Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

07 Apr 2021, 21:38 p.m.

A Few Books Influencing Mine

I'm working on a forthcoming book on rejuvenating legacy open source systems. In addition to my bibliography of open source management books/courses, I'm grateful to a few management, teaching, and writing books that have influenced me recently:

Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing: What it is, and what it is not, a cranky and thoroughgoing text on management that covers the healing environment as a whole: "let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?"

Greg Wilson's Teaching Tech Together: How to create and deliver lessons that work and build a teaching community around them, a guide to effective instruction: "We have been talking about mental models as if they were real things, but what actually goes on in a learner's brain when they're learning? The short answer is that we don't know; the longer answer is that we know a lot more than we used to....As scary as it is, we are the grownups."

Via a recommendation from Eszter Hargittai on Crooked Timber: Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato (concentrating on the kind of nonfiction from big publishers that gets reviewed in major newspapers), and So You Want to Publish a Book? by Anne Trubek (who runs a small press). I just read these within the past week. In Trubek's book I particularly appreciated the list of presses and imprints belonging to the Big Five, her breakdown of budgets, her frank appraisal of what helps sell more copies of a book, her thoughts on horizontal solidarity among authors and reader, and her assessment of Amazon's effects on the market. And in Rabiner's and Fortunato's book, I was struck by their in-depth explanation of how to structure a book proposal (and the many examples of what works and what falls flat), their thoughts on what editors are seeking, and their advice on structuring a book and making one's argument fairly.