Three quick reviews of books I’ve read in the last month.

#1: I Moved Your Cheese

I Moved Your Cheese

Written by a Harvard MBA professor, I Moved Your Cheese: For Those Who Refuse to Live as Mice in Someone Else’s Maze┬áis a short story about three mice that live inside of a maze. As they begin to identify the maze, one of them opens his mind and makes important realizations about the world that they live in. Having gained this newfound consciousness, he stages an escape.

One of the greatest things about this book is the impact that it has in such a small space (it’s about 100 pages long). Before you’ve finished the first page, it’s clear that the mouse in a maze example draws a beautiful parallel between the mental state that we place ourselves within. In order to break free of the restrictive bonds which our own minds socialize us into (the maze), you must step back and re-examine.

The problem is not that the mouse is in the maze, but that the maze is in the mouse.”

Incredibly deep and meaningful book, I highly recommend it to anyone: I Moved Your Cheese

#2: Why China Will Never Rule the World

Why China Will Never Rule the World

The title of this book was enough to arouse my attention, but after seeing this brazen Youtube clip of the author speaking about the book, I was hooked.

The book follows author Troy Parfitt on a journey across Mainland China and Taiwan as he makes hundreds of observations and China and it’s people, peppered with historical anecdotes. For me this format works great since you go into this book expecting it to be a dry assortment of facts and figures, as opposed to a first-person account of the China experience. The author has spent a decade in and around China, speaks Chinese, and is knowledgeable on its past. For me, this certifies his right to express an opinion on China, even if it is negative.

Throughout the entire book, the author is critical of China and it’s various systems which are opposed to the Western way of doing things. Dozens of times while reading the book I silently applauded his observations, having made so many of the same ones myself. All expats in China go through the China Blues and if you’re going through that, this book is like therapy. It’s a hand on your shoulder that says, I can relate.

Moreover, I agree with the books conclusion that China will not rule the world. Perhaps this is a foregone conclusion but at the moment it’s difficult to get away from the popular sentiment that China is asserting itself in all the ways that the United States is faltering. This book is worth reading, but due to it’s negativity, more as accompanying material rather than a main source for information on China: Why China Will Never Rule the World

“There is nothing more childish, and to that end, more telling, about Chinese culture than the concept of face; it is merely a license for people to behave however they please.”

#3: Black Passenger in Yellow Cabs

Black Passenger in Yellow Cabs

This book is the story of a Jamaican American who emigrated to Japan as an English teacher and spent seven years purging sexual demons. Addicted to sex and eager to learn about Japanese women to better manipulate them, the author learned Japanese while exploiting the exoticism attached to his race in Japan.

Despite continually referring to his slum origin in Jamaica, the author of this book is clearly highly educated and motivated to meticulously study the psychological details of Japanese women. Which makes this book essentially half diary (this girl, this experience) and psychology (Japanese rituals and society).

The diary part gets old since it feels that the same themes are re-used over and over, but the societal observations are fascinating and can only come from intimate relationships. Overall my feelings toward this book are bittersweet since it contains a lot of great anecdotes, but somewhere around the 200 page point I was looking forward to the conclusion.

“Ravaged by inferiority complexes, the Japanese depend on the validation of whites when marketing their products, especially big ticket items associated with status and class. It’s just not a cool car unless the ads feature a European at the wheel.”

Recommended if you have particular interest in the psychology of Japanese women or society in general: Black Passenger in Yellow Cabs