Reading is not only my first love but also my true love. I’m happiest with a book in my hand. It’s where I return time and time again to dream, think, ponder, create, question and to find solace.
In celebration of this year’s Fast 15, I thought I’d share the 15 books on my nightstand.
- “The Way of the Shepherd” by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak. Written as a parable, these leadership principles are timeless.
- “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. Introversion and extraversion are two of the most exhaustively researched subjects in personality psychology. And the brilliance of this book is that it can start a conversation — a conversation about how people are different. While we are all still humans, we are differently human.
- “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink. Summed up nicely in two great sentences: “Meaning is the new money. The MFA is the new MBA.”
- “Several Short Sentences About Writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg. Most writing is really rewriting. So “revise toward brevity, directness, simplicity, clarity, rhythm, literalness, implication, variation, presence, silence …”
- “Life – Selected Quotations” by Paulo Coelho. This book is a compilation of some of the most profound passages from more than 17 of the author’s published works.
- “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Essentially this is a contemporary memoir written in the form of the hero’s journey. You lose yourself, you test yourself, you find yourself. And then you write about it.
- “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. This is a portrait of race, class and politics in 20th century America. These topics are as urgent today as they were during the great migration from 1915 to 1970. It’s a bold, remarkable, riveting read.
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. There’s a reason this book is required reading in so many English classes around the world. Good writing can abridge the noise: “There’s just one kind of folks. Folks. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
- “All I Ever Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. Kindergarten was a magical time for so many of us. Learning the basics — the essentials of life — sitting in a circle playing duck, duck, goose after naptime. All of life got overly complicated after that.
- “Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson. It’s a book about the spaces where innovation flourishes. In summary: “Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, reinvent. Build a tangled bank.”
- “Orbiting the Giant Hairball” by Gordon MacKenzie. The author was a creative genius at Hallmark Cards for 30 years. I heard him speak once, and it was electrifying. My signed copy of this legendary book is one of my most treasured possessions.
- “The Book of Awesome” by Neil Pasricha. The simplest of things will bring you enormous joy. This book reminds us of all the little things that we often overlook.
- “Braving the Wilderness” by Brene Brown. Her BRAVING acronym (boundaries, reliability, accountability, vault, integrity, nonjudgment, generosity) sets the stage for establishing trust — for ourselves and others — which is a vulnerable and courageous process.
- “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone” by Lori Gottlieb. As a card-carrying member of the human race, I firmly believe that everyone needs to talk to someone at some point. Even your therapist. Perhaps especially your therapist.
- “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. In short, his research is about what we should know about the people we don’t know.
Reading is an individual experience, but it also tends to be a collective experience because we often talk about the books we love the most. I’d go so far as to say reading changes you. After all, there is no monopoly on wisdom.
Congratulations to the newest inductees into the Fast 15! I wish you much continued success.
Ancora Imparo… (Still, I am learning)
Stacey Mason is the founder of The Improv Lab, a professional development business in Bentonville. More information is available at TheImprovLab.com or by calling 479-877-0131. The opinions expressed are those of the author.