- March 9, 2010
So last night I confessed my love for tree zapping physical copies of books (I do at least recycle!), and also talked about 5 of the last 10 I’ve read. Tonight I’ll hit the other 5 to round it out. First let me also say that I went to the Apple store today and learned that I can pre-order my iPad on Friday (the 12th) so I’ll be doing that. And even though I may eventually download a couple of books to my iPad, I’m positive I’ll continue being old school; buying my analog books and enjoying bookstores.
Ok, without further adieu, here are 5 other books I’ve ready recently:
Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, edited by Graydon Carter. This book, based on an old 19th-century parlor game made famous by author Marcel Proust, poses questions to celebrities which are supposed to reveal the true nature of the individual. This isn’t a sit down and read cover to cover, more a flip open and enjoy, conversation starter. The celebrity list includes George Carlin, Martin Scorsese, Jane Fonda, Sidney Poitier and Fran Lebowitz to name a few and poses questions like “what is your greatest fear,” and “on what occasion do you lie”. If for nothing else, there’s a high entertainment value per dollar spent on this one.
Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. To be honest, these two were all over the damn place, I couldn’t listen to a pod cast or log in to Twitter without hearing about this book, so I got it and read it. There, are you happy now!? In all honesty it was a good book, not a great book, but it did cover one topic fairly well: Trust. Seems like all the Social Media folk are always trying to coin their own terms, and Trust Agents is Brogan and Smith’s term. But there are some good points about building lasting relationships and leading with your best foot forward. Borrowing from Google’s motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” Trust Agents is about the age old concept of being sincere, being genuine, and above all, not being an asshole. I think social media has a million uses and should be explored by the individual, but there are some great points in this book and it’s worth a read.
Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew B. Crawford. The satisfaction of working with your hands; are we losing the mental and physical rewards associated with this interaction and are we becoming stupider for it? It’s a worthy question that Crawford explores here. Anyone that’s ever done manual work, whether it be repairs on a vehicle, fixing a bike, building a house; whatever will appreciate where Crawford is going here. My only complaint with this book is that, at times, it reads more like a philosophy and sociology text book than anything else. There’s some really tasty stuff right around page 109 to 130, where he switches his writing voice from that of a teacher (he’s a professor at UVA) to more of an author while describing his motorcycle repair shop in Shockoe Bottom (my home town no less). Although I wish there more “human” moments in the book, I think it’s a very worthy question he poses and I do think we lose something when we detach ourselves from the very things we use.
The Google Story by David A. Vise. Let me first say I’m biased as hell. I really like Google, and learning about their humble beginnings in a Palo Alto garage is cool to me. Learning about all of the stubborn tenacity and genius they implored to get Google public and the whole IPO story is pretty fricking sweet. So, in a nutshell, this one is strictly for the nerds and business people out there that want to see what Google did to get where they are and why Google is such a special, and respectable company.
The Women, by T.C. Boyle. No words I write could describe the genius that is T.C. Boyle. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any living author with his profound knowledge of the English language and how we weaves words together to paint the most vivid pictures imaginable. He’s been around for a while, but my guess is he will be immortalized, once he does pass away, as one of the great American authors. I’m late to the party (as usual) as this is my first T.C. Boyle book, but I assure you I’ll read them all. In The Women, Boyle creates a fiction (loosely based on factual occurrences) around the life of famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright and the multiple women that were part of his life. Ostensibly it’s a great fiction work, but more than that, this novel is an amazing display of the depth and breadth of the English language and the poetic use of words to create lasting images and impressions.
In closing I’d like to say one thing. Often, business owners get caught up in just reading business book after marketing book after social media book after business book. Some of them will even turn their nose up in disgust at the thought of reading a book of fiction. This is one of the greatest mistakes anyone can make. Not only do fictional books provide a great escape, a way to unwind at the end of the day, they also unlock the imagination and creativity. They inspire the art of storytelling which may be one of the most important crafts any true salesman can implore (and every business owner is a salesperson whether they admit it or not). I’d recommend weaving the two together so that you can keep your business on tract, stay up to date with the latest and greatest, and keep your imagination and creativity sparked and ready to work. More than likely that’s what got you into business in the first place…