Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Favourite book

I am sitting at a party with my friends, having a good time and discussing various topics. Suddenly someone asks: "What is your favourite book?". 

My friends start telling about this or that book, some of them I know and already read, some I hear for the first time now. Each describe how their book made a strong mark on their life in one way or another. Suddenly I realize that my turn is about to come and my mind is already racing through all the books I have read so far, trying to remember their plot. There must be a series of events afterwards that were influenced by the story of a book I read! I don't know why, maybe because of the pressure of coming up with an answer when soon it will be my turn, or this is indeed one of the most difficult questions I had to answer in my life, but I am having troubles making the necessary connections. Finally the much dreaded moment comes and an awkward silence fells. After a few seconds, when all the eyes are on me, I decide to give up and just pick a book for which I recall the plot a bit better, say it's name out loud and start looking to the next person to hear his answer.

Is it just me who or is it very difficult to answer this question?

Maybe it's because I haven't read enough books or I haven't yet read the right boot, but I can't give an easy answer to this question no matter how much I think about it. Every book I have read was interesting in it's own way. Usually I stop reading a book that doesn't catch me in the first 20-40 pages. If it pass this marker, I read it with so much passion as if it's the most important thing in my life at that moment. Once I finish, I feel marked in some way for the next couple of days, always recollecting various moments from it. All this lasts for a week or two, afterwards the once vivid memories of the events, start to fade out from my mind. Suddenly it becomes just another book that I read, for which I vaguely remember it's plot and if I am lucky, a name of a character of two.

How can there be a book that I can say it made a strong mark on my life, when I barely remember the plot a few weeks later, let alone the name of the characters?

I heard about techniques that can be used to remember the events from a book for longer periods of time. I thought about applying them, but somehow that would spoil the pleasure I have after I finish a good book. Instead of indulging myself in the recollection of events and feelings I had while reading, if would all feel like a work assignment. I don't read because someone tells me, I do it for the pleasure of putting together piece by piece, a world enclosed in the pages of a book. I don't want to feel like I study for a project assignment, I want to enjoy a good book. 

Maybe the price payed for this is that I will always find it difficult to answer an apparent easy question: "What is your favourite book?"

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

It's learning time!

Due to a lot of free time on my hand recently I decided it's time to learn something new.

I've had an account on Coursera for some time now, but so far I was only looking for programming related courses. I got the other day a newsletter on email from them, with some interesting new courses they just launched, so I picked two of them out of curiosity.

First course is called Advanced Competitive Strategy and it promises to give an overview on how companies can build up and maintain their customer base by increasing switching costs and facilitating strategic customer lock-ins. I've gone through a couple of videos and so far the topic is looking interesting. The information provided in the course can be applied not just to a possible future business but also in day-to-day activities, like choosing a mobile operator or an airline when going in vacations. So far there are not many Romanian businesses which I saw that apply principles described in this course, but I hope this will change in the near future.

The second course is called The Art of Negotiation and it promises to explore how current approaches to negotiation strategy and tactics are used, types of negotiation relationships that exists and how important is to plan and prepare for a negotiation session. When I hear the word negotiation it immediately brings into memory the image of two people bargaining in a market over a product price, but it's so much more than this. Negotiation situations are happening all around us and they are happening on a daily basis. From salary negotiations when switching to a new position at work to negotiations with children's, parents, wife or girlfriend on. We are negotiating one thing or another no matter where we are. Because of this I think this course will be very beneficial for my personal development.

Let's hope all goes well and I can go follow through with both courses until the end! ^_^