What would a best-selling author prefer to read? Well, The Daily Beast asked Michael Lewis, the author of the new, best-selling The Big Short, for a list of his favorite books. Here’s his list, with excerpts from his comments about each.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
It describes the peculiar street life of the place I grew up (New Orleans) with the precision of a Flemish painting. One of the few books I dip into every few years to make sure I’m still sane. (If I laugh, I am.) It’s also one of the three funniest books I’ve ever read.
Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
Set just after the Second World War, but it remains a timeless portrait of academic life.
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I picked it up more or less voluntarily in college and could not believe how much better it was than the CliffsNotes. The rendering of the various dialects is one of those remarkable literary feats that writers not named Tom Wolfe should avoid attempting at home.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
What Wolfe did with nonfiction in this book sent chills down my spine when I read it. It’s pure energy on a page, and I’m amazed the writing of it didn’t kill him.
The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams
I remember thinking when I read it, “it’s amazing that you can generate art so simply from one’s life.” I think now: It’s amazing how complicated it is to take one’s life and turn it into art.”
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Schrage for the Harvard Business blog. To read the complete article, check out other articles and resources, and/or sign up for a free subscription to Harvard Business Daily Alerts, please visit email@example.com
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Should Honesty Be the Policy in Your Office?
Would I lie to you?
Probably not, but forgive me for preserving the option. Would you conceal a damaging truth from your boss? I wouldn’t presume to guess. But one person’s “discretion” is another person’s “dishonest.” It’s getting harder to determine where one ends and the other begins.
That’s why the virtues of transparency have been wildly oversold by digital utopians. The (social) networks to organizational hell are wired with good intentions. The let’s-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbaya arguments that “the more information we share the better off we are” are demonstrably rubbish. All too often, far greater transparency guarantees far greater conflicts. In fact, legitimate tensions between professional privacy and personal visibility are unavoidable.
Confusing transparency with integrity and honesty is a recipe for disaster.
Everyone reading this post knows at least one unhappy story of a perfectly decent job candidate who got dinged because either HR or the interviewing manager saw something on that applicant’s Facebook page — or the page of a Facebook friend — that undermined their professional desirability. Maybe a politically incorrect comment, boozy photo, or unflattering blog materialized via Google or Bing. Unfair? Unreasonable? Perhaps. But it’s today’s reality and tomorrow’s norm. I find it sadly amusing how many college graduates honestly think prospective employers shouldn’t be allowed to Google them or judge their Facebook profile. But wouldn’t it be misleading, dishonest, and unethical to digitally conceal one’s self from employment due diligence?
Just as BlackBerries and always-on mobile phones have obliterated the line between personal and professional accessibility, social media have introduced an inherent “creep factor” — in both meanings of that phrase — for colleagues, coworkers, and superiors. What do you do when your boss’ boss asks to be your Facebook friend? Do you accept invitations from some subordinates and not others? A recent survey indicates that, currently, a significant percentage of people would not want their boss asking to be a friend. What about a client? How about a promising lead? Indeed, would you want your boss to know that you’ve taken the initiative to become Facebook friends with a hot prospect? Or should you stick to LinkedIn? How would you feel if your boss “friended” your best customer without alerting you — just as you declined friending them to avoid blurring personal and professional boundaries? Is the absence of disclosure a hypocritical double standard, dishonest, or simply none of your business?
Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, is the author of Serious Play and the forthcoming Getting Beyond Ideas.