About my old Library (2004-2010)

The following are a smattering of books read from 2004 thru 2010 while researching the idea for Excellence by Design.

Each has a rating indicated with !!!! marks (the more the better), and a commentary.   Last numbers are the year reviewed (04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10). They are grouped into the categories Technical, Business, Leadership, Philosophy/History, Just Enjoyment/Health

Technical Books

!!!!! A New Kind of Science, Wolfram, Wolfram Media, 2002. A mega book. Some fundamental thinking for the 21st century.  Absolutely amazing level of detail and analysis, with a graphical representation that is very, very impressive. Recommended for anyone who seeks to understand how the world works, and gain insight into how man should design in the future.  A daunting ‘read’.  More of a study.  But immense depth and insight. 04

!!! Complexity: The emerging Science at the edge of Order and Chaos, Waldrop, Simon and Schuster, 1993. A very interesting read which covers the evolution of the Sante Fe Institute as it emerged from concept into focal point for the study of complexity and it’s related facets. Nice reading as a novel, with interesting insight along the way to how new this field really is and how varied the perspectives on it. 04

!! Complexity, Life at the Edge of Chaos, Lewin, Chicago, 1992.  This book is somewhat tedious to read, which is too bad because the author really tries to cover lots of ground in an engaging way.  However, he covers so many people and so many aspects that it starts to feel like a talk show instead of what I wanted, which is explanation, insight, and an interesting read. Does cover more aspects than the Waldrop book above, in nearly as engaging a style but as I said, it just gets tedious.  The cliffs notes for business managers can be had by reading the Afterword, which well summarizes the applicability of complexity science to business. 04

! The Introspective Engineer, Florman, St. Martin’s Press, 1996.  A follow on to the more popular ‘Existential Pleasures of Engineering’ book by the same author.  As the title suggests, this one is more thoughtful in discussing the role/responsibility of engineering, using a variety of situations.  Not a great read, but a reasonable one. 04

!!!! The Power of Product Platforms, by Marc H. Meyer, “Excellent book. One of the key messages of today. Content is clear and to the point. Writing is direct and effective. I recommend this for any IT professional, especially internal IT support organizations, who do not pay enough attention to this subject, and should.”

!!! Beyond Software Architecture, Hohmann, Addison Wesley, 2003.  Best book I have found to discuss the role of product Management in developing software solutions, especially in the context of architecture. Required reading for any software product manager who is passionate about their product, wants to have a successful acceptance of it, and realizes there is much more beyond just pushing code out the door. 04

!! What’s Next?, Kelly-Leyden-others. Perseus Publishing, 2002.  A very interesting book of snippets by a wide variety of authors who comment on and in many cases predict the future.  Organized into broad chapters of subject and carved into 1-2 page editorials, it’s a nice bathroom read and remarkably accurate IMHO in terms of the general tone/vision and considerations (not the details) of the future. 04

!! Software Architect Bootcamp, Malveau-Mowbray, Prentice-Hall PTR, 2001.  A rare book that attempts to ‘teach’ architecture, a difficult subject.  Succeeds in at least revealing a lot of points and doing so in a manner that would be useful to teach a class with, or use as a reminder to an existing architect.  Somewhat laborious to read, and (for an architect book), a little low on the conceptual graphics side, without a unifying model for the book. 04

!! Convergent Architecture, Hubert, Wiley, 2002.  The philosophy of this book is more valuable than the details.  The author does a nice job of telling the story of convergence and how to appreciate/use/leverage it.  A required concept for any architect, and a reasonable book to read for it’s attempt to explain practical realization of it. 04

!!! Albert Kahn – Architect of Ford, Federico Bucci, Princeton, 2002.  A nice book that tells the history of Albert Kahn’s career as an architect in general, and especially his role at Ford Motor Company.  The book began as a Master’s Thesis and I enjoyed the writing style, which was a bit academic, but a bit with color due to the author’s Italian heritage.  Enjoyable if you want an architect view of a biography and/or are interested in the history of Ford. 04 

!! CTO Job Manual, Minevich, Aspatore, 2004.  This book had a pretty impressive title and subtitle. I thought it was an ok reading but a) it was little more that regurgitated article snippets and b) there was a lot of repetition from multiple sources. On one hand maybe this is good in that it was a good synopsis of various industry rags/pundit opinions, but it left me unfulfilled. I expected a book with more insight and analysis, but it was more of just copies of prior written materials.  Not bad, just not nearly what the title/subtitle implied. A better name would have been “A Collection of Readings for CTO’s”. 05

!!!!! Managing the Design Factory: A Product Developers Toolkit, Reinertsen, Free Press/Simon&Schuster, 1997. THE best book on product development I have ever read. Full of great content and very well written. There is tons here yet it can be breezed thru as a gentle reminder, referenced for a particular topic, or used in a Masters program. Combines real (math based) facts and wise guidance. Not just opinion but real wisdom founded on reality (again, much of it math based without belaboring or being confusing). Many points are counter intuitive but true, some just great and (to my experience) right on recommendations. Highly, highly recommended for any manager in charge of product development of any type. 06

! Product Development for the Lean Enterprise, Kennedy, Oaklea Press, 2003.  A description of the ‘Toyota’ or ‘Knowledge Based Engineering’ product development process. The book is written as a story, a style I don’t normally care for, but it was reasonable in this case. Not a lot of detail here, better for someone struggling to understand the basics and willing to listen to the dialogue-based approach to explain it. 06

!!! The Minding Organization, Rubenstein and Firstenberg, Wiley, 1999.  A nice read that describes the new, flat, organic, organization model where competent people proactively (or emergently) come together collaboratively to seek out challenges and craft solutions to them. I liked the writing style, but the book lacks much specifics of how to create and nurture such an organization, or what the challenges are to the on-going management of one. It is not a how-to book but more of a theoretical description of what the new organizations characteristics are/will be. Recommended as a one time read for those new to this subject. 06

!!!! Programming the Universe, Lloyd, Knopf, 2006.  Wow.  A great book.  Extremely well written, makes a complex subject understandable, engaging, and entertaining. The premise is pretty daring and Seth does a great job at explaining and justifying his theory.  Even the latter parts which touch on quantum theory are excellent, in fact the best I have ever read (I am no expert, just a somewhat tech savvy layman).  Highly recommended for anyone into programming or complexity theory. 06

!!! It’s Alive, Meyer/Davis, Random House, 2003.  A very good book that well captures the convergence of IT, biological growth, and business ramifications. Light on detail or specifics, more philosophy than practice. But a good read for someone trying to come to grips with the future. 06

!!! The New CIO Leader: Setting the Agenda and Delivering Results, Broadbent and Kitzis, HBS, 2005.  I enjoyed this book because it was a reasonable level-set and framework.  Some might find it lacking in recommending specific methods but as a general read it was worthwhile.  One quibble I would have is the overly simplistic view that as CIO’s mature into that role they must, as a rule, leave technical skills behind and embrace primarily relationships and business value focus as means to establish credibility.  While adding these skills is key, I believe it is up to each prospective CIO to act to their natural strengths.  I guess I have more respect for the Steve Jobs or Bill Gates of the world who, while rising to an even higher level than CIO, have retained their personal interest, skills, and influence in the matter of technology itself, as well as business success and focus. 07

!!!! The Trouble with Physics, Smolin, Houghton Mifflin, 2006. This is really two books and is very impressive for it’s courage, content, and competency (technically and in writing style). First, it could be viewed as simply trying to describe, in laymans terms, the ultimate failure of String Theory.  That it succeeds in doing so by providing an approachable style, and a very credible job of an understandable explanation, is pretty astounding.  I can’t say I followed that aspect fully, but it was in general understandable and his basic premise very much so. More impressive is the author’s second, broader theme: a challenge to the scientific community to renew the emphasis on leadership, vision, and innovative inquiry over groupthink, fashion, and the tyranny of NIH.  In other words…this is a good read for any technically inclined manager! Good for those who like a light brush of a very deep subject (is there any that is deeper than string theory and quantum mechanics?), and a genuinely good management book on the pursuit of high performance.  Oh yes…it will also put you to sleep each night within 5 pages, guaranteed ;-). Highly recommended. 07

!!!! The Complete Guide to Capital Markets for Quantitative Professionals, Kuznetsov, McGraw-Hill, 2007. I read this book as an introduction into the capital markets and it was an impressive read.  The author clearly knows his subject and the writing is very, very good because of it’s conciseness and content.  It would seem very hard to make such a topic comprehensive, approachable, and entertaining but Kuznetsov does it. He adds some color here and there too.  Recommended if you are new to this area. 07     

!! Securities Operations, Simmons, Wiley, 2002. A Wiley Finance series book, textbook style.  A good source for a class, but very dry reading. First 1/3 is overview, middle third goes thru the trade life cycle in detail, and last third on supporting functions like funding, accounting, custody, and reconciliation. Good as reference or initial introduction but does not excite one to the field. 07

!!! Straight to the Top: Becoming a World-Class CIO, Smith, Wiley, 2006.  The title is over-sell.  This is a nice book and some of the data sources lend an air of credibility and interest, but by and large it is a CIO telling his story in the ‘I did this’ model of writing.  Not a bad book but certainly not worthy of the title, which perhaps should have been “One CIO’s Journey”.  Pleasant writing style although I am not a fan of the first person style.  Recommended as a browsing book, and maybe some of the data is worthwhile (but frankly, little was surprising) if you are new to this area. 07

!! The New Language of Business, Carter, IBM Press, 2007.  Written by IBM’s VP of SOA and Websphere, provides a reasonable overview for a technical executive of the SOA phenomenon. I actually liked the tone and content and style (but I usually do enjoy these high level technical summaries).  However, one thing that was terrible was the coining of the word ‘Flexponsive*’ (I am not making this up, they even add the asterisk every time they use it) to try to describe how SOA enables business to become more flexible and responsive.  It kind of ruined the book every time they used it.  The word that implies the same and is far more friendly is ‘Agile’.  This would have gotten three stars if they would not tried so hard to make up a new word. 07

!! Symmetry and the beautiful Universe, Lederman and Hill, Prometheus Books, 2004.  Good subject. Reasonable writing style.  Rambles around somewhat with a variance in levels of detail, sometimes diving down into personal history of famous mathematicians as if this was about them personally.  The kind of book you skim over or stop and read, depending on what interests you and because of the oddly varying content.  Ok to borrow and read from a friend. May be recommended for physicists or mathematicians bookshelves just to have.  07

! Competing on Analytics, Davenport and Harris, Harvard Business School Press, 2007.  Not much here really.  Pretty basic stuff.  Not recommended. 09

!!! A Force of Nature, Reeves, Atlas Books, 2008.  A very nice read if a little dry.  The interesting story of Ernest Rutherford, a physicist who seems little known but whom contributed an incredible amount to the advancement of the science, and to the ranks of great scientists whom he worked with and coached.  The writing is very good, the story quite interesting, and Rutherford himself seems like a hoot.  Recommended for the bedside, interesting and will put you to sleep too…in a good way.  08

!!! SAP Planning: Best Practices in Implementation, Anderson, Sams Books, 2003.  A very good book because although it is about SAP, the author does a fine job of describing generally good approaches for planning for large scale IT Systems.   Well written, to the point style with some excellent short notes on best and worst practices.  Recommended for any IT manager or technical specialist who needs a general grounding of how to approach a large scale IT systems implementation in general, and of course SAP in particular, although I found the general value higher than the SAP specifics….what can I say…good techniques are technology agnostic!.  08

!!!! Skunk Works, Rich, Back Bay Books, 1994.  A really enjoyable, entertaining read about the Lockheed facility that created so many fantastic aircraft, always ahead of their time.  The most interesting aspect is that these state of the art aircraft were usually produced on small budget, on short schedules, using wherever possible, off the shelf parts!  This strategy of innovating only where needed and reuse relentlessly everywhere else is one I deeply believe in, and so love the validation the Skunk Works provides. 09

!!! Collapse, Diamond, Penguin Books, 05. A very well done book, even if it belabors the point.  To wit, if you cut down all the materials from which you sustain your living (food, habitat), your society will collapse.  Got it?  Good! Now go recycle something, eat a bit less, buy a car with a bit better gas mileage, and plant some trees for cryin’ out loud.  Seriously, it is a well written book but the point is very simple and really did not need over 550 pages to make it. Read if you want to experience the details, not to learn any deep meaning (I just told you what it was!).  09

!!! Physics for Future Presidents, Muller, Norton Books, 08. Another well done book.  Well written, informative and entertaining.  Does a great job for the first 3/4 of discussing a variety of subjects and providing some good explanation.  Falls down a bit at the end when it criticizes the subject of global warming, which I believe in, and also criticizes nearly every alternative energy idea save conservation.  Left me less confident that the front part of the book was credible.  But I’ll trust that the author merely showed more personal opinion in these latter subjects.  Recommend for light education in an engaging way.  09

!!!! The Black Swan, Taleb, Random House, 07.  Loved this book.  Extremely well written and readable.  The subject and premise, that the most significant influencers of change are significant, yet unforeseen events (‘black swans’) has great merit.  The author is very well qualified and does a fantastic job of mixing facts, statistics, and narratives into an engaging, and valuable whole.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in how and why  macro change happens.  09

!!!! The Big Switch, Carr, Norton and Company, 08.  Excellent book.  Topic is timely and thesis very accurate. Well written as Carr does a nice job melding new technologies with historical lessons.  The book does not dive deeply into technology per se so this is not a teaching book for he future as much as a reminder book of how industrial evolution proceeds, especially for infrastructure related capabilities. Captures a valid (if obvious to many) characteristic of information technology evolution very well. 09

!!! Pull, Siegel, Portfolio/Penguin, 09.  A nice book that does a reasonable and entertaining job of explaining the ‘semantic web’. Good for someone trying to get their head around this subject, but frankly, it can all be boiled down to one thing…the importance of naming. I jest…but not entirely 10

!!!!! The Information, by James Gleick, “Great book. Lot of depth. Not for the casual reader. Well written and covers a lot of ground in a way that keeps you engaged. Recommend … if you are into this kind of thing and not looking for a superficial treatment.”

!! The New Polymath: Profiles in Compound-Technology Innovations (Wiley Professional Advisory Services), by Vinnie Mirchandani, “Not as impressed as I had hoped to be from this book. The core concept of using integrative thinking (see Roger Martin) is good, and some of the example are useful, but overall the book felt like a long list of “examples” of companies that happened to (or were presented) as being multi-domain innovators without much proof that they did so intentionally or the methods they used to succeed. It almost could have been titled, “companies and products that seemed to luck out by combining several sources of capability”. Oh BTW, ‘polymath’ is a silly, pretentious term for ‘thinking broadly and holistically’…i.e. integrative thinking.”

!!! The Big Short, by Michael Lewis,  “Excellent book, extremely well written Proves finance is not nearly the black/white discipline it often claims to be and delusion and incompetence can become a mass market phenomenon. Strongly recommended both as a great explanation of the financial and as a fair warning of the increasing shift of capital markets from a mission of reasoned investment to one of speculative gambling.”

Business Books

!!! A New Breed of Leader: 8 Leadership Qualities That Matter Most in the Real WorldWhat Works, What Doesn’t, and Why, by Sheila Murray Bethel, “A well rounded book that does hit all the points on leadership from an authenticity perspective (competence, accountability, openness, language, values, perspective, power, humility) and does so in a reasonably engaging style, with some points to ponder. Good for a mid level executive with 5-10 yrs mgt experience under their belt, seeking a framework to think about improving their capabilities in preparation for a more senior executive role. I would possibly rate it higher given its broad perspective, but it almost seems too motherhood and apple pie and I tend to prefer books that read as more insight than insurance (see Opposable Mind above).

! fruITion: Creating the Ultimate Corporate Strategy for Information Technology, by Chris Potts, “Whether you like this book is highly dependent on the style of writing you prefer. Its a parable style book, which I dislike. Does have some nice summaries of principles at the end of each chapter. The story provides a perspective on the role of strategist-as-evangelist which does get a point across, even if it is belabored and more troubling than uplifting. If you could combine the principles here with real meat on IT strategy, it would be a good source. (hmmm..maybe I should write that…)”
!!!!! The Design of Business, by Roger L. Martin, “I am believer that design is one of the most crucial aspects of having successful business (in products, services, and customer relationships), and spent a career in the space Roger describes, trying to balance both new innovation (what he call validity) while also optimizing execution (what he call reliability), so it should be no surprise that I support the theory of this book. I strongly recommend this book for any manager or professional, because it simply highlights this paradox companies face. ” 11

!! The Power Of Simplicity: A Management Guide to Cutting Through the Nonsense and Doing Things Right, by Steve RivkinJack Trout,  “Easy to read, some generally wise advice. Only scratches the surface of the subject of complexity…its more of a reminder to not obfuscate needlessly (get the irony of that last sentence? ha!). The best principle was “It’s not about knowing your customer, it’s about your customer knowing about you” I LOVE this principle. In this age of fawning over the customer it reminds us that in the end, customers make a decision about YOU, and YOUR PRODUCTS. So get that right, and make sure they know about both. Get it wrong and you’ll fail…deservedly so. ” 11

!! Good to Great, Collins, Harper, 2001.  A good, but not great, read! Too much like so many books which, at their summary, merely espouse that good management, consistently applied, ultimately outruns those who are less competent and go for the quick buck.  Impressive research and well written, but leaves one seeking more value than the obvious ‘do good, and stick to it’. Here are the Cliff Notes: 1) Be Focused, 2) Be Disciplined, 3) Stick to It and Iterate, 4) Have Integrity, 5) Leverage, not love, Technology. 04

!!!! Wheels for the World, Brinkley, Viking.  A study of Henry Ford and his Company.  The best complete work I have found, which explains some of the underlying stories, as well as the facts, and the actions within Ford the Company. 04 

!! The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy, Coyle, MIT Press, 1999.  This is a weird book. The author obviously has/had a lot to say.  A ton of references.  Many deep thoughts.  But the writing style is hard to follow….more like a lecture than writing.  And the book is more about politics, social upheaval, or the implications of the future and very little about actually managing.  The ‘weightless’ descriptive is not apt, just a cute name. Took me a long time to wade thru the obtuse writing, but the content was there, just hard to digest and with many surprising, from out of nowhere statements. Left me shaking my head. Your call. 05

!!!! Less is More, Jennings, Penguin, 2002.  Exceptional book for three reasons. First, it is right on. Explains the really important elements of constructing a successful company, and does so with the right combination of fact and evangelism. Second, I wholeheartedly agree with it’s contents. The principles espoused have proven successful for me, and I have seen the failure that results when they are not followed, it is the book i would have liked to have written. Finally, it is written very well, at the right level of prose and detail to keep it interesting and moving. Effective in it’s simplicity. 05

!!! The World is Flat, Friedman, FSG Books, 2005.  I confess I was disappointed in this book though the writing is quite competent and the message right on. My reaction was ‘this is news’? I mean folks, if you have not figured out by now that the world is a totally interconnected place, you should turn in your badge and take a course in ‘remedial global business 101’. If this book came out in 1999 it would have been mildly insightful. That it made the best seller list in 2005 is…uh…scary. 07

!! Guanxi, Buderi and Huang,  Simon and Schuster, 2006.  Describes Microsoft’s entre’ into the China market. An interesting read for the story although there is little here of note  except that perseverance pays off and hiring  natively makes sense . 07 that perseverance pays off and hiring natively makes sense. 07

!!! The Warren Buffet Way,  Hagstrom, Wiley, 2005.  A good overview of Warren Buffet and his influencers, that explain his financial investing approach. Well written in clear language by someone with a passion for this well known investor and his methods.  A good read and wise advice, even if in the end it seems a little motherhood and apple pie and much easier if you have Mr.Buffet’s access to industry management, which is a key element of his decision making process. 08

!! 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators, Govindarajan & Trimble, HBS Press, 2005.  Mixed reactions to this book.  The title did not seem indicative of the book’s subject, which is more accurately called ‘How to Build a Breakthrough Business within a Profitable Old One’ on the inside overleaf.  It uses the OldCo/NewCo metaphor to describe typical problems with, and solutions for, creating a new venture within an established company.  There is some good material here, though hardly revolutionary, since most of it seemed to me to be fairly standard organizational and business planning points, but since I have a fair bit of experience in this area maybe I was not the best audience.  I also did not care for the metaphor style, which makes a book like this somewhat academic and dry in style and reading experience.  Reasonable and probably valuable if you have this type of opportunity (building a startup within a large company) facing you, just don’t expect to hear about strategic innovation (or innovators). 08

!!!! Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel, MIT Press, 2005.  A very good read for many reasons.  The core thesis is an excellent one and valuable for anyone in a product development or innovation role to understand.  Hipple provides ample evidence to support the premise, with some very interesting studies and data that are provided in an accessible, easy to digest form.  Finally, the writing is very good.  Even if a shade on the academic side, it keeps moving, keeps you interested, and well mixes facts, insights, and opinions, without confusing between them.  Recommended. 08

!! Blink, Gladwell, Back Bay Books, 2005.  I struggled to rate this because on one hand it is an engaging read from a writing style and examples perspective.  The premise itself (trust your instincts) has average merit at best, the hype it got (read the belabored kudos on the inside cover pages!) is ridiculous.  I’d give it three stars for entertainment but 1 star for the value of the premise, so 2 overall. Not recommended but I wouldn’t dissuade you either. 09

!!!! The Invisible Edge, Blaxill/Eckardt, Penguin Books, 2009.  Very good book for two of my traditional reasons: good writing and good content.   Well explains in an interesting way  an obvious (to me?) concept.  In addition, it explains an important nuance I strongly believe in: inventions (in this case owned as IP) that provide foundational capability reusable over a broad range, are highly valuable.  This is why for example no one gets rich writing a single purpose application but may if they write a generalized capability (‘the spreadsheet’ for example). Also, provides a surprisingly lucid explanation of what ‘architecture’ is. Recommended for those wanting to better understand the broader subject of IP value, and what kinds of IP are/may be more valuable.  09

!! Health Care Informatics, Hanson, McGraw-Hill, 2006.  Not recommended.  See a review here.  10

Leadership Books

!!! Patton on Leadership, Axelrod, Prentice-Hall, 1999. An engaging, if occasional read.  Divided into short lessons that can be considered separately instead of traditional chapters. Includes a brief history of Patton, a leader if there ever was one. Warning: those who gravitate to the softer, ‘EI’ side of leadership may find this one offensive.  For me, I enjoy the diversity of approaches. 04

!!! Primal Leadership, Goleman, HBS Press, 2002.  Follow on to the book Emotional Intelligence.  A good book that does more to discuss this concept in light of leadership.  Valuable for some people interested in this area, not needed for others. 04

!!!! Destructive Emotions, Goleman, Bantam, 2003.  A very interesting read which recalls a series of meetings between some impressive researchers and the Dali Lama, in which they discuss theories of emotions.  Some research evidence is presented as well.  Some key points are made.  Worth reading by anyone interested in EI, Buddhist vs Western thought, or the rationale behind why anger seems to be more easily replicated than kindness. 04

!! Promoting Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, Cherniss-Adler, ASTD, 2003.  An true perspective on the lack of formal training in organizations on this subject.  However, ultimately the book seems to provide little insight on ‘how to’ proceed, providing a rather basic approach.  The principles are shown, but no real techniques. 04

!!! Difficult Conversations, Stone/Patton/Heen, Penguin, 1999.  A good book but like a lot of them in this genre, you have to be in the right mood to read it.  The advice is valuable and logical.  A good book to expand your skill in ‘understanding’ others and engaging in a non-confrontational way.  05

! The Truth about Managing People, Stephen Robbins, Prentice-Hall, 2002.  Yes it is a book of truths but I did not find it particularly useful.  It has about 65 ‘Truths’ written on 1-2 pages each.  It reminds me of one of those ‘thoughts for today’ type dresser top books that you are supposed to look at each day.  The Truths themselves are pretty basic and I often found them overly simplistic.  Really not a book you read, but use to remind on a regular basis.  05

!!!! Leadership from the Inside Out, Cashman, Executive Excellence Publishing, 2000.  Four pages of complimentary comments start this book off, so my thoughts pale by comparison but here is the simple summary: This book is best for those who feel they may be at a turning point and need to reexamine themselves to become more self aware and more ‘disciplined’ in their mastery of self.  Don’t read if you are not into an introspective mood of self-reflection.  Do if you are. 07
Partnering: The New Face of Leadership, Segil-Goldsmith-Belasco, Amacom, 2003.  (in process, yet to be completed).

! The Starfish and the Spider: Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations, Brafman and Beckstrom, Penguin, 2006.  I expected to love this book but was underwhelmed as it lacked impact and excitement.  The writing is ‘story-telling’ style, which some readers may prefer, and there are enough examples to support the theory.  But it was not a strong book.  Suggest you breeze thru a borrowed copy or buy used as a one time read. 07

!! Six Thinking Hats, De Bono, Little Brown Books, 1985/1999.  An old story but worthwhile reading the founding book.  I have always found the hat metaphor useful but few people remember to use all six hats.  A very good book for a college course, or new employees, or to use occasionally to remind a team of the different views by which to consider a challenge facing them.  Written in an accessible style.  A good one for your shelf, just because it’s a good reminder of a simple yet powerful technique. 07

!!!! Mavericks at Work, Taylor and LaBarre, HarperCollins, 2006.  Loved this book.  Some people may find it too simply evangelistic and not enough substance, but I thought all the examples were excellent and the overall book does a great job of inspiring one to create a fun, engaging, dynamic business that is successful BECAUSE of those characteristics.  07

! The OZ Principle, Connors, Smith & Hickman, Penguin Books, 1994, 2004.  Not recommended.  I suppose there are some good points but most of it seemed rather lame and the whole effort to make an analogy to the Wizard of Oz was ridiculous and infantile. Cliffs note: Don’t whine and complain or be a victim.  Take accountability and take action.  Simple enough and I did not need to lunch off a great movie to explain it.  Of course why believe me when Stephen Covey provides a quote of support on the back and the book sold 400,000 copies. 08

!! Five Minds for the Future, Gardner, Harvard Business Press, 2008.  A good, if simple book.  Promotes the evolution towards intellect and ethical mindsets as necessary for the fast paced, constantly changing, information laden, complex world we increasingly live in.  Seems obvious to me so I was a bit bored but it’s amazing how many people still don’t grasp this.  May be a good ‘reading club’ book to share amongst employees in an organization.  Reasonably written but feels more like a lecture than it should.  09

!!!! How we Decide, Lehrer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.  I liked this book because it point of view that will be surprising to many.  It explains how the ‘emotional’ side of a human is the one that drives most decisions.  This flies in the face of some traditionalist who believe ‘facts’ an logic should drive decisions. The point is that e book teaches (well) an excellent perspective to have, and does so in a well written way with engaging story lines, good research, and smooth style. A nice read that educates and entertains. 09

!!!! The Opposable Mind, Martin, HBR, 2009.  Really liked his book and recommend it.  It’s basic premise is that it is a valuable skill to be able to develop, hold, and rationally compare different viewpoints, than to be myopic on one side or another.  This is not only true in general business situations or personal relationships, where seeing thing more holistically is an advantage, but something sadly lacking in political discourse today.  It is interesting to relate this to the observation made in the book Destructive Emotions by Goleman, that anger has more effect on the brain than love.  One could say we are naturally drawn to singe view thinking, especially angry thinking about opposing views.  So this book and its premise does a valuable service to remind us of the value of reasoned, balanced, thinking and the values gained from it.  Well written as well. 10

!!! A new Breed of Leader, Bethel, Berkley Books, 2009.  A well rounded book that does hit all the points on leadership from an authenticity perspective (competence, accountability, openness, language, values, perspective, power, humility) and does so in a reasonably engaging style, with some points to ponder.  Good for a mid level executive with 5-10 yrs mgt experience under their belt, seeking a framework to think about improving their capabilities in preparation for a more senior executive role. I’d possibly rate it higher given its broad perspective, but it almost seems too motherhood and apple pie and I tend to prefer books that read as more insight than insurance (see Opposable Mind above). 10

!! The Practical CIO, Eiras, Wiley, 2010.  Lightweight and in some cases bad advice. The author seems well connected but the material is puff.  10

Philosophy/History Books

!!!! Conversations with God, Walsch, Putnam, 2004. An intriguing and surprisingly to me, accurate explanation of what ‘God’ is like, and how we should think about him/her/it, regardless of your religion choice. 04

!! What if?, Cowley, Pan Books, 1999.  A series of looks at historical events (20) and what might have happened if small events had occurred otherwise, projecting what alternate history might have occurred.  Starts with the Persian/Greek naval battle of 463 B.C. and go up thru Civil War, WWI and WWII.  Just an interesting read. 04

!!! 1776, McCullough, Simon & Schuster, 2005.  An accounting of the start of the Revolutionary War and the particular year of 1776.  An interesting read and well written, although it leaves one wanting to read more (maybe that is the point).  05.

!!!!! The End of Faith, Harris, Norton, 2004.  A brilliant, critical book of the 21st Century and the future in general.  Sam Harris is incredibly articulate, the writing is first rate.  The subject is incredibly important, his proposition crucially so.  Highly, highly recommended. 06.

!!! The Places in Between, Stewart, Harcourt, 2004.  An interesting book regarding the author’s walk across Afghanistan. Worth the read just for the daring of the effort, seeing how incredibly backward these people are, and the sub story about the dog. Worth it for anyone wanting better insight to this part of the world. 06.

!!! The Greatest Story ever Sold, Rich, Penguin, 2006.  A very well written book, as it should be, since the author is a noted New York Times columnist. The level of research and facts provided are astounding. Regardless of your political views, this is a worthwhile book that explains in clear language and facts the incredible level of manipulation this administration adopted.  06.

!!!! An Inconvenient Truth, Gore, Rodale, 2006.  A fine effort by Al Gore to tell a very, very important story, and in a manner that is accessible (i.e. easy to glide thru for those with ADD). Hats off to him (and I was never a Gore fan) for his interest in nature and his diligent treatment of this subject over time. It got me motivated. Recommended to buy, read, and pass on around your family. We need to become (much) better stewards of this planet. 07.

!!!! The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, Houghton-Mifflin, 2006.  This is a little extreme to my tastes in a few areas, but I support the premise.  Richard seems to write not so much to promote atheism as much as explaining logically why anti-religion, pro-scientific examination is just. I agree with an Amazon editors review that ”He says it’s the scientist and humanist in him that makes him hostile to religions—fundamentalist Christianity and Islam come in for the most opprobrium—that close people’s minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psychologically with the notion of eternal damnation. The most effective chapters are those in which Dawkins calms down, drawing on evolution to disprove the ideas behind intelligent design”.  Fairly well written although occasionally a bit rough in style and tone. If you are spiritual yet care about life in total and the pursuit of truth and reasonableness, I suggest you start studying the critical essays being written like this and Sam Harris’ book (see above). O7

!!! Cosmic Jackpot, Davies, Houghton Mifflin, 2007.  I could have put this book in the Technical category because it is deeply technical, even if it ultimately seems to be want to make a philosophical and religious point.  I must say it is a dense book and while I like technical subjects and was written very well, it was tough to stay interested because of the number of subjects and their complexity to get your mind around. I would recommend this cautiously, as my father did to me.  Worth the front part to get a sense of the topics and their explanation (it is well written and intelligent) but not an easy read and ultimately a bit suspect because of the feel that this is more about justifying the existence of god than simply explaining the facts.   07

!!!! What are you Optimistic About? many contributors, Harper, 2007. Very interesting set of short essays by many contributors in response to the simple question of the title.  I found the book enjoyable for the many viewpoints but my one key takeway was this: In  the history of man, the more connected people are, the greater the advancement of knowledge and the less chance of conflict.  Given the increasing connectedness of people among the planet, there is great optimism that many challenges can and will be overcome by the sheer mass of intellect and understanding that can now be easily applied.  A good vacation book. Uplifting. 08

!!!!! The Great Disruption. Fukuyama, FreePress/Simon and Schuster, 1999.  Discussion of the changes in social order, why they occur, and ramifications.  The author has other related books and I hope they are as professional and polished as this one.  Writing is first rate, thesis very interesting, research extensive.  Approachable but not breezy.  Makes you think, a pastime I value but which alas seems on the wane.  Recommended. 08

!!! The Greatest Show on Earth. Dawins, FreePress, 2009.  Another Dawkins book solely focused on evolution (not religion). I was eager to read this.  Dawkins certainly has lots to say and provides evidence en mass, but it is tough sledding to read.  To dense for enjoyment and too verbose for education. Good for when you feel intellectual, yet want to go to sleep. 09

Just Enjoyment/Health Books

!!!!! The Agony and the Ecstasy, Stone, New American Library, 1961.  You really don’t need me to tell you this, but I will anyway.  A great book.  This unique biographical novel of Michelangelo is simultaneously a great read and a great story. Highly recommended. 04

!! Bagombo Snuff Box, Vonnegut, Berkley, 2000.  This is a little find of previously unpublished Kurt Vonnegut short stories I picked up at a boutique bookstore in Greenwich Village, NY (really!).  Not sure which is more valuable, the stories themselves, their rough/immature nature (many were early studies not deemed worthy of publication), or just the insight that even a great writer like KJ struggles with such works that are ‘not ready for prime time’. Not worth seeking out, but contact me if you want to borrow my copy. 04

!!!! One Man’s Wilderness, Keith, Alaska Northwest Books, Original 1973.  A really interesting book about Richard Proenneke, who, at 50 years old, decides to pursue life on a remote Alaskan Lake by building his own cabin.  The book (and his videos, which he shot himself and are available via PBS) is excellent.  Well written, down to earth.  Not so much fascinating as simply enjoyable to read and experience. Recommended, at least for anyone with a sense of the outdoors and craftsmanship. 05

!!!!! The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time, Haddon, Vintage/Random House, 2003.  A best seller, so read Amazon for reviews. A nice story, well written, but the Christopher character is the core of this book. How you react to this book will depend primarily on how you see yourself. It made me laugh, cry, and touched me greatly. It was a poignant reminder of how a brilliant person can SEE things differently and how a person who ACTS differently can be misunderstood by the world around them, yet continues the struggle to succeed. 07

!!! Dog Years, Doty, Harper-Collins, 2007.  Strengths: Rich writing that is emotional, sensitive, a very, very good writer here.  The story of the dogs is very nice, touching for sure, and at times, very nicely described.  The overall story (a memoir) is a touching one.  Lesser aspects: I hesitate to call these ‘lesser’, but the book is a lot about death (in fact, it is, in many ways, mainly about death) and only about 50% of the book is about the dogs role in the story.  I was searching for more on that and less on this author’s personal experience on death.  Recommended as a very well written work and (true) story told with compassion yet low morbidity (see…I am a bad writer, is that a word?).  I’ll keep this book on my shelf under the description…’how to write…well’. 07

!!! Prostate Health in 90 Days, Clapp, Hay House, 1997.  Ok, this is not a book review as much as a sort of endorsement.  I did like the book.  The author/doctor starts off with a pretty good story of his own challenges, and shows some good evidence to support his theories.  There are some parts at the end where he is a little over the top, but the key point is this: 1) he provides a simple approach to helping you ‘cleanse’ your colon via fasting and use of a daily drink which is little more than specialized lemonade.  We tried it. 2) Seemed to really work, AND 3) we lost weight and were less hungry in general.  So, I recommend this as a reasonable book and a possible approach that may work for some people. 07

!!!!! The Walking Drum, Louis L’Amour.  My all time favorite read.  This is not a Western but a story of the life travels  of ‘ A Kerbouchard’ as he grows from teen to young man, adventuring across Europe in search of his father, a Corsair in the middle ages. GREAT book.  I’ve re-read it many times over the last 20 years and it is always entertaining. 1975-today!

!!!! Tarzan of the Apes (and rest of Series), Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912+.  Available for free from many places online.  Great classic.   This guy could write and the richness of the story and its images are wonderful. 10

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