A few days ago, I realized I had missed a few deadlines of (audio)books reviews... so here's all that went through my hands and ears between march 2017 and November 2018. While writing this list, I came up with almost 30 titles, so I will break it into 3 posts to get it into your hands a bit faster.
1. It can't happen here by Sinclair Lewis
Right at the time Donald J. Trump was closing in on Hillary Clinton in the american presidential election, I thought it might be timely to read such a classic.
It Can't Happen Here is a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression when America was largely oblivious to Hitler's aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a President who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, rampant promiscuity, crime, and a liberal press. [...] It Can't Happen Here remains uniquely important, a shockingly prescient novel that's as fresh and contemporary as today's news. (GoodReads)
I can't say I remained impressed with this book. It is somehow too real and too romanced at the same time to be truly scary.
What really stuck with me in the end though, was the same feeling than when reading this poem from Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
2. The five dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni
"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" is one of the classic fictional leadership books:
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.
This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams. Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail?
Lencioni's utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.
Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders (GoodReads)
The book is captivating, it really engages the reader and triggered my emotions right away. I read it as I was dealing with toxic behavior and sabotage in my project, and really was able to learn a lot of lessons right away. I highly recommend it!
3. It's complicated by Danah Boyd
This is one of the "holy shit I am getting old I need to catch up with the youngsters"-book.
What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Do social media affect the quality of teens’ lives?
In this eye-opening book, youth culture and technology expert danah boyd uncovers some of the major myths regarding teens' use of social media. She explores tropes about identity, privacy, safety, danger, and bullying. Ultimately, boyd argues that society fails young people when paternalism and protectionism hinder teenagers’ ability to become informed, thoughtful, and engaged citizens through their online interactions.
Yet despite an environment of rampant fear-mongering, boyd finds that teens often find ways to engage and to develop a sense of identity.Boyd’s conclusions are essential reading not only for parents, teachers, and others who work with teens but also for anyone interested in the impact of emerging technologies on society, culture, and commerce in years to come.
Offering insights gleaned from more than a decade of original fieldwork interviewing teenagers across the United States, boyd concludes reassuringly that the kids are all right. At the same time, she acknowledges that coming to terms with life in a networked era is not easy or obvious. In a technologically mediated world, life is bound to be complicated. (GoodReads)
I was amazed by the level of non-judgmentality with which the author was able to drive the discussion. This is not a life-changing book, but a very interesting one, once you realize you don't get why teens like this or that service that you don't really understand.
4. Face to face by Jayme Hull & Laura Captari
One of the first books dedicated to mentoring that I read. Interesting, but too versed on the spiritual side of life, and not enough on the practical/business side:
Whether you have a mentor, can’t seem to find one, or haven’t even thought to look, Jayme Hull walks you through every aspect of this critical relationship, including:Its purpose, value, and benefits, Marks of a healthy mentoring relationship, Initiating, navigating, and even ending a mentorship, Becoming a mentor to others
Packed with stories and anecdotes from Jayme’s experience as both a mentor and mentee—plus sprinklings of wisdom on balance, purpose, and change—Face to Face speaks to the heart of young Christian women eager to grow.
In her warm, personable style, Jayme offers expert advice on how to journey well with someone further along.(Goodreads)
5. The power of when by Michael Breus
What if the time at which you do things mattered? Like not writing blog posts at 22:54 but instead go to bed early, eat within a 12 hours timeframe of waking up and so on? And what if there were different profiles in our population and that those timeframes were not the same for everyone? This is the premice of this book.
Most advice centers on what to do, or how to do it, and ignores the when of success. But exciting new research proves there is a right time to do just about everything, based on our biology and hormones.
As Dr. Michael Breus proves in The Power of When, working with your body's inner clock for maximum health, happiness, and productivity is easy, exciting, and fun.
The Power of When presents a groundbreaking new program for getting back in sync with your natural rhythm by making minor changes to your daily routine. After you've taken Dr. Breus's comprehensive Bio-Time Quiz to figure out your chronotype (are you a Bear, Lion, Dolphin or Wolf?), you'll find out the best time to do over 50 different activities.
Featuring a foreword by Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and packed with fascinating facts, fun personality quizzes, and easy-to-follow guidelines, The Power of When is the ultimate "lifehack" to help you achieve your goals. (Goodreads)
I was able to get a lot of tips from this book. Many of which I still use from time to time.
6. Unconditioal Parenting by Alfie Kohn
I caught this book recommendation from DHH in one of his podcast interviews and found the premise really sound.
Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?" — and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them.
In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking "What do kids need — and how can we meet those needs?"
What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them. One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including "time-outs"), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us.
Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send.
More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting — including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people.
This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents. (GoodReads)
I think this is one of those books that you have to read once every few years and will discover new things every time. If you have small kids, I highly recommend it.
Terry Pratchett is not to be presented again. Although I am not a big fan of the Discworld, I enjoyed this one-shot a lot:
Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestseller in England, where they have catapulted him into the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.
In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory.
As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals.
The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life. (Goodreads)
As you can imagine, this accompanied me as an Audiobook during a 800km drive home... and time really flew by!
Here's another one of those books that you can read once every few years. This book diggs really deep into the coaching role of the leader and how to become effective at it.
In Michael Bungay Stanier's The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can wok less hard and have more impact. Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your peoples' potential. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how--by saying less and asking more--you can develop coaching methods that produce great results.
– Get straight to the point in any conversation with The Kickstart Question
– Stay on track during any interaction with The Awe Question
– Save hours of time for yourself with The Lazy Question
– and hours of time for others with The Strategic Question
– Get to the heart of any interpersonal or external challenge with The Focus Question
– and The Foundation Question
– Ensure others find your coaching as beneficial as you do with The Learning Question
A fresh innovative take on the traditional how-to manual, the book combines insider information with research based in neuroscience and behavioural economics, together with interactive training tools to turn practical advice into practiced habits.
Witty and conversational, The Coaching Habit takes your work--and your workplace--from good to great. "Coaching is an art and it's far easier said than done. It takes courage to ask a question rather than offer up advice, provide and answer, or unleash a solution. giving another person the opportunity to find their own way, make their own mistakes, and create their own wisdom is both brave and vulnerable. In this practical and inspiring book, Michael shares seven transformative questions that can make a difference in how we lead and support. And he guides us through the tricky part - how to take this new information and turn it into habits and a daily practice. (Goodreads)
If you are somehow interested in coaching, mentoring and/or leadership, a very powerful book to have read.
9. Turn the Ship around by David Marquet
Final book of this first part, "Turn the ship around" was my highlight of the year. Very inspiring and easy to understand, yet full of deep practical examples, this book gave me a lot of ideas on how to steer the organisation I work for:
"Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers." David Marquet, an experienced Navy officer, was used to giving orders. As newly appointed captain of the USS Santa Fe, a nuclear-powered submarine, he was responsible for more than a hundred sailors, deep in the sea. In this high-stress environment, where there is no margin for error, it was crucial his men did their job and did it well.
But the ship was dogged by poor morale, poor performance, and the worst retention in the fleet. Marquet acted like any other captain until, one day, he unknowingly gave an impossible order, and his crew tried to follow it anyway. When he asked why the order wasn't challenged, the answer was "Because you told me to." Marquet realized he was leading in a culture of followers, and they were all in danger unless they fundamentally changed the way they did things. That's when Marquet took matters into his own hands and pushed for leadership at every level.
Turn the Ship Around! is the true story of how the Santa Fe skyrocketed from worst to first in the fleet by challenging the U.S. Navy's traditional leader-follower approach. Struggling against his own instincts to take control, he instead achieved the vastly more powerful model of giving control. Before long, each member of Marquet's crew became a leader and assumed responsibility for everything he did, from clerical tasks to crucial combat decisions. The crew became fully engaged, contributing their full intellectual capacity every day, and the Santa Fe started winning awards and promoting a highly disproportionate number of officers to submarine command.
No matter your business or position, you can apply Marquet's radical guidelines to turn your own ship around. The payoff: a workplace where everyone around you is taking responsibility for their actions, where people are healthier and happier, where everyone is a leader. (GoodReads)
Here's the top 3 of this list:
- Turn the Ship around
- The five dysfunctions of a team
- Unconditioal Parenting if you have children, The coaching Habit otherwise!
PS: the Amazon links present in this post are affiliate links. It is not much, but the few € they occasionally bring, contribute to paying for the services I use to create more value: this blog on Ghost, the DevJourney Podcast on Buzzsprout or Zapier with which I automate many background processes. Thanks for your understanding!