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1 book a week for a year: My recommends from 2020.

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

2020 was a mad year, I think we can all agree.

My madness extended past the global trash fire, to set myself a goal of reading one book a week. When I started in January, I had no idea that I would assisted in my crusade by being locked in my house for part of the challenge, with only Tiger King to keep my brain active, so… silver linings I suppose.

I get asked a lot about this challenge. So, I thought I would put together a short blog to explain my why and also give my list of recommends to others can go on their own journey.

My Why

As many of you know, I undertake annual challenges. My reason is primary the fact I get to immerse myself in a completely different world, have different conversations, learn new skills all while testing my ability to commit to something longer than a goldfish.

My challenges have included things like – running every day for a year and yoga everyday. I have given up chocolate and more recently meat, people often think the reason must be to get fit, or get skinny, or bendy or something physical. However, my biggest lessons have always been much more visceral.

My reading challenge taught me two main things:

Wasting time

My first and most challenging was my stopping my inner monologue that kept telling me that reading was wasting time.

It consistently told me I could have been finishing the washing, the dishes, going to the gym… anything else, but the fact I was sitting down and reading was neglecting my other duties.

It took me a long time to accept, it was not.

Correcting myself and my brain was a real exercise in consistent reinforcement. Reading a page and realising you hadn’t taken anything in, as you were reprimanding yourself for jobs not done was a steep and thankless learning curve.

Audiobooks vs Physical Books

I am the first person to tell you podcasts and audiobooks have changed the way I use my spare time, their entry into my life has fueled my appetite for knowledge, and as a person I believe I have grown exponentially because them.

However, this challenge taught me, although I can ingest more information through my ears, my retention of that information is far lower than when using my eyes. This might be different for others, but I definitely got more long term retention out of a ‘read’ book, than a ‘listened’ book.

Anyway, here is what you are after – some recommends based on the books I read in 2020.

For Business Development

Start with Why, Simon Sinek

In a sentence: In business, it doesn't matter what you do, it matters WHY you do it.

The Thank you Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk In a sentence: Business should be built on both the time-honoured techniques of listening to and appreciating customers.

Turn the Ship Around, L. David Marquet

In a sentence: First hand experience questioning, challenging, and testing basic leadership assumptions from take-control authority to give-control empowerment.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath

In a sentence: Change management tools to engage yourself and others by using patterns to make the adjustments that matter.

Who Killed Change, Ken Blanchard

In a sentence: A whodunnit murder mystery about who killed ‘a change’ in business, a quirky way of engaging and identifying suspects in your own organisation.

Legacy, James Kerr

In a sentence: Analysis of the All Blacks rugby team success and culture, with powerful and logical lessons for leadership and business.

For Being a Good Human

Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

In a sentence: Challenging us to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

What I Know for Sure, Oprah Winfrey

In a sentence: An easy, joyous book that celebrates the appreciation of small things as much as big ones.

Talking to Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell

In a sentence: Investigation into 'default to truth’ theory, where human nature trains us to be trusting, often too trusting.

I would recommend this as an audiobook:

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande

In a sentence: How we as a society can cope, manage and embrace the journey of age-related frailty, serious illness, and inevitable death. (Much more important and optimistic than it sounds.)

You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters, Kate Murphy

In a sentence: In a world that is listening less and less, this is a closer look and action plan to be a better listener.

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

In a sentence: Eddo-Lodge writes about her exasperation with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain are being led by those who aren’t directly affected by it.

Worth a read, if interested in general success.

Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, Matthew Syed

In a sentence: Talent is a result of practice, experience and embracing failure, not birth.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein

In a sentence: Investigation and anecdotal evidence supporting the general argument against overspecialisation.

Cut the Noise: Better Results, Less Guilt, Chris Helder

In a sentence: Getting your brain to drown out the guilt modern life places on us, and focus on what matters.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth

In a sentence: How to use passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, without the need for constant recognition and reward.

Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and in Life, Rodd Wagner

In a sentence: Stories and observation of successful partnerships of two people working together throughout history.

Happy, Derren Brown

In a sentence: The history, philosophy and psychology of happiness and why it's maybe not quite as it seems.

Hope this gives you a bit of inspiration as another lockdown is here.

Kia Kaha (stay strong) to those in NZ, and around the world.

When you can get yourselves a library card, and

spend some time away from your screen.

Your brain will thank you.


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