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06:30 pm: More Books (some parenting, some not)
As I recently wrote, Gavin De Becker's Protecting the Gift affected me deeply. It's a terrific, though sometimes frightening, book about how to keep children safe. I learned a lot from it, but perhaps the most important thing was that denial and worrying are particularly bad strategies for keeping kids safe.

Given that these have been my primary strategies so far, I was taken aback. For instance, I was carefully avoiding all news stories about children in peril, because they upset me, and it couldn't possibly do any good... except that the very day that I read De Becker, there was a story about a child who died from dry drowning. While this is tragic and upsetting, I didn't know there was any such thing as dry drowning.

Now I know. I know how it happens, what to look out for, and what to do if I suspect it's happening.

(FWIW, I still plan to avoid stories about natural disasters. Other than being prepared for the particular disasters that happen where I happen to be - blizzards, around here, and occasional hurricanes - there's nothing I can do about them anyway.)

I highly recommend the book to any and all parents.

Thomas Gordon's Parent Effectiveness Training is an excellent book, despite the author's arrogance (I invented all of it! Active listening! No-lose negotiation! Conflict resolution! I'm king of the world! Fucktard), which reallyreally makes me want him to be wrong.

But I think he's right.

He uses concrete, specific examples about how to handle all kinds of parenting issues, mostly focusing on treating children like people. As I've written before, I don't like controlling approaches to parenting. Gordon believes, first and foremost, that children are people, with preferences and opinions that are worthy of respect.

I dig that, even coming from an arrogant schmuck.

Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff's groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies is probably the best book I've read about social technologies, but I must admit that the bar isn't all that high. For non-technologists and perhaps especially for people who aren't immersed in that world, it's probably got tons of fascinating stuff.

As someone who's fairly well immersed (particularly for someone as :ahem: OLD as I), it's not so fascinating. A lot of it is blatantly obvious. But I'm quite certain I'm not the intended audience (which I believe would be senior managers, primarily in B2C product companies).

Bob Boiko's Laughing at the CIO is not funny, but it's solid. There's lots about re-emphasizing the Information in Information Management. It starts with a parable, which is misleadingly entertaining. The bulk of the book is specific, tactical advice to CIOs and others in the IM business (like me). It's not particularly entertaining, but a good presentation of excellent advice.*

If it weren't for Boiko's endless shilling for his other books, I would highly recommend it.

As it is? The shilling? Very annoying.

David Weinberger's Everything Is Miscellaneous should probably be more compelling than it is. There's tons of terrific stuff in here, about the history of libraries and taxonomies and folksonomies and all... but it's kind of a hodge-podge. As if he took a bunch of blog entries and squashed them together in semi-random order (for all I know, that's exactly what he did). I found myself riveted in the moment quite often, but completely incapable of remembering anything salient later.

I do not recommend reading it at one sitting, 'cause the hodge-podge and the squash all meld together into a morass of not-very-useful or insightful information. I suspect it's better taken in smaller doses.

His blog is quite good, if you're into that sort of thing, which I most emphatically am. Weinberger comes across (seeks out? is sent? dunno) all kinds of extremely cool stuff and writes about it cogently.

I'll probably give his book another read in a while, to see if the smaller-doses approach helps.

My Own Entertainment
Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez Perfumes is a really interesting new guide to, duh, perfumes. (Turin's previous guide was in French.) I have very little interest in perfumes. I'll never be a collector. It's a subject that I would never dream could hold my attention.

And yet... I've read a lot of this book. It's a compendium of perfume reviews! This is not an exciting topic. Yet it's an enthralling book.

Turin, especially, writes fabulous, unexpected descriptions. I originally read about Turin in The Emperor of Scent, and he's even more eloquent than that (fantastic) book makes him seem.

Margaret Coel's The Eagle Catcher and Lisa See's Flower Net are mysteries that my shrink recommended. As is usually the case, my shrink is right. They're good books. I've added these authors to my list of those whom I will trust to put together a good read.

Atul Gawande's Better isn't, IMHO, better than Complications, but it's still quite good. There's lots of stuff about the health care industry, especially. Kinda scary, very important... stuff like malpractice insurance, f'rinstance.

Rob the Bouncer's Clublife was written by a blogger whom I like very much. He's a bouncer at NYC night clubs and has seen the world from a completely different perspective than my own. He's rather self-conscious about his own intelligence and vocabulary, but he's a solid, highly entertaining writer. He makes a world that's almost entirely foreign to me come alive. Good stuff.

* If anyone with whom I went to business school is reading this, do you remember the name of the operations book (used, inexplicably, in my managerial accounting class... wtf?) that had a similar, parable approach? I especially remember parallels between production lines and wilderness hikes, in which the slowest hiker should take the lead. I liked it very much, found it very effective, and can't for the life of me remember what it was called.

Current Location: Boston
Current Mood: depressedstill depressed, but coping


[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
if you like gavin de becker, i'd highly recommend his book "the gift of fear". my mom gave it to me about 10 years ago when i moved to boston, and it was really insightful.

i'll have to pick up that bouncer book, that seems right up my alley.
[User Picture]
Date:June 13th, 2008 12:58 pm (UTC)

The Gift of Fear is on my list...

I always seem to get to the parenting stuff first these days. :)

I do think you'd like Clublife. And if you've ever waited tables, put your copy of Thanks for the Tip on reserve - it's from the author of WaiterRant.
[User Picture]
Date:June 16th, 2008 12:36 pm (UTC)

The Goal

Did not enjoy Operations as a whole (I think it was due to my professor, not necessarily the subject matter). Anyway...can't remember if I read it there or in Managerial Accting. In any case, I believe you are referring to The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt.


Thannks for the reviews of the other books - a few sound pretty interesting...now if I can just find some time to actually read for pleasure....
[User Picture]
Date:June 16th, 2008 01:00 pm (UTC)


That's it. Thanks!

Strangely enough, I don't remember Ops at all. I didn't like Managerial Accounting much either (I had that professor who's perpetually working on the new professional basketball league), but it is where I read The Goal.

Edited at 2008-06-16 01:01 pm (UTC)
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