Here's part two of the review of all the books or audiobooks that went through my hands and ears between march 2017 and november 2018. The beginning of the list is to be found here and part 3 here.
1. Zurück an die Arbeit by Lars Vollmer
This is one of the books I wish were available in another language than German.
Management thinker Lars Vollmer identifies in his new book a phenomenon that will break many companies in the next few years: Employees - especially managers - do not work most of the time. Rather, they do things that look like work: they play business theater. Large parts of the companies and thus the economy deal too often with all sorts of non-value-added stuff such as annual talks, budget negotiations or management rituals - much of which is pure waste. Lars Vollmer makes clear what goes wrong in the company, where this comes from and how companies find their way back to real work. (Goodreads)
This book is funny to read because you recognise yourself, your company or clients and your very own business every other page. It is one of those books that do not let you unmoved.
2. The Lazarus War (Tome 1: Artefact, Tome 2: Legion, Tome 3: Origins) by Jamie Sawyer
One of the very few non-work-related books I read this year. A great space saga with bits and pieces of informatic inside... what else?
Mankind has spread to the stars, only to become locked in warfare with an insidious alien race. All that stands against the alien menace are the soldiers of the Simulant Operation Programme, an elite military team remotely operating avatars in the most dangerous theatres of war. Captain Conrad Harris has died hundreds of times - running suicide missions in simulant bodies. Known as Lazarus, he is a man addicted to death. So when a secret research station deep in alien territory suddenly goes dark, there is no other man who could possibly lead a rescue mission. But Harris hasn't been trained for what he's about to find. And this time, he may not be coming back.
Artefact is an action-drenched tale of elite space marines, deep space exploration and galactic empires. Discover The Lazarus War - the thrilling new space opera series from one of the most exciting new voices in science fiction. (Goodreads)
I swallowed the Lazarus trilogy in the blink of an eye. It is not the greatest literature around, but it is captivating. A second Eternity War trilogy is underway, but I'll wait for book 2 and 3 to come out before starting.
3. Superhuman Social Skills by Tynan
The people we surround ourselves with may impact our lives more than any other factor, and yet most people leave their social lives to chance. What would happen if you treated social skills as though they were indeed skills, and became proactive about your social life? Superhuman Social Skills is a transformative book which analyzes and explains how to be likeable, how to converse, how to tell stories, how to make friends, and how to combine those friends to create an incredible social circle. If you ever feel socially awkward, don't know what to say, or wish you had more or better friends, Superhuman Social Skills is for you. (Goodreads)
This is very much a modern version of How to win friends and influence people from Dean Carnagie. It didn't leave a heavy mark on me, but there are a couple actionable ideas in there that are worth reading.
4. Die Känguru-Chroniken (Tome 1), Das Känguru-Manifest (Tome 2), Die Känguru-Offenbarung (Tome 3), Die Känguru-Apokryphen (Tome 4) by Marc-Uwe Kling
This series of four books are absolutely brillantly absurd. I have listened to each of them half a dozen times and I still manage to giggle when listening to it again.
"I'm a kangaroo - and Marc-Uwe is my roommate and chronicler. Only some of what he tells about me is true. For example, that I was part of the Viet Cong. The vast majority, however, is exaggerated, twisted or plain lies! But I cannot complain. We go out to dinner together, go to the movies, and I don't have to pay anything". Sometimes biting, sometimes cranky, then again lovingly ironic, the everyday life of an unusual duo is illuminated. Absolutely absurd and a great reading fun. (Goodreads)
This book is available in English, but I fear it might lose too much in the translation... it might be a reason enough to learn german though...
5. Quality Land by Marc-Uwe Kling
By the same author than the Känguru-Chroniken, same quality, same tone... a masterpiece.
Welcome to QualityLand! Things are doing good in the future: work, leisure and relationships are optimized by algorithms. QualityPartner knows who suits you best. The self-driving car knows where you want to go. And who is logged in to TheShop, automatically gets all the products that they want to have consciously or unconsciously, without having to order them. Super practical! No one is forced to make difficult decisions - because in QualityLand the answer to all questions is: o. K.
Nevertheless Peter, a machine scraper, has the feeling that something is wrong with his life. If the system is really that perfect, why are there drones that are afraid of flying, or combat robots with post-traumatic stress disorder? Why are the machines getting more and more human, but are people getting more and more machine-made?
Marc-Uwe Kling has condensed the promises and discomfort of the digital present into a startling satire that lingers on for a long time. Visionary, subtle - and as weird as the kangaroo trilogy.(Goodreads)
If you speak german, go for it. And since the author mixed in fake advertisements (from QualityLand) in the book and made two Editions, take the "Black Edition", it is even more crazy!
6. The four hour body by Timothy Ferriss
If you read my post titled The year I pressed the reset button on my body!, you've come across this book already.
This is not just another diet and fitness book. The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to hack the human body. It contains the collective wisdom of hundreds of elite athletes, dozens of MDs, and thousands of hours of jaw-dropping personal experimentation. From Olympic training centers to black-market laboratories, from Silicon Valley to South Africa, Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, fixated on one life-changing question: For all things physical, what are the tiniest changes that produce the biggest results?
Thousands of tests later, this book contains the answers for both men and women. From the gym to the bedroom, it’s all here, and it all works [...]. There are more than 50 topics covered, all with real-world experiments, many including more than 200 test subjects. You don't need better genetics or more discipline. You need immediate results that compel you to continue. That’s exactly what The 4-Hour Body delivers. (Goodreads)
This is in fact the 3rd time I read this book. I particularly like the meta-level, e.g. how the author always concentrates his efforts on the 20% that will produce 80% of the effects.
7. The new Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson
If you read my post titled The year I pressed the reset button on my body!, you've come across this book aleady.
Being healthy and fit has gone mainstream--millions sweat the calories away on the roads or in health clubs and scrutinize labels and menus trying to do the right thing to control weight, delay aging, and feel healthy, fit, and energetic. And it's simply not working. Rates of obesity, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and cancer continue to climb, and even the most committed fitness enthusiasts often carry 10 or 20 extra pounds of body fat.In this updated and expanded edition of the 2009 hardcover release from Mark Sisson, MarksDailyApple.com publisher and de-facto leader of the burgeoning primal/paleo/evolutionary health movement presents the compelling premise that you can reprogram your genes in the direction of weight loss, health, and longevity by following 10 immutable Primal laws validated by two million years of human evolution.
This 2012 paperback release contains extensive, never-before-published bonus material, including an incredible full-color, 16-page insert of seven Primal Blueprint reader success stories and their stunning before/after photos, pictorials, detailed descriptions and workout log pages for the Primal Essential Movements and Primal sprint workouts, hacks for each of the 10 Primal Blueprint lifestyle laws (to promote quick results in body composition, fitness, athletic performance, daily energy levels, and reduce disease risk factors and reliance on medication, solutions to common questions and stumbling blocks)-- pulled from Primal Blueprint reader submissions, and commentary on diets and dieting, including compare/contrast of Primal Blueprint with other popular programs.. (Goodreads)
In terms of effects on my personal life, this book is the most important book I have read in the last 10 years. Read the dedicated article The year I pressed the reset button on my body! for more details.
And if it goes sometimes too deep into biology and chemistry for your first read, just skip those chapters and come back to it later. A must read, even if you don't agree with the premise.
8. Reinventing organizations by Frederic Laloux
The way we manage organizations seems increasingly out of date. Deep inside, we sense that more is possible. We long for soulful workplaces, for authenticity, community, passion, and purpose.In this groundbreaking book, the author shows that every time, in the past, when humanity has shifted to a new stage of consciousness, it has achieved extraordinary breakthroughs in collaboration.
A new shift in consciousness is currently underway. Could it help us invent a more soulful and purposeful way to run our businesses and nonprofits, schools and hospitals? A few pioneers have already cracked the code and they show us, in practical detail, how it can be done. Leaders, founders, coaches, and consultants will find this work a joyful handbook, full of insights, examples, and inspiring stories. (Goodreads)
This is a very uplifting book. And the illustrated version is even better. A must read. Period.
9. Die Komplexithoden by Nils Pflaeging
Translated "Complexitools" in English:
The practical guide to organizational development and high performance in 21st century dynamics. Complexitools are organizational techniques that are as alive as today's markets, today's work, and the challenges organizations are facing today.
This book presents smart, contemporary approaches to organizational development. It highlights practically theoretical insights for dealing with complex problems. It offers a philosophy of change that is fit for our times as well as fit for human beings. Beyond blueprints, beyond checklists! (Goodreads)
This is a very practical book. Similar to Reinventing organizations. It provides tools to move toward more collaboration, more autonomy, more agility etc. at an organisation level. But I would encourage you to read Reinventing organizations first.
Here's the top 2 of this list:
And if you speak german, do go for Die Känguru-Chroniken, it is a must listen to!
PS: the Amazon links present in this post are affiliate links. It is not much, but the few € they occasionally bring, contribute to paying for the services I use to create more value: this blog on Ghost, the DevJourney Podcast on Buzzsprout or Zapier with which I automate many background processes. Thanks for your understanding!
Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash