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books to read by the pool August 17, 2007

Posted by nicholas gill in books, management, though leadership, thoughts, travel.


A little later than planned but I finally get to blog about my last holiday in Italy when I’m on my current holiday pootling around at home. First up in the holiday season: the book review.

Steve Waugh – Out of My Comfort Zone

waugh book

The first of a few cricketing themed books for this holiday. I’d wanted to read this for months but managed to keep it hidden away for the week in Tuscany. Some autobiographies are just a sprinkling of magic dust on a few weeks in the sun (think Wayne Rooney’s “life story” when he’s just about out of school trousers), but this is different. Waugh’s is a fascinating tale of a guy who just doesn’t give up, makes himself better through perserverance and hard work and is incredibly human and humble. At nearly 800 pages, it’s not a quick and easy read and a bit like Waugh himself, you need to grind it out and discover the gems. And it’s not just a book for cricket lovers. If you have to manage people, you should read this. A real account of someone who took a good Australian team and made them great. How great? Just look at the history books. Some of the management lessons in the pages are as good as any you’ll find in the business and management sections of the book stores. Here’s an example of his 12-point blueprint for success:

1. stay a strong unit and enjoy each other’s success

2. play each game as if it’s the most important of your career

3. don’t hesitate, always back yourself

4. never believe the game is lost

5. aim to be man of the match every time you play

6. improvise – think on your feet

7. learn something from every match

8. do the little things right and the big picture will fall into place

9. enjoy the fact you’re representing your country – have pride

10. the best fielding side nearly always wins

11. know your own game and what your role is

12. have fun – have a laugh

Simple and straightforward but when executed with 100% convinction, unbeatable. Try taking these into your work on Monday morning.

James May – Notes from the Hard Shoulder

james may

I bought this because I enjoy Captain Slow on Top Gear. I didn’t realise he had a column in the Telegraph mainly because I don’t buy the Telegraph. Like Jeremy Clarkson’s column collections, they are fantastically short allowing you to chew it in bite size chunks, deliciously funny and completely in tune with the tone of May on the TV. After the seriousness of Waugh, a welcome chuckle.

Michael Simkins – Fatty Batter: How cricket saved my life (then ruined it)

fatty batter

Back to willow and leather with this very funny tale of how a fat kid useless at sport discovered cricket on the TV one summer and then became obsessed by it to the point where every weekend and spare moment is spent organising and playing in friendly matches. I haven’t laughed so much from reading a book in ages.

David Mitchell – Black Swan Green

black swan green

I didn’t quite finish this on holiday but a I love Mitchell’s evocative writing style that brings alive characters and places. Black Swan Green has huge nostalgia for 1982 in a typically English suburban town and deals with a child who has a stammer and therefore social acceptance problems in a difficult 13 year old’s life which is set against the backdrop of the Falklands War. Although somewhat personally disapoointed that the 1982 World Cup wasn’t even mentioned but then the main protagonist wasn’t really sporty so it wouldn’t have fitted at all. Perhaps I should write my own memoirs? Quite different to the other three holiday books in style and content but that’s the beauty of books: every one is different.

OK, I didn’t read these on holiday but some recent memorable reads:

Nick Griffiths – Dalek I loved You


If you like Dr Who and were born in and around the 1970’s this will make you laugh and cry. Although it’s not wholly about the Doctor so don’t be put off. More a case of one man’s quite surreal life against which the Doctor is interspersed.

Harry Thompson – Penguins Stopped Play


Not unlike Fatty Batter in that it mainly covers a friendly playing cricket team but it covers their fantastic travels to play cricket in all the world’s continents. Incredibly entertaining, witty and articulate as you’d expect from one of the script writers of Have I Got News For You.

J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows


At first I did think they were kids books. Then I read the first few on holiday last year and became hooked. And I managed to be patient while my wife finished reading it before I started. A bit of a Hollywood ending but like other Potter fans I did enjoy it. What I like most about Potter is that it’s got children reading again and inspiring their imaginations. Whatever your own personal views on the merchandising etc., surely getting kids reading and enjoying picking up a book and using their brains is better than sticking them in front of the TV or the PlayStation or educating them through free toys with Happy Meals?



1. paintball - September 7, 2007

Oh wait. Yes, I have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it in me right now to type it all out again. Besides, it was just ramblings anyway. You didn’t want to hear me go on and on about this, right?

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