Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book list

A couple of people have either asked for book recommendations or cited the blog as a source of reading ideas recently, so I'm gonna share a list of recent reading (last year or so) I drew up the other day when prepping for a question from a humanist regarding a job at UNC (the question, malheureusement, never came).

Peter Hessler, River Town, Oracle Bones, Country Driving (all 3 are great, the middle is the best, read in order)

Ron Susskind, The Price of Loyalty (awesome), Confidence Men (stopped 80 pages in, too much rehash of crisis)

Tom Friedman, That Used to Be Us (utterly unreadable)

Alice Schroeder, The Snowball (on Warren Buffett -- good book, a little too gushing and gawkish maybe)

Howard Bryant, The Last Hero:  A Life of Henry Aaron (very good, slows down in the middle, but solid detail on both the man and race relations in our lifetime)

Michael Lewis, Liar's Poker (re-read it, still good), Boomerang (good, but he's coasting)

Books by people I know
Wade Graham, Jesus is My Gardener (A Kindle Single, very good), American Eden: from Monticello to Central Park to Our Backyards, (A very ambitious book.  I'm stalled about 70 pages in, maybe because it's too academic, or maybe I just don't care enough about gardening to push on through)

Frank Ryle, Keeping Score: Project Management for the Pros (on the nature of project management, allegorized to golf.  In the vein of 7 Dysfunctions of a Team. Not the best book in the world, but still as readable as you're going to get and still learn something about project management.)

Jay Leutze, Stand Up that Mountain (both an infectious paean to nature, a tale of life lived otherwise, and a solid procedural on what could be the most boring stuff in the world -- how state and federal regulation work -- but it works here)

Olen Steinhauer, The Confession (mystery novel set in cold War Slovakia or something like that. Builds slowly, but in the end it's really good)

Alan Furst, I don't know which one of his novels I read. They are all similar, and similarly good.

PD James, Original Sin (I read it because Ruth Rendell said it was the greatest mystery ever. I don't know about that, but it's pretty good)

John Lanchester Capital (A good novel, aspires perhaps to be The Novel of The Financial Crisis. Doesn't quite get there, but is nonetheless worth reading. He creates characters you can care about, which is saying something).

Business books
Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto (an important and useful book. Gawande has a brain, a heart, and the ability to write)

Vivek Ranadive, The Two-Second Advantage (he really wants to be Malcom Gladwell and sell Tibco's software at the same time.  Somewhat convincing, lightweight)

Eric Ries, The Lean Start-Up (good, solid, well thought out book bringing process and discipline to the wooliest of domains)

Ellen Schutz, Retirement Heist:  How Companies and Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers (an important book written, sadly, by a journalist without enough editorial help to turn it into a good book.  I am 60 pages in and should finish it, though it's just so boring)

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