What are You Reading?

Are you reading any great business books right now? How about reading for pleasure?

My reading pile has grown quite a bit over the last month – and I’m enjoying everything:

1. Talk Normal by Tim Phillips

With a hearty dose of humor and a biting wit, Phillips takes on business’ tendency to evade with jargon and code words. Phillips showcases the rise of “business speak” and “management lingo” in offices throughout the UK, despite it’s foolishness and – worse – ineffectiveness.

Phillips argues that businesses should focus on writing and speaking to be understood rather than to be admired for their cleverness, intelligence and complexity. Jargon is a way to exclude and confuse, not include, collaborate or inform. Talk Normal insists that business writers focus on understanding and honing their message with real, useful information.

Talk Normal does not offer enough practical or concrete strategies for business writers to communicate this way, or what to do when faced with “business speak” as an easy out. Phillips does, however, offer lots of humorous and outrageous examples (that we’ve all experienced), making it a great read for anyone looking to commiserate and chuckle.

2. Gold Mine by Freddy Balle & Michael Balle

I’m currently working on a project dealing with lean manufacturing and the client recommended that I read this book. I’m very glad for the suggestion; Gold Mine is a great example of vibrant, effective storytelling for business. The authors paint a highly human and personal picture of implementing lean, while simultaneously detailing the technical and business principles.

Mike Wood’s childhood friend’s business is in trouble and confides in him. As a psychologist, Wood knows how to listen and motivate his friend to regain control over his life. He can’t, however, help him improve his plant’s production. Mike urges his retired father – a lean manufacturing expert who’s career was filled with personal battles – to help his friend. As they begin implementing specific lean practices and tools, people and opinions struggle to change and clash. Ultimately, the everyone embraces the challenges and benefits of lean manufacturing

Gold Mine is an engaging, quick read that all business writers would enjoy as an example of well-organized and powerful storytelling.

3. Ghosts by Daylight: Love, War, and Redemption by Janine di Giovanni

I had a hard time putting this book down. Janine di Giovanni recounts her experiences working as a war correspondent in Sarajevo, Afghanistan, Iraq and other war-torn areas. Her passion for witnessing human rights violations and being a voice for the voiceless drives her to return over and over to the brutality and sadness of war zones to write eloquently about all she sees.

Along the way, she meets Bruno, a French war photographer, and they fall in love in the midst of guns and adrenaline. When Janine becomes pregnant, they pursue their dream of a building a safe and warm family life in Paris. They buy a beautiful home and are surrounded by friends and family, but cannot escape the sadness that haunts them.

Janine di Giovanni confronts the difficulties of bringing a child into an uncertain world, Bruno’s PTSD and alcoholism with disarming honesty. She carefully weaves stories of her past and present, and openly shares how her pure love and devotion are challenged by the complicated world where we live.

Have you read any great books recently? If so, please pass them along.

Warm wishes for a happy Thanksgiving! 

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