Essential Books (Things I Love)

Last updated: April 2021

Midnight Library

Midnight Library book recommendation
Escape and reflect.

Last book I read that I loved is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. 

“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”

Amazon – $15
BookShop – $23

Deep Work

Hmm, real subtle.

“I feel sorry for kids who are already addicted to their smartphones by age 10.”

Random Amazon reviewer

Just finished listening to this book… and kinda disappointing? I feel this way because I’m pretty well-versed in the concepts of productivity (ahem, I do Venture Out!). At certain points, I even felt it was a bit too “braggy.” Newport practices what he preaches, and in using himself as an example of success, he describes what he’s been able to accomplish via deep work. Perhaps he is maintaining a level of privacy by not going into detail the challenges of implementing deep work on his family and personal life or maybe he just wants to sell as many book as possible.

Yet, I do agree this book is foundational. Newport does an excellent job of describing the principles, examples of people who practice them, and some of the drawbacks. I could’ve done without the chapter on how to memorize things better, but the chapter on practical tips applied to emails was relevant, even though this book was written years ago. (Don’t get distracted by MySpace!)

If you’ve read it, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts.

Amazon – $15 or Bookshop (supports local bookstores) – $25

Strengths Finder 2.0

I like how they added the “2.0,” as if to convey it’s a better model.

Perhaps one of the most boring title and cover I’ve ever seen on a book, the Strengths Finder 2.0 is still an essential book. To be honest, it’s not even for the book – it’s the quiz it allows you to access online with the access code the book comes with. By taking the online quiz, it spits out a customized report of what your strengths are, which is the real gold nugget.

I worked with a coach throughout 2019 and this was one of the lessons we covered. By discovering and really being aware of our strengths, I can then consciously use that knowledge to do better at my job.

Another way of looking at it… we got this far in life, but do we REALLY know why? We may think we know what our strengths are, which led to the success we have so far. But this book takes the analytical approach and really dissects your top 5 strengths. What if you have been only using 2 or 3 of your strengths? What if you could maximize all 5?!

Here’s a link to my Strength report, so you have a taste of what you’d be getting for yourself.

StrengthsFinder 2.0 features the new and upgraded version of the StrengthsFinder program, the main selling point of mega-bestseller Now, Discover Your Strengths (over a million copies sold). Access to the new and upgraded StrengthsFinder program will be available exclusively through this book.

Amazon – $16

Tribal Leadership

Form your own tribe. No, I’m not talking the remote village type that’s untouched by technology.

“Tribal Leadership gives amazingly insightful perspective on how people interact and succeed. I learned about myself and learned lessons I will carry with me and reflect on for the rest of my life.”

I listened to this book and read several takeaways about this book.  I’ve had at length discussion and implements these concept in the workplace, with my teams. It’s truly an insightful look at how people behave in the context of “tribes.”  Logan and King do a superb job at explaining why some people dread going to work while others can push each other to be better.  By understanding the reason why, we, as leaders, can start to move these teams up the ladder of performance and effectiveness.

Read now and support local bookstores too.

Amazon – $11 or Bookshop (supports local bookstores) – $18

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Hmm, Manson did a great job at designing the cover. BAM, it’s so in your face.

So I listened to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck as an audiobook, and it took me awhile to get into the groove. At first, I thought (like many others) that it was just the typical, common-sense life advice but with expletives littered throughout. And I’m not saying it’s not that. BUT, if you can stick with it, Mark Manson does present these common sense advice in a way that is engaging, and gets us thinking.

At the end of the day, isn’t listening to common sense advice, over and over, a good thing? It reminds me of those Chicken Broth for the Soul books. In them are heartwarming stories about how people did the right thing, and through adversity, there is a happy ending. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is just on the other end of the spectrum. It’s rude, profane, and NSFW, but it’s real advice.

If you want to take it a step further, check out Mark Manson’s blog page, which I think is a lot more of the same (but free). And here’s an article where Mark Manson talks some crap about Tony Robbins and his “positivity stuff.” Manson states:

“I don’t think all the positivity stuff works. If you look at the evidence, classic positivity self-help has been around – at least in the US – for 100 years. But if you look at depression, suicide, drug usage, they’re all steadily on the rise and have been for decades… I feel like there’s this surge of demand for this more pessimistic take on human psychology,” Manson said.

Arabian Business, Nov 4, 2019

Agree or disagree?

Amazon, hardcover or paperback – $15

5 Love Languages

TRUST ME, it’s worth the read.

Think of it as the Rosetta Stone for understanding what’s been going wrong in all of our relationships. The 5 Love Languages is a book that describes the 5 ways everybody shows love. And most important, how they also receive love. In other words, if you aren’t speaking the same language, how will you ever understand what they’re trying to say?!

Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor who has seen it all, distilled everything down to the core 5 love languages – Words of Affirmation (say nice things), Acts of Service (cut the grass, do the laundry, etc.), Quality Time (no distraction time together), Gifts (give me a Rolex!), and Physical Touch (cuddle and more). Step one, figure out yours. Step two, figure out what the other person’s is. Step three, talk to each other in the language they understand. BOOM.

Amazon – $9

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

I know, I know, this isn’t the cover of the book but rather the Steven Spielberg movie. Do both!

Anyone interested in leadership has got to be fascinated by Lincoln, and how he accomplished so much during perhaps the most difficult time in our nation’s history. And what’s alluring about Team of Rivals is how we turned his political enemies into his Cabinet members! Can you imagine that happening in our political environment today? McCain came close when he almost selected Democrat Lieberman as his VP running mate. But imagine if Trump had asked Hilary to be in his cabinet! Or if Biden becomes president, he asks Ivanka to be his Secretary of State. Mind-blowing.

And yet, that’s what Lincoln did. Oh yeah, he also ended slavery, brought the country back together, and did it with a pretty low-key personality. Check out the book, which is definitely a a must-read book for leadership.

Amazon, hardcover or paperback – $14


This is the book you read to sound smarter in conversations. “Did you know…”

Absolutely mind blowing to hear about the history of humans from the bazillion foots level. It’s mind blowing because at that macro level, it puts so much of what we do into perspective.

For example, the lesson on how homo sapiens are the only species capable of overriding our genetic shortcomings into believing and doing something totally new. The books posits, imagine if monkeys were also able to override their genetic programming. We might not see the alpha male chimp but rather monkey’s voting in a democratic style!

Contemplate with fresh eyes why our society is the way it is, and better understand what shapes our future.

Overdrive App – Download the free app, link to your library, and listen for free.

Amazon – $14

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