Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Books

  1. Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work That Matters

    by Lisa Bodell

    The average person spends 28 percent of their workweek — 13 hours — dealing with e-mails. During regularly scheduled meetings, 80 percent of attendees bury their heads in their phones for at least some portion of the gathering. What could you do with the time you spend writing emails every day? What about the unproductive hours spent on conference calls or in meetings, going over updates that could have been provided in another more efficient way? Many of us yearn to do meaningful work but find ourselves paralyzed when we try to make it happen. We continually pledge to do things differently and shorten our “to-do” lists, but still we don’t make headway.

    Globally recognized innovation leader and CEO of futurethink, author Lisa Bodell, BBA ’90, offers a “simple” solution. She recognizes that complexity is killing companies’ ability to innovate and adapt, and proves that simplicity is the competitive advantage of our time. She brings her compelling message to more than 100,000 people a year, showing them how to eliminate mundane and unnecessary tasks from their everyday routine so that they have more time for work that matters. Bodell has transformed teams within organizations like Google, Novartis, Accenture, and more. Drawing on her practical Midwestern upbringing and entrepreneurial background, she has used the power of simplification to launch three successful businesses, write two books, travel to more than 40 countries and 48 states, and sit on boards such as Novartis’ Diversity and Inclusion Board and the Global Advisory Council for the World Economic Forum.

  2. Iconic Restaurants of Ann Arbor

    by Gail Offen

    What is an iconic Ann Arbor restaurant? Ask anyone who has ever spent time here as a student, traveler, or “townie,” and they are likely to name several favorites in an instant. From debating the best place to celebrate or console on football Saturdays to deciding where to eat after the bars close, the choices have always sparked passionate conversation. In Ann Arbor, people are known to have strong feelings about the best places for pizza, coffee, beer, burgers, noodles, and burritos. Although many of the go-to hangouts are long gone, a surprising number still thrive. And there are always a few newcomers coming along to win the hearts of the next generation of diners, nibblers, and noshers. Some are fine restaurants and taverns, and others are lunch counters, diners, carry-outs, and drive-ins — but in each and every case, they are unique and together make up a collection of iconic local eateries.

    Author Offen, BGS ’78, is senior VP and creative director at the advertising agency Doner, in Detroit.

  3. See You in the Cosmos

    by Jack Cheng

    Alex Petroski is a precocious 11-year-old who loves space, rockets, his family, and his dog, Carl Sagan — named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All Alex wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. So he sets out on a journey to make his dream come true, recording the sounds of life on Earth, his Earth, along the way. But his destination keeps changing, taking him far from his suburban Colorado home and bringing a series of unforgettable characters into his life, all of whom help him to make sense of our big, beautiful, complicated world.

    Born in Shanghai, author Cheng came to the U.S. with his family when he was five, and grew up in metropolitan Detroit. A U-M grad, he spent nearly a decade in New York City working in advertising and tech before returning to Detroit to pursue new projects that integrate his professional experience with his passion for creativity and innovation.

  4. Thirty Years on Two Wheels

    by Julie Hatfield & Timothy Leland

    In 1983, when a friend at a party mentioned she had just returned from a bike trip in Europe — “the best trip of my life” — Tim Leland and his wife Julie (Stockwell) Hatfield, BA ’62, were intrigued. Two weeks later they signed on for a guided bicycle trip to Bordeaux. So began a 30-year biking odyssey that took these two Boston Globe writers to eight countries on 12 different tours. The Globe travel section chronicled their experiences each time they went. This funny, beautifully descriptive book — based on those articles — captures everything unique about the joys of traveling on two wheels in foreign lands: the fragrances, the tastes, the sights, the sounds. You will fall in love, as they did, with the idea of slow travel down tiny vineyard lanes, far removed from the air-conditioned tour buses that keep you away from the real thing.

    Hatfield was a fashion editor, lifestyle writer, and society writer for The Boston Globe before “retiring” to become a freelance travel writer for a variety of publications, including the Globe. Leland is a retired former managing editor and assistant to the publisher of The Boston Globe. During a distinguished 35-year career at the newspaper, he covered the first NASA space shots at Cape Canaveral, served as its State House bureau chief covering state and local politics, and founded the Globe’s long-running full-time investigative team known as “Spotlight.”

  5. Burning Bright

    by Nicholas Petrie

    From one of crime fiction’s hottest rising stars Nicholas Petrie comes the second thriller featuring the utterly compelling war veteran Peter Ash, whom The Lincoln Journal Star has called “an action hero of the likes of Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne.” In Burning Bright, the follow-up to Petrie’s critically acclaimed debut The Drifter, protagonist Peter Ash lands himself in trouble . . . again. This time, he’s found himself in the primordial forests of northern California, where he stumbles upon a mysterious rope ladder leading into the sky, a frightened woman on the run, and a piece of extraordinary technology that could change the world forever.

    Petrie earned a Hopwood award for short fiction while an undergraduate at U-M.

  6. No Such Agency

    by Robert N. Chan

    When arthritic New York lawyer and failed novelist Jack Kahn is abducted and tortured by No Such Agency — which might or might not be connected to the NSA — he discovers that his novel, in which a billionaire investment banker is murdered, has been copied in real life. Retained in a major case involving cyber-security, Jack realizes that he played an inadvertent part in setting in motion a civilization-destroying conspiracy. But what can a lone lawyer and a sultry, sociopathic terrorist do to thwart one of the richest and most powerful families on the planet?

  7. The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class

    by Edward Conard

    Four years ago, Edward Conard wrote the controversial bestseller Unintended Consequences, in which set the record straight on the financial crisis of 2008 and explained why U.S. growth was accelerating relative to other high-wage economies. He warned that loose monetary policy would produce neither growth nor inflation, that expansionary fiscal policy would have no lasting benefit on growth in the aftermath of the crisis, and that ill-advised attempts to rein in banking based on misplaced blame would slow an already weak recovery.

    Unfortunately, he was right.

    Now he’s back with another provocative argument: That our current obsession with income inequality is misguided and will only slow growth further.

    Conard earned his BS degree in operations research at U-M in 1978. He is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was a founding partner at Bain Capital, where he worked closely with former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

  8. O Tomodachi (Friend): A Lush Depiction of Postwar Japan

    by Dick Jorgenson

    Representing the University of Michigan, Dick Jorgensen arrived in Japan in 1954 and spent the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, founded in the wake of the atomic bomb detonation in 1945. Thus began an incredible journey for, as he describes himself, a “kid from the Midwest.”

    It was the start of a lifelong love affair with travel in general and Japanese culture, architecture, and history in particular. While in Japan, Jorgensen met luminaries in the fields of history, politics, and education. He lived with two Japanese families and discovered new ways to reach his young students, all of whom grew up in a Japan ravaged by World War II. Jorgensen visited many parts of Japan, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Sapporo, and Nagasaki. He treats readers to luscious descriptions of all those cities, while at the same time providing histories that deepen understanding and perspective.

    As a work of history, O Tomodachi (which means “friend” in Japanese) provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both historical and accessible. As memoir, it gives readers a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land, a place that had only recently been the enemy of the United States, and to open himself to new experiences and people. Jorgensen fell in love with Japan, and that love has lasted a lifetime.

  9. Business and Conflict in Fragile States

    by Brian Ganson and Achim Wennmann

    Large-scale investments in fragile states — in Latin America, Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Asia — become magnets for conflict, which undermines business, development, and security.

    International policy responds with regulation, state-building, and institutional reform, with poor and often perverse results. Caught up in old ways of thinking about conflict and fragility, and an age-old fight over whether multinational corporations are good or bad for peaceful development, it leaves business-related conflicts in fragile states to multiply and fester.

    Surveying a new strategic landscape of business and conflict, authors Brian Ganson and Achim Wennmann conclude that neither company shareholders nor advocates for peaceful development need, or should, accept the growing cost of business-related conflict in fragile states. Drawing on decades of experience from mainstream conflict prevention and violence reduction efforts, as well as promising company practice, they show that even acute conflict is manageable when dealt with pragmatically, locally, and on its own terms.

    The analysis and conclusions of this Adelphi book will interest policymakers, business leaders, and community advocates alike — all those hoping to mitigate today’s conflicts while helping to reduce fragility and build a firmer foundation for inclusive development.

    Co-author Ganson is a 1985 graduate from U-M’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.