The New Life

Orhan Pamuk

I can’t wait to read another by this famous Turkish novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. The next one I read is called “Snow”.

First – thanks to many people for giving me a channel into new areas of thought thru their recommendations. When I asked my friend Willy Ward for a recommendation in advance of our Istanbul retreat he had personal experience in hand. Thank you.

This novel is a well weaved powerful life long personal journey starting with a young many in his university years who falls in love while being captivated by the lessons of a book he is entranced by… A very very powerful series of experiences. The writing is itself captivating.

The Old Man And The Sea

Earnest Hemingway

“Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated…”

First – good gosh I wish I could write so clearly, directly, crisply, cleanly, relevantly, tightly, simply and beautifully as Hemingway did even for just an afternoon. I apologize in advance for the lack of skill in what is written below… I hope my passion and energy make up a little bit for my lack of skill.


Wow… I remember about a gazillion years ago my mom telling me about this book when I was perhaps 9 years old and describing it as one of the greatest books and she would almost be immersed into the book just telling me that she thought it was so great…

And years later I consider that maybe I can capture more clues about my mom from tearing through this work. My mom was so “tough” or filled with instilling discipline that in my teen years she somewaht lost me… I did my best to “route around” her deep deep set in stone rules that include “don’t talk back to adults” which among other things I translated I think quite correctly into “don’t talk back to me”… Moments of serious disagreement and discussion with my moms policy virtually never happened and those few occasions I recall went quite poorly… Actually they went horrendously.

So I did my best to “route around” her which was certainly tricky as a high schooler.

My mom was so tough that in her moments of suffering I wasn’t able to be open to empathy and suffered a cognitive dissonance of sorts.

Years later when I had seen my moment as just incredibly dutiful to the task of raising children as best as she could through her filters my respect instantly rose dramatically on a single day when I over heard a discussion she had with a single mom who happened to be her visiting nurse following one of my moms operations. From that point on I realized that she had done EVERYTHING she could to raise us and any failings were not from a lack of thought or effort… And that she didn’t consider her role as a parent to be to be “liked” or not as her children grew but that she of course at some level wanted such I suspect. She wanted to share books like The Old Man and the Sea with me…

But I was, again, maybe 8 or 9 years old and the book bored me to tears. I don’t think I finished it. I certainly don’t remember it.

So I now get a fresh chance to read it again for the first time :). Like many others on my list!

And I can see that at 8 or 9 prior to being presented with so many of life’s experiences and the lack of skills to synthesize, find abstracts and re-apply ideas into every nook and cranny of life the book is a waste of time.

This would include the “nook and cranny” of my life as an investor wanting to eliminate my personal biases and emotions in my work while being filled with passion for my pursuits…

I suspect virtually every bias that behavioral psychologists such as Dan Kahneman have identified that hold us back from making great decisions as investors is represented in these pages. It is like a fireworks display of biases and what holds us back.

As a mere small example… how I can get thrown by my successes and failures from a “deep center” as discussed in “Out of Solitude” by Henri Nouwen that I also read recently.

I won’t spoil any of the book as I suspect its value is so personally determined from one’s own experiences. It is a book I find so filled with possibility… A brilliant open space to find what one wants. We could chat about it for hours if not days or weeks…

But the premise is of a man named Santiago who makes his income catching and selling fish, who we learn is deeply filled with insight and knowledge for his craft but who has not caught a fish in 84 days and has just recently lost his loyal young assistant whose parents direct to another fishing boat captain because of Santiago’s lack of success. There is also a big fish involved ;)

The mere 126 pages could be mapped over easily to the life of a money manager or probably any profession or activity I suspect.

And in the process of immersing myself I could empathize more with my mom who passed away almost a decade ago and have a greater appreciation of the passion in her eyes when she spoke of this book which had meant so much to her when she read it… It opened up a window for me into her life which I no longer see as that of a “autocratic disciplinarian” but as a fellow human.

The Great Gatsby

F Scott Fitzgerald

What a beautiful book and I hadn’t read this since 10th grade and I didn’t remember even a hint of… Shows what an uninspired student I was in 10th grade. The final lines have me fixated… Gatsby is a character/persona that is created by a man aiming desperately to escape his roots as opposed to honoring and acknowledging them. Maybe one “lesson” is that is important to acknowledge one’s sourcing and have gratitude for that sourcing even when it hasn’t provided what one dreams of… While the settling of the US in the 1920′s seems appropriate perhaps it is far more relevant 90 years later… Unfulfilled dreams in America after 60 intense years of mass scale marketing that shapes what we should dream that goes nearly unquestioned but its effects are undoubtedly extraordinary.