting documentary following the Prince Saud Bin Al-Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz. It gives you a glimpse of life in a country governed by the slightly terrifying Sharia Law, but doesn’t really go as deep as you would like it to. There were probably quite tough restrictions on the film team for this one.