The Myth of Excellence
By Fred Crawford and Ryan Mathews, Crown Business, $27.50

Fred Crawford, a Cap Gemini Ernst & Young consult- ant and futurist, and Ryan Mathews, a principal at First Matter, a consulting firm, surveyed 5,000 consumers about their buying behavior and found that companies are killing themselves trying to excel at many things nobody cares about. Instead of aiming for overall excellence, the authors advise, try to excel in no more than one of five ways: price, product, service, access, or experience. Differentiate yourself from the pack in another way, they continue, and just match the competition on the rest. It sounds a lot easier than shooting for perfection, and, if they’re right, it ought to work even better.

Work Naked: Eight Essential Principles for Peak Performance in the Virtual Workplace
By Cynthia C. Froggatt, Jossey-Bass, $24.95

Home-based consultant Cynthia C. Froggatt admits she does it, and declares that any remote worker or telecommuter can be as productive unclothed as a traditional, fully clad worker. Naps are fine, too, she says, in this exploration of alternative work styles loaded with big-name case studies.

12 Simple Secrets of Happiness at Work
By Glenn Van Ekeren, Prentice Hall Press, $11 (paper)

Find jobs you care about, lighten up, don’t procrastinate, and do nine other things, says healthcare executive and writer on happiness Glenn Van Ekeren. He promises work will turn that frown upside down. —