Poland: A History by Adam Zamoyski

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Moving eastward with the history books and in to Poland now. I’ve covered the history of this country a little in college courses. I was particularly interested in learning more about the medieval period and the Polish/Lithuanian commonwealth. Few countries in Europe can ever have suffered at the hands of others as much as Poland. Whereas Prussia used its vulnerability to help forge a ┬ámilitary powerhouse the Poles were democratic and cosmopolitan a few hundred years too early allowing their neighbours to tear them apart. A fascinating read that was brought right up to the present day. It felt less like a history book and more like the first few chapters of an ongoing saga as Poland still struggles with its place in the world and still has those powerful neighbours to keep an eye on.

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Quiet by Susan Cain

Quiet

I’m going to lie. The reason I initially picked this book up in the shop was because of the cover. Maybe it’s the association with Apple, maybe it’s the Beatles, but there’s something about that plain white cover that stood out for its sheer understatedness (not sure that’s a real word but it should be). As a read the description I got intrigued. As I read the book I found myself really enjoying it. It was different to every other book like this I’ve read. As Cain states we’re told to think that being outgoing, extrovert, a networking etc is the way to get ahead. In my own work as a trainer it’s those skills we often try to get people to improve in. But this was about a different way of going about it all. Certainly thought provoking and contains some ideas I am going to think about incorporating in my training.

Iron Kingdom by Christopher Clark

Prussia

Back to the history books now and a comprehensive overview of Prussia. For most people Prussia and Germany are probably seen as one and the same. And it’s true that the German Empire of the late 19th early 20th century was essentially that. But there was so much more back story to it all and this book covered that in fascinating detail. Once you get your head around all the numerous Fredericks and Williams that is!

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

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More fiction now. I was at work and waiting for books to be delivered when a co-worker offered me this. Normally I wouldn’t chose something like this if I was in a book shop but the whole point of this project is to read more – and I suppose reading something different should be part of that. Overall the book was alright but there were too many flaws for me. The main character sounded and acted more like he was 7 rather than 11. I tried to think back to when I was that age and I’d like to think I was more savvy than that. Having said that it was an interesting, if depressing, insight in to a world where casual violence is a way of life.