I have a confession to make – I’m addicted to reading. I find few things in life that enable me to calm my thinking mind, stop the to-do list, and create space like reading does. It soothes me. I love my reading space because it’s a form of meditation for me.
I ideate when I read. I learn new words. I have to look up so many words that Siri hears me coming and has me in dictionary mode. I am able to understand how ideas, concepts, events, and stories all fit together — not right away — but after years and years of reading.
Reading books creates knowledge and that knowledge is applicable to our jobs, lives, and life plans. Reading allows us to broaden perspectives, go to new places, and reimagine futures. It’s my hope that you experience the joy of making the magical connection across books that strengthens what you know and who you are. Reading is interactive, it’s not passive. It’s not like watching TV or a movie that is one way.
Everyone seems to have book recommendations. I consume all of them. My summertime book recommendations sometimes shadow what my favorite icons are reading; but don’t get me wrong, I grab recommended reading lists and make them my own. Some of my favorite reads were recommended by people I admire based on their thinking or how they live life. I also really like the vacation blog/article genre that pushes lighter reading for enjoyment and relaxation. You know: unwind with a light book, dive into an adventure, learn something new, or get lost in a spellbinding story. Life is short. We need to protect our peace. We want to be entertained and distracted from the pace and seriousness of the other 50 weeks in a year. Assuming you take two weeks – right?
If I may, I’d like to propose a different take on summertime reading. How about reading a few books that help you learn something about yourself? After everything we experience daily, and we experience a lot, why not read about formulating a process – a plan – to live the life you want?
Most of us have a life compass (set of values) or a life map (a future plan). Maybe you’re not sure where you are or you’ve gotten off course and don’t like where you are now. Spend dedicated time on you – one hour, two hours, maybe four! When was the last time you practiced self-care and thought intentionally about living the life that you want?
These are worthwhile life books that as leaders, entrepreneurs, or even college students we all need:
1 – Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl: My grandmother was Jewish and Frankl is a surname in our family tree. It’s a holocaust book; however, it’s about finding meaning, hope, and purpose. I reread this book often and I find new strength in it each time. If you’re facing challenges and like the idea of reading the best of “survival literature,” this is my suggestion.
2 – Antifragile: Things that Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is an in-your-face challenge about how to view the world, business, medicine, economics. . . you name it. At its core, this book deconstructs the antifragile narrative and cleverly points out that some things improve under duress. My view of life evolved after this read. I will never think of risk and probability the same way again – especially in business.
3 – Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari, is on many must-read lists. I found it titillating to learn something new about human evolution. Learning about the past gave me insights into the present. I hear this might be in comic book form, too. Yuval would be a short list for my perfect dinner party guest, or in my case, podcast guest!
4 – Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant, distills 5,000 years of history into 100 impactful pages. Start here if you pick books by their ease of read.
5 – Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns, noted historian, studies the challenges and resilience of four Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m drawn to leadership – it’s my professional journey. For me, it’s intriguing to understand how our greatest leaders overcame adversity and experienced many of the challenges that we mere mortals deal with in our jobs and lives. I love and read a lot of history and this is more than a history book! Any leaders working on themselves will take away teachable lessons.
6 – Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, is my primer. I read it a couple times a year as a life reminder to keep whole and do more good. If I was a car, this would serve as my regularly scheduled tune up. I’ve been a Holiday fan since hearing him speak live at a scaling-up conference years ago. He was a young man then and wore an Iron Maiden T-shirt and jeans to his presentation. I was surrounded by a bunch of suits. Ha! Today’s world takes its toll on all of us everyday. His book teaches us different ways to rest, heal, and find ways to do good. It introduces philosophies like stoicism and buddhism, too.
7 – Principles by Ray Dalio, is part life story and memoir of how Ray built Bridgewater and became one of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors ever. That’s not my favorite part. Ray shares how he used experiences and observations to create his life and work “principles” and he shares them in a thought-provoking way. I, for one, sat down and wrote out my principles of leadership, living and sales from this read! A must-read for anyone who wants clarity about how to live their life from a very personal perspective of success.
8 – Drumroll please! Opposite the Crowd by Alan Burkhard and yours truly, Chris Burkhard, is a deep dive into entrepreneurship, sales, career management, leadership, problem-solving, and creating your specific core values. If you’re working on yourself, personally and/or professionally, we provide a framework for you to get to know yourself as you discover where you want to go in life. The audio version of our book is targeted to go live in late September. Print and ebook versions will publish before the end of 2022. More updates to come!
Reading takes you places. It exercises and expands your mind. It’s good medicine. No matter what you choose to read, enjoy the journey. There’s always a journey in a book.
Until next time,
If you enjoyed this article, I recommend reading these past Outside Insights posts:
Life, 20 Years Ago
What is the 80/20 Rule and How Do I Apply it to My Life?
What Is Your Legacy?
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