Dear Aunty B,
It strikes me that we might share a similar taste in books. Save me the trouble and tell me what to read this summer.
I like entrepreneur type self-help stuff (with a bit of depth), stories about baddies and murder mysteries and a rollicking good read.
I was about to point out that we have little in common because I hate murder mysteries when I realised one of my favourite books of the year was exactly that.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in a three part series – and I love a good series. The main character is a bloke called Mikael Blomkvist who is the editor of Millennium Magazine and is found guilty of slandering a nasty billionaire financier. (Stuff of nightmares for SmartCompany publisher.)
The book is written by a crusading liberal Swede journalist, Steg Larsson, who delivered three books to his publisher and then died! There is enough intelligent twists and turns in this murder thriller to help you ignore any annoying beach behaviour from uncouth youths this summer and better still, the second book in the series will be out by the time you finish the first one.
For a story about baddies you can’t go past A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Tolz. I loved this book but let me warn you, although this was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2008, I am the only person I know who has read this to the end. Quite frankly it says a lot about the rest of the population who must have minds of gnats not to finish this epic that explores the psychological intricacies of a father and son relationship. The pair are very entrepreneurial – but in the tradition of all good Aussie icons, are on the wrong side of the law. The book is fast paced, witty, bold, astonishing – and you will love it!.
And on Australian novelists you’ve got to read The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. This novel is described as a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness in the middle class. Rubbish. I have never met middle class people like this in my life. (Maybe I should get out more.) This is in fact a gripping expose of a petty minded, drug taking, sex obsessed group of (mainly) migrants who are taking a looong time to mature. This is a fresh Australian writer exploring new ground and you’ll love it!
Now the next book, To the Castle and Back, requires patience and the ability to skim read. Vaclav Havel, the former Czech president, has pulled together a political memoir that covers the last two decades. Why should you read it? Well you reakon it’s hard to build your business. Havel, a poet, got rid of the communists and then built a new democratic country from the ground up.
Rarely has political life attracted a man of the literary and reflective abilities of Havel. He describes how he had only a few hours to decide whether to become a candidate for presidency. “In the end,” he says, “what probably won me over was the appeal to my sense of responsibility. You can’t spend your whole life critisising something and then when you have the chance to do it better, refuse to go anywhere near it.”
Spoken like a true entrepreneur. The book has hilarious moments from the crone who horded all the beautiful cutlery and would not let Havel use it even for state banquets to the frustration at having to work through Easter with a printer that isn’t working.
The next is a must read: Michael Wolff’s biography on Rupert Murdoch. For a start, Wolff, a Vanity Fair media columnist, can write, so it is a pleasure to read. Entrepreneurs also love reading about other entrepreneurs, and Murdoch doesn’t get any bigger.
For entrepreneur self-help stuff with a bit of depth I will be of course reading this austere publication. Editor James Thomson is running “the best of” over the summer break which should spark ideas for startegy sessions I am holding with staff in late January.
And you should also get our bloggist Tim Harcourt’s The Airport Economist, described as an economic tour guide of how Australian businesses are exploring and developing new markets.
Happy reading, Happy Christmas and see you all next year.
Your Aunty B.