I was only able to read six books in September 2019. This is partly due to me starting Robert Caro’s tome The Power Broker (I can’t wait to talk about this one). This 1000+ page book is taking time to read through and slowed the number of books read this month. However, I am still on pace to finish over 100 books again this year.
Overall I was really happy with all the books I read this month. Each of them was worth my time to read.
Here is the list of the books I read. Ranked in order of how much I liked them:
1. The Goal
This book caught me by surprise. I had read The Everything Store and from that book had a list of Jeff Bezos’s favorite books. Soon after, I was in Barnes and Noble one day and saw The Goal in the future business section. I decided to give it a try and I was blown away. I didn’t know anything about the book other than how Bezos was obsessed with the book and that it was about bottlenecks and the theory of constraints.
The book is written in the form of a novel, which is rare for a business book. It tells the story of a fictional manufacturing plant that is struggling to make ends meet. The protagonist of the story, Alex, is the manager of the plant and is being threatened that the plant is to close if they don’t get profitable. We follow Alex as he comes in contact with one of his former professors, who begins to teach Alex about what the goal of a company is. That goal is to make money. Every decision a company makes should be with that goal in mind.
Even though I don’t work in operations, I felt I gained valuable insight from this book. I now think differently about the constraints businesses have and what to do about them. I live in the accounting and finance world and sometimes fall in the trap of thinking about how important these teams are, but a company is the sum of all its parts. Each employee, process, and division should be set up to make the company achieve its main goal.
Soon I will publish a more detailed analysis of the Goal.
2. Steve Jobs
This was my second time reading Walter Issacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. The former head of Apple was larger than life. He created consumer revolutions time after time. In reading about his accomplishments I am amazed at all he was able to do, however, there were a lot of areas of his life that weren’t as great. Overall, this is a great read, and I learned from Job’s both good and bad examples of leadership.
3. The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
This is the second book by Lawrence Wright I read this month. After reading Going Clear, I saw on his Wikipedia page that his most well-known book was The Looming Tower. Because September 11th was approaching I thought I should learn more about the events that led to the looming towers. I’ve never read a book about the Middle East or terrorism.
This book aims to produce a complete picture of the events both big and small which led to the events of September 11th. The book begins over 50 years before September 11, 2001, and tells the story of a young man named Sayyid Qutb, who visited the United States in the 1940s and later wrote about the materialistic and carnal nature he saw. His writings influenced generations of Muslims.
The Looming Tower builds gradually through time as we learn about how hatred of the ‘American Life’ began to germinate. Eventually, we get to the Bin Laden family and its infamous member Osama Bin Laden.
Throughout this book, we also learn about the FBI and CIA counterterrorism efforts during the 1990s. In hindsight, there was a lot we knew about the terrorist group Al-Qaeda and their intentions. But because of friction within the FBI and CIA, some efforts were wasted.
4. The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History.
For my thoughts and notes from The Apache Wars check out this article I wrote. This book is about the Apache people and their history in Arizona during the Apache Wars.
For my thoughts and notes from The Right Stuff check out this article I wrote. This was a fascinating book. I want to learn more about the space race and NASA because of reading this book.
6. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief
September was a hard month to rank these books. All of the books were exceptional and I found it difficult to stratify them. So even though I have Going Clear as my least favorite book this month it was still a fascinating and enjoyable read.
Going Clear tells the story of Scientology and it’s founder L. Ron Hubbard. It details Hubbard’s adventurous life before he wrote Dianetics and founded the church of Scientology. It also talks about the post-Hubbard years of Scientology and the controversies that have risen.
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