29 September 2014

Review: Oryx and Crake

Oryx and Crake
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a toughie - I feel like it took a lot of time for this one to get warmed up, and then it seemed to fizzle out before it really got started. At the same time, all the ideas are really intriguing - it's a near-future periapocalyptic dystopia peppered with things that are nascently recognizable today only brought to a morbid and sinister maturity. I felt sorry for Snowman, class clown turned possible last human on earth. He seems a man totally out of his depth throughout, but in touch with it as well as his own unravelling. The titular characters of Oryx and Crake seemed a little flat, as if part of the overall bleak landscape. The audio is masterfully read by Campbell Scott. 3.5/5

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28 September 2014

5 Minute Paper: Preliminary Observations on Leadership

In reading the wide variety of literature on leadership, and seeing the stories of seasoned and fledgling leaders, the thing I noticed most was how leaders and leadership is often paradoxical. Linda Hill of the Harvard Business school and her colleagues describe a leader as:

Similarly, Warren G. Bennis describes a leader as:

I also enjoyed reading about the softer side of leadership, something that I relate to more than some of the more "Type A" readings out there. Paul Sloane talks about "Lateral Leadership" which he attributes to innovation in organizations (something Linda Hill also focuses on when she provided the paradoxical attributes above).

Finally, I find comfort in reading from several sources that “leaders are more made than born”. It was inspiring to read about Seana O'Neill, the founder of Cottage Dreams, finding connections at the Banff Centre which has ultimately lead her to begin expanding Cottage Dreams into the Maritimes. Seana started Cottage Dreams in Haliburton County, and it provides an excellent service for those who have been through cancer treatment. 

**Afterwit: Thoughts thought after the 5 minutes... so they don't really count.**

Along the lines of "leaders are more made than born" ... Leader Values has this at the end of their self assessment tool (which was interesting to try out):

Remember, there are three stages in the Leadership journey:

1. skill development - know what to do
2. behaviour development - walk the talk
3. authenticity - be comfortable with your role

Another theme that came up in almost every single resource was that leadership was changing - the nature of, the approach to, etc.  

Finally, in the "what the..!?" file: Leaders Values had a video talking about Genghis Khan and a values approach to leadership (um...) While an admirable cherry picking and reduction of his reign as leader of Mongolia, it may have been a little bit of a stretch. But given the above thought that leadership is changing, could this be an illustration of plus ça change plus c'est la même chose? To quote John Cleese as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart "Take it away, Genghis."

5 Minute Paper: My Ideal Mentor

My ideal mentor is someone who knows when to let me learn for myself, but also knows when I need guidance, or provides guidance when I ask for it. See "How I Learn" -- I learn by doing. My ideal mentor is also someone who shares the big picture with me, even if it means I'm learning things that aren't directly applicable to the nuts and bolts of the job I am doing. Seeing this big picture, I find, actually helps me do my job better, and grow within and better understand my position within an organization. When I think of past and current mentors that I have had, there has always been a relationship of trust - trust that I will fulfill my duties in the best way I know how, trust that they will provide correction when I need it, trust that we will approach problems in an analytical and problem solving manner to meet our mutual goals. I have been lucky to have some wonderful mentors in my life.

22 September 2014

Review: Watch How We Walk

Watch How We Walk
Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

LoveGrove is a poet as well as a novelist, and it shows. This is not an easy read, but it is a quick read. The writing cuts to the quick and is not overbearing. While the religious subject matter can be viewed as quite specific (and part of the draw of the book is that it is), there are themes that are universal throughout the book including isolation, trauma, and despair. This is an emotional and raw story, but not without a thread of hope.

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19 September 2014

5 Minute Paper: How I Learn

I learn best by doing. Some of my most rewarding and rich learning experiences were hands-on exercises. In my pre-library life it was the crime scene to court exercise for the M.Sc. in Forensic Science program at the University of Strathclyde, where as a team we processed a mock crime scene, processed the evidence, and then spoke to it in court 3 months later in front of a real judge and student lawyers. In my library life it was my MLIS co-op at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in their special library at Chalk River, doing real reference interviews with real scientists and engineers doing projects with concrete outcomes.

I find I learn best when I'm given a bit of the big picture, taken through a process at face value, and then analyzing that process afterwords with the "whys" and "why nots". This logical progression is probably not surprising as my highest score on the HRSDC quizzes were in logical/mathematical and visual/spacial.

18 September 2014

Review: Monster Calls, A: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd

Monster Calls, A: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd
Monster Calls, A: Inspired by an Idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something of a fable. A very poignant tale about fear, loss, and grief. Patrick Ness does a great job of writing a very sad story, but providing some levity as well. Read brilliantly by Jason Isaacs. 4.5/5

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17 September 2014

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, but it's difficult to rate book one of two. The photography was interesting and worked in well. Though it would be just as good a story without. Some of Jacob's thoughts about his grandfather (the "a seventy year old hurt" passage in particular) were very poignant. Writing was a bit uneven with Jacob in some places sounding like an old soul and in others sounding like a bratty teenager. The end was a little "and then ... And then ... And then" and could have been tightened up a bit. I am looking forward to reading Hollow City. 3.5/5

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10 September 2014

Review: The Cat's Table

The Cat's Table
The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audio, which was read by Michael Ondaatje. Once I was settled in, I really enjoyed Ondaatje's reading of this.

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08 September 2014

Review: yolo

yolo by Lauren Myracle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting premise but falls short. Texts try too hard to be cool (a constant barrage of pithy sarcasm that verges on the ridiculous). Dated memes and inauthentic formatting (no one would type "The Onion" in quotes in a text to someone who knows what The Onion is) sort of pull you out of it. That said... I wouldn't not recommend this book. Someone who enjoys a light read with a heartwarming story will like this. Myracle also touches on some universal themes - how relationships change in those first few months of post-secondary ed, how people change, life on your own for the first time, navigating roommates, dorms, meal plans, new friends, finding yourself, making your own decisions, etc. While the subject matter is timeless, I'm not sure the style of telling a story through the medium of texts will stand the test of time. 2.75/5

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