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My 2016 Top 5 Books

Another year of growing, questioning, escaping, laughing, and learning through reading. And another OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAblog on my top 5 books for the year. A few comments

  • Total for the year: 145. I read just about all genres, and find that fiction “cross-pollinates” with ideas for presentations, frameworks, and more.
  • Total on my first cut at a Top 5 list: 21

Yep, it was a good year.

To get to 5, I “discarded” a few popular titles such as The Boys in the Boat, assuming most readers have read them anyway. And, tried to choose among genres for the “best in class…”

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande If you think you might ever grow old, read this. If you think anyone close to you might ever grow old, read this. If you think you or someone you love might ever face hard medical or other choices, read this. Soon. And start talking with those you care about.

by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon Yes, I gave this book 5 stars, but oh it was hard to read. All my life I’ve disliked stories of children who struggle because the forces of life seem aligned against them. This fictionalized autobiography of Malcolm X’s adolescence, written by his daughter, brings alive the struggle of blacks in this country in a visceral way and makes real the tragedy of our loss of Malcolm at such a young age. Gritty, gripping and golden prose. Read and pass it on! And then read Between the World and Me (Coates), a book that is destined for my 2016 top 5…

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder If you think a book about the politics and philosophies that lead to the Holocaust would be boring, or less frightening than descriptions of death camps and firing squads, you’re wrong. This book details how careful maneuvering and choices of populations to use as your tools and as your victims can result in ordinary people carrying out your plans. Besides a powerful, documented accurate explanation of how the Holocaust took place, this book makes a clear case for why we should care. If we stick to current myths about existing prejudices that the Germans fueled, and other convenient explanations for the deaths of over 6 million people, we risk seeing the patterns in people’s fears, circumstances and needs that left them vulnerable to manipulation—and the very real dangers of “modern” people, including ourselves, being manipulated in similar ways. Think not? Read carefully.

ARC Leadership: From Surviving to Thriving in a Complex World by Richard Boston. Not many books contain wisdom. And few that do are also practical. This book is both. The case studies and examples are excellent, featuring leadership dilemmas large and small where trying to be authentic, responsible and courageous is not only difficult but results in conflicts and compromises among the three. Toward the end, Boston features some key questions and tools for getting yourself back in alignment with these three key qualities of leadership that make all the difference. As the author points out, while everyone seeks integrity, authenticity and responsibility in leaders, what difference do those qualities make if leaders aren’t ready to stand up for what they believe is right?

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer. Each year, Theakston Brewery, way up in the Yorkshire Dales, sponsors a mystery contest. When we toured the brewery 2 years ago, the entries had been narrowed down to the short list and it seemed as if everyone in the small town—certainly everyone on staff at the brewery—was busy reading the prize contenders. Rubbernecker was the 2014 winner and a great, great mystery read. With respectful care given to a “detective” with Aspergers, the handling of cadavers in dissection classes, and the sorrows of families whose loved ones are in comas, the book weaves an intriguing tale. A nice change from both “cozy” and overly graphic crime novels.

What books should be added to my list of books to read in 2016?

Jane Kise is a consultant and executive coach. The founder of Differentiated Coaching Associates and author of over 20 books, she works with schools and businesses worldwide to help create environments where everyone can flourish.

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