I love to read, and my passion for books has been a lifelong one. Many years before texting and walking was a dangerous nuisance, I was walking to school and home again with an open book in my face; I never wanted to put a good story down, and I could pretty much read anywhere, including car trips in the near-dark, when the only light was from intermittent highway streetlights.
In addition to loving stories, people are my business, and as someone who is constantly curious, I’m always on the lookout for wisdom about what makes people tick, ways to understand them better, and ideas about how to partner or coach them more effectively.
Crystal and I are both avid readers, and we are always on the hunt for books that move us, bring us information we can use, reveal a new or better way of looking at things, or provide ways to better understand ourselves. As an entrepreneur, it’s tempting to throw myself into a pile of “business” or “leadership” books, but I find it challenging to find ones that suit my reading style AND bring me the information and insight I’m looking for. A few that I’ve enjoyed that do both include Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, anything by Malcolm Gladwell, and Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie.
What’s great is that skilfully crafted characters from fiction and journalism stories often work just as well, if not better, than business books to reveal insights about leadership, trust, relationships, self-awareness, and other aspects of human behaviour.
Some of my recent favourites include The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, The Sisters Brothers and Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick DeWitt, Wolf Hall and Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer and Annie Barrows, and Moonwalking with Einstein with Joshua Foer. There is also an ever-expanding list of incredible “young reader” novels that aren’t just for teenagers, and with one of my sons I am re-reading The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. I also feel the urge reveal here that my two favourite books of all time are The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
If you’re a TED Talks fan looking for additional insight for evolving your leadership style, there are great speakers who also write, including Gladwell, Simon Sinek, and Brene Brown. I am in the middle of Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from What Will People Think? to I Am Enough. Looooong title; fascinating topic.
This summer, I’m planning to tackle a few more from my ever-expanding book pile, including Quiet by Susan Cain, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. Happy Paperback Book Day, everyone!
Do you consider yourself a Reader? Is reading included on your resume as a hobby? Do you muscle your way through to the end of books you don’t enjoy, or do you give yourself guilt-free permission to cast an unsatisfying novel aside, unfinished? Are you a sucker for a great story? We invite you to share your favourites with us!