A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Pink believes that the world of work is undergoing a shift, as we enter a "new age" that will require more right-brained work, as opposed to traditional left-brained approaches. He says that "high concept" and "high touch" skills are outstripping analytical thinking in the changing occupational landscape.
"High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interactions, to find joy in one's self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuite of purpose and meaning." (p. 2-3)
All good things, I think. And it's a fun roller-coaster of an argument, zipping from laughing clubs to video games. I think it's right that the best librarians have empathy with their clientele. But it's a slick little book that really doesn't offer much beyond general economics to back up Pink's main argument, that the work world is changing. It also takes for granted a level of wealth/consumerism and therefore luxury lifestyle that isn't the case for all people.
Of all he wrote, I most enjoyed (and xeroxed for possible future use in the storytelling class) the chapter on Story. He gives a snappy and pretty right-on summary of Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
"The hero's journey has three main parts: Departure, Initiation, and Return. The hero hears a call, refuses it at first, and then crosses the threshold into a new world. During Initiation, he faces stiff challenges and stares into the abyss. But along the way--usually with the help of mentors who give the hero a divine gift--he transforms and becomes at one with his new self. Then he returns, becoming the master of two worlds, committed to improving each." (p. 103)
Some of his story exercises are good enough that I'm going to adapt them to the storytelling class, probably as forum postings. "Write a mini-saga" (p. 117-118) is one of those (thanks Carol T. for pointing this one out!) and "Play the Cartoon Captions Game" (p. 202) is another.
My Summer of Southern Discomfort by Stephanie Gayle
It has been years since I picked a book by its jacket description from the new book shelves of the public library and took it home to see what I could see. This was a lovely read, great for bedtime except for a few gruesome bits. Natalie is a lawyer who, after a devastating affair and professional betrayal, transplants herself from New York to Macon, GA. She makes all the wrong moves socially, as a nervous northerner who considers all smalltalk invasive. She works for the DA on a capital case which shakes her to the core, as she is opposed to capital punishment. There's a love interest, but the book focuses on her own process of coming to understand the Southern culture and the specific people around her.
I liked this description of the guy who will become her love interest:
"He is thirty-three, thus age appropriate, and one handsome Gentile: blond hair, blue eyes, and a great smile. Unfortunately, he is plagued by a need to make sure that everything is operating as it should. I cannot remember a time I felt things were operating as they should." (p. 16)
I occasionally fall victim to that same plague.