Reading Chronicle '98

A log of things I've read, particularly those that didn't generate enough thoughts to warrant a full page of their own. This allows me to benefit from an internal conversation about each, but without the pretense that I have anything significant to say.

A summary of this page is available. For less recent readings, see the 1997 chronicle.

Competitive Strategy
by Michael Porter
June 20, 2004

Comprehensive textbook on the fundamentals of competitive strategy. It's not rocket science but it's nice to see someone looking logically at the components of planning: what you have, what your competitors have, what type of market you're in.

The Pursuit of Wow!
by Tom Peters
May 31, 2004

Disjointed business gems from the author of "In Search of Excellence". Interesting points:

The Headhunter's Edge
by Jeffrey E. Christian
May 30, 2004

Superb book that would seem to be about headhunters, but is really about the features of the best CEOs and executives. They have brains, energy, and above all a keen awareness that great people are what make a company great.

When interviewing, look for the right personality: self-improving, clear communicater, distill complex issues to strategies, passionate, focused on getting the best people. Ask, "what would your subordinates say about you?", "have you ever had to fire people?", "what is the most difficult aspect of being a manager?", "What misconceptions do others have about you", "describe a difficult decision (variant: ethical dilemma) you've faced", give an example of helping a subordinate develop personal/professional skills.

Tidbit: don't let "talent" walk away. Do what it takes to keep it.

The Perilous Gard
by Elizabeth Marie Pope
May 29, 2004

Average. Unusual fantasy, gentle adventure with musty flavor.

Hiring Smart!
by Pierre Mornell
May 11, 2004

From-the-hip precepts for hiring the right people: get 100 candidates, set up a get-acquainted interview to see if they are responsible; check out their spouse, ask legally-relevant questions. Some interesting interview questions were: what would you improve about yourself (when have you failed); how do you deal with stress; what philosophy did you learn from mentors/parents; what do your bosses, peers and subordinates say about you; what skills do you need to fulfill your current position well; many more.

The Discipline of Market Leaders
by ??
May 14, 2004

Resonating message that a company succeeds by focusing on one of three value systems: By focusing on one of these, the company can be tops in its niche. The implications are: Cost is clearly contradictory with the others, but how are best product and best solution contradictory? That's because a creative new product is usually not best for the existing customer.

Managing Effectively
by Joseph Berk and Susan Berk
May 3, 2004

To-the-point summary of the skills of a first level manager. Highly recommended for new managers.

What Would Machiavelli Do?
by Stanley Bing
May 2, 2004

Cute idea, but in practice unorganized and untrue to the promise. Assorted tepid business ideas forced unwillingly to the mold.

What Management Is?
by Joan Magretta
May 1, 2004

Starts with clear coverage of the fundamentals of management: creating value and business model. But gets tough to pigeonhole (and to understand) as it proceed to talk about mission, measure and culture.

Beauty: a retelling of beauty and the beast
by McKinley, Robin
April 11, 2004

The Pride of Chanur
by C. J. Cherryh
April 11, 2004

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
by Cory Doctorow
April 10, 2004

Fool's Errand
by Robin Hobb
April 8, 2004

First Meetings in the Enderverse
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Mar 28, 2004

Great Ender novellas: two new stories of his father's youth in precisely the Ender's Game tradition, and two familiar novellas of Ender in battle school and meeting Jane after.

The Ethos Effect
by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
Mar 28, 2004

Overlong sci-fi in the unibomber Modesitt mold: pages on ethics, and a virtuous, laconic hero. I like them but I never know why.

The Golden Transcendence
by John C. Wright
Mar 27, 2004

Less effective than the prequels, the new technology interest was based on black holes, too debatable to be interesting, leaving the same previously-fascinating culture and concerns of the "seventh Age" holding the stick.

Gabriel's Ghost
by Megan Sybil Baker
Mar 21, 2004

Ok fantasy romance in sci-fi trappings. A little too romance-novelish: are the guys really that hunky, and you expect a unicorn at any moment.

A College of Magics
by Caroline Stevermer
Mar 20, 2004

Slow-paced teen story of a small-country princess discovering her (sparing presented) magical powers in time to save her land.

Dave at Night
by Gail Carson Levine
Mar 14, 2004

Gentle story of unwanted lad who finds his footing at an orphanage with help from friends he discovers on nearby streets at night.

Shapechanger's Wife
by Sharon Shinn
Mar 13, 2004

Gentle fantasy romance about a young powerful carefree wizard meeting his new master's household.

Mind Wide Open
by Steven Johnson
Mar 7, 2004

Ramblings about hormones, biofeedback, and the various components of the brain.

Revelation Space
by Alastair Reynolds
Mar 16, 2004

Tolerable epic of the unknowably-advanced vanished-aliens genre. Time scope is blunted by vast times presented as pronouncements by characters rather than even flashbacks. Space scope not quite grand, despite three star systems. Several ok ideas, but mainly mind-wars better done in Aristoi and others.

The Shape-Changer's Wife
by Sharon Shinn
Mar 14, 2004

Nice! Fledgling wizard falls for the mysteriously stoic wife of his distasteful shape-changer mentor. Simply told yet atmospheric.

Goddess by Mistake
by P. C. Cast
Mar 6, 2004

Poor, English teacher displaced to high priestess body in parallel mythical world. Centaurs, hormones, simplistic.

The Speed of Dark
by Elizabeth Moon
Feb 29, 2004

Well crafted near-future fiction from a high-functioning autistic's fascinating viewpoint. Lou wonders if the daily struggle to fit in defines who he is.

Lady Knight, Squire, Page, First Test
by Tamora Pierce
Feb 28, 2004

Nice typical Pierce girl-succeeds-in-a-man's-world teen fiction. Kel doggedly becomes a knight against the doubts of a male world.

Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine
Feb 24, 2004

Delightful girl-teen Cinderella-with-a-twist story. Ella is spelled to always obey.

Demon Breed
by James Schmitz
Feb 23, 2004

Dated story of super-capable woman who outsmarts an alien invasion with help from her sapient otter.

Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
by Clyde Prestowitz
Jan 15, 2004

Convincing evidence that America is a bully.
Substantive changes:
    Feb 29, 2004: created.
Copyright © 2004, Steve Colwell, All Rights Reserved
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