November 8, 2011

Rob Lowe, Stephanie Plum, Starbucks... what'cha reading?

As the weather gets cooler (we have frost overnight here already), it's a great time to curl up with a good book... then again, when isn't?

Here's a look at what I've been reading; some of them are worth your time and effort. I am always looking for new and great reading ideas... please give me suggestions in the comments area...

This one is more interesting than I thought it would be. Actor and 80s scandal king Rob Lowe comes across as smarter and more politically aware than I had expected, has a fascinating career of ups and downs, and has worked with just about everyone over the last 30 years. Although Lowe plays it too safe and too nice (where's the Hollywood dirt, dude?), this is a fun and fast read.

Suspense king Dean Koontz does it again; it's not rocket science, and it comes together a little too neatly at the end, but until that point it is an uber-fast weekend read. In Your Heart Belongs To Me, a wealthy computer titan who needs a heart transplant goes outside the usual system in order to get his new heart fast, and then all hell breaks loose. Mr Paranoid may not be crazy when he fears someone wants the illegally-gotten heart back...

In 2008, Starbuck's founder Schultz fired his successor and -- feeling his brand was at risk--returned to the CEO post. In this personal, suspenseful, and open account, Schultz traces his own journey to help Starbucks reclaim its original customer-centric values and mission while aggressively innovating. From the famous leaked memo that exposed his criticisms of Starbucks to new product strategies and rollouts, both successful and not, Schultz writes honestly about the painful steps he had to take to turn the company around. This is a great read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer. Schultz has a multitude of fascinating stories to share, and also sets out key transferable business principles. My favourite business book in ages.

A successful writer takes on a part-time retail job and lives to whine about it. I get the sense that the author, however well traveled, educated, and successful she had been as a journalist, had never imagined that this side of life actually exists, and was put back on her heels when she saw what most people in the world already know is out there. She just ends up coming across as whiny, pompous, and insecure. Sure, schlepping stock from a back room must be a real low point for someone so prestigious, who frequently reminds us that she interviewed the Queen of England, but to refer to shoppers as "wealthy and spoiled", and to say "you can feel your brain atrophy after a few years in low level retail", is snobby and insulting to people who really do this for a living. It's too bad that this book was more about her self absorbed entitlement, and less about the countless thousands who feel proud to call retail a vocation, challenges and all, including me.

I adore this series, which I discovered through a comment on this blog. In this fourth outing, Stephanie Plum, the trash-talking New Jersey bail bondswoman, is tracking Maxine Nowicki, who's wanted for skipping out on a car-theft charge lodged by her ex-boyfriend. Now what the ex-boyfriend is looking for is the secret on which Evanovich hangs her screwball cast of colorful minor characters, including Sally Sweet, a cross-dressing drag queen; Lula, the 250-pound ex-hooker who partners with Stephanie; Grandma Mazur, who packs a Glock and is always looking for a little action; and Joyce, a wannabe bounty hunter who's been cramping Steph's style since she banged Steph's ex-husband. Even better than the mystery are the snappy patter and sexy shenanigans that hold it all together.

So... what have you been reading?


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