• Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. This book examines the past in an attempt to understand today's cross-cultural differences in incomes and standards of living. It takes the reader to a variety of places and times: from the rise of the Roman Empire to the first Spanish colonies in America, and from medieval Venice to modern day Zimbabwe.
• The State Counsellor, Boris Akunin. One of the best – if belated – responses of Russian literature to Sherlock Holmes. This, the sixth novel in the historical detective series featuring Erast Fandorin, depicts Moscow in the late 19th century. In addition to somewhat expected revolutionaries and Tsarist security agents, the book includes an unconventional servant of the law, who practices Holmesian deduction.
• Qualitative Consumer and Marketing Research, Russell Belk, Eileen Fischer, and Robert Kozinets. Articulating what makes a good interpretative study in consumer research is difficult. Articulating how to conduct one is even harder. This book deconstructs the very dense knowledge surrounding it into a more accessible 'how-to' toolkit, which is useful for novice and advanced researchers alike.
• Fairy Tail, Hiro Mashima. This Japanese comic book series has been running for about 10 years and was finally completed earlier this year. A great comedy fantasy story about a magic guild and its awkward members, who grow in character and forge bonds that allow them to overcome the impossible.
• White Working Class, Joan C Williams. I saw the author interviewed on television, and her insights were fascinating. She explains why, around the world, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class, and why much of the analysis of this class by the elite (whom she calls the "class clueless") is rooted in misguided assumptions. This will be a very controversial but fascinating read.
• Can You Tolerate This?, Ashleigh Young. This book, which I really enjoyed, was recommended to me by my daughter – in fact, she bought it for me. It is a collection of very personal essays focusing on events in the author's life. Each essay is beautifully written with complete honesty.
• Wayfinding Leadership: Groundbreaking Wisdom for Developing Leaders, Chellie Spiller, Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, and John Panoho. The lead author, Chellie Spiller, is a colleague. Her work, which draws on the ancient wisdom of wayfinders to provide insights relevant to contemporary leaders and their teams, is attracting considerable attention in New Zealand and internationally. I received a copy at a conference at which Chellie was a keynote speaker and look forward to reading it this summer.
• Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds, Dame Anne Salmond. This book looks interesting because it offers insight into the early encounters between Māori and Europeans, while also promising insight into contemporary issues. As the cover notes: "...concepts of whakapapa and hau, complex networks and reciprocal exchange, may point to new ways of understanding interactions between peoples, and between people and the natural world". Which makes me wonder: Will there be unanticipated connections in this book with the concept of wayfinding?
• Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool. If you want to get better at anything, this book will help you get started. Ericsson argues that there is no such thing as natural ability. Rather, experts become experts by engaging in deliberate practice. Read the book to discover what that is.
• How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams. If you are open to taking advice from a cartoonist then this is the book for you. It is part self-help, part autobiography. Adams shows how failure was essential to success in many aspects of his life. It is an entertaining read, with a few nuggets of wisdom thrown in.
• Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, Adam Greenfield. Technology is transforming our lives – the smartphone alone, and what it enables people to do, is nothing short of magical. However, such technology can lead us down a slippery path and it behoves us to be aware of unintended consequences before it is too late. However, I do think Greenfield's fears of blockchain and cryptocurrencies are overblown.
• The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz. The days of using goods we have purchased without restriction are coming to an end. Among worrying signs are one retailer's unexpected deletion of digital books purchased on Kindles, and the inability of owners to change the (expensive) supermarket that a smart fridge orders from. In the United States copyright has even been used to stop farmers fixing their tractors. Changes need to be made to our own Copyright Act so that copyright can no longer restrict the use of goods in New Zealand.
• The Power of Meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith. The author provides four pillars of a meaningful life. First is belonging: we all need to be part of a family, a group of colleagues, of friends, and a wider community who recognise, understand, and support us. Second is purpose, which is the cause or belief that inspires us to do what we do; it is about giving rather than taking. Third, transcendence, is about getting away from the daily rituals of emails and meetings to create the time and space to experience a higher reality. Fourth is storytelling, where you tell yourself about yourself to bring clarity to who you are. Smith distinguishes happiness from meaning, saying that meaning is something you hang on to, not only when life is good, but when things turn really bad.
• Tell Tale, Jeffrey Archer. This is Archer's first volume of short stories in a decade. The book has just been released and I have been unable to put it down. He is a master storyteller, enticingly introducing a story and building it up, only to end with an ingenious twist. Each story has a message, a takeaway, a lesson, or a piece of wisdom.
• Corrupt Research: The Case for Reconceptualizing Empirical Management and Social Science, Raymond Hubbard. In the era of 'alternative facts' and science deniers, it is important that we researchers are aware of the limitations of our dominant research methods – and that we strive to be as credible and relevant as possible. A deliberately provocative book.
• Men Without Women, Haruki Murukami. I have been a dedicated fan of Murukami for years, and love experiencing this bizarre mystery called life through his eyes. In bona fide Murukami fashion, I am expecting solitude, sensuality, sorrow, and surprises. Hopefully, I can pace myself and won't end up binging all seven stories in one go.
• Adaptive Capacity: How Organizations Can Thrive in a Changing World, Juan Carlos Eichholz. Most organisations face significant change at some stage, as a result of such things as sustainability issues and market expectations. Eichholz provides excellent theory as well as practical 'how-to' steps, backed up with real-life organisational cases.
• Leading From Behind: Winning While Coming Last, Niva Retimanu. After losing both of her parents at an early age, the ZB newsreader's life goal was simply 'to reach 50'. She has a wicked sense of humour, and this inspirational tale tells of her losing 25kg, and running six marathons – almost always crossing the finish line last.
This month we are giving away a copy of Allen Curnow: Collected Poems, edited by Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm.
Enter the draw
To celebrate the arrival of summer, we are giving alumni a chance to win one of five 200ml bottles of very special sin-kō-nah tonic syrup.