26 April 2013

Sellers : Lean In / Give And Take

I was asked recently why I stopped writing about best-sellers. There are several answers to this question. The easiest way to explain is to have you look at the bestseller list for non-fiction this week.

Take your time.

The first two books on that list are self-help. I will not accept someone calling them anything else. This is what they are. They are supposedly "rich" "adjusted" people telling you how you are doing it wrong and how you should do it like they did.

The number one over on the fiction list is by Mary Higgins Clark. Who, as far as I'm concerned is interchangeable with Nora Roberts, whom I talked about already.

This is why I stopped doing best-sellers. It's the same thing up there week after week and it's hard to find new things to say about another bland book about absolutely nothing.

I'm being harsh, glib, and unfair. But it's tiring to think about these books for more than a few seconds.

Let's break down the #1 and #2 non-fiction books just for argument's sake.

Lean In
Author: Sheryl Sandberg
Publisher: Knopf
Date: 3/11/13
240p

This is a book by Facebook's chief operations manager. She is a rich woman. She worked for Google, at the beginning, and has the dollar bills to prove it.

The book is not for women who do not already have some means. It is for those who have the education and the position to benefit from what seems to amount to an FAQ for the boardroom.

At Huffington Post Daria Burke looks at the book as it relates to women of color. Then over at US News & World Report Mary Kate Cary sort of tears the book apart on its ivy-league crowd-sourced writing and the contradictions that Sandberg exhibits in her anecdotes.

I don't really care for wealthy people telling me how to better live. It's why I won't buy Gwyneth Paltrow's new cook book. This just seems like another in a long line of pseudo-sciencey books about how to break in to the 1% with a layer of gender studies glazed on top to make it more interesting or somehow critic-proof.

Author: Adam Grant
Publisher: Viking
Date: 4/9/13
320p

Let's just read the copy for this one, the italics are mine:

"For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own pioneering research as Wharton's youngest tenured professor, Grant shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Combining cutting-edge evidence with captivating stories, this landmark book shows how one of America's best networkers developed his connections, why the creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts transformed his franchise into a winner, and how we could have anticipated Enron's demise four years before the company collapsed-without ever looking at a single number.

Praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Pink, Tony Hsieh, Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, Bob Sutton, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, and Seth Godin-as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estee Lauder, Nike, and NASA-Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities."

You're welcome. I saved you the time reading this double "landmark" book. You just have to be a "giver" not a "taker" and everything will be great. My favorite line: "Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries."

Some people will be successful doing something while others will not be so successful.

WHAT!?! That took some research to come up with? Before anyone gets all angry with me about this, please...re-read that copy. I know book PR copy is always silly (I review books for money) but COME ON.

Le sigh.


Sellers is my attempt to examine what books are topping the best-seller list and why. To talk about and understand the trends in popular writing.