After almost two years since the release of the hardcover book, Simon & Schuster is due to publish the paperback of Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs this fall. But don’t mistake the cover photo for a clean-shaven Ashton. The paperback cover art will feature 29-year-old Jobs in the same fashion as the hardcover’s iconic black-and-white portrait. READ FULL STORY
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Every Christmas morning at the Staskiewicz household, there’s always one book that appears so many times that you start to make sure no one’s secretly rewrapping the same one when you’re not looking. The members of the family that gather at this time of the year tend to have relatively similar tastes, and books are prevalent either because we’re fans of reading or because we like to pretend that we are. This ensures that there’s always a title with which nearly everyone will be leaving, and usually by the end of the present-giving we have enough identical copies to start an impromptu book club. Last year, I believe it was a tie between Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken and Michael Lewis’ The Big Short.
This year, there’s no question as to what book will dominate the holiday: Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. READ FULL STORY
Walter Isaacson’s 656-page biography of Apple founder Steve Jobs didn’t quite have customers lining up around the block like the latest iPhone did, but the tome, which has sold 382,851 physical copies to date according to BookScan, is a bona fide blockbuster in its own right. Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, priced at $35, posted the biggest first-week sales of any book since Nov. 13 of last year, when Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth and George W. Bush’s Decision Points both sold more than 430,000 copies in the opening week.
Even though it’s been on sale for just six days, Isaacson’s biography is already the 18th biggest selling book of the year in the U.S. It outsold the No. 2 book of the week, John Grisham’s The Litigators three to one, and it outsold the No. 2 non-fiction book, Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln, by almost eight to one. In the U.K., Steve Jobs became one of the fastest-selling books of all time by selling 37,000 copies in five days.
The BookScan figures don’t include digital sales, but it’s safe to say that they’d either match or likely top the physical sales, especially considering the subject of the book — many readers undoubtedly wanted to read it on their iPads. Further, Amazon reps hinted that Steve Jobs was on track to becoming its biggest seller of 2011.
Steve Jobs' food weirdnesses: Fasts, living on apples or carrots for weeks on end, fruit smoothie diets
Some of the most fascinating tidbits in Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio are about the Apple founder’s bizarre eating habits:
Carrot and apple fasts
Jobs was affected by the book Diet for a Small Planet in college: “That’s when I pretty much swore off meat for good.” But Isaacson notes, “But the book also reinforced his tendency to embrace extreme diets, which included purges, fasts, or eating only one or two food, such as carrots or apples, for weeks on end.” A friend told Jobs, “There is a story about Steve turning orange from eating so many carrots, and there is some truth to that.” As Jobs says, “Friends remember him having, at times, a sunset-like orange hue.”
Eating nothing but fruit, and shunning deodorant, in 1977
“Steve was adamant that he bathed once a week, and that was adequate as long he was eating a fruitarian diet,” Mike Scott told Isaacson.
His diet during the early years at Apple: spitting out soup that contained butter
Jobs daughter Lisa “watched him spit out a mouthful of soup one day after learning that it contained butter….Even at a young age Lisa began to realize his diet obsessions reflected a life philosophy, one in which asceticism and minimalism could heighten subsequent sensations. ‘He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint,’ she noted.”
More fasting, cleansing, and restrictive diets as he grew older
“He would spend weeks eating the same thing—carrot salad with lemon, or just apples—and then suddenly spurn that food and declare that he had stopped eating it. He would go on fasts, just as he did as a teenager, and he became sanctimonious as he lectured others at the table on the virtues of whatever regimen he was following.” READ FULL STORY
Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Steve Jobs is full of the late Apple visionary’s tart assessments of people he met over the years:
“I think he was on drugs. Either that or he’s brain damaged.”
“I’m disappointed in Obama. He’s having trouble leading because he’s reluctant to offend people or piss them off. Yes, that’s not a problem I ever had.”
“John Mayer is one of the best guitar players who’s ever lived, and I’m afraid he’s just blowing it big time….I think he’s a really good kid underneath, but he’s just been out of control.”
“If the vault was on fire and I could grab only one set of master tapes, I would grab the Beatles.”
“He’s one of my all-time heroes. My love for him has grown over the years, it’s ripened. I can’t figure out how he he did it when he was so young.”
When Jobs was ill, Yo Yo Ma came to visit, bringing his 1733 Stradivarius cello and performing a concert in the Jobs’ living room. Jobs, who had been moved to tears by the music, told him, “Your playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.” He made Ma promise to play at his funeral.
He had a long relationship with the singer: “I thought I was in love with her, but I really just liked her a lot. We weren’t destined to be together. I wanted kids, and she didn’t want any more.”
When the president asked his advice in the Monica Lewinsky affair, Jobs told him, “I don’t know if you did it, but if so, you’ve got to tell the country.”
“I can see why John fell in love with her.”
“When Jeffrey was still running Disney animation, we pitched him on A Bug’s Life. In sixty years of animation, no one had thought of doing an animated movie about insects, until Lasseter. It was one of his brilliant creative sparks. And Jeffrey left and went to DreamWorks and all of a sudden he had this idea for an animated movie about — Oh! — insects And he pretended he’d never heard the pitch. He lied. He lied through his teeth.”
After the spate of obituaries and articles, is there anything left to learn about the man who turned personal computing into a pleasure — and then a necessity — for so many of us? In a word, yes. In Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson (pictured below) — the former editor of Time who has previously written biographies of Einstein and Franklin — has given us a nuanced portrait of the brilliant, mercurial, complicated genius who rethought and reimagined computers, movies, phones, music, and tablet computers.
It isn’t always a pretty picture. The sleek, polished Apple devices that are so much a part of our lives, that we dandle so comfortably in our hands, sprang almost entirely from Jobs’ imagination — “endowed with his DNA,” as Isaacson says — and at Apple, he assembled a team that could build them. The simplicity and perfection that Jobs sought, that he demanded, came at a price, and Isaacson reveals that price in a way no one ever has before. Working for Jobs was like riding a wild, manic roller-coaster: Some days he goaded and bullied his staff into delivering better work than they thought possible. Other days he might approve an idea or innovation in a half-hour meeting (the kind of thing that would drag out for months at other companies). Then he could turn again on a dime, ignoring key staffers when gifting coveted Apple stock. His family got the same loving/cruel treatment: Until he was sued, he did not pay child support for his first child, Lisa, his daughter with girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (behavior he regretted later in life). Jobs’ wife Laurene Powell admitted to Isaacson, “There are parts of his life and personality that are extremely messy, and that’s the truth.” He punished himself, too, going on bizarre fasts, subsisting on a single food, such as carrot salad or apples, for weeks on end — even after his cancer was diagnosed. His daughter Lisa perhaps put it best when he said, “He believed that great harvests came from arid sources, pleasure from restraint.” Even on his deathbed, Jobs’ ever-fevered creativity did not flag: “I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” he told Isaacson. “It would be seamlessly synced with with all your devices.”
If occasionally workmanlike, Isaacson’s thoughtful, broadly-sourced bio is thorough, filling in all the holes in Jobs’ life, especially the years after he returned to Apple. My only quibble is a small one: Though the jacket is gorgeous (perhaps because Jobs himself had a hand in it), the book’s interior feels cheaply done, with thin paper and an unremarkable font. As I hefted it, I thought, If only it measured up to Jobs’ exacting design standards. But no matter, really. What’s important is that Isaacson has taken the complete measure of the man. This is a biography as big as Steve Jobs. A-
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