Book Corner: Linchpin, A House of My Own & The Seventh Bride

linchpin-godinLinchpin by Seth Godin

Recommended by Dawn Young

This book was a game changer for me.  It lit a fire in me.  It inspired and motivated me to completely change how I view and engage in work.  Linchpin is a book about how to become indispensable at work, but it’s not the typical “here are some tips on how to be more efficient and productive at your job” or “here’s how to make your boss’s job easier.”  Godin says that to be truly indispensable and valued at work, you want to aim to be a linchpin, and you can be a linchpin at any level at your job – whether you’re the office secretary or CEO.

According to Godin, there are two types of workers: the factory worker who punches in and out, who follows the rules, who fits in, who essentially shows up everyday and doesn’t ask questions.  They are essentially the “cogs in the wheel.” And then there are the linchpins – the ones that view work as something creative, as an art form, the ones that freely give their “gifts” to others, the ones that connect, that use their humanity to create change. You want to be a linchpin, that little metal pin that holds the wheels on vehicles and machinery, the pin that holds the entire machine together.

Here are a couple of quotes that sum up the book perfectly:

“The indispensable employee brings humanity and connection and art to her organization. She is the key player, the one who’s difficult to live without, the person you can build something around.”  In other words, the indispensable employee is a linchpin — a person worth keeping.

“You have brilliance in you, your contribution is valuable, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do, and you must.”

I encourage you to read this book. It was truly inspirational for me.


sandra-cisnerosA House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros

Recommended by Emily Barney

If you haven’t already enjoyed The House on Mango Street or Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros, I would recommend putting either of those ahead of this one on your reading list, since she references those works so often in this collection. Both of those other books are beautiful works of fiction, but always demonstrate her skill in interweaving history and personal experiences and places she has lived (including Chicago) to tell a larger story.

A House of My Own: Stories from My Life is mostly nonfiction, but other than that it isn’t any one thing. It’s a collection of her existing work: sometimes a memoir, sometimes speeches on what it means to be an artist and an author, sometimes moments of engagement with events in her life or the larger world, sometimes tributes to friends and other works of art that have influenced her.

Each piece is organized on a rough chronological path to show her personal explorations, but interwoven with reflections on ways she’s changed or grown since the time she originally wrote each piece. I’m finding the piece by piece pacing helpful as I read it on the train, since I tend to try to read a book all the way through. This doesn’t require that sort of reading and I’m finding the slower pacing helps me absorb each story or essay more fully.

seventhbrideThe Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher

Recommended by Debbie Ginsberg

“Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”

Rhea is the 15-year-old miller’s daughter.  Although there is nothing obviously extraordinary about her, a local noble has decided that she will be his wife.  Because commoners cannot turn down nobles, she has no choice to but to marry him – until he provides her a way out.  All she has to do is complete a series of increasingly impossible tasks. And so she sets out to complete them all to save herself – with or without the help of his six other wives.

This engaging book by T Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon) combines elements of the legend of Bluebeard, the tale of Mr. Fox, and countless other fairly tales.  The characters are engaging, with interesting histories and personalities.  The heroine is smart, the villain is frightening, and the scenery is otherworldly.  And there’s a very cute – and unusually smart – helpful hedgehog (you’ll want one of your own).

The Seventh Bride is a quick read, and makes for a fun afternoon.  While Vernon often writes YA fiction, the novels she publishes under Kingfisher are meant for adults.

Kim Koppen

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