Dec 31, 2019
50 Reads from 2019
Some of these are novels, some are children's books, some are magazines with long-form content, and some fall into the 'other' category.
Some themes that popped up:
- Introspection and belief change
This year was about really digging into why I believed what I believed. Questioning whether certain beliefs deserved a place in my life, or were only burdensome defence mechanisms, or just didn't serve me or others in my life. It was like an existential audit. Not always the most pleasant experience, but an educational one.
- Leadership and team values
What makes a good leader? What kind of leadership do I respect? What kind of leader do I want to be? What makes a team click and thrive?
Mainly when it comes to technology and research.
I added a note and/or a fav quotation from some of the reads. Enjoy!
Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga – The Courage to Be Disliked (Jan 1)
"The moment one is convinced that 'I am right' in an interpersonal relationship, one has already stepped into a power struggle.
At that point, the focus of the discussion shifts from 'the rightness of the assertions' to 'the state of the interpersonal relationship.' In other words, the conviction that 'I am right' leads to the assumption that 'this person is wrong,' and finally it becomes a contest and you are thinking, I have to win. It’s a power struggle through and through."
HBR – HBR Guide to Getting the Right Work Done (Jan 6)
Paul Jarvis – Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business (Jan 24)
"The more you get to know yourself, what your triggers are, and what personally drives you outside of external motivation, the more you can optimize a healthy role for yourself as a leader."
John-Paul Flintoff – How to Change the World (Jan 26)
HBR – On Women and Leadership (Feb 3)
HBR – On Mental Toughness (Feb 7)
The School of Life – How to Travel (Feb 12)
A change of space can do wonders. "We sometimes cannot work it all out by staying rooted in one place. We have stared at the screen too long, we have been bumping into the same inner obstacles without progress, we have grown claustrophobic within ourselves.”
The School of Life – Oliver James – How to Develop Emotional Health (Feb 23)
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work – Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson (Feb 26)
I'm a big fan of what Basecamp's team stands for. Their employee handbook is full of processes they put in place to ensure they're accountable, taking care of themselves and each other, and creating a great product. This book is written by their two C-level executives.
"[T]hinking about how you want to tell the story in the future is a great way to assess your response to dilemmas in general. Craft the story now so you’ll be proud to tell it later."
Come Rain or Come Shine – Kazuo Ishiguro (Apr 3)
The Veiled Woman – Anais Nin (Apr 10)
What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20 – Tina Seelig (Apr 19)
The Path Made Clear – Oprah (Apr 19)
Lots of great tidbits in here to use as fodder for deeper introspection.
“I think the greatest wound we’ve all experienced is somehow being rejected for being our authentic self. And as a result of that, we then try to be what we’re not to get approval, love, protection, safety, money, whatever. And the real need for all of us is to reconnect with the essence of who we really are and re-own all the disowned parts of ourselves, whether it’s our emotions, our spirituality, whatever. We all go around hiding parts of ourselves.
I was with a Buddhist teacher a number of years ago. And he said, 'Let me give you the secret. If you were to meditate for twenty years, this is where you’d finally get to: Just be yourself. But be all of you.'”
– Jack Canfield
The Meaning of Life – The School of Life (Apr 26)
"Good selfishness grows out of an accurate understanding of what we need to do in order to maximise our utility for others. It stems from an unembarrassed sense of how we should develop our abilities, get our minds into the right frame, summon up our most useful powers and organise our thoughts and feelings so that they can eventually be helpful to the world. We recognise that we will, at select moments, have to back out of doing things that people would like us to, and have no compunction about politely explaining this..."
Not Here – Hieu Minh Nguyen (May 4)
Feck Perfuction: Dangerous Ideas on the Business of Life – James Victore (May 5)
The Making of a Manager – Julie Zhuo (May 15)
Ruined by Design – Mike Monteiro (May 25)
Mixed Methods – Sam Ladner (June 1)
Men Explain Things to Me – (June 9)
My Heart – Corinna Luyken (June 9)
How to Choose a Partner – Susan Quilliam, The School of Life (June 23)
Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport (June 28)
A Velocity of Being: Letters to A Young Reader – Maria Popova (July 1)
A lovely ode to the joys of reading.
Offscreen, Issue 1 – Kai Brach (July 6)
Offscreen, Issue 20 – Kai Brach (July 6)
Offscreen's an amazing publication "that examines how we shape technology and how technology shapes us." I'm always recommending it to folks. The pieces within it are always thought-provoking.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone – Lori Gottleib (July 11)
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi (July 19)
“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only a part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2018 – Sam Kean (Editor) (Aug 11)
Paul Kvinta's "David Haskell Speaks for the Trees" was my fav.
It can be read on Outside.
My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs: The Nobel Lecture – Kazuo Ishiguro (Aug 14)
Offscreen, Issue 21 – Kai Brach (Aug 20)
Awareness – Anthony De Mello (Aug 25)
The Moth Presents Occasional Magic – Catherine Burns (Sept 14)
Another great collection by The Moth. Humans are fascinating.
Being Mortal – Atul Gawande (Sept 27)
“When horizons are measured in decades, which might as well be Infinity to human beings, you most desire all that stuff at the top of Maslow's pyramid – achievement, creativity, and other attributes of ‘self-actualization’. But as your horizons contract – when you see the future ahead of you is finite and uncertain – your focus shifts to the here and now, to everyday pleasures and the people closest to you.”
How to See – Thich Nhat Hanh (Oct 2)
Range – David Epstein (Oct 7)
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life – Thich Nhat Hanh (Oct 14)
The Manual, Volume 1 (Oct 17)
The Manual, Volume 2 (Oct 19)
“I now know that it is through love and passion and happiness that anything of worth is brought into being. A fulfilled and accomplished life of good relationships and craftsmanship is how I will earn my keep.”
The Manual, Volume 3 (Oct 23)
Letters to a Young Poet – Rainer Maria Rilke (Nov 11)
I come back to this collection every year. Because I've experienced more each time, it always reads a tad different, but I'm always shifted afterwards.
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything."
The Manual, Volume 4 (Nov 16)
The Importance of Small Decisions – Michael J. O'Brien, R Alexander Bentley, William A Brock, John Maeda (Dec 1)
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary – Sarah Manguso (Dec 3)
Described as "a haunting account of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us."
The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World – Pema Chödrön (Dec 22)
Worldchanging, Revised Edition: A User's Guide for the 21st Century – Alex Steffen (Dec 27)
A must read re: sustainable living. "[A] guided tour through the most exciting new tools, models, and ideas for building a better future."
Breaking Ground: Architecture by Women – Jane Hall (Dec 27)
Poems from the Book of Hours – Rainer Maria Rilke (Dec 30)
200 Women: Who Will Change The Way You See The World – Geoff Blackwell (Dec 31)
The Log Driver’s Waltz – Wade Hemsworth (Dec 31)
My former co-worker and amazing illustrator/human being Jennifer Phelan did the illustrations for this book. Such a great take on a Canadian classic.