Another 3 months have passed so it's time to update my list of what I've been reading and listening to this year. I started doing this last year, and I am so glad. How many times do you try to remember a great read but the title slips away from you? Now I have a record!
In the first 3 months of the year I read 11 books and listened to 5 audio books
April to June
In the second quarter I have some how read 27 books and listened to 12 audio books. An obvious difference is the lockdown, meaning I had hours a day to read where I'd usually be working. When I first tried the challenge '52 books in 52 weeks' which was in 2018, I managed 27 books in the whole year.
YTD Running total 38 books 17 audio books
12. The Everything Store - Jeff Bezos and The Age of Amazon - Brad Stone
An exploration of Jeff Bezos and Amazon the company he founded. There are some fascinating human interest parts to the book as well as the business aspects. Apparently Bezos was adopted and never met his birth father until the author of this book discovered him living very close by running a business mending bicycles. The father had never realised that his son was now the owner of Amazon. This book focuses on the way Amazon was built, and the vision it took . It seems to show a fair portrayal of Bezos, certainly not a perfect man. A sequel is coming out soon apparently.
13. The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
This book pulls you in from page one with the story of a mysterious book that arrived at campuses all over the world, written in code. It sparked pages of internet discussion as to its meaning and motive. Ronson is invited to try to uncover the identify of the books author. From here the book becomes a story of the functioning of psychopaths, what the condition is, what it means to be one, and whether it is possible to spot one before they commit a crime. This book is bursting with fascinating people like a man who claims he pretended to be a psychopath and has been trapped as a prisoner in Broadmoor for 20 years .
14. Our Revolution - A future to believe in - Bernie Sanders
If you follow politics then you will have come across Bernie Sanders in the last few years as an independent candidate for US president, he had just dropped out of the running for 2020 as I started reading. He comes across in this book as someone who cares deeply about the people of America. His campaign was grown completely from a grassroots level, with funding from lots of individual donations vs the scale of corporate investment that other candidates received. Having read What Happened by Hilary Clinton, this book provides some of the other half of the story on the 2016 election.
15. Linkedin for Dummies - Joel Elad
I wanted to revist Linkedin as a platform I don't really use enough. I was hoping for something with more tips and tricks in it that I might be missing, but sadly this book really is as the title suggests for the very beginner. I didn't find what I was looking for, but it is very comprehensive so don't be put off if you do want to literally get started with using the tool.
16. Get your sh*t together - Sarah Knight
I read 'The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck' last year and enjoyed Sarah as an author, the nutshell version of that book is, it's ok to decide what to care about and discard some of the rest of it. This book is a mix of life hacks, tips and advice on how to live a more organised life. In all honesty I probably didn't learn much because I have read a lot already on time management and organisation, but I just love how funny Sarah is.
17. Witches - The Transformational Power of Women Working Together - Sam George Allen
I think this book is going into my top 5 for this quarter. Very interesting, enjoyable read by Australian Journalist and Musician Sam George Allen. It covers so many topics that its hard to summarise, but the theme would be, whenever women come together magic happens. From teenage girls picking out popular bands before they are adopted by men later on. This happened with the Beatles apparently. To the way skincare and make up communities on Youtube are very female spaces, developed for the enjoyment of looking good, not for the interest of men, but just as looking good to increase self esteem. And on to the way women farm differently, live in communal spaces, differently it all adds up to an excellent book.
18. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne
I think I had read this before, I had certainly seen the film. Over lockdown I listened to a lot of Dan Snow's, History Hit podcast and because of the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, there was a lot of content on the podcast about Hitler and WW2, including about the camps. There appears to be a lot of books out about the camps all of a sudden. So I have taken the time to read some of them. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is written for children, someone of 10+ could probably read it quite easily. It tells a fictional account of a concentration camp through the eyes of two children, one inside the camp and one outside. As you would imagine, it's sad and shocking in places.
19. The Librarian of Auschwitz - Antonio Iturbe
As above, this is another young adults book. It is a fictional account of the real life experience of Dita Kraus who lived in the only family camp at Auschwitz Birknenau.
20. For the Record - David Cameron
This one was a whopper, Cameron really does include everything that happened during his political career and also a lot from his personal life. Having read Gordon Browns book ' My Life, Our Times', it was interesting for me reading Cameron's version of events around the end of Browns leadership & the new Tory/Lib Dem coalition. The whole lead up to the referendum was also interesting to read about in more depth.
21. City of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert
An enjoyable historical novel set initially in theatre land of 1940s New York. I have to say, and I've seen a lot of people saying the same, the idea that this whole book was a letter to her non lover/love of her lifes/daughter was a bit much. This was a good bit of lockdown escapism.
22. My Name is Why - Lemn Sissay
I first heard of this book in the Guardian and having read the review felt so moved that I had to read the book. This book will break your heart. In short, the author and poet Lemn Sissay was adopted at birth, despite his own mothers wishes, sent to live with a family who raised him as their own along with the children he considered his siblings, then abandoned him into the care system from around the age of 10. The fact that Lemn has made such a good life for himself is nothing to do with his treatment in the care system. It tells a dark story of how the most vulnerable black children and their families have been treated in the UK.
23. Milkman - Anna Burns
This book won the Booker Prize in 2018. I won't lie, I seriously considered giving up before I'd reached 100 pages. For some reason there are no names used at all in this book, instead the characters are called things like 'second brother' or 'sort of boyfriend' it's all very odd. But having stuck with it I am glad I did. You get used to the language eventually. This book tells the story of Northen Ireland during the troubles, from a young girls perspective. It is disorientating and at times fantastical.
24. American Overdose - The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts - Chris McGreal
An excellent book by Guardian journalist Chris McGreal, that takes you from the addict to the doctor, to the big pharma producers, exposing lies, corruption and years of damage along the way. Whilst reading this I also watched The Pharmacist on Netflix, which is an excellent combination if you want to do the same. If you have followed the American news for any length of time you will be well aware of the state of affairs regarding the over prescription of these highly dangerous drugs.
25. Originals - Adam Grant
Fantastic book on creativity. I reviewed this book on my blog here if you would like to know more.
26. The Choice - Dr Edith Eger
Another holocaust survival related book, but the difference here is that Eger went on to became an eminent psychologist. I was sad to finish the story because Eger is such a wonderful person to spend time with.
27. Crucible of Hell - Okinawa - Saul David
Another area of interest uncovered via the Dan Snow History Hit podcast. I heard Saul David discussing his book, and felt that whilst I had learned a lot about D-Day as a child in school, victory in Japan is not talked about in as much depth. This book covers the build up to the battle on Okinawa, and the role it played in the use of Atomic weapons by the Americans. It tells the story from the point of view of both sides via interviews with people who survived.
28. Lab Rats - Dan Lyons
This book is about the toxic culture that has increased in workplaces, particularly start ups over recent years led in the main by big tech companies. People are treated like disposable entities rather than valuable family members. This leads to all sorts of psychological issues and workplace problems. This book goes well with Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin which I reviewed earlier in the year.
29. How To Have a Good Day - Caroline Webb
Caroline is a management consultant and executive coach and the book is an interesting mix of advice on dealing with modern worklife balance demands and the neuroscience and psychology behind why we act the way we do and how to improve ourselves to have the best days we can.
30. Brexit and Ireland - Tony Connelly
Not as boring as it sounds I promise. In fact I really enjoyed this one! As Brexit is now a done deal, things have moved on slightly since this book was written, but it gave me a really good understanding of what would change on a day to day basis for Ireland and the UK once the deal was done. This book gave me lots of context on the amount of movement there is between Ireland and the UK on the food front for example. Meat and Dairy farming will both be affected by the changes. As will fishing. There is lots on border control and the relationship with the EU as you would expect.
31. The Achievement Habit - Bernard Roth
I read this as an ebook from Borrow Box (like audible but free from your library) and knew nothing about the book or the author, but I liked the cover. Bernard Roth is the co-founder of the Stanford d.School. This book is all about how design thinking can be applied by anyone to help build up the habit of achievement. There are loads of interesting examples of projects that students have implemented. It is all about rewarding people for trying things, not what they actually deliver. The more we do, the better we get, and then the more we achieve.
32. No is Not Enough - Naomi Klein
I had like many people read No Logo probably 15 years ago or more, so when I spotted this book in the library I had a good idea of what I'd get from Naomi. It's an educational read on the way politics is increasingly designed to serve the 1% based upon what makes someone richer, not the needs of the everyday person. Some bits are shocking. For example the way the people of New Orleans were treated after Hurricane Katrina. Many of them trapped without food for days, and then shot at and treated as looters when they tried to find food for their families. There is interesting discussion on the way so many people have now become activists in numbers that we have never seen before globally. Environmental & human rights concerns being the top drivers of this change.
33. Finding your Tribe - Networking a Successful Small Business - Joanne Dewberry
I was sent a copy of this book for free to review for Parents in Biz where I have a book review section quarterly. The author has run several businesses from crafting to the networking group she created and then franchised. This book is really useful for anyone who is wondering how to get started with networking, and how to find the options near you. The perfect length to read in full or dip in and out of.
34. The Winning Mindset - What Sport Can Teach us About Great Leadership Professor Damian Hughes
35. Strangeways - A Prison Officers Story - Neil Samworth
I think I was curious to read this having read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson which spends quite a bit of time in Broadmoor. I saw this pop up on Borrow Box and thought why not. Initially the language took a bit of getting used to, but the content was fascinating. It provided an interesting and also scary insight into what life is like in our prisons in the UK. The lack of staff, the drugs, the sad reality of life locked up for 23 hours per day for some prisoners, and the kinds of people that ended up at HMP Strangeways, the prison Samworth spent his final years as a prison guard at. The most notorious prisoner he talks about is Mark Bridger who killed April Jones in 2012, the search for whom sparked the UKs biggest ever missing persons police hunt.
36. The Fry Chronicals
The middle of three biographies by Stephen Fry. Stupidly I didn't realise it was the middle one, so I now have 2 more books to read. I did enjoy this. How can you not enjoy anything by Stephen Fry. This was all about his life from reaching Cambridge to becoming an established comedian and TV/Stage writer. Lots of fantastic stories about life with Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Ben Elton, Rowan Atkinson, and the others that were all beginning to become the future stars of British stage and screen.
37. Dear Ijeawele - A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
When Chimamandas friend became a mother she asked her friend, a well known feminist writer whether she would give her some advice on raising her daughter as a feminist. This short book was written as a letter to that friend, but the advice is globally applicable. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to encourage a more equal world for our future children.
38. Who am I again? Lenny Henry
This is a fantastic autobiography by Lenny Henry, there will be a second book to this as he covers childhood to early career in this one. It explores his feelings about his life as a young black boy growing up in Dudley in the 1970s, and the conflicts that his early career presented again because of race. He comes across as someone who is very much a people person who had great friendships with many of the other comedians he found himself working with at this time.
Audiobooks (cont Jan-March)
6. The Education of an Idealist - Samantha Power Samantha Power was the US Ambassador to the UN in President Obama's government. This is a long audio book at over 20 hours, but she has a lot to talk about. Starting with her life in Ireland and the loss of her beloved father to Alcoholism, then relocation to America with her Mother, onto career becoming first a Pulitzer prize winning war correspondent, and author of her book on Genocide ' A Problem from Hell' later marrying Cass Sunstein, the American Professor of Law and best selling author in the field of Behavioural Science. This book is good for anyone who wants to know more about US politics.
7. The 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss This is a classic business self improvement book. It was written in around 2004 and some of it is quite dated now, but the overall premise is that you can create a business that doesn't require your constant presence, and build a life that allows you to travel and enjoy yourself. I'll give you the 4 hour work week secret. Automation...still, I enjoy Tim and his work, but I much preferred Tribe of Mentors, and Tools of Titans.
8. Hunch - Bernadette Jiwa I found out about Bernadette Jiwa because she works with Seth Godin. He has spoken about her quite a bit on his podcast Akimbo. I was not at all disappointed with this book, she has written 8 best sellers in total, Hunch is all about how many of us have great ideas for businesses or business improvements and should learn to listen more to our inner voice.
9. The Magic of Tiny Business - Sharon Rowe This is a really short audiobook, I think around 3 hours. Sharon Rowe built up an Eco Bag business from scratch after being inspired by the reusable bags she saw used in other parts of the world. Her audio book is all about how you can have balance in a business, and create something that works for you, and still build a big successful business eventually. Going at your own pace is fine.
10. The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs - Carmine Gallo I didn't find out much in this one that was new to me on Jobs, but it's a good read, and Gallo writes well. You will enjoy this if you like thinking about how to do things better for your customers.
11. The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
I had seen criticism of this book portraying too romanticised a version of life in a death camp, I think overall I agree. This book tells the story of Lale Sokolov and his wife Gita Furman who met when he was working as the camp Tattooist.
12. Furious Hours, Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee - Casey Cep
This one gets a big thumbs up from me. Harper Lee author of To Kill a Mockingbird only ever wrote one book. Later when she was really old and unsure of her own mind, the first draft of Mockingbird was released for sale as a 'new book' called Go Set a Watchman. Friends claimed she would never have wanted the book published. There were rumours of another book that she worked on in the 1970s, The Reverend, which was supposed to tell the True Crime story of the Reverend Willie Maxwell, a murdering rural preacher who killed 5 of his own family members for the insurance money, before finally being stopped by his own murder. This book never saw the light of day, and there is little to suggest that Harper Lee wrote much of it at all, in the end. Casey Cep, a US journalist, has created a brilliant intriguing story told over 3 acts within Furious Hours. As an aside this book was chosen as a 'Barack Obama Book of The Year'.
13. I thought It Was Just Me, But It Wasn't - Brene Brown I loved this audiobook, it tells the story of how women are affected by guilt and shame, and how important it is to bring what bothers us out into the open.
14. A Higher Loyalty - James Comey If you enjoy following American politics then you'll know all about James Comey. Director of the FBI, sacked by Donald Trump for refusing to reassure Trump he was not personally under investigation by the FBI in relation to Russian interference in the 2016 US election or to pledge loyalty to Trump. Love him or hate him, I know Hilary has been in the latter camp, this is a great book. Comey really opens up about all sorts, apparently his desire to go into law and order came from having a criminal break into his home as a young boy, when his parents were out, and try to attack him and one of his brothers. A really terrifying incident. He also talks very movingly about the loss of one of his baby sons after being born with fatal complications.
15. Heart and Hustle - Patricia Bright Patricia Bright is a South London girl who has done incredibly well for herself, through sheer hard work and determination. She was born into a family where her Mum worked extremely hard initially as a cleaner before building up a property rental portfolio. Her father was taken away, deported for visa issues in front of her and her sister, a very traumatic early life experience. He did return later but her mother raised the two girls alone for several years. Patricia Bright started off with a Youtube channel that gave beauty tips, later moving on to cover fashion as well. She also built up her corporate career at the same time becoming a financial consultant. Eventually her side hustle was so successful she went full time as a content creator, and has since worked with lots of top brands, and created original content for campaigns with MAC, L’Oreal and Diet Coke. A very uplifting book.
16. Dare to lead - Brene Brown I have read and loved all of Brene Browns other work but this one didn't work for me. I just didn't like it at all. Sorry Brene.
17. Leadership Strategy and Tactics Field Manual - Jocko Willink
I first heard of Jocko via the Tim Ferris podcast. He is an former Navy Seal who had a highly decorated career, leading Seal teams during combat in Iraq. Since leaving the Navy he has become a management consultant along with his business partner Leif Babin. I loved this book, Jocko is very inspiring talking about how to lead so that people listen and respect you. There are loads of gems on offer here, and always a bonus when it is read by the author.
Unfinished but working on
The Mueller Report - Started this last year, about half way through (pray for me)
The Sabatoteur of Auschwitz - Colin Rushton
My Story - Jo Malone
Paula - Isabel Allende
Audiobook - The 4 Disciplines of Execution - Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling
If you got to the end of this epic ramble on books, then thanks for reading, I hope you found something of interest, I'd love to hear if you read any of them too.