It was Ryan’s idea – lets try out reading a book that the other person loved in the last year. Honestly, I wasn’t keen on the idea. Our reading tastes are so different. I enjoy reading books mainly by women that explore matters of historic and current racism, identity, liberation and sexuality. Ryan enjoys books that were written hundreds of years ago, often translated into English – Jules Verne is his favourite author of all time.
Actually the book that Ryan chose for me does fit into my style of reading. It’s a memoir and it’s written by a woman: The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova. This is Konnikova’s story of how she went from amateur to professional poker player in just over a year (pretty impressive). Ryan is not a gambling man, so you may be asking why he was so fascinated by a book about poker? Well, he has a tendency to get lost for hours, researching any subject – most recently spending a good hour to find out everything he could about bed sheets! He’s also a huge fan of Konnikova; to directly quote him – “she’s got an incredible writing style and I like the way she describes things!”
Although memoirs are one of my favourite genres, The Biggest Bluff, isn’t one I would typically choose to read. Much like Konnikova’s journey to play professional poker, I am lost for a while. A lot of the poker chat goes completely over my head. I blank out whilst she explains the details of other players tournaments. And she has a tendency to digress too much. But what did interest me was the link between poker and real life experiences.
She cleverly draws comparisons from poker to uncertainty, luck and failure. Although this didn’t grab me in the way that Elizabeth Day does in How To Fail, I was still interested in Konnikova’s failures that she learned from to help her become successful.
Konnikova originally gives herself less than a year to become a successful poker player at the World Series Of Poker (WSOP). And it is this that plays out as a lesson that life rarely goes the way we plan. Even though she does play at the WSOP, on reflection she realises it would have been better to delay, rather than force success in a time frame. It is when she let’s go of the time constraints she has wrapped herself in that success begins to happen.
What did I choose for Ryan? He’s working his way through Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I described it as a love letter to the natural world, which shines beauty on the outcasted and reveals the ugliness of a prejudice society. So far, he finds it interesting but just doesn’t care about it. Also on track for three stars.
Unsurprisingly we won’t be swapping books again any time soon. Ryan’s looking forward to another 14th century novel. And myself? I’m actually reading a psychological, thriller by a male author. Guess I experiment with different genre’s and styles of writing more than I initially thought.