This is intended as an antidote to those management blogs which recommend books to read – and then come up with a list of dull management tomes. As if being a good manager or leader was all about reading other managers’ tips on how to be a good manager or leader. (To be fair, this list – which prompted this blog – is not so bad.)
Instead, how about reading some books – you know, real books – by people who challenge, interrogate and explore key concepts like ‘tenacity’ and ‘empathy’, ‘decision-making’ and ‘mental strength’, rather than talk about them in meaningless management jargon.
Here’s just a selection:
Raymond Carver’s short stories
Carver has an ability to observe and report on human tics, traits and characteristics. His short stories of mainly humdrum life in California reveal the complexities and neuroses of everyday life.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A powerful story about a woman who escapes from an oppressive existence through extraordinary fortitude. This is a story about the dilemmas of pushing against conventions, of breaking rules, negotiating social and economic barriers – while staying loyal to one’s principles.
The Second Coming by WB Yeats
Anarchy, loss of control, a sense of foreboding. A poem about powerlessness, of fear and of hope.
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M Cain
A reminder that every action has consequences. Albert Camus acknowledges this book in his L’Etranger. Brilliantly told, with a craftsman-like control of language, Cain deals with issues of transgression, guilt and justice.
A Fortunate Man by John Berger and Jean Mohr
One of my favourite books. Reflective writing and beautiful monochrome photographs provide context and commentary about the life of a doctor working in the Yorkshire moors – the travails, traumas and compassion of a life devoted to other people.