Summer is here, so it’s time to get some reading time in. Here are some recent books I’ve read, that I’d recommend adding to your list:
Working(Robert Caro, 2019) – Caro is one of the great reporters and biographers of our time. He wrote huge biographies on US President Lyndon Johnson and all-powerful NY urban developer Robert Moses. In this book, “Working”, Caro discusses the research and interviews he did for those biographies. And through them, you learn about Moses and Johnson and the impressive work ethic and humility of Caro.
As we continue living in isolation, the words of Albert Camus in The Plague keep coming back to me. It was published in 1947, yet it captures the mood we are in today so well. I guess plagues and pandemics affect people in the same way, no matter what era we live in. Here are some excerpts and I replace the words ‘plague’ with ‘coronavirus’ and ‘pestilence’ with ‘pandemic’ to make it feel more current:
noun /ˈʃɪv.əl.ri/ 1) very polite, honest, and kind behaviour, especially by men towards women 2) the system of behaviour followed by knights in the medieval period of history, that put a high value on honour, kindness, and courage
Chivalry sounds so old-fashioned, but if any tradition needs to be revived perhaps it should be this one. What sparked my interest is a 10th-century book I stumbled across called “The Way Of Chivalry”.
Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, Magneto from X-Men and a zillion characters from Shakespeare’s plays – that has been the remarkable range of Sir Ian McKellen. To celebrate his 80th birthday he’s been touring the UK with his one man show ‘Ian McKellen On Stage’. I recently got to see him and I must say he was amazing. But it reminded me how good Shakespeare is – and McKellen lives and breathes his works. Here’s a selection of the more practical quotes from Shakespeare’s plays:
Michael Bloomberg is the billionaire founder of the financial services data and media company, Bloomberg. He was also the 108th Mayor of New York. He’s confident, outspoken and has strong views on how to start and run a business. I learnt about them in his autobiography. Here are the highlights:
I don’t naturally lean towards poetry, I prefer the straightforwardness of prose. At the same time, I know that poetry, like music, can affect me in ways a novel or film never could. So, I’m always on the look-out for entry points to poetry, and I recently found one in the works of Pablo Neruda.
“Who has control in a conversation, the guy listening or the guy talking?
The listener, of course.
That’s because the talker is revealing information while the listener, if he’s trained well, is directing the conversation toward his own goals. He’s harnessing the talker’s energy for his own ends.”
That’s what Chis Voss, formerly the FBI’s lead international hostage negotiator, writes in his excellent “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It”. His insights shatter the idea that good negotiators engage in a battle of wills against their counterpart. If there is a guiding principle in the FBI’s elite negotiating team it’s that you have to remove yourself from the equation.