Books Summary

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I have fixed as a goal to read at least one book per month. Here, I summarise them and write a few lines about my thought.

1. Fight club (Chuck Palahniuk) => February 2016
2. Man’s search for meaning (Viktor E.Frankl) => February 2016
3. Are you fully charged? the 3 keys to energizing your work and life (Tom Rath) => February/March 2016
4. The great Gatby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) => March 2016
5. The road (Cormac McCarthy) => April 2016
6. The 120 days of Sodome (Marquis de Sade) => April 2016


Fight club (Chuck Palahniuk) => February 2016

The narrator is working for an insurance company, his job is not really ethical. He seems apathetic and develops insomnia. He doesn’t enjoy his work but doesn’t really do anything to change his life. One day, he meets Tyler, kind of the opposite personality: much more crazy. Tyler gave him his phone number. Another day, whereas the narrator is coming back from his job, he finds out that his flat has blown up. He decides to call Tyler. They meet in a pub and drink a lot. When it’s time to leave, the narrator asks Tyler if he can sleep in his apartment. Tyler agreed but the narrator has to hit him as hard as possible. They slowly start to fight against each other in front of the pub. They really enjoyed thus decided to repeat it on a regular basis. Little by little, it gathers curious people who also want to fight. Eventually, they create the fight club. After several months, the narrator finds out that Tyler has created a bunch of fight clubs all around the world and leads them. He does actually have a secret project named “Mayhem” which seems bad. Eventually, the narrator finds out what the project is: destroy the civilisation to rebuild it. He also understands that Tyler is no one else but him. Actually, a part of him that has the control of his body while he is sleeping. Eventually, the narrator succeeds to find a way to “kill” Tyler and gets back the control of his body… and the secret project.

I really enjoyed the movie. I also really enjoyed the book. It’s very nihilist, sometimes too much and a bit tiring for someone who has a bunch of goals and really enjoys life. Even if an objective of the Mayhem project is to build a new world,  they don’t describe it, they just criticise the current society. Anyway, really easy to read and very surprising all along the story.

Man’s search for meaning (Viktor E.Frankl) => February 2016

Viktor E.Frankl was made prisoner by the Nazi during the WWII. He was sent to different concentration camps. Besides describing the horror of the everyday ‘life’ there, his approach is more about why one decides to survive anyway. He describes the shock following the admission (thoughts of suicide, sadness, disgust), the camp routine life (physical and mental brutality, apathy, obsession of food, but also about acts of kindness that are findable among some individuals) and the period following the liberation, when prisoners were freed and had to get back to a normal everyday life (deal with an unexpected liberation, relearn how to feel pleased). As a final chapter, he describes his ‘logotherapy’ (logos (Greek)= meaning): One can & should discover the meanings of his life (through performing actions, experiencing something or adopting a certain attitude toward suffering). Frankl cites several times Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”.

I’m really into goals and research of “what makes sense” so I really enjoyed this book. The part about the logotherapy is a bit theoretical but still smooth. It kind of makes sense even if sometimes, it sounds a bit too much esoteric (to me). The description of the horrible conditions and treatments in the concentration camps is made from a psychological point of view. It’s sometimes even worst compared the usual emotionless descriptions.

Are you fully charged? the 3 keys to energizing your work and life (Tom Rath) => February/March 2016

Meaning: focusing on benefiting someone else rather than oneself. Focus on helping others is the best way to be happy. So, often ask you those questions: Can you improve someone’s life, even a little bit, on a daily basis?  He said that “once you get above $70,000 in annual household income, there’s absolutely no statistically significant effect on your daily well-being,”. You see, money is not the point.

Interaction: Value moments spent with others and focus on the positive. He said that “Your well-being is more dramatically affected by the people you see every day, people who live within a few blocks of your house, people who live within a few miles, than it is by distant connections.”. Another good point: “Friends of friends we don’t know — even all the way out to the third degree — a friend of a friend of a friend — have a measurable impact on your overall health and well-being,”. Just by being nice to one person, you’re improving all sorts of lives!

Energy: Eat, move, sleep healthily. Healthy mind, healthy body. Also: “go with the flow”: focus on your strengths instead of focusing on your weaknesses.

Easy to read. Fast also. Useful tips. Basically, you can found every tips which are in the book on blogs but it is still worth it to read the book because of the related stories which serve as examples. They are all very interesting.

The great Gatby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) => March 2016

Nick Carraway moves to New York in the summer of the beginning of the 19th for business reason. He settles down in a house which is located in an area populated by new richs. His neighbour is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic house and organizes huge parties every Saturday night. Nick’s cousin, Daisy, is married to a rich man, Tom, and they live on the opposite side of the city. Thanks to them, Nick meets Jordan, a rich attractive woman. Together, they start a relationship. Nick learns that Tom has a lover: Mrs Wilson. Life goes on and after a while, Nick eventually accepts an invitation to one Gatsby’s party. He goes there with Jordan. During the party, Gatsby asks to talk to Jordan alone. Later, Nick learns through Jordan that Gatsby already met Daisy and he is actually deeply in love with her. The saturday night parties are actually an attempt to see Daisy, but she never comes. Gatsby wants Nick to secretly arrange a reunion between Daisy and him. Nick invites Daisy for a tea in his house, he asks her to come without Tom. The first meeting is kind of weird but eventually Gatsby and Daisy fall again in love and start a secret relationship. Tom starts to be suspicious and even catchs Gatsby lovingly looking at Daisy. He forces the group to go downtown and confronts Gatsby. Tom tells Daisy that Gatsby made his fortune on criminal activities. Daisy, after affirming that she only loves Gatsby, eventually agrees that she has feelings for Tom. Tom lets Gatsby and Daisy goig back home together to show Gatsby that he has no chance anymore. On the way back, Nick, Jordan and Tom discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Mrs Wilson, the secret lover of Tom. Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the car but he’s going to take the blame. The next day, Tom tells Mrs Wilson’s husband that Gatsby was the driver of the car. Mrs Wilson’s husband, thinking that the driver of the car must have been her lover, finds and shoots Gatsby, and kills himself. Nick ends his relationship with Jordan and moves back to his originally country because he is disgusted by the moral decay of the wealthy people there.

The beginning was kind of tough: a lot of characters, different stories, the wealthy environnement and attitudes… I was a bit lost and bored but after about thirty pages I was completely in. Nick is a nice character and I eventually succeeded to identify myself through him. Even if I don’t really like him eventually. Now, i want to see the movie again!


The road (Cormac McCarthy) => April 2016

The story is about a man and his child making their journey along an post-apocalyptic world. We don’t know when, we don’t know where. Most of the time, they are looking for food, clothes, and “good” people. The “bad” ones are those who eat dogs and other people in order to survive. Fighting against cold, rain, hunger, fatigue and hopelessness. They will mostly stay just the two of them with few but important events and meetings.
Events: Discovery of a house full of humans held prisoners by “bad” guys in order to get eaten; Discovery of a secret door in a house full of food, water, clothes and so on… (recalling the old world, bitterness of the new world); Arrival at the see, which is not blue anymore, which is kind of a depressing sign that the new world might stay like that forever…
Meetings: With”bad” guys, then we understand why they have to hide in this dangerous new world; with a little boy, even if they don’t interact and have to leave again, we now understand that there might be good people hiding; with an old man, sharing vision of the old world; with a “bad” guy who will shoot the man in the leg (but the man will shoot him back); The man eventually dies (the wound was nasty and he was already weak), and few days after, the little boy meets a “good” guy who lives with a woman, a little boy and a little girl. The story ends with the welcoming of the little boy in his new family.

This book is very easy to read, also quick. Every interaction between the man and the little boy is meaningful, kind of cute, sad or leading to deep questions. There is no funny moment, almost always a tense atmosphere, but a deep beautiful relation between the little boy and his dad. If you don’t care about the psychological/philosophical issues, it might be a bit long around the middle part of the book since it’s not really an action book. I like how the author ends the story, the dad was kind of too much suspicious about everyone, they would not have been able to meet other people otherwise. But I guess, I would have enjoyed the little boy to walk a bit alone before meeting the new family: In a way, it makes sense though and even allows to raise more interpretations.

The 120 days of Sodom (Marquis de Sade)=> April 2016

Ok, be prepared…

During the 16/17th century (Reign of Louis XIV) in France, 4 aristocrats (45 to 60 years old, a Duc, a President, a Financier and an Evêque) lock themselves in an isolated castle with around forty victims under their absolute power.  Victims are made up of children, boys and girls from 4 to 16 years old that have been stolen. 

Four storytellers (pimps) will alternatively tell the story of six hundred perversion, 150 per months. Going from the “simple” passion to the “criminal” and “murderous”ones. Basically, from  pedophilia and prostitution to torture and murder (bestiality, sadism, masochism, coprophilia included). The masters of the castle usually apply directly on the victims what they just heard.

Most of the victims will die in atrocious suffering

I’ve seen the movie (from Pasolini) , it was already really hard to watch. The book is even worst! It’s a pretty long book, so you should consider to get another book to read at the same time, more positive and philanthropic. Because it could be very disturbing. I’m glad I read it though, it’s very… particular. 


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