What I Read in August 2021

This is a catch up post, but includes all six books I read in August 2021.

Best_Books_Of_August_2021

Two five star books, each very different: a business fable and a really smart rom com. Highly recommend them both!

5 stars:

Getting His Game Back, by Gia de Cadenet: Love, love, LOVED this smart chick-lit romance, which tackled a lot of difficult themes (interracial dating, race and bias in the corporate world, and mental health) without coming across as didactic. Khalil is a white man and a former player (of basketball and of women) who has been struggling with depression after a breakup; he is trying to “get his game back” (hence the title). Vanessa is a black woman who is the successful founder of a tech startup, and who has been burned in the past by dating outside her race. The buildup was slow but I loved the chemistry between the two, even as I was mentally screaming at them to hurry up and date already :) I was alternating between swooning about what a fantastic relationship there was with such respect between the two, and nodding vigorously at the points made about race and also about mental health. I’m so impressed with how Cadenet wove all this together into such an enjoyable read – can’t wait for her next book!

Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty, by Patrick Lencioni: I loved this book! The fable is of a consulting director on the quest for partner, who is asked to lead the integration of a newly acquired boutique firm. He finds the acquisition target has a very different culture, and it leads him to question how his own firm does things. I absolutely loved the fable, but preferred reading the lessons as part of the story rather than the didactic and slightly stilted summary at the end. Since reading this, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I operate (am I doing XYZ because of political reasons or because it actually makes sense?) and it has driven me to be much more straightforward in my communications. I will be highly recommending this to all my colleagues.

Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman: I read this for my professional development book club, and while it didn’t move quickly, it was fascinating! I have always considered myself to be an optimist, but chided myself for being naive. In this book, Rutger Bregman examines the premise that people are inherently good, and debunks many commonly told tales otherwise. Sometimes I found the stories hard to believe (soldiers try to avoid shooting when they can??), but other times, the logic of what he was saying made sense, and this book opened my eyes to how much fake news is out there (like the designer of the Stanford Prison Experiment flat-out omitting some major priming of the “volunteer” guards). What I think is especially fascinating is that people often use the premise of “other people are evil so I can be too”; maybe if more people read this book, we’d all start doing the right thing more of the time. I am highly recommending this to all my friends and colleagues.

4 stars:

Golden Girl, by Elin Hilderbrand: Beloved author Vivian Howe is killed in a hit-and-run accident while she’s out jogging; in the afterlife, she’s given the rest of the summer to watch her family and friends from afar, and has three “nudges” to influence the outcomes. I didn’t love the paranormal aspect of the book, but it was simple enough that I quickly accepted and didn’t mind the premise. Meanwhile, the story was really compelling, and I loved the classic Hilderbrand Nantucket setting! There was a bit of mystery around who killed Vivian, and while when I figured it out I had a “duh” moment of “how did I not realize this sooner”, it did take me by surprise! I was just disappointed with the way the killer seemed to be let off the hook for their actions at the end. I thought it was really interesting how the main character, Vivi, seems very similar to Elin herself (beloved and bestselling Nantucket novelist), and the “Golden Girl” book that features in the story is based on Vivi’s life; it definitely made me wonder how much of this came from Elin’s life! This was really fun and a classic Hilderbrand book.

One Two Three, by Laurie Frankel: 17 years ago, Belsum Chemical contaminated the water and then left the town of Bourne to fend for itself. As the only real employer, this left the town in dire straits, and many residents died, took ill, or were born with birth defects. Mab, Monday, and Mirabel are triplets who were born shortly after this tragedy, and the story is told from all three of their perspectives as Belsum comes back to Bourne. I loved the different perspectives, and appreciated how differently they could interpret the same events; meanwhile, the plot really picked up about halfway through and became a page turner as I was eager to see what was going to happen to the town. The characters are all very eccentric, reminding me of the town of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls”, and I was rooting for all the characters – even those who at first seemed unlikeable. I think my only complaint was that it seemed a bit odd when the teenagers were the only ones trying to solve things – a little Scooby Doo-ish, as another reviewer pointed out. Still, I’d recommend this!

3 stars:

Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work, by Jeff Schwartz: This book was a great summary of trends in the working world, and was also up-to-date enough to include some of the initial impacts of COVID19. I appreciated the insights; however, it was also very dry and took me several months to finish, as I wasn’t compelled to keep picking it up. While the subject was interesting, I found that the book as a whole came across as a bit heavy-handed, and probably would have benefited from skipping the “action items” sections and allowing readers to draw their own conclusions as to how to manage. Perhaps more real life stories would have been a better way to guide readers to apply the insights.


Any book recommendations for me? Follow me here on Goodreads to keep up with what I’m reading in real time.

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