So many people over the years have recommended I read Zorba the Greek, and I finally did this past month. It was a bit slow to get started, but when it did, boy was I hooked. Such heart and such poetry in a novel. I distinctly remember the lump in my throat and the strange liquid in eyes as I reached the end of the story.
This book is an inspirational tale of loving life and women and living for the day. it's about finding meaning in people and the world around you, not in books or writing or pursuits which are purely intellectual. Yes, some of the literal messages about women may seem shocking/outdated: ideas like women are "sensitive, delicate creatures" who get more pleasure from giving pleasure and are easily made to feel embarrassed/delicate, the importance of being careful with them, sometimes providing them with a firm man's touch and confidence so they feel secure. But I think these all contain some grain of truth that doesn't change with time, and the core feeling is one of love and admiration; women are the only thing that can tame and control Zorba's wild spirit.
The book is also an irreverent loud voice calling for loving each other and adventure in life rather than externally imposed structure, constraints, or religion. I think Penn Jillette would like it a lot.
Below are some of my takeaways/main ideas.
My wife and I went on a few long road trips recently, and we passed the time in the car listening together to the audio version of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. The book ended up sparking a number of deep conversations and questions, and Suzanne even took notes! Through the process, I learned a lot about my wife, the perspective of professional women, and what implicit biases I personally have.
I liked how Sheryl was very realistic and honest about her own struggles and the (sometimes blatant) discrimination she faced and which others routinely face. I liked how she gave concrete examples/scripts and shared a lot of meaningful personal details.
I learned to appreciate much more how hard my wife works to achieve her goals and gain respect in ways that men receive a lot more by default in professional settings. I understood much more deeply the difficulty of balancing work and family life for a woman, and I really liked Sheryl's tips for professional couples. I saw my wife learning a lot from Sheryl's example and feeling like she's not alone in many of the feelings she has, like "imposter syndrome" (which I share too) and struggling against the default stance of not leaning in when there are risks. I learned some new ideas and models for how a couple can raise a family while also pursuing meaningful goals as independent adults. I also recognized better the role I can play in supporting her and pushing her to go after her dreams and believe in herself.
Below were our biggest takeaways from the book. I feel lucky to have Suzanne in my life and to have been able to share this experience with her, learning about each other and the world around us.