“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
I came across that quote from Haruki Murakami yesterday.
I don’t know what everyone else is reading, so I asked them.
OK, not everyone, but at least the people who were around me yesterday, either physically or virtually.
Since 99% of the people I know have something to do with homeland security (that’s another story), the resulting list is mostly about homeland security.
And I do work at a university; that probably influenced the list a bit.
Plus the university is on a military base, so there’s that.
I did ask one person who was fixing a video screen near my office what he was reading. I’d never met him before, but he had no trouble immediately replying.
Two other people who responded are parents of small children who, at least for today, were the focus of their homeland security attention.
Here’s the reading list. I learned about some books and other material I had not heard of.
If you’d like, try the same experiment wherever you are today. Ask people you work with what they are reading. Keep it to one book per person. If you have the chance, post the results in the comments section.
1. Armstrong, Karen. The Battle for God. 1st ed. Ballantine Books, 2001.
2. “Articles that explore the use of Social Network Analysis to better understand: 1) cohesion factors in groups, 2) structure of message contributions, 3) pattern of exchange, 4) the role of the critical mass, 5) role and power network structures as they related to various type of on-line collaboration and knowledge creation.” (Right, not a book; the person who sent me this also included 15 pdf articles to illustrate the point he was making.)
3. Berggruen Institute on Governance. “Think Long Committee for California” a new governance tool to repair California’s government. (Not a book, but it’s what she was reading.)
4. Carafano, James Jay, and Paul Rosenzweig. Winning the Long War: Lessons from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom. Heritage Books, 2005.
5. “Cub Scout Committee Chair Training Manual” (That was her third choice. Her first choice was somewhat more “shaded.” She also said if I planned to use her name I had to say she was reading the Bible.).
6. Deardorff, Brad. The Roots of Our Children’s War: Identity and the War on Terrorism. AgilePress, 2013.
7. Desmond, Leslie, and Bill Dorrance. True Horsemanship Through Feel, Second Edition. 2nd ed. Lyons Press, 2007. (At first I thought this had nothing to do with homeland security, but on second thought….)
8. Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. Simon & Brown, 2013.
9. Eco, Umberto. Serendipities: Language and Lunacy. Mariner Books, 1999.
10. Gardner, Howard. Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business Review Press, 2009.
11. Hirsch, James S. Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend. 1st ed. Scribner, 2010.
12. Lemov, Doug, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi. Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better. 1st ed. Jossey-Bass, 2012.
13. Lewis, Ted. “The Book of Extremes: Why the 21st century Isn’t Like the 20th Century.” 2013. (This book is in a prepublication format, and won’t be published for a few more months; it’s a follow up to Lewis’ Bak’s Sand Pile: Strategies for a Catastrophic World.)
14. Mackey, Sandra. Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict. 1st ed. W. W. Norton & Company, 2008.
15. McCauley, Clark, and Sophia Moskalenko. Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us. 1st ed. Oxford University Press, USA, 2011.
16. Moghaddam, Fathali M. The Psychology of Dictatorship. 1st ed. American Psychological Association (APA), 2013.
17. Mudd, Philip. Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
18. Owen, Mark, and Kevin Maurer. No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. First Edition. Dutton Adult, 2012.
19. Rejali, Darius. Torture and Democracy. Princeton University Press, 2009.
20. Sodium Polyacrylate: My life would be a mess without it. (Not actually a book. But it could be, should be, one.)
21. Stegner, Wallace. Angle of Repose. Penguin Classics, 2000.
22. Williams, Gary. Seal of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, USN. Naval Institute Press, 2011.
23. “What am I reading? I can’t think of anything in particular…. Wow. How sad is that,” said a person who works as hard as almost anyone I know.
To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The person who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the person who can’t read them.”
If you do ask people in your ecosystem what they’re reading, please post what you learn here. And if you get to talk with each other about what you’re reading, that’s even better.