Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Connection Kata: 5 + 1 + 1 Business Books I Gave Away in 2007

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Hi Valeria,

Thanks for mentioning the Ultimate Marketing Bookstore in your post! I wanted to let you and your readers know that your reading list is now published as part the effort and you can check it out here:

Also, I think your list of books is great, and I will definitely be picking up the one on teaching your baby to read given we just had our second!

@Kami -- let me know if you intend to work with the book. I have a ton of material from providing encyclopedic knowledge that begs to be used by a smart couple. And you could be teaching French as well!

@Ricardo -- along the lines of your recent readings, I also enjoyed "The Psychology of Persuasion" by Dr. Cialdini and "Are you Ready to Succeed?" by Srikumar Rao.

@Carolyn Ann -- taking notes... I read a lot of poetry as well, Rilke by far my favorite; it must have been my studies of German or perhaps the fact that he expresses feeling the same way I do. Somehow I never took to American poets, perhaps their reality and experiences are too far from the environment in which I grew up. A Porsche 911, now that is a thought! I will need to point many friends writers to your suggestions. I used to read a lot of fiction, now sometimes I write of it in my blog ;-)

Okay, I give up... This is the umpteenth time I've tried to write this! (Firefox upgraded itself not that long ago, and I've not been able to "do" my blog since! Which is important, because I wanted to look up an author I'd written about. Grammar being a distant second choice to expressing a frustration...)

Anyway: I must admit that I haven't read any business books, this year. I've stuck to Current Affairs, some mediocre thrillers (Stella Rimington, and another woman writer being the only exceptions; the woman writer being the person I was trying to look up!) and atheism - and most of those can be described as 'stating the obvious'. (Mr Hitchins might be brilliant, but he doesn't seem to be able to resist rewording age-old arguments. On the other hand, I've not come across anyone, except maybe William Safire, with such a command of the language!) I delved into some Karen Armstrong for reassurance, and found it.

The book I'd give away (I'm keeping my copy) is Kristen Breitweiser's "Wake Up Call:The Political Education of a 9/11 Widow". This is probably the most important book of the year. In my opinion, of course. :-) Mrs Breitweiser's battles with the White House, with Congress and simply with the inertia of "being seen to be doing something" is quite an inspiration! That she and her friends (generally) succeeeded in their efforts is something that any American can be proud of!

Helen Thomas (always a delight to read!) published "Watchdogs of Democracy", this year. I consider that a very close second, and definitely in the same spirit as Mrs Breitweiser's efforts. We should always question authority; especially when it says "don't look behind the curtain". Too many journalists obey; Ms Thomas, to her credit, swings that curtain aside with a gusto that should inspire us all. Sadly, it doesn't.

"The Nine" by Jeffrey Toobin is a much chatted-about tome to pick up; it tells you more than you might want to know about how the Supreme Court decides its cases. It's a bit like sausage making: you wish you hadn't looked, but you're kind of glad you did. Often enough, anyway.

Of course, Sister Miriam Joseph's 1947 classic "Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language" is a perennial; it can be safely, and wisely, contributed to anyone interested in the English language. Writers, for instance. And I'm keeping my copy; I actually keep it by my bed, in case I feel a little uncertain, or something, about my command of this language. :-) (My command of it being somewhat superficial, and not at all obvious.)

Any decent copy of Alan Ginsburg's "Howl"; that should be read on a semi-regular basis by any writer, (just to remind themselves what is possible) is a worthy gift. Maybe not in a business context, though...

Likewise, "Robert Frost, The Complete Poems", and any Walt Whitman. Philip Larkin is a sure-fire hit - I read his poems over and over, and I discover something new just about every time! Whitman never fails to inspire; all of these can inspire a conversation, if allowed to. (So many poets, so little time!)

Paul Frére writes an ongoing review of the Porsche 911; it's an excellent book, and if you think about it: he writes as much about the pursuit of "product" excellence as he does about the engineering that goes into the 911. The way Porsche waits, and develops an understanding of a trend is quite marvelous; if it's a fad: they ignore it. If it's a true trend, and it has usefulness: they embrace it, enhance it and charge lots of money for it... (I wanna Porsche 911!) He shows how that whole "good enough" philosophy is counterproductive; not that he states this explicitly, but even a simple reading will show that Porsche considers "good enough" to be somewhat inadequate. It also demonstrates how mistakes can be used as learning experiences; so many of us are frightened of mistakes that it seems cultural. No one can get it right all the time, but we expect that of ourselves and others;it really is quite an inhuman response. We aren't machines, and we can be expected to screw up on the odd occasion. It's how we deal with those errors that's important.

Oh, business related books that I can recommend for this year include "Supercrunchers". (Its more of a "this is a trend we should pay attention to" book.) Actually, that's the beginning and end of my list. The author, Ian Ayres, provides so much information you either decide to move to the Scottish Highlands and sever all contact with the outside world, or you use it influence *how you think about the conversation* you can have with your customers. I'm vacillating.

All in all, I thought this year quite disappointing for books. Although I doubt you'd be able to tell, considering that I go to a bookstore 3 or 4 or more times a week, and invariably end up walking out with something that contains words printed on paper. I can't help but think that publishers are being influenced by the big-box stores (the ones I go to, I'll admit), and are publishing what they think will sell, not necessarily what "we" want, or need, to read. I just can't imagine "All The President's Men" being published, today. Such a sad thing to consider, in my opinion. Of course. :-)

Carolyn Ann

PS Apologies, Valeria: I wrote something that amounts to a blog post! But you did get me thinking... :-) /CA

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