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My Top Ten Books for 2020

There is nothing I can say about 2020 that has not been overused and trite. It was indeed difficult, dark, scary, exceptional, and on and on and on……

Yet those times that disrupt the status quo as deeply and prolonged as 2020 has did provide me the opportunity to do something I love: READ!

Today I’ll share my top ten reads from 2020 – and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Top Reads of 2020

My normal bookshelf is filled with books on business, on personal growth and spirituality. In 2020, I rediscovered the joy of fiction, perhaps to escape or also to better understand the world around me.

Here are my top 10 books, an eclectic mix of a bit of everything!

  1. Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini

This book made my heart sing and made me want to shout a big “YES”! As someone passionate about creating environments where people can realize their greatest potential AND as someone who studies the ways organizations evolve in an environment that moves at warp speed, this book is both a case study and guidebook on ways to tap into your one true competitive advantage: your people.

  1. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

2020 was a year of examining the hard realities of racism (overt and institutional) – to learn, to understand and most importantly to make positive change. The Other Wes Moore is a compelling story of two young black men with the same name living in similar communities and plenty of shared hardships. It is a vivid and compelling testament to how life paths can diverge and propel one Wes Moore into a better life and the second into our penal system. In addition to deepening understanding of how life circumstances play such a big role in life outcomes, it was a call to action for me to make a difference in the lives of others.

  1. The HeART of Laser Focused Coaching by Marion Franklin

I’ve read plenty of books about coaching and they are plenty boring. This book, heavy on technique, was one I’ve read, reread and taken consummate notes from. Franklin gets to the real value coaching can provide when during the coaching conversation deeply held beliefs and stories are identified, examined and perhaps reshaped or discarded. Not a book for everyone, but if you are a coach or someone who finds themselves offering advice, this methodology will help you (and the person you are coaching) have breakthrough moments.

  1. Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister’s Rediscovery of Faith, Hope and Love by Rob Schenck

One of my quests in 2020 was to understand the thoughts and positions of others with whom I disagree with. Schenck exemplifies two groups I’ve had difficulty understanding: the rabid pro-lifers and evangelicals who are ardent Trump supporters. Rob Schenck was at the heart of the pro-life movement and enmeshed in the evangelical community. His candid reflections and deep examination are compelling and his journey to love and forgiveness provides me hope.

  1. Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Broken World by Pema Chodron

What a perfect meditative book for 2020. In her unique writing style, Pema provides thoughts on those times in our lives we find ourselves in situations that were neither invited or what we would hope for. She presents a Buddhist view of suffering, something the Buddhist tradition has deep wisdom on. A great read for perspective setting and helping each of us cope with the inevitable challenges that life brings our way.

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Beautifully written, Glennon writes to her own experience of claiming her true self as she sheds the narrow roles that society places on women.  For her, as for all of us, it was not an easy journey, but one well worth it. Aa a #1 NYT best seller and one of the best books by a number of noteworthy publications, others clearly agree with my assessment.

  1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Della Owens

I read lots of fiction in 2020, but this was my favorite. The setting is North Carolina, which calls to me. Part survival story, part murder mystery, and part love story – the plot is woven into the natural world of the marsh and tides.

  1. Why Simple Wins: Escape the Complexity Trap and Get to Work that Matters by Lisa Bodell

Complexity is pervasive in our lives and in organizations today. I cheered with Lisa’s book which notes the tremendous cost complexity creates for us – in both real dollars, lost productivity and the sapping of the human spirit. Eminently practical, Lisa points to both where unnecessary complexity can be found and charts a path forward that can help leaders and their organizations identify and eliminate unnecessary complexity in rules, meetings and processes.

  1. The Second Mountain: the Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks

Brooks takes the reader into an exploration of the four commitments that define  meaning and purpose to our lives: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith tradition and to a community. His writing is deep, readable and quotable. My version is highlighted in so many places, as there are so many passages that called to me. This book is another great way to set perspective on the things that really matter in live and the journey we take in the second half of our life to live a life well lived.

  1. This is Woman’s Work: Calling Forth Your Inner Council of Wise, Brave, Crazy, Rebellious, Loving, Luminous Selves by Dominique Christina

Dominique has put together a book that is part prose, part poetry and pure inspiration. In it she explores twenty feminine archetypes, each with a poem, elegant prose, examples and writing prompts. This book has prompted great journaling for me and also inspired me to order no less than 40 copies for my female friends. Christina’s work has enabled me to understand, welcome and tap into my feminine energy – in all the various shapes it can take.

And a final post-script:

Not as a book you read, but a guided journal, you might also want to pick up The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day  LOVE this journal – and the practice of offering gratitude and setting intentions in the AM and PM.

What were the books that moved you in 2020? Always love to have a list of possibilities!

More to explore

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