Summer 2013 Reading List
The Tour de France pack has just ridden up its last big mountain, and the Maillot Jaune (first) and the Lanterne Rouge (last) have been awarded. England is (annoyingly) beating Australia at cricket. And I’m eating too much espresso ice-cream from the Film Buff around the corner (you can download their very good “best movies” list here.) Yes, it’s summer.
I’m heading off for a disconnected week, hiking and reading in Newfoundland. As I preparie my own reading list, I thought I’d share some books that you might consider adding to yours.
Here are seven of the best books I’ve recently read … and three others I’m looking forward to.
Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, by Dan Siegel
In between the banks of chaos and rigidity flows integration. And it’s integration that lies at the heart of a life of well-being and happiness. That’s the thesis of the book, and it’s a fantastic blend of anecdote, strategy and insight from the worlds of neuroscience, early child development and clinical psychiatry.
This book was so persuasive that I’ve started going to therapy to explore one of the eight forms of integration – heart and head – as the edge of my own personal growth. I recently interviewed Dan, and it’s already one of my favourite Great Work Interviews. Keep an eye out for when we post it.
The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo
My friend Jen Louden put me on to Nepo’s work, and I’m glad she did. This book provides a year’s reflection, drawing on his Buddhist training, his own brushes with death and life, and wisdom from other teachers.
It’s a great way to start each day, grounding yourself in life and a beautifully written piece of awareness.
Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Curse those Heath brothers. They keep writing books I wish I could write. Switch on change and Made to Stick are both beauties, and so is this one on making better choices. They identify the four villains of decision making, and ways to break those bad habits.
I’ve already started quoting it when I’m teaching some of our programs. Here’s one tidbit: 71% of decisions in corporations did not consider more than one alternative. (So basically it was “should we do this or not?”). If they’d added just one more option, the failure rate of their decision making would have dropped from 52% over the long-term to 32%.
A History of the World in 100 Objects, by Neil MacGregor
Neil MacGregor is Director of the British Museum – now there’s a cool job – and in this magical book he turns each of these 100 objects into a portal to another world and time. From well-known objects like the Rosetta Stone to more obscure items like an Arabian bronze hand from Yemen, AD 100, I found this made history exciting and tangible.
It’s changed the way I go to museums now as well. I’m much more likely to find one or two objects that really pull me in, to spend just a bit of time trying to imagine the stories that lie behind each piece.
The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to your True Calling, by Stephen Cope
I was secretly expecting to be disappointed by this book, seeing as I’d already wrapped up this whole “Great Work” thing. But no, actually this is good. Cope is the director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the well-known Kripalu retreat centre, and the journey of this book is framed through ancient Buddhist wisdom blended with modern stories. It’s not nitty-gritty super-practical, but it points to powerful principles to tapping into your Great Work.
Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
While the rest of the books here are non-fiction, I’m lucky enough to have a degrees in literature and a former librarian as a wife to keep my fiction reading alive and well. I was toying with recommending this really great YA book, Flora Segunda, by the improbably named Ysabeau S. Wilce, but I’m going with Kate Atkinson. Having enjoyed her first book Behind the Scenes at the Museum, I lost track of Atkinson until this book started getting buzz.
It’s brilliantly crafted … I’m not giving too much away to say that our protagonist dies very, very early on in the book … and continues to do so. On the one hand, the plot intrigues but in fact what’s lasted with me is the way England between the two World Wars was so beautifully conjured up.
Ctrl-Alt-Delete: Reboot Your Business, Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It, by Mitch Joel
Mitch is one of the best business bloggers I know, writing from an informed and personal position on all sorts of things. At the heart of his work is an interest in marketing, but as this book shows it goes beyond that to thinking about what it takes to thrive and survive in this exciting, confusing world. I really liked his insight about maintaining a “digital posture”.
And in fact, I’ll be announcing a virtual conference soon – the Great Work MBA – and Mitch will be speaking on that very point. Stay tuned on that one and sign up for early registration notice here!
Some interesting books have shown up lately. Here are three I’m looking forward to…
The Desire Map: A Guide to What You Want the Most, by Danielle LaPorte
I’m kidding myself when I say this is recently arrived. What I mean is “not yet read”. Danielle brings together beautiful design, a clear and different “voice” and typically provocative content. I liked the last book she did, The Firestarter Sessions, and I’m curious to see what’s here.
She’s another person – along with Mitch, above – who’ll be part of the Great Work MBA.
Profit from the Positive, by Margaret Greenberg & Senia Maymin
The subtitle is “proven leadership strategies to boost productivity and transform your business” – which seems a little all-embracing. But this seems to be taking some key insights from disciplines such as strengths-based leadership (Marcus Buckingham and Tom Rath), Positive Deviance and others, and providing specific tactics. Could
The Great Work Provocations, by Michael Bungay Stanier
Yes – in response to many many suggestions, we’ve been creating a book of The Great Work Provocations. Here at the Global HQ of Box of Crayons we’re currently reviewing final proofs … so watch out for this. It’s coming soon!