Of the one hundred and ten books I read in 2012–here are my personal favorites and the ones I am most likely to recommend.
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Winner of the most fun fictional read about Seattle and Microsoft.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters
Winner of most fascinating use of Hollywood and Italian scenery.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Winner of the I can’t turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next.
IQ84 by Haruki Murakami
Winner of WTF is this book? But damn it’s good.
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Winner of I love this book but hate the ending.
Business and Productivity:
Extreme Productivity by Robert C. Pozen
Winner of most likely to use these productivity tips.
A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents and Ourselves by Jane Gross
Winner of everyone with a parent over the age of 60 needs to buy and read this book now.
Siberia Bound: Chasing the American Dream on Russia’s Wild Frontier by Alexander Blakely
Winner of Economic Lessons wrapped up in a heartwarming memoir.
Moby-Dick in Pictures by Matt Kish
Winner of I Saw Your Website but Had to Own the Book No Matter What the Price.
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 Edited by Mary Roach
Winner of Best Anthology Collection of Stories.
This is Service Design Thinking was designed to be a much needed textbook on the new interdisciplinary approach to designing services. If you work at all in in high tech you would be well served by reading this book–but service design touches almost any business.
The content is good–I especially enjoyed the middle sections that describe a number of methodologies for designing services. I’ve worked with a few myself including personas, idea generation (SWOT and mindmapping), agile development, storytelling, and my personal favorite–business model canvas. (Damn, I need to make sure all that is on my LinkedIn profile!) I also enjoyed some of the included in-depth articles on deep service design thinking. The essay on “Integrating Service Design Thinking and Motivational Psychology” by Fergus Bisset and “Service Design and Biophila” by Renato Troncon are worth the price of admission.
A shout-out now if you want to see world-class design affecting real people in action. Watch this video by Krista Donaldson and the folks at D-Rev.
So now what I didn’t really like about this textbook… And mind you, I’m coming at this from an experienced book editor in high tech. The book was crowd-sourced but I think lacks a strong lead editor. It is a collection of material and I guess that is okay for a textbook like this, but I prefer having one expert guide me through the work of others than sifting through myself.
And the book was so over-designed as to be distracting. It has a number of bells and whistles–color-coded sections, ribbon bookmarks, a poster, pre-highlights and so many icons there is a map to the icons in the back. All of this is rather distracting. I hate having my books pre-highlighted for me. If I find it important, I will highlight it. I can do that. I kind of disagreed with whoever made some of the highlighting decisions.
I hope there will be a second edition because this is a good book, but it needs the hand of a firm editor to take it to the next level for me.
But I will keep the book on my shelf and will probably check out other titles that are referenced.
And if you work on services– do take a look at the Business Model Canvas. If I were to pick one method over the others that would be it for me. I can learn so much about how a business works by taking it through the canvas just on my own.
Mark Haddon’s latest book the Red House is a stream of consciousness novel about two contemporary family of Brits spending a week of vacation together in a house in the English Countryside. At the center is Richard, a doctor and his sister Angela who have some unfinished business at the recent passing of their mother. Each brings to the house their respective spouses and children–three of the four being teens. Put them all together under one roof, each with their own secrets, have them interact and see what happens.
Haddon is most famous for his last book–the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a book written from the point of view of an autistic boy who solves a mystery. That book I loved–this one was a bit of a chore.
I started it last June but put it down for several months because it requires a more slow read. I had a hard time tracking the characters and who was speaking or thinking at any time. This is that dang stream of consciousness which I’ve never been a big fan of–apologies to Virginia Woolf fans. There are times when his prose is brilliant and poetic. He can take you from that contemporary setting back across years in one descriptive paragraph such as this one describing the house:
“The Red House, a Romano-British farmstead abandoned, ruined, plundered for stone, built over, burnt and rebuilt. Tenant farmers, underlings of Marcher lords, a pregnant daughter hidden in the hills, a man who put a musket in his mouth in front of his wife and sprayed half his head across the kitchen wall, a drunken priest who lost the house in a bet over a horse race, or so they said, though they are long gone. Two brass spoons under the floorboards. a 20,000-reichsmark banknote. Letters from Florence cross-written to save paper, now brown and frail and crumpled to pack a wall. Brother, my Lungs are not Goode….”
That paragraph made me pick up the book again and hang in there. There are more passages like that and they made the book worth reading when they surfaced.