Summer Reading

In my final interview for my current job, the company president handed me a book. He wanted me to read it and take notes because it fully described my new role. The book is The Machine: A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function by Justin Roff-Marsh.

The Machine

I took that as a good sign about my getting the job!

For a business book, it was incredibly well-written and compelling. Basically it is how to structure a company so that the sales team is only doing sales: Support, billing, and renewals are handled by other specialists within the company. I love it when companies I’m working with use that model, so I was pleased when that is how the opening chapter unrolled. I even used that in my interview thank you note.

Having that homework to do reminded me of annual summer reading packets I had for my English classes in high school. We were assigned (and given copies) of 4-5 books that we were expected to read and then complete a multi-page package that tested for reading comprehension. I loved those packets; I might have been the only one who did. They gave me something to do during the long, three-month break.

I know many of my classmates waited until the end of summer to complete their assignments. On at least one year we had a fellow student removed from the honors English class for not completing the work. That was unfathomable to me. My reading and packets were always done well before the deadline. I know surprise, surprise.

In thinking back on it, though, those summer reading assignments were wasted learning opportunities. Not once were the books discussed in class. Those were classic works, too: Of Mice and Men, Old Man and the Sea, Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Passage to India, Jude the Obscure. Some I loved, some I barely could get through, but I dutifully read each and every page.  And yet, once they were read and the study guide completed, we were through with them. What a shame.

Even now I’d love to be able to have a discussion comparing the themes of Jude the Obscure and Of Human Bondage, but I know so few people who have read them (and fewer that remember them). Both of those books resonated strongly with me.

Was anyone else assigned summer reading in high school? Or Which assigned reading works resonated with you?

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