Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sudden Mischief by Robert B. Parker

In the time it would have taken me to watch two TV episodes of Spenser For Hire, I polished off Sudden Mischief by Robert B. Parker. This was a mid 80's published Spenser book.

Spenser's squeeze, Susan asks him to help out her ex-husband who is involved in a sexual harassment suit. The usual Spenser fare: great repartee, short chapters, easy reading and the good guys win.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Affairs of Men: The Trouble with Sex and Marriage

Interesting New Yorker Magazine article by Philip Weiss. He offers an explanation (not a defense) for Eliot Spitzer's (and other men's) infidelity. Guys will understand and appreciate Weiss's contentions. Most women, particularly wives won't.

With all the various published affairs by politicians, athletes and celebrities, does this topic really raise an eyebrow anymore? I can't think of many other topics that generate such hypocrisy.

This article offers a different perspective from most of the others written on the Spitzer infidelity.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam

I just finished Roam's book and coincidentally happened across this review of it in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The review pretty much sums up my feeling about the book and the business ideas presented. I have found very favorable reviews of Roam's book in blogs and other business periodicals.

My job requires a great deal of communications, often to simplify complex ideas and concepts to simple ones. I have experienced first hand how effective flowcharts, images and graphics are in employee communications. So Roam is preaching to the choir on how effective visual communications can be.

This is an excellent book for those responsible for business communications including technical writers, marketing managers, corporate communications personnel and trainers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three Good, Not Great Books for One's Reading Pleasure

I have been reading more as there is nothing that keeps my attention on television. I have quickly gone through three books (two fiction and one non-fiction). All three shared the same characteristics: they were relatively short, did not require too much attention and easy to digest.

The two fiction books were:

1. The Ghost by Robert Harris.

This book received 41 generally favorable reviews from Amazon readers. I concur. This was (to my best recollection) the first time that I read one of his books. It combined a number of elements to keep me entertained, including politics, sex, scandal and mystery. The story follows a professional ghostwriter hired to finish the memoirs of an ex-British Prime Minister. The ghostwriter becomes more like James Bond as he tries to unravel the mystery behind the drowning death of the ghostwriter hired before him and a messy political scandal involving war crimes circling the ex Prime Minister. Entertaining story with a neat swerve at the end that I did not see coming.

2. Taming a Sea-Horse by Robert Parker.

This was one of the early Spenser series book (published 1986). Spenser talks a great game and backs it up by kicking ass when he investigates the death of a hooker and seeks to protect another young woman struggling in the oldest profession. I knocked this book off in two nights. An easy read instead of watching the late night news...

I also skimmed through True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo. What I got out of the book is this: There are a large number of people who will hold on to their misguided beliefs and opinions despite being shown evidence to the contrary. We just don't argue or differ on opinions but what constitutes fact. Manjoo illustrates his arguments from examples from 9-11 and the Swift Boat allegations against John Kerry in 2004.

This is not a book that most Conservatives or avid Fox News viewers will enjoy as the slant from the author is from the Left.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Esquire's 75 Skills Every Man Should Master

Esquire has listed 75 skills that a man should know how to do. Here's a partial list, some of which I can do:

1. Give advice that matters in one sentence.
5. Name a book that matters.
7. Cook meat somewhere else other than the grill. (I can microwave but I guess I'd be cheating with that answer).
14. Chop down a tree.
16. Tie a bow tie
27. Play gin with an old guy.
38. Tell a joke.
46. Tell a woman's dress size

Maybe, just maybe I have (or had) about half the skills the Esquire article lists.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Accidental Investment Banker by Jonathan A. Knee

Knee's book is part history, part expose, and part primer on what investment banking is all about. I liked the book but will admit that I skimmed through the parts of it that dealt with the mechanics of how deals are structured and completed.

I was more interested in reading about the personalities, culture and politics at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in the 90's and turn of the 21st century. I was particularly interested in reading about Knee's comments about current NJ Governor, Jon Corzine, who served as Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.

(Knee also shared two entertaining and separate stories about Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher who made presentations to the bankers.)

I'd recommend this book highly to any college or MBA graduate considering investment banking as a career. This book may help them reconsider....