Books and Rain
We hit a rainy stretch the past few days – good for reading; not so good for getting a sun tan. In addition to The Big Six, I managed to finish four other books this week. All of them were good, but for different reasons.
Hayduke Lives! was the funnest (and the only one that was fiction.) I read The Monkey Wrench Gang a few weeks ago – it was my first introduction to Edward Abbey (thanks Dave.) I loved it, so Amazoned Hayduke Lives! which was published posthumously, but was a continuation of the characters and stories in The Monkey Wrench Gang. I had a difficult time getting into Hayduke Lives! (I imagine if Abbey had been alive he would have worked it over a few more times), but I was deeply hooked after 100 pages. Abbey’s characters are insane, beautiful, hilarious, and brave – in an insane, beautiful, and hilarious way.
The Long Tail has been widely reviewed, praised, and discussed. It earns its praise – Chris Anderson has written an excellent book that nicely balances analyzing what has happened in “the new economics of culture and commerce” (his words) while being instructive and predictive about how things will play out in the future. It’s credible, well written, full of relevant examples, and thought provoking. If it’s not on your bookshelf, it should be.
I’m not a huge fan of books on “how to sell”, but I liked The Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer. It’s part of Gitomer’s arsenal of sales stuff – extensively promoted on his website at Gitomer.com – and was surprisingly good. A blog reader recommended it (thanks – leave me a comment so I know who you were) and it was worth the time. If you are in sales, or a CEO of a startup, it’s worth a read, if for no other reason than to charge you up, clean off some mental cobwebs, and give you some fresh ideas and a kick in the ass.
Blueprint to a Billion was a mixed bag, but fundamentally good. It’s being positioned as a Jim Collins like treatise on how to create great companies (which the author – David Thomson – calls “Blueprint Companies.”) Thompson analyzed the 387 companies that have gone public since 1980 and have achieved $1 billion dollars in revenue looking for common characteristics that drive their success. While there is plenty of data and solid analysis surrounding it, unlike Collins, Thomson ends up getting lost in the data in places and lets the numbers dominate his thought process, rather than stepping back and articulating profound and powerful conclusions. Jim Collins is unmatched at this type of analysis, and – although Thomson falls short – Blueprint to a Billion was still very good. Thomson’s web site has a blog, although there are only a few posts and then end on 4/30/06 – I guess Thomson is too busy running around doing consulting and giving his book tour to keep the blogging up.
Next week will have a lot more fiction in it – I promise (myself.)