Payback by Margaret Atwood

This is a book for those who are curious, about what the future has in store for us in the coming age of “austerity“.A slight deviation from the New York Times, Globe and Mail, Financial Post, Harvard Business Review best seller lists I frequent…I’d almost forgot where I started this journey! In 2008 I asked about 50 of my greatest mentors to give me one or two books that got them to where they are. They gave me a list of 200, and in less than two years I read them all. My business book addiction has been a wonderful journey but I had to remember…to follow my mentors and not the best seller lists.

It’s hard to put aside the artistic alchemist that is Atwood. She writes like Yo-yo ma works the Cello, classic but engaging, moving and educative. And her twitter mastery? Don’t get me started but let’s park the Canadian adoration and focus on the curiosity…the business payoff…why you should read it.

First off, I love that this book goes eons beyond the concept of monetary debt because like so many things in life, the thing….isn’t the thing.

It’s much, much more.

To understand, as always you need to back. Waaay back, proto-debt. Monkey stuff. Atwood does, and it provides great context.
Wonderful lessons from history, stories of Roman tax collectors and why Robin Hood was such a hero for stealing from the Sheriff…

I’ve been fascinated by the topic since debt shows first came on the scene this decade. I’m not proud to admit it but in the awkward phase when my good friends earned vastly different salaries we use to play poker for a common valued currency – winner slaps the losers in the face.

Looking at the concept of debt and the justice of payback from the view of several world religions is fascinating. Consider debt in the archetypes of truly momentous literary icons like Shakespeare’s Shylock, Dicken’s Scrooge and the great legend of Faust.

Is it delightful that a modern day Scrooge considers the concepts of Environmental debt and ends up in 2012 Toronto at a dinner party? It’s delicious ! Add in recurring themes of two wonderful games that have been played throughout history:

1) Try and Collect

2) Kill the Creditors

and you have a read that is part history, part fiction, part reflection and you have the kind of stuff that stuff business books will never be able to use to engage your brain….if business books are the meat and potatoes of brain food, this is the molecular-gastronomic-amuse-bouche: it’s the deconstruction of something important and powerful that will influence your life and work.

If business was smart enough to stop and think.
This is what it would dream.

Looking for a summer read/ audio listen? You just found it.

Enjoy this great interview on the book,

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