The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google

Nicholas Carr

W.W. Norton & Co.

The way the Internet has changed us and the world around us can be the stuff of deep conversations and academic inquiry. Author Nicholas Carr, a former editor with the Harvard Business Review, chooses to compare the growth of the Internet with the arrival and spread of electricity. "Carr's analysis of the recent past is clear and insightful as he examines common computing tools that are embedded in the Internet instead of stored on a hard drive, including Google and YouTube," writes Publishers Weekly. "The social and economic consequences of this transition into the utility age fall somewhere between uncertain and grim, Carr argues." Carr leaves a lot of questions unasked, but that is often the case with thought-provoking concepts.

Everything I Know About Business I Learned at McDonald's: The 7 Leadership Principles that Drive Break Out Success

Paul Facella and Adina Genn

McGraw-Hill

The authors seem to have interviewed everyone who ever wore a paper McDonald's hat since hamburgers were 14 cents. While that may seem like overkill, it reinforces the notion that for McDonald's, and its leadership, some things really are simple: Pay attention to your people and the people will take care of everything else. An online reviewer wrote, "In my high-tech career I must say most managers don't follow the principles that are taught in this book and as a result, end up being mediocre at best. I'd rather work for McDonalds than any high-tech company because of the way people are treated and fairly rewarded based on what they do."

Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We Are

Rob Walker

Random House

In her review for Business Week, Susan Berfield wrote that author Rob Walker, "(S)hows how just about everyone from Timberland-boot-wearing hiphoppers to Method-dish-soap-using homemakers is embracing and transforming brands. Moreover, he demonstrates how closely intertwined brands have become with our identities." This seems contrary to the belief that Gen Y, having been bombarded by brands their whole lives, are now immune to them. Robert Blinn in Core77 observes that the book "delves into the attitudes of the global consumer in the age of plenty, and, well, we aren't too pretty."

High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families

Peter Gosselin

Basic Books

As a review in The Washington Post noted, "you might not expect a book on economic policy to be a page-turner, but Peter Gosselin's High Wire is just that." Gosselin, who is a national economics reporter for the Los Angeles Times, takes readers on a frightening tour of the many ways the financial risk that used to be shared by employers, insurance companies, and the government has been shifted to individuals and families. The most frightening aspect of this book is that it is almost a year old and the financial stress on many American families has gotten much worse.