Summer 2016 Reading List


A dozen books exploring people and their stories, facets of cognition, and our humanity.

I'm rereading Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

We tend to think that becoming more extroverted not only makes us more successful, but also makes us better people. The reality is eye opening and much more nuanced. Something the sensitive people among us would fully appreciate. For example, peer pressure is not only unpleasant, but can actually change our view of a problem and make us utterly blind to the issues. A fantastic, well researched, and valuable book.

The Message of You by Judy Carter

The book provides good advice that is applicable to our work as presenters. Whether we are pros or novices, or anywhere in between, each one of us has a story to tell. Maybe we present for work, or maybe we just enjoy saying a word at family functions. Our aim remains the same —we want to make a connection. Learning to find the universal in us is a sustainable path to telling a story that works. In Carter's words —we become the message.

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

The English translation by Grace Frick was highly recommended. The book was written as a testamentary letter from the emperor Hadrian to his successor, the younger Marcus Aurelius. It is the sort of life-teaching experience worth discussing between generations. Yourcenar reimagines the emperor's difficult upbringing, his triumphs and reversals, and his work of reordering a world torn by war as emperor. It's like reading the classics, and a classic itself.

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

From learning that we are most effective when we have high testosterone and low cortisol to how decisions create confidence and behavior creates thoughts, this book is filled with counter intuitive and evidence-based information that our bodies change our mind.

Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One by Jenny Blake (advance copy)

What makes Jenny's work remarkable is her background and experience. She combines technology with business savvy and an understanding of training and development techniques to help others learn. Her motto, "if change is the only constant, let's get better at it" is apt; her belief that careers are not linear a much-needed message.

Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of Influence by Shelle Rose Charvet

It describes the mental filters or meta programs we employ in communication in practical contexts. For example, what questions to use to elicit a person's position, how to identify what meta program positions are best suited to a given job, how to frame a job or product ad so that it speaks to the audience it is intended for.

Madame Curie: A biography, published in 1937 now available in reprint, by the scientists' daughter Eve Curie

It provides an honest, historical account of the scientist's life and work. The book was written from the review of letters to and from Madame Curie to many people, the memories of people that knew her, drawing from her lectures and speeches, and the memories of Eve and her other daughter Irene, herself a scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey by Muhammad Ali with Hana Yasmeen Ali

I've always been fascinated by the story of the person behind the fighter.

Humans are Underrated by Fortune editor Geoff Colvin

He makes the case that as technology is increasingly automating cognitive tasks, the social aspects of work are coming to the fore. A valuable look at the question: How will I add value in the future?

Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock

I've been fascinated by how the brain works since my days working in early neurological development. Such a small organ enclosed in a fixed box, yet capable of amazing feats. Rock asks powerful questions: Why does our brain work better in certain circumstances vs. others? What are the limitations of our cognitive abilities? How do we make it better?

The Essential Crazy Wisdom by Wes Nisker

The book was recommended by a friend and it did not disappoint. A panoramic joining East and West, the world of clowns, jesters and fools, from Rumi, Gautama the Buddha, Mark Twain, Lao Tzu, Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg, and Lily Tomlin and many more. Just what we need to put our problems and life into perspective. For those who enjoy humorous examinations of our many follies and do not take themselves too seriously.

How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich

Focuses on the common errors we make when trying to comprehend the world around us, and form opinions. We can learn to evaluate the information presented to us better, and we should. Examples include how we try to make order out of chaos, even when there is no order, how we filter what we hear according to our biases, and how wishful thinking can distort reality.


More reading lists:

21 books worth reading

Brian Eno's reading list for the manual of civilization

What rational optimist Matt Ridley is reading

Balance reading and doing with Kathy Sierra

Persuasion master Rory Sutherland's reading list

Elon Musk's reading list holds the keys to his success, but only if we look closely

David Bowie's top must-read books


Find a more complete list of what I'm reading here.


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