My fantasy vacation would be a long train ride (perhaps across Canada) accompanied by a stack of books I’ve been meaning to read. Of course, I’m never without a book–or several–in some stage of completion. Since summer is a downtime for parts of my business, I take advantage of that by upping my reading. My reading list always includes at least one classic, often one that I had overlooked such as East of Eden or a return visit to Dickens or Jane Austen.
Whether you’re headed for the beach or staying busy at home, here are a few suggestions for some obvious and not-so-obvious reading for the Joyfully Jobless.
Since I’ve long resented the snobbery that classifies some work as Good and other as Bad, I was excited to learn about Shop Class as Soulcraft. Author Michael B. Crawford, the philosopher with a wrench, abandoned his academic path and found bliss running his own motorcycle repair shop. He says, “This is a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, is tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. But this has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding.”
At the last minute, I grabbed Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast to take along on my trip to Madison last week. I had read this nonfiction work several years ago, but this time it struck me in a whole different way. This memoir covers the years Hemingway spent in Paris before he became a famous writer. It’s a powerful testimony to our capacity for creating a rich life even when money is scarce. “The one who is doing his work and getting satisfaction from it is not the one the poverty bothers…But then we did not think of ourselves as poor,” Hemingway recalls.
A pair of books that will delight any booklover is Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels and The Haunted Bookstore. The hero is the owner of a traveling bookstore in the first volume and the owner of a conventional one in the second. Funny and eccentric, the passionate booklovers in these stories will endear themselves to you if you’re a bibliophile yourself.
Morley’s characters aren’t the only entrepreneurial protagonists; all sorts of mysteries center around a main character who is an entrepreneur. In Diane Mott Davidson’s culinary mysteries we meet crime-solving caterer Goldy Schulz. John Dunning’s Cliff Janeway is a detective-turned-antiquarian-bookseller. And, of course, there’s the beloved Precious Ramotswe (the Miss Marple of Botswana) in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. While these books are fun to read for the mystery plot line, they’re even more intriguing if you’re an entrepreneur yourself.
Benjamin Franklin advised, “Write something worth reading or live something worth writing.” Lynda Resnick has done both. A lifelong entrepreneur, Resnick’s Rubies in the Orchard is a terrific book on marketing woven into her autobiographical tale of growing several successful businesses. Obviously, this is a woman who was paying attention to the lessons along the way and the reader is the beneficiary of her wisdom.
One of my favorite books of this year is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows which is out in paperback just in time for summer. I also loved the audio version with its perfect cast of narrators. This is storytelling at its finest.
Got a book you’d like to add to the list? Let us know.
Don’t have time to read? Take a minute and check out Nicholas Bate’s 14 Reasons For Reading Books.