Since I launched the 2013 summer reading guide, I’ve had lots of requests for the archived 2012 edition. I don’t want to flood your inboxes, but I also don’t want to leave you hanging if you’re looking for good stuff to read. So for the rest of the summer, one week at a time, I’ll share a category from the 2012 guide.
If you haven’t yet, head here to snag your copy of this year’s summer reading guide.
I’m skipping over last year’s new releases (I tell you why here) and going straight to the second category, Books for Personal Growth. (They’re not boring despite the dry title–I promise!)
Books for Personal Growth
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
This latest book from the authors of Made to Stick examines why change is sometimes hard–and what to do about it. This story-driven book is fascinating and dead-practical, focusing both on huge issues (cutting a hospital’s death rate) and small ones (getting employees to turn in expense reports on time. Switch provides lots to fascinate, and lots to apply to your personal life.
The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, John Gottman
Gottman is the famed researcher who’s able to predict with 91% accuracy if a couple will divorce after observing them for a mere 5 minutes. Gottman fleshes out what successful relationships have in common, and shows you how to view your own relationship through a marriage counselor’s eyes. Investing in your marriage is easier than you might think.
The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, Susan Wise Bauer
This is the grown-ups’ counterpart to The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (one of the books I read over and over again). The book provides a roadmap–in the form of a reading list–for adults who long for the classical education they never had. Bauer provides numerous suggestions for reading across 5 genres–fiction, autobiography, history, drama, and poetry–as well as numerous hows and whys.
168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, Laura Vanderkam
Vanderkam wants to convince you that you do have time for the most important things, if you take a “portfolio” approach to your time.. 168 hours is the number of hours in a week, and Vanderkam asserts we’d all be better off if we strove to manage our time not in 24 hour chunks, but in larger ones.
If you’re put off by her upper-middle-class urban examples, try Vanderkam’s All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending. The concept is similar, but Vanderkam wrote this book after she left NYC for the suburbs, and I found her examples much more relatable.
Financial guru Dave Ramsey marries the concepts of entrepreneurism and leadership in this practical book of business advice. Ramsey reflects on 20 years in small business, exploring what leadership strategies have worked for his organization–and which ones have flopped, and why. You don’t have to be a business leader to benefit from this book.
Jon Acuff pioneered the successful website Stuff Christians Like while he was working IT at autotrader.com. He was tired of doing the “reverse Superman” every Monday morning–changing out of the clothes he’d worn to speak at conferences about Stuff Christians Like (his dream job) and into the khaki-and-polo corporate uniform of his day job. In Quitter, Acuff tells the story of how he left his day job for his dream job–and how you can do it, too.
Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer
Creativity isn’t something magical; it’s a skill–and it’s something you can have, too. Lehrer’s book is full of real-life examples of how individuals and corporations boosted their own productivity, and he shows you how you can do the same thing for yourself. (UPDATE: Lehrer’s book was pulled from the shelves when it was discovered he fabricated quotes in Imagine, which I wrote more about here.)