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Book reviews I don’t know about you but I love books. Crime, romance, courtroom drama, how-to, self improvement, business, wealth creation… I usually have at least three on the go at any time, dipping in and out as the mood dictates. Some become like old friends, read over and over again. Don’t expect anything high-brow on this page though… you’re more likely to see “The Caine Mutiny” than “War and Peace”! But hopefully my tastes will strike a chord and you will enjoy some of these “old friends” of mine. Let me know what you think. books@audienceresponse.com.au
 
Generation Y - Peter Sheahan

Generation Y - Peter Sheahan … subtitled “Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work”

This book is hugely valuable for anybody whose business employs Generation Y. Written by a young man who is part of the generation to which he refers, it is about the demographic born between 1978 and 1994. Sometimes referred to as “Generation Why” (because of their dislike of doing anything without a good reason) the characteristics that define this generation are perhaps the most challenging of any group so far. They are materialistic, ambitious, image-conscious, cynical, tactless, skeptical, arrogant and utterly self-absorbed. This is the generation that demands its independence and freedom of choice but still lives at home and lets Mum do their washing. However if one happens to be a Baby Boomer (or even a very early Gen Xer) there is the uncomfortable feeling that we are actually getting what we deserve. Just as we are a product of our upbringing, so too are Gen Y… and those of us belonging to the older generation have to acknowledge that we were the fertile ground into which these bewildering individuals were sown.

Gen Y gets a lot of bad press and as a general rule they don’t do much to help themselves, being quite disinterested in what we (read “the older generation”) think of them. Yet it is impossible to read this book without experiencing an overwhelming sympathy. Sheahan explains the unique circumstances into which this generation was born, not seeking to excuse some of their more challenging attitudes but simply to explain how they ended up this way. It is not easy to understand or motivate them and many companies either don’t try or actively resist any change in their usual policies. Yet those companies that properly motivate and engage their Gen Y employees can become employer of choice for a whole generation of amazingly talented and productive individuals.

This is a fascinating, anecdotal but highly factual explanation of the mystery that is Gen Y, and something that every Baby Boomer parent (and indeed every employer) should read.

   
The Dark Fields - Alan Glynn

The Dark Fields - Alan Glynn

Imagine being given a pill that acts like mental Viagra and sends your brain into overdrive. You think with clarity and precision. You read hundreds of books, magazines and newspapers in a week and actually understand and recall everything in them. You become an expert on any subject you want, learn a foreign language in days, read and process high level financial, political and business information. And what if, as a result of this accumulated knowledge, you discover a flawless knack for picking the stock market?

This book tells the story of Eddie, a man who through luck and circumstance comes into possession of a large quantity of just such a pill. He is aware that this drug is illegal and possibly dangerous but it has changed his life forever and he is too busy enjoying the ride to worry about the consequences. For a while it is amazing – everything he touches turns to gold, he enjoys success and money beyond his wildest dreads, and he gains the admiration of people who at one time he could only hope would ever be his peers. However when he starts to experience increasingly frightening side effects Eddie realizes that the ride is over and it is time to kick his habit. It is only when he starts to piece together the truth behind this amazing drug that he realizes the price he may eventually pay for his new life.

This is a thoroughly entertaining novel written by someone with a love of words and a dry sense of humour. We recommend it as a book that is very hard to put down.

   
  Missed the book reviews in our last issue? We’ve reproduced them below. Happy reading!
   
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

Blink - Malcolm Gladwell

Subtitled The Power of Thinking Without Thinking this fascinating book explains our ability to “know” things subconsciously long before our conscious minds are aware of it. Littered with practical experiments and scientific studies (all explained in anecdotal, reader-friendly terms) it puts into words our oft-held belief that we should have gone with our gut and listened to our instincts. The process of “thin slicing” – relying on our intuitive judgement process – is something we all do every day to some degree but we tend not to believe anything until it is backed up by evidence and corroborating data. By that time it is either too late to make a quick decision, or we have simply allowed our conscious mind to talk us out of it. Learn, for example, that first impressions really ARE the right ones and that you seldom know more about a person after six months than you do in the first few minutes. Look at someone’s bedroom or office and make a surprisingly accurate assessment of their character. And be aware of the tell-tale signs in a conversation between partners that clearly indicate whether or not the relationship will last. The main message seems to be “listen to your intuition”… you are actually a lot wiser than you think.

   
Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

In business we are always looking for an edge and this book is a great kick in the right direction. It encourages us to look at the reasons behind a diverse array of everyday situations… why a day care centre imposed a small fine for late parents and the number of late pick-ups dramatically increased; what crack cocaine and nylon stockings have in common; why the legalization of abortion in the US in 1973 led to a massive drop in the crime rate by the early 1990’s; how a person’s name accurately pinpoints their position in society and affects their social and career choices for the rest of their life. Being able to understand the cause and effect of these diverse situations naturally leads one to look at one’s own life to see how similar examples might exist. And if your name is Roshanda or DeShawn you might want to think about changing it!

   
Fat Fifty & F***ed! - Geoffrey McGeachin

Fat Fifty & F***ed! - Geoffrey McGeachin

This is a ripping Aussie yarn about Martin, a middle-aged, country bank manager who one day has a meltdown and robs his own bank. Helped to escape by the local police chief (who, it turns out, has a dark and useful past) Martin embarks on a dash across Australia to the safety of an old army mate’s secret hideaway in North Queensland. He hooks up with a woman in the middle of nowhere and, pursued by police and the Australian secret service, meets up with a variety of interesting characters along the way including a bikie gang who run an old folks’ home on the north coast of NSW. This is a funny, well-written, feel-good story that just begs to be made into a screenplay starring characters like Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson. Great for a Sunday afternoon in the hammock.

   
The Marketmaker - Michael Ridpath

The Marketmaker - Michael Ridpath

Ridpath’s books are for those who enjoy fiction set in the world of banking and the stock market. He writes with the engaging, anecdotal style of someone who knows his subject thus there are lots of juicy trading room shenanigans for those of us who like to indulge vicariously in the world of high finance. Who can resist a dust jacket that promises the main character will be “framed for murder, accused of insider trading and left to find twenty million dollars by lunch time”? All of Ridpath’s novels have interesting plots that don’t try to be too clever, and his characters are engaging and slightly flawed. They will appeal to people who are drawn to movies like Rogue Trader and Boiler Room. Other titles by the same author include Free to Trade, Trading Reality and Final Venture.

 
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