Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill happens to be one of my fiance’s heros and a man I know very little about.  Couple that with a recent conversation with a friend about leadership and becoming a better leader.  She was reading a book called, “Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill:  A brief account of a long life” by Gretchen Rubin.  She had just taken a professional class on leadership.  The instructor mentioned one option to learn about leadership, rather than read books solely about leadership, is to read biographies about leaders.  Hence the book on Winston Churchill.  Great advice – especially when starting with a book like this.

This is not a long book, only about 250 pages.  It is not a biography that starts at his birth and continues until his death, instead each chapter touches on one way to look at Churchill.  First it starts with him as a hero, quickly followed by a chapter on his critics.  The author presents a variety of opinions and views on her subject – many taken from men of Churchill’s time.  Other chapters touch on his motives, key events in his life, his role as parent and many more.  Not only do you learn a little about what he stood for, but also, how he worked and what his favorite pasttime was.  Churchill was an avid painter – who knew?  He was also a spendthrift and, despite his “fame” as a politician, earned most of his income as a writer.  One chapter is Churchill through photographs.  Another “facts at a glance” – his favorite music was Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas, his favorite dogs were Rufus I and Rufus II and on and on.

My conclusion – this is the type of biography I need to look for.  Full of relevant information but not overwhelming the reader with details you won’t ever remember.  I highly recommend this book!


My day job is as a trainer, elearning consultant and instructional designer.  A career path I have to say that I love and suits me perfectly!  One of the professional associations of which I am a member is the American Society for Training & Development or ASTD.  This past weekend was the big ASTD conference and expo.  I volunteered for one day and, consequently, was able to attend the conference for free one day.  I would have loved to attend the entire conference but am grateful to have been able to go for even one day.

All that to say that even during the one day I attended the conference, I managed to come up with a good list of future reading.  I am not usually one to read a lot of business type books but these sound interesting to me.

  1. The Inspiring Leader by John Zenger, et al.
  2. The Extraordinary Leader by John Zenger, et al.
  3. Driving results through social networks by Robert Cross
  4. Groundswell by Charlene Lee
  5. Grown Up Digital by Dan Tapscott
  6. The Influencer by Kerry Patterson, et al.
  7. Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton
  8. Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al.
  9. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves
  10. ASTD Learning System by ASTD

If I had to pick 2 to focus on, it would be The Influencer and Grown Up DigitalThe Influencer because it is written by the same group who wrote Crucial Conversations (also on the list).  I have not read Crucial Conversations but my organization has offered training on the topic, which I found to be very valuable.  The Influencer sounds to me like it would be just as valuable.  Grown Up Digital on the other hand, talks about the net generation, how they will influence demoncracy, how they think and considerations for educators.  Read on!

Audiobook addicts?

I love the thought that there are other “audiobook addicts” besides myself out there in the world.  My local library offers a great selection of audiobooks that can be downloaded, for free, from the library’s website to your mp3 player or ipod.  If you don’t have that service, you may want to check out either Librivox or Books Free.  Librivox is a non profit whose mission is to provide audiobook versions of all books in the public domain.  It is an excellent service (and you can even volunteer to record some yourself!).  The one big drawback (in my opinion) is that a book may be recorded using a variety of voices (i.e. different voices for different chapters) – not just a single voice as you generally get in the more professional recordings.    Still, it is free and definitely worth checking out! 


Booksfree on the other hand is more of a subscription type of service, similar to Netflix for DVDs.  You subscribe and are allowed a certain number of audiobooks a month.  Check it out.


For more information on Booksfree also check out the original article written by CNET at http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10252299-2.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5.

Here is the list of books I read over vacation.   All in all, a success.  Generally my one and only goal over vacation is to read as many books as possible, much to my fiance’s dismay! 

  1. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton
  2. The Lost Gardens by Anthony Eglin
  3. Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill by Gretchen Rubin
  4. Stone Angel by Carol O’Connell

Stone Angel and the Winston Churchill book were my favorite.  Carol O’Connell is right up there with Elizabeth George on my list of favorite mystery authors.  Plus, this particular book I have gotten out of the library several times and returned without reading.  It is one of those mysteries that really has some depth to it.

The Churchill book on the other hand I am going to dedicate a separate post to…keep your eyes open for it!

This one is on my to do list.  It is a 100% online novel by Alexander McCall Smith.  McCall Smith is an interesting person.  He is a Zimbabwean born British writer and former Medical Law Professor at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  You can subscribe via iTunes or read the chapters online.  If you like Alexander McCall Smith’s work, this one is worth checking out.


Random House is giving away a free Elizabeth Berg novel if you provide your thoughts on her book Year of Pleasures.  Go to this link for more information:


Thanks to the Freebie Blogger for the tip!

Vacation Time!

I am on vacation and won’t be posting (unless I can find an internet cafe somewhere!) while I am gone.  I will be back June 1st.  Happy Reading!