Next book



There’s nothing overly challenging here, but Berger’s approach might prime the pump for deeper inquiries.

The right question at the right time can inspire business empires, scientific insights, revolutions—and, of course, books such as this one.

In a book whose title is rather more elegant than its contents, business guru Berger builds on a predecessor, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas (2013), to examine ways in which being an ardent, avid, active questioner can presumably build businesses, inspire ideas, and otherwise lead to good things in the world. The argument seems—well, inarguable, even if the author, who calls himself a “questionologist,” does allow that an all too common response on the part of the managerial class is to demand, “don’t bring me questions; bring me answers.” What to do with such people? That’s a good question, to which the answer is to understand that “having a curious, engaged, and inquisitive workforce presents challenges.” Questioning authority is one thing; questioning how and why things are done is another, an exercise that Berger puts in the lap of none other than Steve Jobs, who was in the discomfiting habit of asking why things were being done the way they were at every stop on his round of Apple’s offices. “As Jobs took on the role of the inquisitive four-year-old wandering the company,” Berger writes, “it had a powerful effect on him and those around him—forcing everyone to reexamine assumptions.” Alternating among case studies, series of model questions set within sidebars (“Why do I want to lead this endeavor?”; “Where will I ever find an original idea”; “How can I come up with an idea that will make money?”), and cheerleading, Berger makes a good case for building questioning into work culture and work flow. But a question emerges: Just how many books can this questionology business sustain?

There’s nothing overly challenging here, but Berger’s approach might prime the pump for deeper inquiries.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63286-956-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Next book


Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Next book


These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

A lightweight collection of self-help snippets from the bestselling author.

What makes a quote a quote? Does it have to be quoted by someone other than the original author? Apparently not, if we take Strayed’s collection of truisms as an example. The well-known memoirist (Wild), novelist (Torch), and radio-show host (“Dear Sugar”) pulls lines from her previous pages and delivers them one at a time in this small, gift-sized book. No excerpt exceeds one page in length, and some are only one line long. Strayed doesn’t reference the books she’s drawing from, so the quotes stand without context and are strung together without apparent attention to structure or narrative flow. Thus, we move back and forth from first-person tales from the Pacific Crest Trail to conversational tidbits to meditations on grief. Some are astoundingly simple, such as Strayed’s declaration that “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard.” Others call on the author’s unique observations—people who regret what they haven’t done, she writes, end up “mingy, addled, shrink-wrapped versions” of themselves—and offer a reward for wading through obvious advice like “Trust your gut.” Other quotes sound familiar—not necessarily because you’ve read Strayed’s other work, but likely due to the influence of other authors on her writing. When she writes about blooming into your own authenticity, for instance, one is immediately reminded of Anaïs Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Strayed’s true blossoming happens in her longer works; while this collection might brighten someone’s day—and is sure to sell plenty of copies during the holidays—it’s no substitute for the real thing.

These platitudes need perspective; better to buy the books they came from.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-946909

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Close Quickview