I think Woodrow Wilson said it first, “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” Since I am a verbal processor, that is true for me too. But most of us don’t have the occasion to interface with the great writers, thinkers, and practitioners every day—or we missed it because they are gone. So we read (or listen).
Like many folks I go into the summer with an ambitious stack of books that spills over into the fall and staggers into the end of each year. For decades I have kept a three-subject stack going at the same time: business related, theologically relevant (faith based), and a mindless fiction suspense novel. I often travel with all three and I read from each of them at the same time.
I rarely read the newest shiny business or theological books but rather, I let them hit the market and create real traction that is not publisher driven. It gives me a chance to read a number of reviews to determine if I want to read the book and also to decide if this is a whole book or just a really good chapter. In my opinion HBR built their magazine on the premise that most books are really just a couple of good chapters. Although my timing model is both good and bad, I will live with it.
And I always have an engaging fiction read waiting for me to jump back in when I can’t sleep, find myself crunched in a small regional jet with no personal space, or when I just don’t feel like working anymore. I can be back into a spy sub plot in seconds.
Recently I emailed 15 friends to ask what they were going to read this summer. They immediately responded with a gold mine. The list of friends included: CEOs, doctors, a pastor, entrepreneurs, NFP EDs, a business college dean, fellow fishermen, etc. I used their recommendations to round out my list. It is a noisy busy crowded globe we live in and filtering (discerning) has become one of the greatest attributes any leader can possess. Time is a premium to all of us, and money is a premium to most of us. Be wise with those expenditures.
I am certain it will change but here is my summer reading list as it sits today.
- Profit and Purpose: How Social Innovation Is Transforming Business for Good, Kyle Westaway
- Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, General Stanley McChrystal
- The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking, Roger L. Martin
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant
- Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less Robert Sutton
- The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How., Daniel Coyle
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt
- You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, James K.A. Smith
- Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, Os Guiness
- Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters, Tim Keller
- Christ the Controversialist: A Study in Some Essentials of Evangelical Religion, John Stott
- Ordinary Grace, William Kent Kruger
- The Last Mile (Amos Decker series), David Baldacci
- The Survivor (A Mitch Rapp Novel), Vince Flynn
While I was creating this year’s list, I also kept staring at the some of the books I really enjoyed last year. In case none of the books for this summer grab you, take a look at last year’s list.
Keep in mind that I often read a book a few times. I ascribe to what Gail Levine argued—“There’s nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you’ve read only once can’t.”
Need a reading pep talk? Here are some Red Bull shots:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” –Haruki Murakami
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” –Oscar Wilde
“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” –Abraham Lincoln
“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Classic—a book which people praise and don’t read.” –Mark Twain
Head over to my Facebook page and share your summer reading list. What recommendations do you have to add to my list?