I joined Audible.com last month (thanks in part to my new 30 minute commute) to listen to audio books. My first pick was the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Here’s a crack at a review of it.
First off, it is phenomenally written, and the narration of the audio book is superb. There were only a handful of spots that were not engaging for me, but most of that was around the early diagnosis of Job’s cancer and the intricacies of that. Perhaps it was the medical terminology that alienated me, but either way I found my mind wandering.
What strikes me most about Steve’s life is the polarity. There was no middle ground for him. Something (or someone) was either the best ever, or total [excrement]. Isaacson does a good job of giving insight about Steve that makes it clear that there is deep respect for the man, but that this book is not an “inside job” where faults are whitewashed and successes overblown.
As I’ve navigated the last couple of years of my life through full-time Christian ministry into “secular” work and now this new strange hybrid of marketplace/part time worship leading, it put me in a unique position to receive the content of this book. My perspective on meaning and purpose has been tumble-dried and refolded since 2010.
I don’t care to make this book review a critique of Job’s spirituality, but what I saw throughout the book was a relentless search for purpose. Every product launch, every innovation and invention, every day of his life was spent trying to “make a dent in the Universe.”
And he did make a dent. If the browser window you are reading this post in has a rounded rectangular shape to it, it was Steve Jobs who insisted on that. (even if you are reading it on a PC, they kind of wholesale ripped-off the Macintosh Graphical User Interface multiple times over.) Jobs undeniably made a mark on society and on business.
As any good biography should, this book forces the reader to self-examine, to evaluate, and to a certain extent reorder your life around the framework of a life so well-lived that we write books about it.
It left me wondering if, given the opportunity to speak from the grave in 100 years, Steve Jobs would still insist on “making a difference” in the ways that he did while he lived.
Isaacson weaves together the different segments of Jobs’ life in a compelling way. The book is definitely worth a read. By way of warning, there is a significant amount of foul language throughout the book, as Isaacson quotes Jobs and others who had little regard for linguistic restraint.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that I consumed the entire thing on an Android device. Because I’m a rebel.