Recent Books — Steppenwolf, Bezos/Amazon, Smartest Kids


  • Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. I love Hesse’s “The Glass Bead Game” and so presumed I’d love this more famous work. But too much droning on and on and on about the nature of the Steppenwolf, and not enough demonstrating his nature through plot and action. I’m a quarter of the way through and I just don’t care anymore, I find myself unable to pick the book up and finish. I will keep it on my desk for a while, hoping that I will be inspired to pick back up.
  • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone. When I was at Microsoft in the 90s, it was a demanding place to work, but I always felt like I was an “owner”. Company leadership created a culture in which we were expected to think and act like owners, it was partly our company. I don’t know if that culture has continued at Microsoft, but it is how I always felt. Amazon is a great company and has done great things, and seems to have maintained an element of nimbleness that Microsoft may lack now, and I love the customer-first focus of Amazon. But the books leaves the impression that, as an employee, one does not feel like an owner, it is pretty clearly Jeff’s company. I’m not sure I would like working there, although there is a ton to learn from the company, and this book does a great job of letting you stick your nose in the tent.
  • The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley. Great comparative work on world education systems. The lesson seems obvious — rather than punishing our kids with more tests, we should be focusing on raising the bar for teachers. The book yammers on way too long, the core ideas could be in a long magazine article, but interesting nonetheless.

5 thoughts to “Recent Books — Steppenwolf, Bezos/Amazon, Smartest Kids”

  1. nope. gets good reviews i see. doesn’t immediately appeal to me, neither grisham nor baseball are high on my list usually, but perhaps i should reconsider. thanks for the tip!

  2. Hi John, I don’t watch baseball at all, but was given the book and enjoyed it. Kinda in the genera of HS/College Sportsmanlike Conduct.

  3. Fascinating book related to the work I am doing…in South Korea right now and visited Finland last May. Teacher prep is huge along with a national purpose in these countries to maximize their human resources.

  4. Wow Carolyn you are living the story. Poland next? It is great that you are seeing all this first hand, curious to hear how your experience matches the author’s perspective. The author’s observations about national purpose and level of seriousness were compelling. It is hard to make that happen nationally in a country as large and diverse as the US, but are there ways to establish it locally?

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