Leadership Matters

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My Favorite Books of 2020


Every year, I set a goal to read a book a week.  I usually fall a bit short.  This year, I finally made it, with a total of 54 books completed, a combination of fiction and non-fiction and always one book in progress on Audible, usually a biography or memoir.  I did read more fiction than usual, as a means to escape our interesting reality.

Here are my top ten favorites for the year:

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching and Life.  Recommended to me by one of my co-facilitators for the Leadership Development Program at the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College, this book is a must for anyone in the coaching business and for any leader who wants to develop the skill and power of Question Thinking.

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, one of my favorite authors.  I just love the way he thinks!  This book is about learning to play in terms of the long run, whether you are creating value or building healthy relationships; as a big picture thinker, I really relate to  this mindset.

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard.  Brendon has been one of my coaches, mentors and teachers over the past ten years.  This book is a perennial favorite and it was great to "re-read" it in Audible this year.  I love Brendon's passion and energy; as a Certified High Performance Coach, this is one of my go-to books for clients -- and for myself.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  I think this was made into a movie as well.  It is the story of a young black woman who witnesses the unprovoked shooting of her good friend and all the drama that follows.  In a year in which the Black Lives Matter movement accelerated, I read and listened to a lot of books about the black experience and by black authors.  I love this book because it takes you into the heart and mind of a person in conflict with her own conscience.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, winner of the Pulitzer Prize.  This is my favorite Toni Morrison book.  She writes so beautifully.  This time, I listened to her read this book and appreciated it even more. 

The Motive by Patrick Lencioni.  Patrick is another of my favorite authors and also a teacher and mentor.  As someone certified to facilitate the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program, I especially appreciate Patrick's latest.  This book asks a basic question for leaders and what motivates their desire to lead.  This is an important book.

We Are All the Same Age Now:  Valuegraphics, the End of Demographic Stereotypes by David Allison.  As a person who never felt like I "fit" into any age-category in terms of my wants, needs and values, I found this book fascinating.  Instead of defining buying behavior based on age and other demographics, Allison offers an alternative based on sets of values.  A fascinating read.

Leonard DaVinci by Walter Isaacson, one of my favorite biographers, narrated by Alfred Molina, one of my favorite actors.  This was an eye-opener.  I have known DaVinci as a famous artist and had really no idea about all his other talents, as an inventor and engineer and all-together person who lived ahead of his time.  Many of his inventions were re-invented hundreds of years later.  Wow.

Bright Spots:  Motivation and Inspiration to Light Your Path in a Changing World An anthology compiled by Cathy Davis.  Davis gathered a group of incredible writers to share their individual lights and I was honored to be among them.  This book offers moments of hope, a glimmer of relieve, a chance to regain your sense of balance in the world...and a chance to recognize you can, too, can be a bright spot in someone else's life.  This is a book we all need this year.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.  Steinem is a national treasure and this book is a must for any woman under 40.  It is a history lesson about women's rights and especially how they evolved over the past 50 years.  As someone who grew up in this age, I often feel that young women take some of what we have today for granted.  Steinem chronicles so many key challenges that have been hard fought by those who came before us and it's important for people to have this perspective.  Debra Winger is the narrator.  I'm so glad I heard this book this year.

Special Mention – Other Favorite Reads this Year:

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (a gut-wrenching story that you cannot put down)

Magic Hour by Kristen Hannah (another compelling story by a bestselling author)

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett (It’s on many best books of the year – deservedly)

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone:  A Therapist, Her Therapist and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb (non-fiction – very entertaining for anyone interested in human behavior)

Happy reading.  I hope you find something here that appeals -- and I'd love to hear your recommendations.