Let’s pretend that this summer you want to wander off to the beach or the mountains with a few books in hand that have a slight connection to the world of work. Granted, that is an odd thought--yet one worth exploring. Here are some books that provide indirect insights along with some needed escape:
Company by Max Barry. A young man starts work and finds that no one seems to know what his employer actually does. His investigation reveals an amusing truth.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. Abbey’s tale of his time as a park ranger in a secluded part of Utah has a cult following. His novel, Black Sun, is drawn from his forest fire-spotter days when his daily perspective was from a tower. It is also quite humorous.
Bartleby, the Scrivener by Herman Melville. Whenever Bartleby is given an assignment, he responds, “I would prefer not to.” This, of course, leads to complications.
The Adventures of Johnny Bunko by Daniel H. Pink. This odd graphic novel contains some serious points about careers and accountability. It would be a good graduation gift.
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis. An extremely funny account of Lewis’s time as a bond trader on Wall Street. It is more timely than ever although you may find yourself cringing.
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope. Yes, the Victorian era had its charismatic but shady characters who threw lavish parties that everyone wanted to attend… until the scandal hit.
The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman. This spoof about a climbing expedition should be read by anyone connected with planning. You may find some of its characters on your own team.
Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Why read a novel about a small town barber? Because it is a beautifully written affirmation of the goodness of people. Trust me on this one.
Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.