Three weeks without a post. Disgraceful! Sadly, work has interfered WAY too much with my leisure time lately, but I have done some reading - bizarre mix that it has been - and will try to post a quick synopsis before going back to my zillionth attempt to resuscitate my seemingly dead digital camera...
Having left Library Land a year ago this past weekend, I find that in Corporate Land, assigned reading tends to be work-related-inspirational. Each year, my current organization seems to choose a Theme (much like the decision made to call the Senior Prom "Journey to Romance" or "Under the Sea") to infuse the work force with a positive attitude and fresh platitudes for the coming fiscal year. Now I can get behind a good bit of inspiration if I'm in the right frame of mind -- but I have to say that the four books I read involving our New Theme did not get my motor running. Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale & Improve Results is the cornerstone of the quartet and lays out a Morality Tale for Our Times, complete with a multicultural spunky widow who is able to save her toxic division at work through the Divine Intervention of Lonnie the Fishmonger. I would have a greater respect for this book if it were a REAL story - but realizing it is a big set-up totally reduces its value to ashes for me -- much as discovering that Go Ask Alice was NOT written by the young narrator but cobbled together by a social worker did in my early teens. And the big finish? Lonnie the Saint proposes to her at the end of the book by putting an engagement ring in the open mouth of a fish. Oy vey! Book Two - Fish! Tales seemed to be real stories about folks trying to put the Fish into their businesses, Book Three - Fish! Sticks keeps the platitudes coming, and Book Four - Fish! for Life extends the reach of the philosophy into the arena of one's personal life and reunites us with the fictional couple from Book One who are now embarking on parenthood. Come on, say it with me ... YUCK! I've been to the Pike Place Market and it is a fun place. But I wondered why this outfit in the Twin Cities is the purveyor of all things Fish! Did the Pike Place Gang not really believe in their philosophy? I went in search of an answer and discovered When Fish Fly a book co-authored by the owner of the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market. His recounting of the theme is vastly different in tone. Oh sure, the philosophy is still there - but it is not sugar-coated or even particularly appealing. His is a pretty autocratic style of management and though he professes to have changed, I did not feel it was so. Wish me luck in this The Year of The Fish! Still in a work-styles feeding frenzy, I plowed through much of Now Discover Your Strengths and was taken in by the personality quiz format of the book - who doesn't love those? - but had my hopes dashed when I arrived at the page with the secret code to use to take the test online to Discover My Strengths and discovered instead that the code was carefully scissored out to prevent mere LIBRARY BORROWERS from thinking they were entitled to the knowledge without paying full-price for the book. I moved on to the very enjoyable Positively Outrageous Customer Service
which would actually be a much more ideal way to inspire workers than the Fish! Philosophy, but would require actually giving the power to the work force to truly make a difference - and we all know that having an hour's pep rally tossing Fish! is the more likely and realistic scenario. Too bad. I also got Good to Great but was too exhausted from all the corporate speak to muster the strength to open the cover.
Reviewing all of that again, I realize why I may have not felt like reading much for a while.... in any case, I did do some other reading. Cherry Jones is due in town to perform her Tony-winning role, and so I read the very short (58 pages!) script for Doubt. It is an interesting character study and does deal with the edges of a controversial topic, but I was not truly engaged by it. Guess I will have to see if it arrests my heart and mind more in performance. I finally got around to reading my copy of How I Live Now, too. I admired the voice, but found myself skimming through the war scenes just to get to the expected reunion of the star-crossed lover cousins. Not one I would read again. For sheer pleasure, I read Laura Lippman's new Tess Monaghan mystery No Good Deeds and was happy to get to hang around with Tess and Crow in Baltimore again. If you haven't read any of these and like a female detective tale on occasion, I recommend them. I also treated myself to T.C. Boyle's latest Talk, Talk.
I am completely besotted with T.C. and always enjoy his phrasing, quirky plotting and unique notions for a story. This tale of a deaf woman's struggle to regain her life after her identity is stolen is all Boyle all the time. (And the jacket photo! What a singular character!)
I have shared many books of late -- Boyle's The Road to Wellville, Clement's Frindle, Hill's Ursula Under and Aidinoff's The Garden have traveled from my bookshelves to new hands.
I recommended In the Shadow of the Ark, The Eight,
Timeline, I am the Messenger, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart and The Sterkarm Handshake. And I bought Yoko's World of Kindness for an about-to-be-a-new-big-sister gift.
I am back on the waiting list for The Book Thief since I'm a big fan of Zusak's other books and so many of the KitLitosphere crowd has spoken highly of it. I also look forward to my number coming up on the reserve list for New Moon
because I was surprisingly taken by Stephenie Meyer's first book about vampiric love. I'd love to ditch out of work tomorrow afternoon to go hear Jacquelyn Mitchard speak at the public library, but am also being realistic and just adding my name to the wait list for her new book Cage of Stars.
A year out from my last Summer Reading Program, I continue to receive the great lists and reviews of new books from all of the publishers - and if I were still the Queen of Library Land, I would be ordering Bats at the Beach
ASAP to read at Story Time!!!
Happy August! Hope we all find some time to read in these Dog Days of Summer