Each January I pose the question: What book are you reading now? My experience is the best leaders always have a book they are reading about which they have opinions, insights, and comments.
Lifelong learning is essential to grow as a leader. A habit of reading books is important to that growth. What role do books play in your life? In your learning? Making time to read books is important. I usually have several books in my study that I am working through. Technology helps. I read books on the Kindle app on my iPhone when I have short periods of downtime away from home. On long car trips I enjoy audio books. I have friends who like audio books best.
My favorite books in 2017 were non-fiction and had lessons for work and life. Brian Jay's George Lucas: A Life is worth another read. So many innovations from Lucas about which I was unaware. Interested in the question are we alone in the universe? Start here on Earth with Peter Godfrey-Smith's Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness. And while we are discussing life on Earth, I highly recommend a book about life on and in us, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yon. I often asked my students what percent of the cells in their bodies were human. Few guessed only 10%.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders was easily the most creative work of fiction I read last year. Reminded me of the Spoon River Anthology, which incidentally has a character named John Ballard. On a very different note I found Soul Survivor by Bruce and Andrea Leininger compelling. Academics knowledgeable about reincarnation research recommended as one of the best documented cases in the U.S. Also recommended was I Saw a Light and Came Here: Children's Experiences of Reincarnation by Erlendur Haraldsson and James Matlock, another intriguing read.
As we begin 2018, here are a few of the books on my reading list:
- Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
- Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life . . . and Maybe the World by William McRaven
- Lead Yourself First by Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin
- A New History of Management by Stephen Cummings, Todd Bridgman, John Hassard, and Michael Rowlinson
- Making It Up by Penelope Lively
- Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger
- Henry David Thoreau: A Life by Laura Walls
- Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air around Us by Sam Kean
- A History of the World in 500 Walks by Sarah Baxter
- Overload: Finding the Truth in Today's News by Bob Schieffer
- Old Man's War by John Scalzi
- I’ll have what she’s having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy by Erin Carlson
- Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly
- Unbelievable by Katy Tur
- Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott
“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them”, Mark Twain.
Or as the comedian Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
What are you reading?
Image, "Books", © John Ballard.
© John Ballard, PhD, 2018. All rights reserved.
Author of Decoding the Workplace, BEST CAREER BOOK Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2016.
"Decoding the Workplace: 50 Keys to Understanding People in Organizations is as informed and informative a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. . . Decoding the Workplace should be considered critically important reading for anyone working in a corporate environment." —Midwest Book Review