What I’m Reading (February 2017)

How many books do you typically have open at any one time?  

I normally have around 7-10 books in progress and move from one to the other according to my mood.  Every now and then, ed the bedside pile creeps a little too high and I make a promise to reduce the pile before I start something new.  Sigh.  It never works!

At the moment, I am preparing for an intense year of training with Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) so my reading includes plenty of scripts and books on technique (Peter Brook, Patsy Rodenburg and David Mamet).

My NIDA audition included two monologues  so I worked through something old and something new – Shakespeare’s Richard III (opening soliloquy) and Andrew Bovell’s When The Rain Stops Falling.  At the same time (and entirely by coincidence) my brother sent me a selection of plays by six writers (Harold Pinter, Patrick White, Samuel Beckett, Martin Crimp, Eugene O’Neill and Sarah Kane) so I have also been thoroughly enjoying Pinter’s The Caretaker and The Dumb Waiter – two beautifully absurd, poignant and enigmatic pieces.  Like all of Pinter’s work, the stories start simply and gradually unfold, so that you slowly learn more about the protagonists and their quirks, fears and profound ordinariness.  Such beautiful writing.

I’ve also been stepping through Peter Brook’s classic The Empty Space and Patsy Rodenburg’s The Right To Speak, Working With The Voice.  Brook’s writing is quite dense and I find myself having to slowly unpick it, but the reflections and intensity of his thinking are well worth the effort. I am treating Rodenburg’s book as a text/reference and am dipping in and out of it rather than reading it cover to cover.

After listening to a brilliant podcast discussion about his work, I have decided to jump back into a book that I had awful trouble with and in fact, had discarded some months ago – David Mamet’s True and False, Heresy and Common Sense For The Actor.  It’s worth trying but I still do not enjoy it.

Being an avowed Bob Dylan tragic, I always have a Dylan book open somewhere.  This month, I dived into Christopher Ricks’ Dylan’s Visions Of Sin.  It is heavy going and requires a fan’s dedication, but I am certainly up for the challenge and really enjoy Ricks’ enthusiastic approach to Dylan’s language.  I’m also reading Paul William’s Bob Dylan: Performing Artist – The Early Years for the third time.  Lovely writing and a forensic eye for detail.  

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is proving a real treat with some wonderful, witty language and delightful characters.  No spoilers please…but I do hope that Mr. Darcy loosens up a little!

On the Project Management front, I have finally started reading Michel Dion’s Leadership Toolbox For Project Managers and will post a review as soon as I can.  I’m looking forward to reading about his take on Project Leadership.

My current Program role is with a truly global workforce – my project teams are spread around the world and I spend all day (and too many nights) talking with people in South Africa, Europe, Asia, USA, Canda and Australia.  As part of our normal operating environment, we use social media and collaborative tools – Yammer, Lync, Skype, Dropbox and Google Docs.  With that in mind, I have re-read an old personal favorite – Elizabeth Harrin’s Social Media for Project Managers.  Elizabeth’s book is one that I often refer back to and this month, I have found myself reading from cover to cover; it’s been refreshing to remind myself, not only of the range of social media tools and platforms at Project Managers’ disposal but also the importance of planning your approach and making sure that all your stakeholders are engaged and supported.  The content is a little dated but the principles underpinning Elizabeth’s writing remain relevant today.

I recently completed Colin Ellis’ The Conscious Project Leader – a brilliant collection of short reflections, calls to action and links to other resources.  Well worth checking out.

Finally, I am reading Managing Multiple Projects by Tobis and Tobis.  My first impression is that it’s OK for a quick read but probably doesn’t go as far as I would like.  Useful for an accidental Project manager or someone looking to build some new skills, but for anyone already working with complex multi-project environments, this may be one to skim read.

What are you reading?  What have you finished and what are you still reading?  Have any books caught your eye or left you disappointed?  I would love to hear more so please do let me know.  

Until next month, happy reading!


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