Several friends sent me books this summer. Paper ones with nice inscriptions. (It’s hard to autograph an eBook.) Here’s a quick overview of three I really enjoyed. I think you’ll enjoy them too.
The Sterling Forest by John Fenzel
If you’re into thrillers that are “ripped from the headlines,” this is a guilty pleasure in which you should absolutely indulge. The Sterling Forest is a complex mystery about Daniel “Danno” Tory, who is America’s newest congressman and the tabloids’ “Most Eligible Bachelor.” But when a beloved uncle passes away, Danno discovers a secret that challenges everything he thought he knew about his family’s past—a secret that threatens his political future and even his life.
I’m a big fan of the book, and I’m a bigger fan of the author. My friend John Fenzel is a retired senior Special Forces officer who served on our nation’s battlefields throughout Europe and the Middle East. He served on the personal staffs of the Secretary of Defense, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Vice President of the United States. Following the Cold War, he led the first U.S. deployments to the Baltic States. He is awesome, and the book is awesome. ‘nuf said.
Money & Business
Television: Innovation, Disruption, and the World’s Most Powerful Medium, Volume 1: The Broadcast Age and the Rise of the Network by Seth Shapiro
I’ve been a student of the television business for my entire career, so you can imagine how excited I was to read Seth’s latest work. He’s done a great job of wrapping the history of TV into an easy-to-understand, entertaining work. For you industry veterans, it has wonderful anecdotes and stories you will truly enjoy. For you readers who are simply interested in the television business, it is a good introduction.
Full disclosure: Seth and I have known each other for years and he is a senior advisor to our company. That said, this is a book I would have liked even I didn’t work with the author. You’ll like it too!
I met Josh years ago when he was an analyst at Forester Research. He writes in a very straightforward style and is particularly good at getting to the point. Like all good researchers, he did some research to determine if this book needed to be written.
After analyzing the experiences and attitudes of 547 business people who write at least two hours per week for work, excluding email, here’s what Josh found out:
“Only one-sixth of them identify themselves as writers or editors; the rest are business owners, executives, managers, analysts, and other professionals. They write everything from reports and marketing materials to web copy and blog posts. For these professionals, reading and writing is a full-time job; they average 25.5 hours reading and 20.4 hours writing per week.
The poor quality of what they read frustrates them. They rate the over-all effectiveness of what they read at a pathetic 5.4 out of 10, and 81% report that poorly written material wastes their time. They complain that what they read is too long, poorly organized, unclear, and full of jargon.”
The results were clear. The world needs better writers! And Josh took it upon himself to offer assistance. If you thought The Elements of Style was useful, you’ll think Writing Without Bullshit is useful too.