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My Top Five 2018 Reads

Okay, if Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Trilogy can have five volumes, my top five can have seven this year. So many great titles to choose from that I’ve categorized them for any of you who for whatever reasons avoid some genres.


A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

While this book details Comey’s whole career, it is really about explaining 2016 and 2017. And, while, let’s say I was “surprised” in 2016 at his handling of the Clinton email/election incident, after reading this I have to agree with how the FBI handled that and a lot of other things

Comey comes across as credible. First, Comey’s accounts of his early experiences as an attorney dealing with organized crime in New York, and in working with the Bush administration on pulling back on what was heading toward unrestricted government surveillance set up his credibility and solid foundation in both law and ethics. Second, instead of simply justifying his acts, he explains his choices and what he saw as the potential consequences. And third, his critique of leaders includes leaders of all political persuasions.

He’s also aware of polarities in leadership—being both tough and kind, humble and confident, for instance. He pulls no punches in describing Trump and why he kept nonclassified memos on all of their meetings. And he contrasts what happened with what good leadership looks like. A good read that unfortunately, is not fiction.

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

Those of us who read this in 2018 had just lived through the events described in the book’s final chapters. But, do you know the history of women’s movements before the Women’s March a week after the election of the 45th president of the United States? Or how women’s anger has fostered productive change? Or the horrific power moves and blatant horror that preceded the #metoo movement? This volume walks you through the heroes before us, the impact on women of different races and status, and how the movements are continuing. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of history, you can lose sight of the view from 30,000 feet, the view from any place but your city, or the view given the long trajectory of change. This book is thorough yet easy to digest, compelling yet scholarly, emotional yet pragmatic. A must read for anyone who is wondering how we ensure that all people are treated as equals. 

Who Do We Choose to Be? By Margaret Wheatley

Margaret Wheatley’s prior book, So Far from Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World, put forth that the way the world seems to be descending into chaos is simply what happens in systems. Depressing. This book, however, beautifully lays out how each of us can make a difference where we are. An amazing blend of the practical and inspirational, organized in a way to lead readers forward.

Young Adult

Dear Martin by Nick Stone

I dare you to listen to the audio version of this book and not gain increased awareness of the plight of young black males. Jason Reynolds is just trying to succeed at an Ivy League prep school, but things go very wrong from the first page. This book tackles racial profiling head-on through a story that may as well be taken right from our current newspapers.

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik by David Arnold

An absolutely new spin on the struggles of launching yourself into adulthood. Noah Oakman isn’t sure he wants to follow the straight-to-college-on-a-swimming-scholarship path laid out for him and can’t imagine life without his tight threesome friendship. His default thoughts are about strange things like a man with a goiter he sees every day. A YouTube video of a woman who photographed herself every day for almost 40 years. And so on. So what? Read on for a funny, poignant, meaningful journey with Noah as he discovers the meaning of his obsessions and, ultimately, of the choices ahead.

Other Delightful Fiction

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak

A bridge, a mule, horse racing, five brothers…few writers could turn these elements into a compelling story of family, loss, triumph, and a miasma of bridging…The read is probably easier if you’ve spent a bit of time in Australia. The first chapters require a bit of perseverance as you sink into the storytelling techniques he uses. Then…enjoy, ponder, and marvel.

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

What fun! The author as sidekick to the detective? The detective telling the author how to write and the author telling the detective how to sleuth? Twists and turns in the search for motive? A great addition to Horowitz’s long list of entertaining titles.


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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