The Power of a Positive No by William Ury – I wish I had read this book fifteen years ago. If you have a hard time saying “no” to people, definitely read this book! Even just skimming through the first few chapters in Borders was enough to help me in an actual situation that had come up; I went back the next day and bought it to read it for real.
Ury draws on his own experience as a negotiator and the experiences of others who have taken his seminars to illustrate his three stages of delivering a “positive no.” First, you look within yourself and examine your values to clarify why you want to say no. This is the “Yes!” stage — saying “yes” to your values, your self-worth. Then, you deliver a “no” in a way that is respectful of the other person’s values and worth while maintaining a “plan B” for the worst-case scenario if the other person does not accept your proposal. Finally, you offer a “yes?” to offer an alternative solution that would work for you both.
The book is tightly written, with examples ranging from negotiations between countries to communicating with a teenager. This is one book that will stay on my bookshelf.
Magic Street by Orson Scott Card – Card writes in the afterword that this book was born out of a comment about how you rarely see African-American heroes in books. Magic Street is based in a middle-upper class black neighborhood and starts out with the bizarre birth of Mack Street. Mack, who is pretty much raised by the whole neighborhood, finds that he can explore fairyland in a parallel world. However, there are some dark undercurrents of magic that are slowly starting to affect the real world, and Mack is the only one who can do anything about it.
I definitely didn’t expect to have characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream appear in this contemporary fantasy tale. I found this, as most of Card’s other books, completely enjoyable.
Empire by Orson Scott Card – What would cause another civil war in America? Where would the warring lines be drawn, and what happens when both sides claim true patriotism? This is science fiction along the lines of 1984 — military technology that doesn’t exist yet shows up in the story, but the heart remains with strongly written characters that you can get behind and follow, all in a pointed social commentary about the all-or-nothing state of American two-party politics. This could be a great book for discussion.
The Sharing Knife: Legacy by Lois McMaster Bujold – This is volume two of The Sharing Knife and you definitely need to read volume one, Beguilement, first. These two “romantic fantasy” novels are set in a world where people are divided into farmers (Fawn) or Lakewalkers (Dag), with little love between the two groups. Lakewalkers have the magical ability to sense the “ground,” or life force, in everything, and their main mission is to fight and destroy all “malices” — evil creatures that strip away ground, which can only be killed by a “sharing knife;” knives made from human bone that have been “primed” with the mortal sacrifice of another Lakewalker. Volume one is mostly about the conflict with a malice that brings Dag and Fawn together, and then about how Dag and Fawn fall in love and get married. (It’s more “romance” than “fantasy.”) Volume two brings Dag and Fawn back to his community, where they face conflict both within the community and without (less “romance,” more “fantasy”). Both books feature Bujold’s rich characters and backstory. Bujold is working on another two-volume sequel; I can’t wait for them to come out!
With a bookmark:
(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)
- Pistol by Mark Kriegel
- Doc Halligan’s What Every Pet Owner Should Know by Karen Halligan
- The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
- A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
Library book box:
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy