WH Smith – Kuwait Airport

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This was a very pleasant surprise, That Al Salasil has opened WH Smith at Kuwait Airport. It is a lot better then the previous magazine store they had there which was a bit depressing. They had a decent selection of English books, some Arabic and a respectable amount of magazines overall.

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I’m looking forward to more books being brought into Kuwait, even though a lot of bookstores have shutdown over the years there is still large amount of people that like buying books. Lets hope that this business venture with WH Smith turns out to be a successful one, I’m happy to see a store like this finally open in the airport.

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Review: Outlaws Inc.

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This riveting account reveals the secret corners of our supposedly flat world: black markets where governments are never seen but still spend outrageous amounts of money. Journalist Matt Potter tells the story of Yuri and his crew, a gang of Russian military men who, after the collapse of the Soviet Union found themselves without work or prospects. So they bought a decommissioned Soviet plane-at liquidation prices, straight from the Russian government-and started a shipping business. It wasn’t long before Yuri, and many pilots like him, found themselves an unlikely (and ethically dubious) hub of global trading. Men like these are paid by the U.S., the Taliban, and blue-chip multinational companies to bring supplies- some legal, some not-across dangerous borders.

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Under the Radar and on the Black Market with the World’s Most Dangerous Smugglers

I picked up this book thinking its going to be a crazy story about a bunch of commands gone bad, but turns out to be a book about the grey market of private aviation, they are neither bad guys nor good guys, just depends on the contract that they have at hand. It is one very interesting book as to how the Soviet Military broke down since they ran out of money and the Air Force turned out into the most efficient and decentralized private aviation industry known to man, no one boss, no accountability, with the powers and resources of the cold war at their hands. Where paperwork can be altered, these guys would be based and they would go, they go where they are needed with their Antonovs and Ilyushins. The book is a very interesting read, a view into the Russian mind set and to my surprise Sharjah was a major hub for Drug Smuggling, Money Laundering and more, didn’t know it was like that for so long but it was the gateway into the Middle East and Europe from Asia and Russia. Matt Potter did a fantastic job of going into the depth of this story, but the book gets a bit repetitive, it could have been about 1/3 shorter then it was, then it would have been a perfect book, but it was a very interesting read and an eye opener.

Link: Amazon
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Coca-Cola Set of Three: Film, Music, & Sports From Assouline

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For over a century Coca-Cola has been a touchstone of modern culture and a global icon. First sipped at an Atlanta soda fountain, the beverage has become an instantly recognizable symbol around the world, woven into people’s lives and memories. This newest addition to Assouline’s best-selling Memoire collection, Coca-Cola: Film, Music, Sports celebrates the iconic brand’s broad-reaching influence in the domains of film, music, and athletics. With imagery of some of these industries’ most revered names, and forewords penned by Ridley Scott, Quincy Jones, and LeBron James, these volumes explore the beverage’s prominence in some of the greatest films of all time, its inspiration for legendary musicians of all genres, and its motivational support of athletes from the Olympics to professional sports. This limited-edition set in a unique sculpted ice slipcase is a must-have accessory not only for collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia but also for lovers of American culture everywhere.

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Assouline is an interesting publication, they make unique books on subjects ranging from art, food, sport, marketing, history, brands, and people. Their books are always high quality with beautifully done pictures, a different perspective on a subject with lots of amazing pictures. Their books are always hardback and sometimes only a limited edition of books are made, and in this case I love the quality of their books. I don’t always buy their books right away because they are very big and heavy, not something you can carry around with you but it also depends on this subject. This book is about the influence of Coke in Sports, Film, and Music and I love all three subjects and Coke has always been one of my favorite brands. I have one Coke Assouline book and it is filled with all their old advertising and other pieces of work from Coca Cola, and I preordered this piece from Assouline as soon as I saw it.

Price: $550
Link: Assouline

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Review: Star Wars – The Jedi Path

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Passed down from Master to apprentice, The Jedi Path is an ancient training manual that has educated and enlightened generations of Jedi. Within its pages, the Jedi-intraining will discover the history and lore of the Jedi Order, the ways of the Force and how to wield it, the subtle nuances of lightsaber combat, and the dangers of the Dark Side. The only remaining copy in existence, this hallowed tome features handwritten annotated notes by Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Count Dooku, and Darth Sidious, among many others.

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Right off the bat this book is for the Star Wars fan, it is so detailed and well written that you feel yourself immersed in the Jedi Universe, with notes from so many Jedi. When I first started the book it seemed like a used manual which is what it is supposed to be, explaining how you develop the Force within you to become a Jedi. As you progress you read the notes of the different Jedi and at the same time you get a feel for their mentality which. And one Jedi who became a Sith, Count Doku, his notes are clear that he is a ruthless human being with the way he used the force. As you progress you get more immersed as to the different types of Jedi and different fields. It is one detailed training manual and the origin stories as to how the Jedi developed their powers, and I do love reading Yoda’s notes, I can hear his voice in my head when I read it. A Must have for any Star Wars fan.

Link: Amazon
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Ministry of Education – Book Clearance

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In the 60s,70s, and even the 80s, the books that were produced by the Ministry of Education were used all over the Gulf by many GCC countries and a few Arab countries. As with many things they were great in the past, but now its not even a shadow of its former self.

Recently I heard of an incident with the Ministry of Education and a few of the private schools. Any private school has to submit the book it uses for approval by the MoE, which makes sense, if things were perfect. Some books get banned and some get approved, and during one visit to the private school to check on the books one of the teachers asked why a book was banned, she said because it has nudity, and the teacher was confused as it doesn’t. Then the government employee said her colleague watch the movie and it had nudity so the book was banned, but then the teacher replied the book is different. Then the employee replies that the movie has nudity so the book was banned. The concept that the book and the movie were different was not being comprehended.

So now the ministry basis the book approvals through movies viewings, I wonder what they do when there isn’t a movie. And now The Great Gatsby is going to be released soon with Leonardo DiCaprio and you know there will probably be a few frisky scenes, and if its the same process then they will probably ban that book too.

Review: Inside Apple – Adam Lashinsky

INSIDE APPLE reveals the secret systems, tactics and leadership strategies that allowed Steve Jobs and his company to churn out hit after hit and inspire a cult-like following for its products.

If Apple is Silicon Valley’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, then author Adam Lashinsky provides readers with a golden ticket to step inside. In this primer on leadership and innovation, the author will introduce readers to concepts like the “DRI” (Apple’s practice of assigning a Directly Responsible Individual to every task) and the Top 100 (an annual ritual in which 100 up-and-coming executives are tapped a la Skull & Bones for a secret retreat with company founder Steve Jobs).

Based on numerous interviews, the book offers exclusive new information about how Apple innovates, deals with its suppliers and is handling the transition into the Post Jobs Era. Lashinsky, a Senior Editor at Large for Fortune, knows the subject cold: In a 2008 cover story for the magazine entitled The Genius Behind Steve: Could Operations Whiz Tim Cook Run The Company Someday he predicted that Tim Cook, then an unknown, would eventually succeed Steve Jobs as CEO.

While Inside Apple is ostensibly a deep dive into one, unique company (and its ecosystem of suppliers, investors, employees and competitors), the lessons about Jobs, leadership, product design and marketing are universal. They should appeal to anyone hoping to bring some of that Apple magic to their own company, career, or creative endeavor.

Like a lot of people I bought the autobiography of Steve Jobs after he passed away, but this book intrigued me at Heathrow Airport, it was the first one to feel like it really jumped into Apple’s secretive policies. I was expecting a book that would be bashing Apple nonstop for their tactics, but at least a view into Apple with a bit more perspective. This type of business book is relative only for a very short time and so I thought to read it within that time and just finishing it recently really was interesting. Surprisingly Adam Lashinsky praised Apple for a lot of their business decisions and how Jobs kept the entrepreneurial spirit in Apple going unlike many companies of it size. If you have any inclination towards Apple then you really have to read this book, I’m not their biggest fan but I do respect them and this book gives you more incite into them. An excellent read.

Link: Amazon

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What I’m Reading?

The books I’m reading these days have nothing to do with each other and sometimes I just really want to read a book so I do. A long time ago I thought that I couldn’t read multiple books at one time, thinking that I can’t keep up with the story but turns out I just pick up where I left off, its surprisingly easy so now I do it more often, and this I finish more books then I would have before. This is the list of books that are currently on my reading pile.

Inside Apple – Adam Lashinsky

  • Its not the Steve autobiography, and I thought it would take a more aggressive stand point, but honestly its an excellent look at Apple from a Forbes writer and very relevant. Books like these have to be read in the moment or a year later it would be dated, and its a pretty fun read since its like getting an inside view of Apple even though it is still so damn secretive.

The Jedi Path

  • This book is for any Star Wars nut, so much information packed into it, you feel like your training to be a Jedi.

Ninja – John Man

  • A Book about Ninjas, just couldn’t get any cooler, the original spies

007 Carte Blanche – Jeffery Deaver

  • I have had it for some time, but jumped right into it after watching 007 Skyfall, can’t get enough of Bond, and the books never disappoint.

Nerd Do Well – Simon Pegg

  • I’m taking this read at an easy pace, its a funny book about the life of Simon Pegg, he is a British Actor/Comedian, I do enjoy his movies.

Closure. Limited – Zombie Wars – Max Brooks

Set in the same terrifying universe as his million-selling World War Z, Closure, Ltd is among the short stories found within this collection. In it, Max interviews the head of a company dedicated to finding emotional closure for survivors of the zombie war by assassinating their former zombie attackers. Written in his trademark style, these tales are a combination of horror, drama, and socio-political commentary.

After leading his last book World War Z I’m just waiting for his next book, and this short story book picks up where the other one left off. When I started reading it you jump right into it again, he is so obsessed with zombies and its just so good you honestly believe that zombies are real and his books are the only way to fight them and go on as the human race. A very fun and easy read, if you get into it you can finish it in a few days, took me two weeks and I was taking my time. I honestly wish there was more and he takes a very different route with this one, introducing vampires. This time around you get their perspective and how the vampires fared against zombies and how zombies would react to them as well. His talent is getting you to believe the stories that he is writing are real and is happening right now. If you read World War Z then you have to read this as well.

Link: Amazon
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Waterstones Visit in London

At the beginning of July I had a quick business trip to London and one of the usual stops other then the Harrods Pizzeria is the Waterstones bookstore in Piccadly. There is always something different about bookstores, there is a personal touch and you get introduced to books that you would never think of taking a look at online.

The best part of the bookstore are the personal reviews of the staffers, a lot of these people work there because they like it and they give you a personal opinion on these books. It gives me a chance to checkout books that I would never think of picking up and that is how I discovered a few of my favorites authors.

A usual my favorite section is the Fantasy & Science Fiction section on the first floor but I decided to check out all the other sections before heading there so I start from the Fifth Floor and clear each floor before heading to the next one. Usually I end up spending about 15 mins per section, and then about two hours in the Fantasy & Science Fiction section. This time around there were more Vampire & Zombie books then usual and I picked up a few that seemed interesting, I chose a few different books and the usual. I said I would only get two books but ended up getting five with me.


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Review: Mr. China – Tim Clissold

Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man’s coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to conquer.

I have a fascination with China, its still one of those mysterious countries to me, you always think you have knowledge of different places but China is a superpower yet its an enigma and this a book I picked up that told of a story how they lost a lot of money trying to bring the west to China and make money the way they know how. Tim Clissold is an English author so it was a different point of view, he lived and breathed China before jumping into the businesses in the early 90s. This book was publish in 2003 so they were telling the stories of China before it became the manufacturing superpower that it is now, when communism was everything and government had full control of every aspect. The book tells the story as he progressed to joining Patrick another big shot from Wallstreet to raise money and invest in China, but it turned out to be a different kind of beast and the Chinese were dealing with their own transformation at the time. All I knew about China back in the 90s was Tiananmen Sqaure, the One Child Rule, the Return Of Hong Kong, and Jackie Chan. Of course that changed as I grew up but still I wanted to know how the transformation happen and this book gives you that idea, even though it is a bit at a slow pace you get to go through his mind as he progressed from one issue to another.

Link: Amazon
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