Three books

I finished three books this weekend. After a bit of a slow patch of reading, I’ve been trying to get back into it. The rain over the last two days has helped.

Here are the books I completed.

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This was one of the biggest science books of the last few years. It is excellent. It tells a story that manages to be both deeply scientific and deeply human. Rebecca Skloot delves into the unwitting contribution of a poor, black American woman decades ago, the unimaginable impact that on medical research, and the heartbreaking legacy for her surviving family. It’s a meticulously researched story about bio-science, about medical ethics, about a family searching for answers, and about the cultural and economic divides of America. It’s extremely well written, and a unique story.
  • Hamlet’s Blackberry. Some good friends bought me this book for a gift because they know I’m into both technology and philosophy. Author William Powers makes the case that we’re hyperconnected now – via the internet and especially with smartphones – and that this is a bad thing when overdone. We never reflect anymore, never look inward, never consolidate or consider or absorb. He outlines times in the past when this has happened before, and what philosophers or writers at the time have said about it. Finally, he offers some practical advice for disconnecting. This was quite a good book, thoughtful and reasonable and entertainingly presented. It’s hard to disagree that many people now are too outwardly-connected and don’t look inward enough. I’m taking some of Powers’s tips.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. OK, I had to read this one for work. It’s a pretty popular one in the whole HR/leadership/business-improvement world. Like all these books it spells out common sense that, in the office, tends to be a lot less common than it should be. It, like most of business author Patrick Lencioni’s books, is illustrated as a fictional story in a workplace. I can’t fault the message, but the style in which it’s written is just so hokey it makes me wince. I can’t escape the path the characters are necessarily on, knowing that they’re being painted into corners that illustrate the points Lencioni needs to make. Luckily, like many of these, it’s a quick read.

This is a very good book.


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