Tag Archives: experience

Book Review: Beyond Human Nature: How Culture & Experience Shape Our Lives by Jesse J. Prinz

Beyond Human Nature by Jesse J. Prinz Title: Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape Our Lives
Author: Jesse J. Prinz
Publisher: Allen Lane
ISBN: 978-0713998177
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 416
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Why do people from one culture think and see things differently from another? Why do they almost feel and also emote differently in some situations? There are so many instances when people from a different race or culture act and think differently and yet while most of us question the differences, there are times when thoughts regarding those do not cross our mind. The differences also stem from the nurture or the nature angle, which there have long gone been debates about in our world.

The book that I have finished reading off-late also talks of the way we view our world and how and why do we do what we do. “Beyond Human Nature: How Culture and Experience Shape Our Lives” by Jesse J. Prinz completely left me astounded by the end of the read. It gave me more perspective to the human condition and what impact do places and upbringing and what surrounds us have on our way of thinking and behaviour.

Prinz asks if the idea of human nature has any place in the sciences and the book tries to unearth or discover that very thought. The argumentation is strong in most places and somehow felt weak in some others, which I ignored, because the overall book appealed to me.

The book is divided into six parts and each part focuses on the idea of where do the following come from: Feelings, Values, Traits, Knowledge, Language, and Thinking. While the book is great overall, the reader cannot start reading the book from any part. The vast diversity of behaviour is explored in great depth in this book with a lot of relevant instances, which both astound and amuse. The conclusions for each argument are valid and rolled out well, also carefully tying the knots. There is no vagueness left for the reader to deal with.

There are times when I do not read non-fiction because I cannot make sense of some of it and then there are times when such a book comes along my way that makes me want to read more on these lines and the topic. There is a lot to garner and take away from this book – both individually and from a societal perspective. It is amazing how Prinz has woven the concept of nature vs. nurture so brilliantly around the premise of this book. I would recommend this book to those who want to know more about this topic and yet can keep up with the slow pace of this book.

Capote by Gerald Clarke

I am almost completing “Capote: A Biography” by Gerald Clarke and my head is still reeling from the after effects. I loved the book. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I know that it is bleak considering the book is not a light read either. Capote’s life has been contained marvelously in this book. It has character and a lot of substance.

I wonder why every genius’s life is so melancholic. Capote’s life was no exception either. Abandoned by his parents at an early age he was forced to stay with his old cousins at Monroeville, Alabama and kept fantasizing about the day his parents would come and take him away. The day did come and Capote met his first love: New York City. Mr. Clarke’s description of the New York Capote grew up in and flourished as a writer is simply outstanding. You can almost see all the sights and inhale its smells. Capote – the name was that of his step-father who eventually adopted him and who Truman grew close to.


One would think that “homosexuality” would run strong in the book considering Truman’s preference; however that is not the case. What is captured brilliantly is his rise from working as a copy boy for “The New Yorker” to becoming one of the famous twentieth century writers. His flamboyance, wit, anger, a streak of bitchiness, lavishness, fastidiousness and ultimately is downfall. Everything that Capote stood for is interestingly written about. Right from his affairs to his one-liners to his impulsive behaviour and his kindness [which wasn’t known to all] to the torture a writer goes through while working on a book [it took him six years to finish “In Cold Blood” which is now heralded as a modern classic] and the frustration when the accolades aren’t enough. The book successfully depicts his many friendships with the rich and the known to the downfall when he published a part of “Answered Prayers” [his self-proclaimed masterpiece] in Esquire and the characters were based on his rich friends, who did not forgive him for that.

This is the first time ever that I am reading a biography of a writer’s life and I am so inclined to pick up more biographies of my favourite writers. To want to know more about their lives. I think next on my list has to be either F. Scott Fitzgerald or Anais Nin.

What I also loved about this book was that Mr.Clarke does not mince words at any stage. It is as real and honest as any biography can ever get. Tragic life of a Genius and ultimately how he all drained it away! Absolutely Fantastic!

Entrepreneur Journeys by Sramana Mitra

Alright, I am not the sort of person who reads any books on management, let alone training (which is my core profession). Till date at least I have not read a single management book and was not interested either till I lay my hands on “Entrepreneur Journeys” by Sramana Mitra. I have always like I said had this aversion to management books and I never knew why. May be it was the way they were written. Always trying to force ideas down my throat and not willing to listen to my viewpoint. (well, wonder if they ever will?). Peter Drucker and the likes of him with Edward de Bono and his thinking hats could not make juggle towards their concepts.

So what made me read Sramana’s book? Well to start with it was plainly written or rather it is. It says how it is, without any frills. It makes you learn from other’s experiences which makes sense and yet at the same time wants you to go ahead and take that risk to be able to make something of your life. For instance, I am at such a crossroads in my career right now that I am asking myself the same questions: Am I doing the right thing with my life? Was I cut out to do this? Can I do something better? Am I capable of starting out on my own?

And that’s what “Entrepreneur Journeys” makes you do – learn from twelve unique journeys of twelve unique entrepreneurs. Their ups and downs – and what it takes to get to the top or bottom (in some cases). It is about their experiences which Sramana brings out very well by using her insightful interviewing technique and thus making them confide their fears, hopes, passions, worries, and inspirations which have driven their ventures.

I felt like I was learning directly from the masters and I did. I would highly recommend this book to managers in organizations (like myself) who want to maintain an entrepreneurial culture as they grow or anyone concerned about global business issues.