Recent books I read and listened to… happy reading!
In Defense of Kindness (Why It Matters, How It Changes Our Lives, and How It Can Save the World) by Bruce Reyes-Chow
It seemed like the perfect book to kick off February, the month of love. While this is a secular book, my church, Westminster Presbyterian, chose it for its annual “desert and dialogue” event in which Bruce came and spoke. It’s always enjoyable to hear from the author firsthand. This book – or revolution manifesto – is so needed in our world now. Kindness is more than a gesture, but rather how we see, experience, and engage others. As Bruce writes, “To be kind is to accept that each person is a created and complex human being—and to treat them as if you believe this to be true.” This book covers being kind to those around us and ourselves, as well as provides everyday scenarios and how to bring more kindness to each experience, group, and organization. I carry with me from this book and his discussion the following quote, “Kindness is a way we live out grace in the world.”
Permission to be Human (The Conscious Leader’s Guide to Creating a Value-Driven Culture) by Mary Beth Hyland
I’m grateful Erica Beard recommended this informative and practical book which I read on my back porch in one day drinking hot tea under a blanket in early March rejuvenating my introvert. I liked reading the book outside with the birds chirping in the background and the first colors of spring around me. Values are both personal and organic – so being in nature thinking about how to determine and reinforce values seemed fitting. I think this book is a great read for new managers, change management consultants, executives in a new organization, or a leadership team because it clearly explains corporate culture; offers a clear, doable approach to identify an organization’s values; and shares leadership actions to help reinforce those values personally. The book includes a section on how mindfulness/meditation fit into leadership values to help a person be aware of their state inside the cultural system. Mary Beth provides a helpful section on boundaries, writing, “We often give our power over to what other people want from us instead of setting boundaries that help us ensure that we’re not constantly in a state of feeling overwhelmed.” This is also a helpful read for organization’s thinking about the “next normal” of a hybrid work structure and what values and corresponding behaviors are needed to support it
Will by Will Smith
I spent a good chunk of February walking each morning with Will Smith as his audible book is 16 hours long. I was surprised by this book in terms of how Will snuck so much into it. Not just from his amazing story from childhood trauma to the first rap Grammy ever and onto Oscar nominations, but the nuggets of perspective and wisdom. It was a casual listen with some big laughs. Listening to it was like hanging out with a long-time friend sharing stories over a few drinks. Some stories you reminisced together (thinking about his music with DJ Jazzy Jeff and show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and others were new from a more private vault that connected you more closely.
Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown
It’s hard to process all that is going on in the world, let alone talk about how it feels. In this book, Brene defines and explains 87 of the emotions and experiences that define what it means to be human. While she did a good job bringing the book and its content to life as the narrator, I recommend this as a tradition book read so you can really take the time to pause and reflect on each of the 87 definitions and what they mean to you. There is a lot of helpful, heavy, and provoking content to process.
What books do you recommend?