A thought-provoking take on shaking up business as usual once the pandemic has passed.

OUT OF OFFICE

THE BIG PROBLEM AND BIGGER PROMISE OF WORKING FROM HOME

The ongoing pandemic has changed the culture of the office forever—for good, perhaps, and certainly for ill.

“Remote work…is not a cure for shitty management or a bad business model or a bad product. It is merely an organizing principle.” So write business journalists Warzel and Petersen, who investigate what has been happening to many organizing principles of corporate life in the last two years. Some of the changes have been decidedly negative. One example is that the CDC has urged commuters to travel in personal vehicles rather than on mass transit even though, as one scholar observes, there is no strong link between disease transmission and public transportation. In addition, with isolation and remote working, the boundaries between work and life, already fuzzy, became a blur. Corporations expect their workers to be available at all times, and workers deploy tactics such as replying to emails in the middle of the night, showing their devotion. Much of the authors’ argument, repeated a few times too often, centers on their insistence that it’s up to the workers to establish and maintain guidelines for keeping personal time safe and otherwise driving changes in corporate culture. Extending this, they urge reshaping business so that work is not the be-all and end-all of life, arguing that a healthy corporate culture would allow and encourage workers to devote time to community endeavors, self-care, education, and other matters not easily reduced to the bottom line. A flexible work life—with some days in the office and others at home—would improve cities by giving people access to parks and other amenities outside the weekend and by encouraging the formation of communities. Of course, write the authors, “organizations are naturally resistant to change,” and our current form of capitalism puts human considerations well behind financial ones, even if the pandemic showed us a different way to conduct our work lives.

A thought-provoking take on shaking up business as usual once the pandemic has passed.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32009-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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