Thursday, January 03, 2008

Literature and Media


Atonement

When my wife asked me what I thought of the book I said, "really good book with an unsatisfying ending". The plot was interesting and well-executed although not the typical kind of book I would read. If I were to sum up the story without recounting it I would have to say it is about the consequences (positive and negative) of the kind of rash actions we all commit. The author takes us to outcomes that would not normally take place but that are believable nonetheless, especially in a country so recently free of war and yet on its way to another. As for the unsatisfying ending? Any of us who have lived long enough are well acquainted with unsatisfying endings. Sometimes it's nice to escape this reality when indulging in a piece of fiction.

Syriana

After having recently watched Rescue Dawn which had an unsatisfying beginning, middle and ending and Letters from Iwo Jima which was a beautifully done movie but quite depressing - worth it nonetheless - Syriana was refreshing. An intelligent set of plots that interweave throughout the film, coming to a satisfying though not particularly cheerful climax. It leaves you with no regrets however and, as my wife put it, it tackles some tough issues (the kind where too many directors would resort to demonizing to bring the point home) in a very mature, complex way. The world is complex and as much as we'd like to simplify it down to one full of angels and demons the truth is we all have a little of both in us.

On the non-fiction side I've been listening to a couple of audiobooks:

  • Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Caharam, highly recommended business read on managerial/organizational effectiveness. The authors read large portions of the books themselves. Both read and listened to - you'll need to do both if you want to review their recommendations. I find this double-whammy most effective with books where I want to make use of the content.

  • The Six Sigma Way by Peter S Pande. Excellent overview of Six Sigma. Both read and listened to. Abridged.

  • The Eight Habit by Stephen Covey. If you liked The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People you'll like this one. As Stephen has matured so has his viewpoint deepened. He reads the entire book himself.

  • Managing in the Next Society by Peter Drucker. Very interesting read. He has some unique perspectives of what the new millennium holds in store for us in terms of businesses and careers.
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