Earlier this year I set myself a goal of reading 35 books. Given that I read only 11 in 2016, it seemed like an audacious goal, but attainable and worth striving for. Reading for me encompasses many needs and desires. In almost every situation, reading opens my mind in new ways, to new possibilities, no matter if fiction or nonfiction. I feel more creative, or develop skills, or end up laughing. All things I desire in life!
I not only met my goal of reading 35 books, I smashed it! The total as of today is 41, an increase of 17% over the goal! The goal was certainly helped by some books that were not only shorter than most, but also more of a booklet than you would consider a typical book.
Everything I read was on an e-reader (I use the Kindle, but ‘m sure you can find one you like!) and for me it made everything a million times easier because I knew it fit in every bag I use on a day to day basis. That made it easy to carry, and the sales on ebooks tend to result in a lower price, so it is more affordable and easier to buy more over the course of a year. Even if the average price was $5 for an ebook (and this feels high to me for what I actually spent), it compares to a typical $15 I might spend to purchase (non fiction) paperbacks and $25 that I might spend on hardcovers, which is rare. Over the total of all books, I spent $205 and saved $410 versus all paperback and $820 versus completely hardcover. Those savings are not small numbers! Of course, the library is cheaper than spending any money at all.
Since I shared my favorite books in the first half of the year, I thought I would share my best reads over the last six months. The books I read and found worth sharing are below, in no particular order.
Beyond the Label, by Maureen Chiquet: The former CEO of Chanel shared her career path and lessons learned in both the office and at home. She is a compelling storyteller and shares some good advice applicable to anyone. I’m not a lover of fashion and still found this book quite relevant. You feel like you are in the room during certain stories, because the people and situations are so well described. There were a few moments where I found myself wondering how she balanced everything going on, and Ms. Chiquet described several times when she was working through the imbalance of being not just an executive, but a person.
A Path Appears, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn: This was part of the Alpha Gamma Delta book club and was perhaps the most insightful, eye-opening read in the past six months. The authors take a detailed look at what makes service, volunteerism, and most especially charitable giving work best. They encourage research and more attention to decision making, and highlight a number of causes that either haven’t worked well or have worked tremendously. While the authors stop short of promoting which specific charities you should support (they do highlight some high-performers), they note some objectives we should think through and work with what is most important to the individual donor. The important thing is to do what you are able to do to help! Anything is better than sitting back.
The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking: Knowing quite little about the Danish culture, this book was not only a great primer but a window into the lifestyle of what makes the Danes tick. I was enamored of the concept of Hygge (“hig-eh”) and would love to create a version of it in my own life – surround myself with good people, good lighting, good design, comfy clothes, and enjoy the outdoors when possible! This is a simplistic summary, as there are recipes and stories and details that make the “Danish secrets to happy living” meaningful to those of us outside Denmark.
How to be an Imperfectionist, by Stephen Guise: As a recovering perfectionist, this book was a great read because it captures everything I am missing about previous and current efforts, actively trying to not be perfect. The author stresses the importance of imperfection to anything, along the lines that any action yields us results that lead to success in some variation. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by perfection – life is better when imperfect!
Multipliers, by Liz Wiseman: This book is notable because it forced me to confront the fact that I still have to learn about and improve upon my leadership style. Everyone who reads it wants to identify as a Multiplier, but there are aspects of the Diminisher and Accidental Diminisher that seem to haunt all of us in one way or another until we take action to correct over the long term. Being that uncomfortable from self reflection and taking the hit to the confidence is not something I necessarily aspire to, but I do aspire to be an impactful leader. This book encourages honest reflection and provides the insight needed to make the improvements.
The Crossroads of Should and Must, by Elle Luna: This was the shortest book I read all year, and did so in an entire sitting of waiting for a doctor’s appointment that was running behind. The illustrations were what really made the discussion of considering a “should” versus a “must” and which makes the most sense for your life and what you want for your personal outcome.
In Praise of Slowness, by Carl Honoré: This book impacted me so much I wrote a blog post earlier this year on it – check it out to see what it exposed me to and what my reactions and life benefits were!
The two books I was reading at the time of the posting of my mid year were put on hold so I could truly focus on them for a couple hours at a time. The Joanna Barsh book on Centered Leadership needs attention because of what look to be impactful introspective activities. That may be a good, low-key weekend activity and read.
I’ve already downloaded a half dozen books for next reading, and the genres are all over the map. Winter is a great time to cozy up with a tea or hot chocolate, maybe a soft blanket or a cuddly puppy, and a book or device that emulates a book, and escape reality. Maybe we learn ways to improve and gain inspiration for setting new goals, and perhaps we just gain a few minutes of peace. Whatever joy reading brings you, may you feel much of that joy this season in all areas of your life!