Book Reviews

I went book mad this Christmas! And I’m not talking the Kindle variety – although I do love the convenience of a Kindle – my mother used to say a time and place for everything. I’m talking about the type with all those leafy pages, the ones I can run my thumb through and hear that whirring sound, where I can inhale that familiar aroma and comfortingly know what page I’m up to instead of what percentage of the book I have already read!

A good book can inspire, help and lead you to an innovation road, or  perhaps encourage ideas to keep flowing if you are fortunate enough to be already travelling. It can carry you off to that “other place”, urge you on to new adventures or remind you from where we have come or of a time long ago.

I picked up Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell a few weeks ago (Gladwell also wrote Tipping Point – what a great read that is). In Outliers there are some amazing conclusions drawn from statistics available. Who would have thought the opportunities afforded by the time of year you were born? I learnt about the 10,000 hour rule (though I think this should have made me a brilliant author some years ago or at the very least a concert pianist!) And does the correlation between good health and the values of our communities surprise anyone really? Want more? Read the book.

Ubuntu is written by Stephen Lundin and Bob Nelson. Stephen Lundin was responsible for Fish! quite a few years ago, where the central theme was the benefits of adding fun to your workday. Nelson Mandela writes ” In Africa there is a concept known as Ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others: that is we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others”.  This is the central theme of the book Ubuntu.

Little Bets by Peter Sims was recommended to me by my colleague and fellow innovation musketeer Kevin Coffey. The key concept here is to take little steps, experiment and place a few little bets on the outcomes, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from significant wins that ultimately lead to extraordinary success. Made sense to me!

I read a beautiful fiction (but based on fact) book I picked up at the Sydney Writers festival in 2011 – The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. She wove an intricate and complex story line around the horrifying conditions in Sierra Leone. I travelled constantly between 1969 and 1999 to be affected by a nation on a remarkable rollercoaster ride. To quote the back cover, The Memory of Love is a heartbreaking story of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

I picked up In the Name of Peace by Erin Ladd Sanders to gift to a friend having a significant birthday and ended up buying myself a copy. Seventeen pacifists are the subjects of the book and their contribution through their philosophies to our world is unquestionable. There is an interesting twist thrown in regarding times when pacifist action has actually prolonged conflict and suffering…I struggle with that…

Ditto Speeches That Changed The World – that is I bought myself a copy. There are inspirational and moving contributions from Jesus of Nazareth through to Lenin, Oppenheimer and even Kevin Rudd (Sorry speech) and Barack Obama (America, all things are possible).

I also gifted the Keith Richards’ autobiography to a Stones fan and began purchasing all the books I have to read for Book Club 2013!  I should also confess that I bought a 1Direction book for my daughter and before you laugh or scour, at least it has her reading something that consists of more than instructions for a game on a flat screen, or facebook…

Needless to say I have contributed significantly to the national debt…

The magic of a book that captivates your soul for a period in time is remarkable. I plan to read a LOT in 2013. Will let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, please leave your good read recommendations as comments.

Have  a successful, kind and peaceful 2013.

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