"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson


Over the summer, I listened to the Steve Jobs audiobook. When I finished it, I hadn’t felt that kind of sadness upon coming to the end of a book since I read Catcher in the Rye in high school. I knew then that I’d never again have the opportunity to have every sentence be fresh and new to me, and I legitimately struggled with that.  Steve Jobs is that good. Now, I like to listen to the audiobook over again while I Swiffer my apartment or do dishes or fold laundry and I get jazzed by hearing parts of the story of Steve Jobs’ life.  

Like almost every person under 30 who considers themselves “a reader,” who owns Apple products, reading this book had been on my to-do list since it was first published in fall 2011.  I skimmed it, and, like many people under 30 who consider themselves “a reader” do from time to time, I pretended to have read this book in social situations where Steve Jobs (as in, the biography) came up in conversation.

Thank Goodness I hadn’t actually read the book then, because when I start talking about Steve Jobs (the book or the man), I can’t stop.  

At times in this impressive biography, Steve Jobs embodies the definition of a real life “evil genius,” a calculating inventor toying with his creations (and frequently, other people). And yet at other times in the story, Jobs is so passionate and brilliant that I truly wish I had followed his career more closely when he was alive. 

Steve Jobs was also the embodiment of someone who truly loved his work.  In fact, he was so invigorated by his projects at Apple that when he was in the hospital, he was happier and could more easily cope with his cancer symptoms when his team at Apple gathered for meetings in his hospital room (and not just because they were a distraction—because he loved Apple).

I have to restrain myself from going on about Steve Jobs.  Instead, here are some of my favorite nuggets of surprising information from the book:

  1. Steve Jobs, for all his bad PR, was extremely sensitive and intuitive, and he listened to his gut on important business decisions.  He was a huge proponent of meditating to connect with one’s internal wisdom.  He told Walter Isaacson that meditating and slowing down your thoughts is hard at first, but very worth it.
  2. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had, understandably, public duels and debates as long as they were both known in the technology industry.  Some of the things they have said to each other are hilarious.
  3. Steve Jobs struggled with disordered eating his entire life.  If he had been female, odds are good his eating disorder would have been publicly discussed.  He would go through periods where he would only eat apples or only eat carrots, and I believe he categorically didn’t eat animal protein.
  4. Steve Jobs loved Bob Dylan and also became a fan of the Black Eyed Peas when he launched the iPod and used the song “Hey Mama” in the first iPod ads.
  5. The idea for the iPad came before the idea for the iPhone, even though they were launched in reverse.

Seriously, read the book. I’m listening to it for the third time now.  It’s beautifully written, and if you listen to the audiobook, the narrator’s voice is like chocolate for your ears. The collective effect of the story is inspiring and motivating, and it gives you a new, huge appreciation every time you “swipe to unlock” your iPhone.