Have you noticed how many good books there are these days? In my world of job search and careers there has been an explosion of information since the recession.
I've selected just a handful of the books for your summer reading list.
•“The Armchair Economist,” by Steven Landsburg, Free Press, 2012, $16. We'll start with a redux. Landsburg's 1993 book by the same title started cocktail-hour conversations for years after he set out to share “the great adventure of economics” with the general public. A precursor to such popular economics movements as “Freakonomics,” the Armchair Economist aimed to supplant assumptions with logic; Landsburg continues that mission with this updated version, the first in 20 years.
As he notes in the book's preface, “Logic matters. It leads us from simple ideas to surprising conclusions. A simple idea is that people respond to incentives. A surprising conclusion is that when drivers are protected by air bags, they drive more recklessly and have more accidents.”
•“Where Did the Jobs Go and How Do We Get Them Back?” by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson, William Morrow, 2012, $16.99. If you read Landsburg's book first, you'll have your “critical thinking cap” properly positioned when you tackle this look at employment statistics and the political rhetoric they spawn.
Bittle and Johnson, experienced journalists and policy analysts, pour their energy into debunking popular claims about the jobs issues, ending the book with ideas devoted to improving the situation.
•“Making Yourself Indispensable,” by Mark Samuel, Penguin, 2012, $25.95.
I like the premise of this book, which is that making oneself indispensable is not about becoming entwined in a system at work, for example, but is a deeper and more personal approach to life rooted on one's own commitment to moving from victim mentality to personal accountability.
•“Boundless Potential,” by Mark S. Walton, McGraw-Hill, 2012, $25. Walton combines concepts from the recently popular neuroscience world with clear-eyed analysis of where American culture has gone off the tracks when it comes to human potential, particularly for people at middle age and beyond.
To help, Walton provides a guide to reinventing ourselves, based on best practices he identified from those who have made successful mid-life transitions. A good choice for those feeling stuck or uninspired.
•“Steal Like an Artist,” by Austin Kleon, Workman Publishing, 2012, $10.95. And if you're really feeling stuck, then pick up Kleon's frenetic little handbook on finding inspiration by stealing other people's ideas. Abhorrent? Actually not, once you dive in. He makes a compelling argument, augmented by dozens of quotes from thinkers through the centuries that there truly is nothing new under the sun. He exhorts us to combine all the good ideas we can find into new iterations.