This story-driven business book teaches you how to make better decisions, drawing on case studies on everything from whether or not to fire an employee to whether or not to undergo a risky bone marrow transplant. The Heath brothers are whip-smart and really funny, making Decisive a million times better than your typical business book. Everyone will find a useful takeaway.
- by Atul Gawande
I resisted reading this for a year because it sounded so heavy: it's a personal meditation on aging, death, and dying. But Gawande, a surgeon by trade, tackles weighty issues by sharing lots of stories to go with the research, making this book eminently readable. Ultimately, this book is about what it means—medically and philosophically—to live a good life. I'm so glad I didn't wait longer to read this: this book gave me a much better understanding of the wants and needs of my own aging family members. I found all the superlatives I'd heard bandied about to hold true: it's riveting, absorbing, paradigm-shifting, life-changing.
- by Brené Brown
Brown's two-word summary of this book is be you. It's one of my favorites. Add Audible narration for $3.99.
Leigh Kramer says: "I read this earlier this year and if I could make the entire world read it, I would. It's eye opening and important and powerful. Stevenson has done incredible work through the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal practice he started, dedicated to serving the poor, the marginalized, the downtrodden. The book is part memoir, part treatise on the state of the legal system. We follow the story of Walter, a man on Alabama's Death Row who proclaims his innocence, and meet Stevenson's other clients as he built his practice in the 1980s and the subsequent areas of injustice they've battled to this day, including death penalty sentences for children and the treatment of the mentally ill. There's also a surprising appearance by To Kill A Mockingbird—the irony and ignorance will knock you flat."
- by Lisa Genova
This is one of my '7 books that will make you a better human'. Oliver Sacks wrote, "In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology. In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life." That's what Genova offers in this uncannily realistic novel about Alice Howland, a 50-year-old Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The story resonates with the millions touched by the disease, and nurtures empathy in those who are fortunate to have no firsthand experience with it.
For years, Cheryl Strayed wrote an advice column for TheRumpus.net called "Dear Sugar." Strayed wrote anonymously—to her readers she was only "Sugar"—and she answered likewise anonymous letters about love and romance, grief and loss, money and family troubles. To call these "columns" seems to sell them short: these are beautiful, heartfelt, brutally honest essays that go in directions you don't expect. Strayed is compassionate with her letter writers, giving them gentle advice while not pulling any punches, but says her real mission isn't to tell them what they "should" do. Instead, she tries to reveal a third way by either presenting a perspective that those who write can't see on their own, or to complexly hash out what's really going on in their life and situation. My favorite essays, hands-down, are The Ghost Ship That Didn't Carry Us and The Obliterated Place. Proceed with caution: this has a hefty f-bomb count and triggers galore, but it's too good to leave out.
I read Parker Palmer in college, but never this one. Now this is his book I can't get away from: everyone I know keeps recommending this book to me. I'm taking the hint.