Four Books

The Fred Factor. Mark Sanborn's book is a gem. It's easy to dismiss as another entry in the Endless BizLit Simplistic Derby. But it struck me as Short & Clear & To The Point & about The Right Point. Fred is a real guy, not another Parablized, Cheeze Movin' Man (or Beast). He's Fred-the-Postman, who, simply, makes his Work Matter to his Clients (folks, like the author, on his postal route).

I'm sure it's been said before, doubtless a jillion times. But I loved the following, from author Sanborn, reflecting on Fred-the-Postman: "Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional."

Is there more to life than that? I don't think so.* (*As I recall, psychologist Victor Frankl said about the same thing concerning Hitler's concentration camps. "They," even the SS, cannot steal your ability to choose the attitude with which you will address the day.)

History of Beauty. This Rizzoli masterpiece is edited by Umberto Eco (the Name of the Rose author). I have bought 5 copies so far to give as Christmas offerings to professional pals. I have just begun to read it, but will audaciously recommend it, based upon my hasty sampling. I, among an increasing number of others, have claimed that an Aesthetic Sensibility is the key to hard-nosed economic success in an insanely crowded marketspace, from Target & Samsung to IBM & Infosys & UPS. If beauty writ large-ubiquitous matters most, then it may pay to examine the way we humans have considered beauty over the last 25 centuries or so—which is exactly what Mr Eco does. I may renege on this, but I'm thinking of making History of Beauty the only book I take next week to Kaua'i; I love the idea of rejuvenation by total immersion in this primal train of thought.

Oscar Wilde's Wit & Wisdom. I picked this up for $1.50 on Bridge Street Books' curbside discount table. I'm sure I already own several copies of the same book—no matter, a dose of Wilde is always a good tonic. Here's my fave quote (which sounds like it came from The Fred Factor): "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."


Old Boys. Author Charles McCarry has been silent for a long time, but this master of thrillers is back. What a book! A couple of dust-jacket quotes: "Ranks up there with le Carre in a select class of two."—Daily Mail. "The absolute best thriller writer alive."—P.J. O'Rourke. My wife is begging me to race through the book—and hand it over. But it's so well written that I like reading just a few pages at a time and savoring the experience.