What was your favorite read of the year and why? That’s not a rhetorical question! I would love to know so that I can add it to my next year’s reading pile? One of my favorite things about moving in to freelance work has been structuring time for reading – for learning about myself and my own development, what it means to have my own business, researching for client’s and also for fun. I also gave myself permission to stop reading if a book wasn’t working for me (that’s radical for someone who has historically plowed on to the end) I kept a list of probably 90% of them which I’m happy to share – but in the spirit of curation and sharing I came up with my own award categories listed below.
Best book to support the work of coaching and facilitation. The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker, gives words and structure to bringing intention to gatherings of all shapes and sizes. From conferences to networking social parties, White House events to reunions of family. I couldn’t put this book down.
Book that has led me to take action. We learn early on that insights and knowledge don’t necessarily lead to behavior change. To change something in our lives we have to actually ‘do’ something differently. Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg lays out the science of behavior change and how to actually do something about it. I’ve made several changes based on
Most nerdy yet readable book. Your Body is Your Brain by Amanda Blake provides an explanation of how our ‘brain’ sits in multiple parts of us and gives tools and cases for how, if we can more skillfully tune in to the wisdom of our body, we can become more effective as leaders and simply as human beings. I love neuro-science and this gives language to explain why many of the practices I offer as a coach are body based.
Most insightful book: Black is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time and Mine by Emily Bernard, an African American professor in Vermont. This is a collection of personal essays reflecting on blackness and her experiences – as a professor, living in a white dominant state, a wife married to a white man, an adoptive mother (of children from Ethiopia) – and those of her mother and grandmother. I found this book deeply touching in that she focuses largely on the micro experiences she has had and frames them within the larger narrative. I learned so much from this book.
Best fiction. So I was going to name The Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua which I am just finishing – a fantastic fictional account of a young woman from a village who joins Chairman Mao’s dance troupe (which he apparently had in real life) and then becomes his lover. But concern for recency bias also makes me want to name a young adult fiction called Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz which presents a beautiful friendship with hints of romance between two boys in their teens. As the mother of a teenager I so appreciate windows into what this age and stay may feel like these days.
Happy to share my full list with anyone who is interested. And one final question – Is there anything that you have done differently based on something you have read this year?