Book Review: Remote, Not Distant

Remote, Not Distant – Gustavo Razzetti – Book Cover

Book: Remote, Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace

Author: Gustavo Razzetti

Genre: Non-fiction, business

Review copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

The “new normal” became the buzzword in most professional circles during the pandemic years. Today, the “new normal” is the “new world” demanding a mindset change and adjustments. The diktat for return-to-office has led to an upheaval that is said to feed the Great Resignation, particularly in the corporate realm. Remote, Not Distant by Gustavo Razzetti is one of the most relevant books that leaders and employees can read to build bridges and settle down in a hybrid work mode.

Gustavo’s book is well-researched and well-organized. It puts together details in a succinct and meaningful format. The book endorses that corporate leaders have to accept that “The hybrid workplace is here to stay.” Employees expect leaders to understand their perspectives and include them in decisions about flexibility and a hybrid work model.

The book provides a 5-step Anywhere/Anytime Culture approach to tackle the issue head-on. The writer has used examples and quotes from industry practitioners and consultants to explain how a hybrid work model requires resetting prior notions. He breaks down jargon to their basic connotations to showcase why words must truly convey our intentions – be it culture, purpose, employee engagement, rituals, or ideas. He mentions asynchronous communication, proximity bias, single-source of truth, and conflicts.

Readers are presented with an array of frameworks and tools, downloadable with QR codes and topic recaps. My copy of this book has several highlights and notes. It is insightful to read how some companies got it right with their employee-first approach, while some took a fall. A storehouse of information, this guide, can help leaders define what they need to make the hybrid workplace work. It can assist employees to see where the lines converge and how they can contribute to their organizations in a remote or hybrid setup. They can be equipped to bring suggestions to the table.

This guide endorses a switch in our thought process and provides actions to redraft our way of working for a “unique opportunity to reset your culture and leverage the best of both worlds: in-person and remote.” Gustavo Razzetti, the CEO and founder of Fearless Culture, a culture design consultancy, is vocal about integrity, trust, conversations, connections, and letting go of control tactics. Behaviors and emotions are more important than physical perks. The bright-yellow book cover is unmistakable and brings to attention one of the most crucial issues of the employer-employee relationship in a post-Covid world. This is a book for keeps.

Book Review: First Patients

Book: First Patients

Author: Rod Tanchanco

Genre: Medical NonFiction

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

The pandemic years have re-instilled curiosity and questions about discovering treatments and vaccines. The book – First Patients by Rod Tanchanco – arrives at an opportune time to quench this curiosity. Rod has compiled a set of 10 stories around various events that led to fascinating and life-changing medical discoveries. From smallpox to AIDs, yellow fever to mold, these carefully selected stories talk about accidental deaths and accidental studies that changed the course of medical history.

The writing is impeccable and takes you back to the time of the incidents. The tone and texture of the stories are engaging and relevant to the timelines of several scientific breakthroughs. A storehouse of information, this book reflects meticulous research with utmost passion for the subject. The writer’s enthusiasm and fascination are evident.

We see how the world of sciences is not only plagued by doubt and dissing of ideas but also by infighting, jealousy, and lobbying. Maybe discoveries benefitting humans would have arrived earlier and with more precision if all had the interest of humanity foremost. While many erudite men clamor for accolades, actual heroes are the commoners who either come across discoveries or are the “First Patients” oft sacrificed on the table of science. Between human avarice and selfless dedication, the population of Earth has survived medical odds.

Rod says in the preface that he wrote this book with “enthrallment, awe, and disbelief that swept me as I probed the ordeal of real people caught in unique medical dilemmas.” There are no other appropriate words to rephrase why one must read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I like to read about works of science and medicine. Even if you know all these stories, the depth and clarity of Rod’s narrative make the book a keepsake. Within each page, you will gain new insights into the field of medical care and knowledge. The book fills the gap by retelling “stories on the patients behind medical milestones” in the last three hundred years.

Book Review: Tech Trends 24/7 And the Impact of Covid-19

Book cover

Book: Tech Trends 24/7 And the Impact of Covid-19

Author: James P. Quinn

Genre: Contemporary, Technology, NonFiction

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

Tech Trends 24/7 and the Impact of Covid-19 by James Quinn is a relevant book for our technology-infused life. Rendered in a coffee-book format, the book is an impressive work exploring emerging and active technology trends. Quinn has embellished this well-researched work with photographs, surveys, and graphs. The interviews and inputs from leaders in trending technology-based organizations and creators provide inspiring thought-leadership.

James Quinn’s writing is to-the-point and reflects the passion for discovering how technology is transforming our lives. As incessant consumers of social media, with information at our fingertips, we think we understand the world of technology and our future. It may emulate the glossy infrastructure depicted in futuristic movies, but this book helps us understand how this future needs to be designed and executed.

For example, I found it interesting that modern workspaces are dense, but this formula failed with the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing protocols. A global pandemic demands a restructuring of collaborative spaces – from air-conditioning vents to lunch areas. A modern office needs to install touchless entry, voice-activated elevator buttons, and health screening machines when they thought their biometric identification devices were the coolest.

From the Internet of things (IoT) and its role in sustainability to digital twins and their role in user experience, there are more emergent trends and terms that one can keep up with. This book gives a bird’s-eye view of how technology is transforming cities, homes, offices, transportation, and even music and fashion. Technology, art, and creativity have become more interlinked than ever before. It is fascinating how digital twins are being used in the Notre Dame renovation.

The writer throws light on the role of artificial intelligence, robotics, and assistive technology in our daily lives. The underlying theme of the book is the use of technology for sustainability, wellness, and inclusivity. There is much to read and consume in this book as reference material. It is complete and interesting in its current form, but I see the potential of expanding the information into more segments, like educational and recreational infrastructure, healthcare and hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing, and everyone’s favorite – entertainment! A book that makes you want to know more about technology in its various avatars has done its job quite well. I am excited to know how the world will change in the Metaverse. I hope Quinn has plans to write more on this topic.

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Book Review: Imperial Passions

An engrossing historical fiction, bringing to life the travails of the Byzantine Empire through the voice of a strong female protagonist.

Book cover

Book: Imperial Passions – The Great Palace

Author: Eileen Stephenson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Must Read

“Not everyone wants power, wants a throne.” In Constantinople, 1059, these words by Anna Dalassena’s husband John place an invisible burden on her. The Imperial Passions – The Great Palace is the story of the burden of those who do not wear the crown but have the best interest of the Empire in mind.

Eileen Stephenson has produced an endearing work through intricate research. Her passion for the subject is clear as she painstakingly develops each character. She infuses them with human follies and strengths. Eileen’s female protagonist tells the story of court intrigues, shifting loyalties, weak administration, invading Turks, and brawny men. The Imperial Palace is a hotbed of politics, plagued by incompetent leaders and a dwindling treasury. 

The wisdom and camaraderie of the women, particularly Anna Dalassena and later Empress Eudokia, keep a tottering empire from falling apart. Eileen has given an elegant and compassionate voice to the character of Anna. She is wise and talented, has a keen understanding of people and politics, is a gifted matchmaker, and counsel. She is a caring mother, a perfect homemaker, a clever planner, and above all, a sleek diplomat. Through personal losses, Anna stands as a firm ally of the Empire and its people, even at the risk of making enemies in the royal court.

This is a thrilling work as twists and turns appear every so often, with characters falling off the pedestal or gaining a wide berth while the Turks are pounding on the doors. Descriptions of court life and customs, monasteries and houses, social orders and marriages, make the book a fascinating treatise of the times.

The initial few pages listing the main characters, and the glossary can momentarily overwhelm. Browse through these pages and the map, then embark on an exhilarating journey through the Byzantine Empire in the 11th century. I enjoyed making notes and highlighting characters to remember key characters and events.

This historical fiction flows in a simple language with balanced descriptions. There are no long-drawn scenes of battles, even though the impact of these military expeditions helps to drive the politics of Constantinople. This book provides a wholesome reading experience and is a must-read for all fans of historical fiction. The cover artwork by Jennifer Quinlan adequately represents the feminine energy in the history of the Byzantine rulers. 

Book Review: The Seven-Day Resurrection

A delicate narrative of a mother-son, built on themes of nostalgia and hope, with a clever and mysterious back-from-the-dead central plot.

Book cover

Book: The Seven-Day Resurrection

Author: Chevron Ross

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Review Copy: Reedsy Discovery

Available at: Amazon.in

Recommended: Loved It

“Death was so arbitrary. … Sometimes death was sneaky.” What if resurrection occurs? Len grapples with this question in the fascinating novel, The Seven-Day Resurrection. Writer Chevron Ross builds on an interesting premise and entangles the reader in a series of questions from the start. What can explain the presence of Len’s mother in his house after her death? Is it imagination, an anomaly, a cosmic glitch, a psychiatric or physiological disorder, or senility?

Ross has entwined several themes in his book. Delicate nuances of the co-dependent relationship between a 70-year-old man and his 90-year-old mother are central. In crisscrossing timelines, the characters experience different time-lapses in the future and the past. Then, there are stories around the myriad characters – Olivia, the caretaker, Miranda, Len’s boss, Len’s siblings, Len’s teenage angst, aspirations as a writer, life as a loner, and insurance claims handler.

My favorite overarching theme is the nostalgia of the Depression-era and the World War. Ross brings out the imprints of the war on the life of simple people. He tells how the years of want and struggle made the people bitter, frugal, and eventually hoarders, of both things and memories. The conversations between Len and his mother make up a major part of the narrative. Another part is Len’s confusion about the happenings around him and recollections of his life.

An interesting writing technique is using snippets from Len’s writing drafts in the novel. When the first draft of The Farm Tree appears in the book, it is almost confusing. I paused to grasp how the dominant story and this narrative were connected. At a point, it seemed there were too many characters to track. However, I saw the connection. The strong, caring father figure of The Farm Tree and the incidents around bullying were easy to identify. They are reflections of Len’s yearnings since his teenage.

This book is well-researched and has impeccable writing. It is not a zippy read. It requires time and attention. This should in no way discourage a reader because the book does not weigh you down. It carefully builds on the characters, making them endearing and relatable. The writer sketches portraits of a world that is now a fast-disappearing memory, while also keeping it contemporary by referencing the pandemic. The mystery of the resurrection keeps you engaged till the end.

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