Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

Wow -- just in time, a novel that jumps to the top of my top ten list for the year.   In fact, it is the only entry on the 2010 top ten list, and I'd just about given up hope of finding truly extraordinary books this year.   But that's what this novel is:  extraordinary.

Here's the net-net on this novel:   read it.

The longer view requires I remove a potential obstacle:   if you've heard that this is a vampire novel, forget it -- it is not, at least not in any way with which you are familiar.    It is a story, in the best sense of the word, about people and their relationships and personalities, and about things that happen over a long period.   The writing is captivating as is the character development.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turtle Feet, by Nikolai Grozni

Grozni's memoir of his years spent as a Tibetan Buddhist monk was like a very good slice of pecan pie:  it was really interesting to read, but afterwards, I can't identify any meaningful moments.   Still a fun book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Decentering International Relations, by Meghana Nayak & Eric Selbin

This is a thought provoking and worthwhile read.   The fundamental concept is that we tend to view International Relations (IR) through the lens of USA or Western European perspective, and that if one re-centers focus to other groups, things that seems obvious become -- well, less so.

The book isn't without flaws.   In particular, I was very disappointed with the section on globalization, because I couldn't discern the point that the authors were making even though it felt as though they thought they were (smugly) making some point.

Still I'd recommend this especially to folks doing business in emerging (economically) nations -- if you can avoid being put off by the academic tone of a text targeted to the classroom and not packaged for pleasant business reading.

The Truth About Public Speaking, by James O'Rourke

Far too basic to be worth the trouble for even the least experienced speaker; surely there's better free advice to be found through a simple internet search.

Empowered, by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler

Guess what:   the interaction between a firm's employees and its clients matters!  

Being helpful is a good thing; being rude is bad for business.   The prevalence of Twitter, Facebook and the like make it easy for bad press about your crummy client service to become well known quickly.  

So the economic impact of lousy service is now so great you really do need to think about it.  

Oh, and there's an obligatory (albeit clumsy) acronym.   (Turn your head slightly away from your computer so that you don't get vomit on the keyboard.)   HEROes: highly empowered and resourceful operatives.

The full title is, "Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business."

The Rules of Work, by Richard Templar

Some of this book is simply exhausting, but it has enough morsels of very useful thinking to be valuable to someone perhaps just entering the workforce.    The challenge for that person would be to distinguish between the great advice and the dangerous or unimportant.

And in case you're curious:   yes, anything that is a free promotional download to my Kindle is fair game for me to read on an airplane these days!

Focus, by Leo Babauta

This e-book is available through Amazon (with additional content) or as a free download with just Mr Babauta's core materials.

The notion, in a nutshell:   spend less time on-line lest it be an addition that leads you and your family to suffer and gets in the way of your ability to think.

Some of this material makes great sense to me; some is what you'd expect from someone who's business model is simplicity.