Saturday, July 28, 2007

Company by Max Barry

This business satire may be the best book I've enjoyed this summer. At minimum, it's the funniest.

Barry satirizes a company which has no customers or real business purpose. The CEO masquerades as a janitor. The receptionist is not who you think she is. The entire IT department gets fired. There are constant cliffhangers involving people and entire departments that are outsourced and fired.

You'll recognize similar people and situations that you can relate within your own company or business experience.

Bad bosses, greedy senior management, a creepy HR department, watercooler gossip and the complications from office romance are chronicled.

The book is very well written and moves fast...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Reagan Diaries Edited by Douglas Brinkley

I had a few hours to kill today so I skimmed through the 693 pages of The Reagan Diaries.

This is a good book if you want to know more about Ronald Reagan, the man, the husband, and the father. However it doesn't provide you great insight into Reagan, the President.

The reader will discover that Reagan obviously adored his wife and had a genuine good heart for friends and people he met that had needs.

You'll learn a bit about his White House schedule, who he met and maybe some brief capsules of conversations in those meetings.

My sense is that Reagan's diary entries were not unlike how he governed--not involved with a lot of detail.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Books of Great Personal Influence: Career

There were a number of books throughout my life that influenced me greatly. These books created change in how I acted, performed, thought or lived my life. I will list and describe their influence periodically in this blog.

The first book changed how I viewed my career and relationship with my job and employer.

The Way of the Ronin by Beverly Potter seemed ahead of its time when I read it in the early 90's. It wasn't a book aimed at employees who wanted to climb the corporate ladder or learn how to find security in their jobs.
Potter correctly pointed out there was no security working for a company. There necessarily wasn't security in what you did for a living either.
The book changed how I viewed my relationship with my job, my employer and the people I worked for. In my 30+ years of working, I had been downsized and fired five times. Today I view myself as a "hired gun" similar to how the ronin was perceived in feudal times.
I don't have a job; I have projects or assignments. I work "with" people, not "for" them.
Potter's book promoted my image as a "free agent" not an employee.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Best Damn Sports Books

It's been awhile since I read or looked forward to a sports related book.

Here's my list of books (many from distant memory) that I have enjoyed.

Almost anything by John Feinstein including:

* The Last Amateurs

* A March to Madness

* Season on the Brink

* Next Man Up: A Year Behind the Lines in Today's NFL

Other excellent sports books that I have enjoyed:

Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team and A Dream by HG Bissinger

Instant Replay by Jerry Kramer (I think this is one of the best sports books I have ever read. Kramer, a right guard for the Green Bay Packers provides a lot of insight into 1960's football and Coach Vince Lombardi).

Paper Lion by George Plimpton

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey C. Ward

The Complete Book of Running by Jim Fixx (This book was extremely influential in promoting running and jogging in the 70's)

The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty by Adrian Wojnarowski

Seven Days to Sunday by Eliot Asinof (Out of print- detailed a week in the season of the NY Giants under Allie Sherman long ago)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where Have All The Leaders Gone by Lee Iacocca

I wasn't sure I would like this book. I borrowed it from the library as opposed to buying it.

It was very readable and I enjoyed (and mostly agreed) on Iacocca's rants on politics, business, retirement, Chrysler and other topics. He was preaching to the choir with this reader.

His business insights on leadership are what's most interesting. He obviously did not harbor any favor for his chosen successor at Chrysler. Iacocca does not sugar coat his criticism.

Iacocca isn't fond of the current Administration. Who is?

There is nothing earth shattering in the book. Iacocca is in his 80's and still has things to say.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Forced Reading: Books from Summers Past

The Spy by James Fennimore Cooper

The Hounds of the Baskerville by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

It's been about 40 years ago that I had to read those books as part of my summer reading for high school. The Spy, in particular, was a challenge. I think I read that 2 or 3 pages at a time. I don't remember too much about the stories. I remember the chore it was to read those books.

Somehow through all those books, I maintained my passion for reading. I see as I walk through the book stores that they have tables for summer reading lists. I hope the books for the summer reading lists are more inviting for a high school audience today than they were in my day (gulp 40 years ago).

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert B. Parker

This novel is part of the Spenser series. Spenser is a hardnosed Boston P.I. who with the help of his friend, Hawk, who is great with his fists and a gun, solves mysteries and handles problems for his clients.
I guess I have read about 10 of the Spenser books. They are an easy read. The stories move fast and the dialogue among Spenser, Hawk and Spenser's gal, Susan offers wit, humor and entertainment.
I'm not sure what purpose Susan plays in the series. It may be time for her to move on...
Spenser's fidelity to Susan has held him back from more interesting pursuits and plot lines.
Some readers will remember the Spenser For Hire TV show with Robert Ulrich as the detective.
I don't purchase the Spenser novels. I wait till my library gets them and borrow them. It's not classic literature but they are generally fun to read.

I was disappointed with the plot and the sudden ending to Hundred Dollar Baby. I hope for a better effort in the next Spenser book.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Books by Joshua Ferris and Bernard Goldberg

Two quick book reviews:

I tried to read Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. The reviews on the novel were very good and I looked forward to reading it. It deals with employees in an ad agency and how they deal with one another, particularly in a business downturn. I could not get into it. I read about the first twenty pages and then I came to the end of my interest in finishing it. Even with
over thirty years business experience, I could not relate to the employees, their actions or the company.

I skimmed Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right by Bernard Goldberg. This book is mostly a diatribe against the Left though Goldberg does take some shots against Republicans and supporters on the Right. My friends on the conservative side who read O'Reilly and Hannity will like it. What Goldberg has written, I hear on Fox all the time...