My Reading List – Summer 2014


Several people who I follow on social media publish their reading lists, and because those lists have been such a great resource to me, I’ve decided to start publishing my reading lists in hopes that they will be helpful to you.

I have listed below the books that I read over the summer months, and have given them each a rating, as well as a brief summary of what I learned from the book, and how I think it might be helpful to you.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that resonated with me or were helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
An extraordinary book about success with counter-intuitive perspectives about why certain people and groups are as successful as they are. Gladwell’s examples throw punch after punch after punch; leaving you stunned and awed. Every page left me inspired and hungry to do good in the world, and make a difference in peoples’ lives. This one scores a plus on the rating scale as well, because when I emailed Gladwell with some questions about the application of the content, he personally emailed me back twice.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
An absolutely outstanding book that tells the tale of an organization that is brought face-to-face with its unhealthy practices and habits, and what it must do to get healthy. By placing the dysfunctions front and center in our minds, Lencioni takes away our ability live in denial and causes us to acknowledge how we are allowing unhealthiness to continue, and even fester, in our organizations and teams.

4-Star Reads

David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
As the title leads us to believe, this book by Gladwell talks about giants and underdogs, but true to Gladwell’s style it is done in a way that gets us to look at giants and underdogs in a paradoxical way. The stories and examples Gladwell uses are fantastic and engaging. Good reading for folks who are in marketing and/or sales, and those who use data to tell a different tale. I would also recommend watching Gladwell’s talk to Saddleback Church where he goes into greater detail about the lives of David and Goliath from the Hebrew Old Testament, and additional circumstances that may have helped David to defeat Goliath; truly fascinating.

Drive by Daniel Pink
I am a big fan of motivation; I enjoy talking and learning about what motivates people, especially in the workplace. Pink’s book does a fantastic job of outlining where business owners and leaders should be focusing if they want to keep a motivated and engaged workforce. Pink has the perfect amount of theory to keep this PhD gal engaged and interested, and pulls in enough practical application to give specific techniques and tactics to an in-the-trenches manager to use with their teammates.

No More Dragons by Jim Burgen
A truly helpful book for anyone who recognizes that their life has drifted to somewhere that they never intended. By sharing his own story, Burgen helps you to realize that all is not lost, that it’s never too late, and you’re never too old to get things back on track and moving in a better direction.

The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews
I actually listened to this one on CD and I felt like my Grandpa was sitting next to me telling me a fable filled with his wisdom as a means of helping me succeed in life. The truths Andrews shares are relevant for everyone. I was excited to learn that a non-fiction book from Andrews, The Seven Decisions, came out a few months ago that shares the key points from The Traveler’s Gift; I’m sure it will be on my reading list sometime in the next year.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
We all think negatively about ourselves to one degree or another. Shirzad Chamine names it the saboteur, Pressfield names it the resistance. Regardless of what you call it, Pressfield emphatically states that it is what is keeping you from achieving your potential or from pressing in to your unique calling, craft, or gift. Though he directs his words to artists and creative folks, the truths are applicable to business people just the same.

This Is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin
I’ve been on a quest to understand what life is like for those struggling with mental disorders, and this book came highly recommended from a friend who struggles with severe anxiety. The insights provided about what brain impairments do to a person’s mental acuity and health were incredibly helpful and eye opening. Henslin provides practical ideas of how to improve day-to-day life for someone living with a mental disorder.

Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
One that I re-read every three or four years, this remains the classic instruction book for managers on how to create an organizational culture of implementation, actually getting things done, and doing what you say you’re going to do.

3-Star Reads

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
An older one of Gladwell’s, this book talks about thinking without thinking and the power of intuition. There were a couple of good examples and stories, but overall I found the content in this one to be pretty common sense and thus, not very engaging.

How Did You Do It, Truett? by Truett Cathy
A nice little book by recently deceased founder of Chick-fil-A, where he tells the story of how he got started in the restaurant business. Some good words of wisdom and practical advice from Cathy in a very quick read.

Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho
This is a good practical guidebook about how to set-up a blog, but fairly elementary for anyone who has already done any research on blogging. I would only recommend it for someone who is completely new to blogging; in which case it would probably be quite helpful.

What I’m Reading or Am About To Read

I also want to share with you some of the books that I am reading this Fall. I will post a blog near the end of the year that provides my ratings and reviews for each of the below, and any others that I read between now and then.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo
Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis
Time Traps by Todd Duncan
Quiet by Susan Cain
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

What is on your reading list this Fall?