Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
If you are in the business of change management this is the book for you. Want to alter the status quo? Want to build new things? The Heath brothers are great. I wrote about this book on my IHE blog , as Switch is a good read for people in learning technology. The Heath brothers have the popular nonfiction, synthesis, storytelling, and research based conclusion format down. Entertaining and illuminating. Quick and satisfying.
False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World by Alan Beattie
If you like reading the Economist (and I do), you will love False Economy. Popular economic history in all the best ways. The big question is always, why are some countries so rich and some countries so poor? Beattie takes on this big question, answering lots of smaller questions along the way. His basic answers have to do with choices and institutions, a thesis he explores while teaching us why Argentina did not get rich, oil is more trouble than it is worth (usually), why cocaine is not grown in Africa, and why we pay so much for Peruvian asparagus (and subsidize rich American peanut growers).
Juliet, Naked: a novel by Nick Hornby
Nick Hornby is one of my favorites. The prince of lad lit. Juliet find Hornby back in top form - and surprisingly writing in the voice of a young woman (at least for half the book). As an obsessive blogger I enjoyed having my tribe skewed, and as a guy I can't argue with any of Hornby's observations about the shortcomings of our gender. Bad long-term relationships, reclusive rock-stars, complicated families, museum politics and small English coastal cities - Hornby keeps it all light, balanced and delightful.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
It seems whatever Godin is selling I'm buying. Gotta give him credit for that. My advice for Linchpin is to make it through the first half of the book - as the second half is really where the action is. Stick it out. Godin might have something to sell, but that does not mean he is wrong. His basic point that, that the economy has ripped away any security of careers or institutions, and that we need to change our outlook towards work, is probably exactly right. The question is what do we do with this knowledge. I like Godin allright, some folks may hate him, I think he is worth reading to generate a great discussion.
Would have made an excellent Atlantic article - not enough for a book. It is good that Chang challenges the conventional wisdom of the Washington consensus on free-trade. As an Economist reader I'm happy to my assumptions challenged. The best chapters are routed in history - not argument. I very much enjoyed hearing a first-hand account of the risk of South Korea, from one of the world's poorest countries to one of the wealthiest - and the policies that allowed this transformation. This story is particularly interesting to me as my in-laws are Korean immigrants. But Chang does not have enough new to say for a whole book, and ends up repeating himself and his argument far too often.