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Off the shelf: diversity hallmark of summertime reads

Although their lives are jam packed every day, business and professional leaders around the state find time to read outside their places of work. Reading is a normal part of life for these busy, successful people, and maybe more so in the summer.

The executive director of the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau, Walter Tipton, likes an author close to home, Natchez native Greg Isles.

“I’m reading Greg Iles’ newest book, ‘Foot Steps of God,’ and I just finished his book, ‘True Evil,’ which is set in Natchez and Jackson. He has a great connection with Natchez,” he said. “I also just finished a Mary Higgins Clark book. I like books where someone gets murdered and you have to find out who did it.”

Tipton finds the time to be an avid reader and said the Tom Clancy-type books are high on his reading list. “Sometimes I can’t put ‘em down after I get started,” he added.

Behind the wheel

Keith Bates began a new job on April 1 of this year, but that hasn’t stopped him from indulging in reading. The new vice president of marketing at American Health Tech in Jackson just completed a biography of race car legend Mario Andretti written by Gordon Kirby.

“I’ve admired Mario Andretti all my life. He’s an awesome person and it’s an awesome book,” he said. “I love automobiles and I’m a racing enthusiast. I consider cars rolling art.”

Bates, whose love of autos especially encompasses his vintage Corvette, has also been doing some background reading in relation to his new position. He recommends “Rethinking Business to Business Marketing” by Paul Sherlock and “The Gorilla Marketing Handbook” by Jay Levinson and Seth Godin.

“I recommend these books to anyone in business. They help get us out of our ruts,” he said.

Eclectic lineup

The chief administrative officer for BancorpSouth Insurance in Biloxi, Scott Naugle, has several books going, as is his custom. Currently, he’s reading “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens, “As of this Writing: Essential Essays 1968-2002” by Clive James, “The Nature of Monsters” by Clare Clark, “The Recognitions” by William Gaddis and “The Stranger” by Albert Camus.

“I’m not sure how to explain the multiple books at one time,” he said. “It may reflect my mood at the time or the setting. Certain books stay by certain chairs and I read when I am in a particular room.

“If it has been a taxing day, I may read something lighter. Conversely, sometimes I want to use my brain and read something that is challenging. I like the diversity.”

Fiction, nonfiction or both?

Diversity is also important to Angie Godwin, executive director of the Area Development Partnership in Hattiesburg. She is always reading a fiction and a non-fiction book at the same time. Her current titles are “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and “I Feel Bad about My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” by Nora Ephron.

“The Ephron book is hilarious,” Godwin said, “and ‘The Black Swan’ is about the impact of the highly improbable. Our economy is based on a lot of predictions, but the author argues that most of the grand impacts can not be predicted. It will really push your thinking.”

She is also reading “Ladies Who Launch,” which she describes as a how-to for women to start companies, by Victoria Colligan, Beth Schoenfeldt and Amy Swift.

“I suck up books pretty fast — I’ve been doing that for years,” she said. “I’ve been a big reader all my life. I was taught to read by my grandfather who went to the second grade and taught himself to read. He read three newspapers each day and thought a person had to read to be educated.”

Ryan Beckett, a partner in the Jackson law firm of Butler Snow O’Mara and Cannada, is reading “What Would the Founders Do?” by Richard Brookhiser.

“It’s a light read that looks at today’s issues through the founders’ eyes,” he said. “It’s enjoyable summer reading. I would recommend it to those, like me, who look to the founders to figure out what to make of today’s political mess.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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