Brendan’s 2021 Top 10 Summer Reads – Feet Up, Fascination, and Inspiration

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As we wind down another challenging year for business, we hope that everyone gets the opportunity to stay safe, relax and recharge for what 2022 might bring.
Once again I thought I would offer my pick of 10 books you might want to choose from if you are looking for something to read over the break. Again I have chosen 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction from what I have read or listened to during the year. These are my among the best of the 60 or so consumed in 2021 and in no particular order, so here goes.

Five for a Feet-up Read

  1. Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss – I listened to the audiobook to hear an indigenous narrator and appreciate the pronunciation of the Wiradjuri language. I am glad I did, it felt like sessions of storytelling, really appreciating the opportunity. Thoroughly recommend reading this story of a clash of beliefs and understanding, racism, and the challenge of the land of the late 1800s.
  2. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – A book that makes you think and wonder about yourself, what could have been, and what could be. You are left feeling hopeful and motivated, just what we will need heading into 2022. The Midnight Library is the zone between life and death and each book is an alternative life. Seems a simple and easy device, but it is done beautifully in this book.
  3. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Stunning in natural beauty, you get a real visual of the landscape in which this is set on the North Carolina coast. A child is left to fend for herself and we see her grow, learn about nature and humanity, and overcome extreme diversity. I loved it, most of it, it hooked me in, though I struggled in it a few times, but let go and felt its warmth and intent.
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin – A rightful classic, story of the challenges of class and station. A criticism of the patriarchal society of 1800s England presented in a satirical way. I really enjoyed it.
  5. Blessed: The Breakout Year of Rampaging Roy Slaven by John Doyle – Bloody wonderful. I listened to the Audiobook and bought the paperback. John Doyle narrates the story of the year that established the young uber-talented Roy Slaven and in doing so, tells the story of his own childhood, the 1960s Lithgow and Catholic school experience.

Five for Business, Inspiration, and Fascination

  1. The Art of the Impossible by Steven Kotler – Decodes how the very successful make things that seem impossible, possible. I found this an excellent book. It ticks all my boxes. It contains biochemistry, physiology, philosophy, and brings in some other research in performance I was already a fan of such as Grit, Flow, and Mindset. I will be re-reading this and can’t wait to do so. Very practicable.
  2. Effortless by Greg McKeownOne I reviewed earlier in the year, looks at how we can make it easier to get things done and achieve our goals. I found this book quite easy to consume and it makes a lot of sense, which is rare in overly convoluted business and performance books.
  3. Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt – I had a couple of long sessions with this listening to the audiobook (author narrates). It is telling that I was glued to it for some solid lengths at a time. This is kind of the point of the book in a way. To get good at something, you need to spend time and regular effort. The book probably spoke to me as I try to make lifelong learning a habit. I highly recommend this book as I highly recommend doing something each day to learn something new or to improve at a skill, any skill, to keep your mind active.
  4. Think Again by Adam GrantAnother one I reviewed earlier in the year. Highly recommended, and timely. Never be satisfied with what you think you know. Contains tools to challenge your thinking in ways that can move you forward. It looks at how to break out of confirmation bias, desirability bias, and I’m not biased bias. Recommends thinking like a scientist, not a politician or preacher. Great stuff. Really got me thinking practically about how self-challenging and putting myself open to challenges from others can help with business ideas and ideals.
  5. Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change by Christian Jarrett – Very useful resource not only in managing oneself but understanding and managing others. Some might say it gives the tools to improve oneself or another for the better. A resource for the management and psychology bookshelf.

I hope you find something from this list to relax with, exercise your mind, develop some strategies for achievement and learn something new over the Christmas break. Happy reading.

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