Book Review – For business & pleasure these holidays


Throughout 2018 I have stuck to a reasonably consistent regime of reading and listening to books and audiobooks for business as well as for pleasure. I thought as we wind up 2018 I would offer some recommendations for holiday reading while you take a break, and for the new year preparation and focus. Out of the 66 books consumed this year, here are my suggestions.

Five for Holiday Reading

Holiday reading should be for leisure and entertainment, no need to think about business, marketing, or self improvement. So relax with my five fiction and biography recommendations for the year.

  1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – If it is possible for a book to make you feel happily sad, this is it. Beautiful story of warmth and compassion for a truly unique character navigating her Glasgow life. You’ll laugh and cry, and often at the same time.
  2. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton – A great yarn. Semi-autobiographical Australian story of suburban Brisbane. An excellent book and remarkable first novel. Beautifully written in a unique and effective style in parts. This is a story about Eli Bell, his relationships with family, friends, and clashes of cultures interwoven through shady criminal underbellies.
  3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – If you want a single book to last your entire holiday, this one is pretty big at around 800 pages. It is an amazing multi-level story with memorable characters. It is extremely entertaining even over the great distance, telling of a child, touched by a modern tragedy, and his growth through remarkable worlds of art and antiques.
  4. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – This is quite different and might be a bit of a challenge for a relaxing holiday read. I recommend it though, as it was probably the book of the year for me. Set in an otherworld between death and heaven/hell. Comments on the struggles of spirit via spirits, and the struggles of leadership, parenthood, and the “life” of everyday characters during the Civil War.
  5. Detours by Tim Rogers – This is an autobiography of sorts, written as a series of non-linear short stories rather than a memoir. I was expecting anecdotes of a rock-n-roll life from the front man of You Am I. Instead I found an artist. The writing is outstanding. (I left out Working Class Man by Jimmy Barnes, as I thought it might be a little heavy for light reading. By all means also read Barnesy though, it is honest, shocking, sad, and uplifting.)

Five for Getting Back Into Focus

Ok, after New Year’s Eve it might be time to start gearing up for work mode. You might have set resolutions or have big plans for 2019. Here are my five recommendations for business/psychology books from those I consumed this year.

  1. New Power by Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms – Bloody excellent book, looks at the new power in (and of) the crowd via sideways collaboration and meaning making. Looks at the benefits of blending new and old power models for organisations and how to create virality and movements. Extremely well structured with pops of humour as well.
  2. Principles by Ray Dalio – So good I’m reading it again and making notes. Well the first time was on audiobook, which for the start of the new year, might be the best way to tackle it, as it is quite large. It’s like having a life and business coach in your pocket, except that it is a huge book and wouldn’t fit. So again, audiobook is good. I’m reviewing and making my own notes on the principles to ensure they are reinforced, so some more engagement with this book to come.
  3. 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout A classic, that hasn’t completely stood the test of time, though the examples of its datedness are amusing and the fundamentals stand. This probably sums up every marketing book I have ever read and it was probably written before most of them. Short and very sweet which makes it a great read for both content, and the reference material.
  4. Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares – Quite punchy. More of an instruction manual than a book in the traditional sense about startup techniques to gain traction. Very actionable, digestable, and applicable to businesses in general, not just startups.
  5. Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dweck – Here is a way to start the year by understanding the people you work and deal with. It is a little repetitive if you are concentrating only on the Fixed/Growth mind set distinction, however it is well applied on different aspects of dealing with people and it is a new distinction for me that I will find useful.
  6. BONUS – Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink – if a good kick in the backside is what you need to get your 2019 off to a flying start, this is a quick read, though a little over the top in parts.

Hope you find something to relax with, exercise your mind, and help ease in to the new year. All the best for the season.

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