As my Memories of the Day go, this one is very long, but most of it is about book reviews. Thought I’d share some of my favorite books and why I like them. I am shamelessly targeting my friends in the library science field, Celia Newton and Sheryl Sinche. If you are in that profession and I don’t know it, let me know.
A few months ago I wrote another story about books in a MOD. Today, it occurred to me that I might report on my reading habits since I grew up. Some of this may repeat memories of that other book piece.
In the other story I posted, I noted, in particular, the 3-6 grade reading series “Singing Wheels” and what it meant to me at the time. I also reported on the series of blue and yellow childhood biographies of noted American explorers, statesmen, war heroes and presidents. I may have also confessed that I was not a really avid reader growing up, but I did like some books outside the classroom. The real reader in the family, other than our mother, was my brother Wayne. Wayne always had a book somewhere near. He liked to read in bed at night. Since we shared a bedroom until I graduated from high school, the issue of whom would turn out the light would come up from time to time. When Wayne would complain that he always has to turn out the light, I was sympathetic and agreed to take turns with the light duty. The first night it was my turn, I turned the light out at 9:00 PM, while Wayne was reading. That’s not at all passive/aggressive is it? After a few turns of this, Wayne agreed to turn the light out whenever he wanted to read, which was nearly always.
I didn’t engage in much reading for entertainment during my college days. In fact, if it didn’t have to do with school or work, I didn’t read at all. Then when I got into the Army, I found out that there was a lot of reading just to be able to do my job. Having to be familiar with regulations, technical manuals, field manuals, and standard operating procedures left little time for pleasure reading.
I think I became a fairly avid reader in the 1980s when I was assigned to the Pentagon. This was especially true during the period between 1985 and 1990. During this time, I was working with Army Intelligence and couldn’t bring any work home with me. The hour-and-a-half commute between home and office and then again back home in the evening needed time filled and I couldn’t do any of my classified work in the back of the 15 passenger van I rode to and from work. I began reading for enjoyment on those trips up and back. That is when I discovered my favorite author (well, at least at that time) Louis, L’Amour. Pretty sure I have read everything he ever wrote including some of his work under a pseudonym. Of course now, my favorite author is my brother Wayne. More about that later.
For the past nearly 30 years since I retired from the Army, my reading habits have evolved quite a bit. I tried to draw a balance between pleasure reading and self improvement reading. Once I retired, I got into the project management racket and spent a lot of time reading some great books on management. Among my favorite non-fiction writers is the late Stephen Covey. Not sure if it was his first book or not, but his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” really spoke to me. Another favorite author of non-fiction management books is Scott Carbonara. I have the honor to call Scott and his wife Jocelyn friends and have listened to Scott speak to groups regarding his specialty of leadership. His books are worth a read if you are managing people and want to get them engaged.
Since I’ve read all of Louis L’Amour’s books, I am now a devoted fan of the “Roland Inness Saga” by brother Wayne Grant. I’ve read all 4 of his books so far and listened to 3 of them in audio books.
Following is a fairly short recommended reading list. I have read all of these books and have recommended the non-fictions to clients looking to make career changes. Please note that there is no merit order intended in this list. I don’t have a number one best seller.
Holy Bible. I chose to list this book outside the categories of fiction or non-fiction. Whether you are a believer or not this book is established “Wisdom” literature. Particularly in Proverbs, you will find a ton of wisdom philosophies. I happen to be a believer, though I will confess that parts of the Bible I tend to consider metaphorical. I have read the Bible, cover to cover, twice in my life and spent countless hours in Sunday School and Bible study classes discussing various books of the Bible. It is worth the read.
Non-Fiction (mostly dealing with management philosophies because that is what I did and what interested me).
* 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey. I mentioned this book a little earlier. There is a lot of common sense and logic in the book, and you will recognize many of the quotes. My two favorite habits from this book are Habit #5 Seek first to understand then to be understood and Habit #7 Sharpen the saw. Much of the problem with our society today comes from not following Habit #5. We seem to be too busy framing our retort and trying to speak louder than our opponents to understand each other.
* First things First – Stephen Covey. This is Covey’s sequel to the 7 Habits. In this book he makes the overall point that it is important to “Keep the first things first.” That requires making a decision about what the first things are.
*48 Days to the Work You Love – Dan Miller. If you are dissatisfied with your current career choice, it is not too late to pursue something different. Be careful, though, of unintended consequences of marching into the boss’ office and handing in your two week notice. Miller’s book does a good job of helping you decide where your skills, experience, and passions meet to show you where you should focus your energies. Make no mistake; it is not achieved without risk and hard work.
*Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey. Mr. Ramsey has updated this old book into his new Financial Peace book. It has pretty much the same lessons, but with different examples. I read the first and got copies for both of my daughters. I am a Dave Ramsey fan but not a blind adherent to his teaching. I still use a credit card, but we pay it off every month so no interest is accruing. In January, we achieved Dave’s baby step #6 by paying off our house.
* Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement – Scott Carbonara (Shameless Plug, I’m in the book) As I noted above, I am honored to call Scott a friend. I met him before I read his books, but I had heard about his speaking engagements to carry the torch of leadership training. Once I had lunch with him and his wife Jocelyn, I knew I wanted to know more about them and their business. Scott’s first book, First Hand Lessons, Second Hand Dogs is a really cute story drawing lessons from his rescue dog when he was a boy. The Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement draws from his experience in the health insurance industry and from anecdotes he solicited from several people, yours truly being one of them. You should read this book just to see my anecdotes.
* My American Journey – Colin Powell – Colin Powell. I’ve been a big fan of Colin Powell since his days in the Reagan White House, but really became a fan when he came back to the Army and served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the same time I was in the Pentagon. Well we did overlap a little, but I retired in May of 1990 and he was the Chairman from 1989 to 1993. He is just a classy guy. His book is an autobiography that covers his childhood, college, early military including Vietnam, and his later military life. It is interesting that he began his college career majoring in engineering at City College of New York, but switched to Geology after a semester. I switched my major 3 times, the last being to Geology, so we have that in common. Probably the best part of the book is the Appendix of “Powell’s Rules.” I have used them and quoted some of them often.
There are a lot more non-fiction books I could recommend but not now. Maybe I’ll do another “Book Report” later.
*Jubal Sacket – Louis L’Amour. As I mentioned, I returned to reading for enjoyment by reading Louis L’Amour in the back of a commuter van in DC back in the 1980s. I love all of his books, but the early Sacket books including Sacket’s Land, The Far Blue Mountains, and Warrior’s Path are great reads and are set in England and North Carolina in the pre-independence period. Louis L’Amour does a great job of integrating real places into his stories and it is fun now that we live in North Carolina to look for these places. Jubal Sacket is the last of these early Sacket stories set in the early 18th century. Jubal is the youngest son of Barnabas who came to the New World from England. Jubal leaves his home in Shooting Creek, North Carolina (a real place that I have visited) behind and ventures to the lands west of the Mississippi with loads of adventures.
* The Roland Inness Saga – Wayne Grant. OK, The Roland Inness Saga isn’t a book; it is a series of books including Longbow, Warbow, The Broken Realm, and The Ransomed Crown. This series opens with a 13 year old boy of Danish origins living in the Mountain District of Derbyshire in “olde” England. The boy runs afoul of his master and must run for his life. Through a series of adventures, he becomes a squire to a Norman knight and meets interesting characters in the knight’s home of Shipbrook. Don’t want to give too much away. In book 2 Warbow, our hero the young Roland travels with his knight and Richard Lion Heart to the Crusades in the Holy Lands. Book 3 finds our hero back in England and trying to set things right before his knight returns from the Holy Lands. The Ransomed Crown continues the story and brings the family back together in England. Wayne, like Louis L’Amour is a stickler for detail so he has a great fan base in England where most of the action takes place.
*Once an Eagle – Anton Myrer. One of the very few books I have read more than once. Years ago, this was on the Army Command and General Staff College reading list as an example of leadership literature. I first heard about it in the 1970s TV miniseries starring Sam Elliott. The series was terrific and inspired me to read the book. This story follows a young store clerk from the Midwest who enlists in the Army after failing to get into West Point. Our hero enlists just in time to get into WW I. He manages to get a battlefield commission in that nasty conflict and marries his commanding officer’s daughter. The story takes us through WW I and through the period between WW I and WW II. Sam Elliott’s character gets to WW II and keeps getting promotions so that by the end of WW II he is a GO (general officer). For some reason the book skips the Korean conflict and then our hero retires, but gets recalled to solve a problem with logistics in Vietnam. This is a great book for anyone who really wants to understand what servant leadership is all about.
* The J.P.Beaumont series – J.A. Jance. So, again, this is a series and not a specific book. J.P. Beaumont is a Seattle police detective that solves mysteries in the Northwest. The mysteries are all thought provoking and real page turners. The author, J.A. Jance is the sister of a dear friend from Army days and thankfully one we have managed to stay close to. Jance lives, I think, in the Seattle area and writes what she knows. She has another heroine in a series based in her home town of Bisbee, AZ.
There you have my “book report.” I’d love to know what some of you like to read.