Recommended Books

 

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb shows that when you think of the opposite of fragile a sturdy, you sub optimize. When you imagine the opposite of fragile and things that actually get stronger under stress, you imagine the world in whole new ways.

Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self by Charles Eisenstein. One of my favorite books of the possible future of the species.

Autobiography of a Restless Mind: Reflections on the Human Condition (vol 1&2) by Dee Hock. If there is a Confucian thinker of our day, I believe it to be Dee Hock. These two volumes are a compilation of more than 2000 of his reflections about life. Beware…he is very hard on western civilization.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. This marvelous volume, written by a surgeon, offers a heartfelt, candid look at the ways in which medicine fails us in old age. Gawande offers the reader, and the medical profession, wonderful ways to enter into a conversation about end-of-life…and what to do with the answers.

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz. A look at the tremendous value in the multiple way we can be wrong, and what is to be gained by realizing and accepting our vulnerability. A valuable companion to Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Birth of the Chaordic Age by Dee Hock. This book vies for the title all-time favorite in my library. It contains the extraordinary wisdom of the founder, as well as the unimaginable story, of Visa International. I have spent time with Dee and he is a personal hero.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina. Medina’s life work has to do with the human brain, how it observes the world, and turns sensations into memories, knowledge and wisdom. Every chapter offered practical insights I can use in my life and my work.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown. Rapidly becoming a classic on the importance of being authentic and vulnerable in the world.

Dark Green Religion: Nature, Spirituality and the Planetary Future by Bron Taylor. This is a wonderful exploration of deep ecology. Taylor uses the adjective dark in two ways…as a descriptor for deep ecology and for the shadow side of the movement that can derail it.

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit by Parker J. Palmer. Parker Palmer is one of my most profound teachers. In this volume he challenges us to enter into a deeper dialogue about the democracy we need and deserve. This is not a book about politics…it is a book of wisdom about democracy and democratic dialogue.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. One of several books that point out how little I understand about this country. People that have grown up within a few hundred miles of me, and it’s as if we grew up on different planets. How could I know so little.

How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey. Carey is a science writer for the New York Times. In this easy-to-read volume he brings us up-to-date on some of the recent, often surprising, research on best practices in learning.

How to Change Minds about Our Changing Climate by Seth B Darling and Douglas L Sisterson. This book is essential for anyone (like me) who believes in the disaster of climate change, but does not always know how to refute those who disagree. Every anti-change argument is discussed and refuted in this easy-to-read volume.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. A Powerful story by a sixteen year-old from Pakistan and her courageous battle for freedom.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson has spent his life defending those on Death Row. The stories he tells of the injustices in the justice system are heart wrenching. The success he has had in changing lives and the system renew my faith.

On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. A classic and personal favorite. I have used this book to teach leadership and to hone my ideas regarding what it means to lead.  My favorite quote…”At heart, becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming more of yourself,”

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. Plato is brought into our world by this creative author. He appears at the headquarters of Google, on a TV talk show, on a panel regarding children and in a medical laboratory. In the alternate chapters Goldstein does a wonderful job of telling the story, and explaining the ideas, of Plato and his teacher, Socrates.

Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Ever wonder why most people turn right when they enter a store? It explains why fruit and vegetables are at that end of the grocery store. Duhigg explores habit, why they exist and how to alter them.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. A must read for anyone who prefers quiet, thoughtful reflection and allows themselves to be intimidate by those who do not.

Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion by Stuart A. Kauffman. Kauffman is a theoretical biologist who has investigated, and appreciates, the inherent Creativity of the Universe.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I will read anything by Brown. I think her insights into authenticity and vulnerability are practical and profound. In this volume she lays out a valuable way to look at the process of getting back up after life has laid us low.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. This is a often horrifying recounting of the ways in which our species has dominated the planet. In the end I wonder if we have sown our own demise by our carelessness.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. A classic book, which is often credited with jump-starting the ecology movement.

Spiritual Ecology: A Quiet Revolution by Leslie E. Sponsel. A wonderful review of the history of Spiritual Ecology and the players. I learned a great deal about the likes of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rudolf Steiner and many others. I had the joy of having lunch with Les Sponsel and fell in love with the man.

Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. This book is a series of essays from some of the major voices today in the growing field of Spiritual Ecology. The list of contributors is a who’s who of wisdom keepers.

Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest by Peter Block. Those who know me, know of my deep regard and affection for Peter Block. This book was a breakthrough for me in the early years of my career. Block asks the reader to rethink leadership not through the eyes of the parenting model, but as a steward.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Gilbert does an excellent job of showing how we, too often, believe we know what choices will lead to happiness. Not only do we understand happiness poorly, we cannot understand the future in a way that makes choosing easy. His suggestions of using surrogates to help us choose is profound.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I read little history, but this book was recommended. What a great read. I walked away with a much deeper respect for Lincoln. Kearns’ documentation and support for her assertions is amazing.

Thank You for Being Late: An optimist’s guide to thriving in the age of accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. In this eye-opening read, Friedman examines the rapid accelerations in technology, marketplace economics and environmental changes. His research and conclusions force me to rethink much of what I thought I knew.

The Book of Joy:Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams. In this work, Abrams recounts a week-long conversation between these two dear friends. They discuss the nature of joy, its obstacles, and eight pillars of joy. A wonderful reminder that much of what we seek will not lead to true joy.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Suffice to say this book asks me to rethink everything I thought I knew about Criminal justice, the war on drugs and how I have come to think of people of color. Sobering to say the least.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. We typically believe more choice in all decisions leads to more satisfaction and happiness. Schwartz argues persuasively that we have, perhaps, gone overboard with too many options in virtually every aspect of our lives. That leads many to be overwhelmed, confused and even depressed.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Haidt’s view of conservative and liberal political views opened my eyes and helped me understand what it is I think I understand!

The Road to Character by David Brooks. Résumé virtues versus eulogy virtues is a useful distinction as we look at the lives we lead and the destination for which we are headed. In examining the lives of people throughout history, Brooks draws disturbing distinctions between what they valued and what we value today.

The SIXTH EXTINCTION: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert. Elizabeth paints a straightforward picture of how humans have, and continue to, devastate life on the planet Earth.

The Undoing Project: A friendship that changed our minds by Michael Lewis. Lewis documents the remarkable work that erupted from the friendship between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. It is remarkable how much two psychologists could help us rethink economics and how humans make “rational” decisions.

Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy P. Harrison. Should you ever wish to see the world from a skeptic’s–and I use that word positively–point of view, this is a great place to begin. Harrison begs the reader to make decisions on fact and tested theory, rather than because your cousin’s, best friend’s uncle swears it is true. He effectively questions a litany of weird claims and beliefs.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. A wonderful companion to Being Wrong. Kahneman explores how our minds works in one of two modes, fast and slow, and how quick thinking can lead to error.

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn. A favorite book from many years ago. A wonderful introduction to ways in which mindfulness can permeate our lives.