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Monday, June 30, 2014

Staff Book Reviews: New Non-Fiction

Posted by Cary H.

I have the wonderful job of being able to select titles to add to the library collection. Many interesting items cross my desk every day – too many to read all of them, unfortunately.  While my personal tastes run to fiction, certain non-fiction titles really pique my interest and I cart them home to give them a try.  Here are a couple recent books that I think stand out:

The book jacket describes this book as “funny and fearless,” so I was ready to be entertained.  Myers, a professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, was named Humanist of the year in 2009.  He also writes a popular blog.  Myers examines ideas behind why humans, with so many similarities of wanting to provide for their families, live prosperous lives, and a basic need to get along with each other in civilized societies, can have such differing belief systems when it comes to religion.  The author does not jump on the bandwagon that exclaims “religion makes people do evil acts,” but rather he is amused by religion, and forcefully opposed to religion “making people believe in ludicrously silly things.”  This book doesn’t cover new ground in the age-old arguments between believers and non-believers, but his focus on using humor adds a new twist to the discussion.  I do not think he will change many minds – much of his book preaches to the choir, but I did laugh out loud more than once.  His wit, however, does have a sharp edge and after a while the humor may seem snarky to some. 

Title:  Becoming the Boss:  New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders
Author:  Lindsey Pollak
Publication Date:  September 1, 2014  (on order for library – no cover art available)

I really like this book, but I don’t like the title.  I don’t feel the word “boss” is useful in our collaborative, team driven 21st century workplace, but despite that the book offers very useful advice.

Pollak, and expert on “Generation Y” career and workplace issues, provides the Gen-Ys (people born in the 1980s – 1990s) with tools and tips for navigating the 21st century workplace: how to co-exist successfully in a supervisory role with people older and younger, across the demographic spectrum.

The book is divided into three sections, and I love that Pollack entitles the first “Learn.”  If you’re in your twenties and thirties, you may be tagged for a supervisory position because of unique talents and ambition, but that doesn’t mean you have mastered people skills.  Not being of the Gen Y generation, I still found very useful information in the second section, “Lead.”  I especially liked sections discussing the value of listening and connecting with co-workers.  I would recommend this book to all age groups – and not just new managers, but I think seasoned supervisors could learn something new.

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