booksOne question has come up more frequently over the past few months: Where do you get all of this information?

One answer is that I read.  A lot.

My topics are decidedly wide and generally non-fiction.  I consume a lot of content because I’m a curious gal.  It also allows me to learn, apply, and refine my own skills.  And because my consumption is so deep and wide, I’m able to bring a lot more diversity to my work, mindset, and interactions.

I realize that reading this much isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  Then it hit me….why not dedicate one blog each month to summarize my monthly list?

You only have 1 page to read, while I have over a thousand (this month =  1,214 actual pages).

And if that didn’t persuade you, here are some more numbers:

1 mini book review = 6 sentences

1 monthly reading recap blog = 5 books = 5 mini reviews

5 books/month (personal goal) = 60 books/year

Suddenly Cliff Notes is looking pretty bulky, huh?

January 2015 Reading Recap

The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest that will Bring Purpose to Your Life  (Chris Guillebeau; 269 pgs)

Great read.  Seriously.  Buy it, absorb it, put it on your shelf, and make sure you re-read it at least once a year.  Chris has done another outstanding job of pairing great life lessons with inspirational stories.  1) Identify your quest (visit all countries in the world, a first date in 50 states, etc.), 2) Set a deadline, 3) Start.  Game on!

Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win  (Ryan Babineaux, John Krumboltz; 184 pgs)

Quick read and filled with great reminders about the beauty of failing.  In full disclosure, I’m already a woman of action, and I make it a point to try lots of things regardless of my skill level.  I’m also already well-versed in lean start-up strategies, both from launching my tech start-up in Africa and in my daily life as an agile project manager.  For these reasons, the entire mantra of ‘fail fast, fail forward’ is part of my blood.  So, while a fair amount of this book felt like reminders to me (never a bad thing), this book is really ideal for someone ready to find some quick sparks to start action on a project, shift your mood, and/or get you out the door and trying something new.

Beyond the Obvious: Killer Questions That Spark Game-Changing Innovation  (Phil McKinney; 227 pgs)

This one is definitely more dense, so don’t pick it up if you aren’t ready.  As the title implies, it tackles the topic of innovation, both in your personal ability to innovate and in your career.  This includes the basic questions we all ask ourselves (or at least should) before creating a product, a company, or even the agenda for a meeting: Who is this for?, What am I saying and want to share?, How will this flow?  The author introduces FIRE (Focus, Ideation, Ranking, Execution), his four-step approach to closing the gap between the innovation gap (system for idea quality/quantity) and innovation delay (how long between idea selection and market delivery).  The book is packed with ideas and ahas, but the presentation can be heavy.  I’d only pick it up if you are really interested in the topic.

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future  (Daniel H. Pink; 247 pgs)

This little book is a quick read and both packed with information and ways to apply the ideas.  Using the shift to right-brain thinking, Daniel Pink pitches his six fundamental abilities any successful person will require going forward: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning.  In summary, making basic connections and building basic relationships are no longer going to get you a place at the head table.  The world really is shifting to those with action, foresight, hustle and consistency.  Written in 2005, this book is still very applicable and, at times, a bit sobering with the speed of change in just 10 years.  Filled with neuroscience and application, this is a great read for anyone connecting the dots.

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children  (John Wood; 260 pgs)

Written by the founder of Room to Read, this book is one part inspiration (follow your gut and go for your dreams, even when it scares the **** out of you), one part realization (not all dreams are sugarplums and fairies, even after 10 years) and application (really great, applicable business advice).  What I especially enjoyed about this book was the realistic story of this organization.  You felt part of the story, the trials, and the triumphs.  Yes, he’s had tremendous success from some very visible sources, which is something most non-profits/start-ups do not receive.  But, despite the success, he allowed his desires and dreams to push, pull, shove, squeeze, drag him forward.  Fair warning: tears were shed while reading this, it’s really that inspiring!


Have you read any of these?  Or do you have books to add or recommend for me?

My kindle and bedside table are full, but I’m always on the look out for a good book.  Comment below and give me ideas!