Adam Fergusson enjoyed “an unexpected literary revival” this past summer when a book he wrote 35 years ago was republished in the UK. About Germany’s economic collapse after WWI, which lead to Hitler’s rise, it was a “cult text among gold enthusiasts and inflation phobes.” After it was erroneously reported that Warren Buffet was a fan, original copies began selling for upwards of $1,000 each on the Web. (Financial Times, 8/20/10)
The book was reprinted by Public Affairs in the U.S. in October. The Wall Street Journal revisits the story today, in a review that ends with the words, “Every body ought to read this book. But baby boomers must.” As a result, the reprint moved up to #43, from #939 yesterday on Amazon’s sales rankings.
Hold on to your seats, I am about to recommend a business audio. It is true that I rarely write about books (or audiobooks) for grown-ups, but I can’t stop talking about Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.
What is our experience as librarians with the business book category? Do we read them because the Director went to a “who moved my cheese” seminar and found a way to force the staff to read a book not of their choosing? Because the Four Hour Work Week has an appealing title and is on best seller lists? Did a friend recommended Freakanomics?
Business books are a genre I read for fun after a pile of picture books. My first reading of Managing The Non-Profit Organization by Peter Drucker was when I worked as a retail manager for a children’s museum. I was intrigued by the way he laid out organizational structure, interpersonal relationships and above all the difference between a for-profit entity and a non-profit.
I heard the rumors that everyone who worked on Composing a Life by Mary Catherine Bateson quit their job and went to something else, following “their calling.” Within a year of reading it, I, too, quit my job in publishing, enrolled in graduate school and started my career as a librarian at the Brooklyn Public Library. That’s what a thoughtful examination of how we evaluate our work will do… instigate change.
What is about Delivering Happiness? I’m not in a rut at work. I have high expectations of interesting developments, my managers encourage and support new ideas, curriculum and projects (like the recent BookFest@Bank Street). They expect me to stretch and grow, to mentor and teach, to be passionate about our work and to enjoy the daily work of teaching.
So here comes Tony Hsieh examining and sharing what makes Zappos.com a great place to work. He lays out how serendipity, exciting hard work, kindness, generosity, passion and personal growth can all be part of a corporate strategy for success. Hsieh’s presentation jells with my own philosophy of work life. To be passionate, to encourage others, to be of service, to blow off steam in productive but fun ways, to find ways small and big to improve how we do things to serve our students and teachers, and to do more with less, to learn that obstacles or misaligned philosophies are growth opportunities.
Hsieh’s passion for “delivering happiness” is palpable on the audio edition of the book. He sounds almost amazed at where life has taken him, he generously shares his mistakes and errors in judgement as well in a sure-why-don’t-we-try-that attitude. The audio includes the voices of others on his team who grew Zappos with him as well as Jeff Bezos after the Amazon buy-out. (More complicated than that… read the book).
It confirms my own business philosophy and articulates how I can grow within my organization as well as partner with those outside who share our core values.
Needless to say, I’ll be giving it to many friends this holiday.
Next week, book lovers and Jackie Onassis fans may enjoy the first of two books looking at her career as an editor in the publishing industry: Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn.
According to Kirkus, “Kuhn argues that Jackie touched on forbidden themes in her own life—her husband’s adultery, the humiliation of marriage, political machinations—only through her list, including such books as Barbara Chase-Riboud’s controversial novel Sally Hemings (1979) and Elizabeth Crook’s novel about Sam Houston and Eliza Allen, The Raven’s Bride (1991).
The New York Times Fashion section explores the rivalry (complete with trash talk) between author Kuhn and Greg Lawrence, whose Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis will arrive on January 4 from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press.
Libraries we checked have modest orders in line with modest holds for both titles.
Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a ManbySteve Harvey (Amistad) is the popular radio show host’s followup to his #1 New York Times bestselling book of relationship advice, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Lots of publicity is line up, including Good Morning America on Tuesday, publication day and a profile in the NYT Sunday Arts & Leisure section (tentatively scheduled for 12/19).
Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy with Grant Blackwood (Putnam), the newest geopolitical military thriller with Jack Ryan, arrives with a 1.75 million printing.
Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King (Crown) is historical fiction set in 11th-century Scotland. PW says, “Though clichés often plague the prose… King’s blend of historical figures and fictional characters turns a medieval icon into a believable mother, wife, and ruler.”
Buttons and Bonesby Monica Ferris (Berkley Hardcover) follows Betsy Devonshire, amateur investigator and owner of Crewel World Needlework in investigating another mystery.
Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy Series #6) by Richelle Mead is the final installment in the bestselling Vampire Academy series.
If anyone has a crack at making a book of aphorisms a bestseller, it’s economist and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Best known for his long-running business bestseller The Black Swan, he’s back with The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms. Among his incisive pronouncements:
“You will get the most attention from those who hate you. No friend, no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity.”
“You remember e-mails you sent that were not answered better than e-mails you did not answer.”
Mr. Taleb is so calculatedly abrasive in this smart, attention-getting little book that he achieves his main objective. “A good maxim,” he writes, “allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.”
Orders are modest at libraries we checked, but given Taleb’s track record, this could be one to watch.
The Essential American by Jackie Gingrich Cushman (Regnery) is a collection of 25 documents and speeches that Newt Gingrich’s daughter considers critical to understanding United States history. She recently appeared on Fox News to promote it.
A Voice from Old New York: A Memoir of My Youth by Louis Auchincloss (Houghton Mifflin) explores the late author’s connection with New York City. Kirkus says, “the author’s prose is lapidary, graceful and eminently readable. In a world of postmodern letters, Auchincloss draws a curtain on a premodern, Whartonesque way of life.”
Why read yet another book on the financial crisis? A Huffington Post columnist has declared the latest in a long line of them, All the Devils Are Here, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, the “Best Business Book of the Year” (he does, however, admit to being a friend of one of the authors). Time magazine says, “When the financial crisis of this decade is being taught in business schools in the next, All the Devils Are Here could be the textbook.”
The authors convinced Jon Stewart’s viewers on The Daily Show last night (Stewart used the magic words, “you have to get this [book]”); it rose to #13 on Amazon sales rankings after their appearance.
The amazing self-promoter with the daunting last name, Gary Vaynerchuk has a new book coming in March, The Thank You Economy that is already moving up Amazon’s sales rankings (currently at #182).
Vaynerchuk became an internet hit with his fast-talking, no-nonsense videos about wine, (described as “frenetic” by the NYT) created to promote his family’s wine shop and his 2009 book about internet marketing, Crush It!The new book is about giving great customer service.
Buzz is building for Where Good Ideas Come From by science writer Steven Johnson. The New York Times ran an early review in the Business section, praising Johnson’s storytelling ability in this exploration of innovative environments like the city and the Internet, and how a “series of shared properties and patterns… recur again and again in unusually fertile environments.”
At libraries we checked, current orders are in line with reserves, but this looks like one to watch, since Johnson was also a featured speaker at TED, the elite technology, entertainment and design conference, this summer. And his cool video trailer for the book appears to be going viral.
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow gets a respectful review from critic Janet Maslin in the New York Times, who finds that this biography is justified by new material unearthed from Washington’s papers at the University of Virginia.
At 900-odd densely packed pages, Washington can be arid at times. But it’s also deeply rewarding as a whole…. [and] offers a fresh sense of what a groundbreaking role Washington played, not only in physically embodying his new nation’s leadership but also in interpreting how its newly articulated constitutional principles would be applied.
A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (Random House) is “a wonderfully meandering journey through history, sociology, science, and more. The thread that connects it all is Bryson’s. . . home, a charming former church rectory in a small English village,” according to bookseller Christopher Rose in the October Indie Next Pick citation. NPR’s Morning Edition will feature the book on October 5, followed by the New York Times Book Review on October 10. It is also the Amazon Spotlight Selection for the month of Oct.
Is It Just Me or Is It Nuts Out There? by Whoopi Goldberg (Hyperion) finds the actress and co-host of ABC’s The View sharing stories from her own life, when she’s been forced to deal with tough situations in family, marriage, friendship, and business.
Cesar’s Rules by Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier (Crown) is the bestselling dog trainer’s primer on establishing the rules of the house.
The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Harper) considers the far-reaching consequences of the co-evolution of dogs and humans, drawing from recent scientific research.
You: Raising Your Child by Michael F. Roizen & Mehmet C. Oz (Free Press) explores the biology and psychology of raising a child from birth to school age.
Trickle Up Poverty by Michael Savage (Morrow) is the author and conservative talk show host’s attack on President Obama’s agenda and his political tactics.
I’m Not High: (But I’ve Got a Lot of Crazy Stories about Life as a Goat Boy, a Dad, and a Spiritual Warrior) by Jim Breuer (Gotham/Penguin) is a memoir by the comedian and Sirius radio show host best known as “Goat Boy” on Saturday Night Live. He was also featured on the ALTAFF Humor Panel at ALA Annual.
As CNET mentions, veteran tech journalist Kirkpatrick was granted unprecedented access to the company’s top executives:
This is the Facebook that Facebook wants you to see — both the glamorous and the ugly sides of one of the most successful, fastest-growing companies in recent memory… It’s fascinating. It’s well-written and masterfully reported. Still, one is left wondering if anything more sordid was missed.
There’s also an excerpt on DailyFinance.com. And on June 8, Kirkpatrick will make the rounds on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and on an ABC Radio Satellite Tour.
Excerpts from a new book about Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, in the new issue of Fortune magazine have caused the business press to go all Page Six (yes, we enjoy the weirdness of that concept, too), and the book, due out next month, to rise on Amazon. The gossip focuses on the story of Zuckerberg crying in a restaurant’s bathroom floor during negotiations to buy the company and the Animal House atmosphere of Facebook’s early days.
The timing of the book is good; an IPO is expected some time this year.
An earlier, unauthorized book about the founding of Facebook, The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich (Doubleday, 2009) has been made into a movie, The Social Network, and is scheduled for release on Oct. 15.
This book’s title will have many managers and their staffs cheering, Get Rid of the Performance Review. Say the authors, “It’s time to put the performance review out of its misery…it’s pretentious, it’s bogus, and it produces absolutely nothing that any thinking executive should call a corporate plus.”
The Associated Press released an article about it, which appears in the Huffington Post, among other news outlets.
For a little catharsis, try the “How much do you hate performance reviews?” quiz.
It arrives with much fanfare; an excerpt in Vanity Fair, appearances on Sixty Minutes (Sunday), the Today Show, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Jon Stewart, among others on Monday, followed by Fresh Air and Charlie Rose on Tuesday.
Holds in libraries are surprisingly light; all the publicity could change that.
It’s amazing to realize that there was a time before consulting firms and endless talk about business strategy. The former editorial director of the Harvard Business Review writes about how we got here in Lords of Strategy. It’s currently rising on Amazon (now at #308), even though the listing indicates it won’t be published for three more weeks (the publisher listing, however, shows a 3/3/10 pub date).
…a clear, deft and cogent portrait of what the author calls the most powerful business idea of the past half-century: the realization that corporate leaders needed to abandon their go-it-alone focus on their company’s fortunes and instead pursue policies based on a detailed study of the competitive environment and of broader business trends.
Harry Markopolos, a Boston deratives analyst, was asked by his boss to look into a very successful hedge fund and try to figure out why it was doing so well. He instantly realized that it was a fraud and tried many times to blow the whistle on it. He wasn’t subtle; in 2000, he sent a memo to the SEC titled “The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud.” Fittingly, his book about the experience is titled No One Would Listen.
That fund was, of course, Bernie Madoff’s. In an interview with Jon Stewart on Monday night, Markopolos was clear about his distain for the SEC, causing Stewart to burst out, “You are an angry dude; you’re just rippin‘ these guys.”
The book rose to #18 on Amazon (it’s now at #21) and has heavy holds in libraries.
Next week’s most-anticipated nonfiction book is bestselling business guru Seth Godin‘s guide to mastering the new economy, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Three of the four libraries we checked had it, with holds of close to 2:1 on orders of 8-15 copies
Though the reserves aren’t huge, they appear to be a positive effect of Godin’s gamble on Internet-only publicity campaign, in which he bypassed the traditional media, giving away books at his own expense to the first 3,000 readers who agreed to make a minium $30 donation to the Acumen Fund.
Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging by Greg Critser (Harmony) is a journalist’s irreverent look at the anti-aging industry. Kirkus found it “a delightful, politically incorrect view of the life-extension movement, accompanied by the disappointing news that aging is reversible but not in the near future.”
I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne (Grand Central) is the legendary rocker and reality show star’s memoir, which Kirkus deemed “as toxic and addictive as any drug its author has ever ingested.”
Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour by Gayle Haggard (Tyndale) is a memoir by the wife of evangelical Christian leader Tim Haggard who had liaisons with a male prostitute.
Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies Table, Our Journey Through the Middle East by Ted Dekker and Middle East expert Carl Medearis (Doubleday Religion) is an account of the Christian novelist’s effort to love his enemies.