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Time to Nerd-Out! The books I've been reading...

When I'm facilitating or coaching people are often asking me for recommendations of books to read on specific topics that I covered in our session. This is always a tricky question for me to answer because my brain works like a synthesising machine and it pulls together and integrates information from across the depth and breadth of information I constantly consume. And because I'm so continually consuming books, papers, research, podcasts, Ted talks, I find that when put on the spot I often draw a blank to isolate and name these resources.

However, recently I began keeping a list of the books that I read. Some I return to reference or to read multiple times and some a cast into the space where I'd happily not read them again. Although having said that, one book that I particularly disliked I am going to look at again to see if, with time passing, I'm able to garner anything different from the text.

Being a total nerd and education junkie, I'm always on the lookout for contemporary research, new ways of looking at things, and ways to challenge my thinking. As a result, I am often presenting models or ideas that are an amalgam or, in my opinion, an improvement or contemporary update on various things that I have read. I also mix in my own lived experience and situate whatever we are talking about within the relevant context. So, for me each thing I read forms a part of the puzzle, or a thin layer that adds to the complexity of understanding human emotion, cognition and behaviour.

For context, I’ve also added a little thought bubble next to each book. Don't trust my opinions though! Read and synthesise for yourselves and see what you think and how they relate to your knowledge and lived experience.

This list is the last year or so and includes a whole range of books with anything to do with my passion- humans! I hope you find it useful and it sparks some curiosity for you!

Sapiens- Yuval Noah Harari

· Loved this history of humanity. Very illuminating! Very interesting. Included anthropological, neuroscience and social science perspectives. Nerd-gasm.

Tinker, Dabble, Doodle, Try- Srini Pillay

· Loved the focus on just giving things a go and the practical ways to begin to do this. Great for perfectionists who wish to reform.

The Untethered Soul- Michael Singer

· Not usually a fan of anything woo-woo, but love Mickey Singer! Loved this and have read multiple times. A great reminder.

Women and Leadership- Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

· Was so excited to get this. Didn’t finish it. I felt disappointed that it lacked heart, read like a narrative about events rather than lived experience.

The life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck- Sarah Knight

· Yawn. Yawn. Can I get a refund?

Living from a place of surrender- Michael Singer

· An addition for the Untethered Soul- practical application. Much repeated from his original text, but loved it anyway.

Big Magic- Elizabeth Gilbert

· Yes, it’s woo-woo which usually isn’t my thing, but there’s also some timeless wisdom in here and joyful bursts which piqued my interest. Have listened to multiple times for uplifting, easy kind of book.

Untamed- Glennon Doyle

· Really loved how raw and honest this book was. Glennon explains some emotions with real relatable clarity. Have read multiple times.

A New Earth- Eckhart Tolle

· It’s authentically Eckhart. Some nice titbits.

Recovery- Russel Brand

· I love the way Russel Brand uses language. Like Nigella Lawson, I could listen to him all day. I found his take on the 12 steps honest, refreshing and loved his focus on healthy responsibility.

The Resilience Project- Hugh Van Cuylenburg

· I don’t get all the fuss about this book. I didn’t finish it.

Your Brain at Work (updated)- David Rock

· Rock explains complexity in some relatable and simple ways. Had to ignore his Anglo-Saxon bias throughout the narrative to enjoy the text, but I am a fan of his work.

Integral Meditation- Ken Wilber

· One of the great philosophers of our time. Ken Wilber is a tough read. This is an intense book. But I have read it multiple times. And I will again, and again. Great perspectives on human development.

White Hot Truth- Danielle LaPorte

· I was excited about this because I loved Fire Starter Sessions. Way, way, way too woo-woo for me.

The Elephant in the Brain- Kevin Imler and Robin Hanson

· I enjoyed it, but feel it missed out on some juicy, ‘depthy’ opportunities. While it is unique on the market, I would have loved this to go even further. Loved the concept though.

The Gifts of Imperfection- Brene Brown

· It’s Brene. She’s ground-breaking.

Theory of Everything- Ken Wilber

· Loving me some Ken Wilber. This also is a heavy read. But I loved it!

The Happiness Project- Gretchen Rubin

· Lovely, light and refreshing. Good for reflective moods, like the start or end of a year kinda thing.

What I know for Sure- Oprah Winfrey

· It’s Oprah. Loved this.

The Barefoot Investor- Scott Pape

· What the actual f? Once he started talking about using Government Pensions I totally switched off. You want a life- you figure out a way to fund that life. Yourself.

Dare to Lead- Brene Brown

· I anticipate this would be a challenging read for some. Vulnerability and honesty don’t always fit into some people’s schema of a ‘workplace’. Brene really pushes the boundaries on heart-felt leadership.

The Monk who Sold his Ferrari- Robin Sharma

· Yeah, nah.

Good to Great- Jim Collins

· A classic and some solid leadership lessons.

Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0- Jim Collins

· I really enjoyed this! Much more than Good to Great. Lots to take from a leadership perspective.

The Narcissistic Family- Stephanie Donaldson Pressman

· I found this very relatable and illuminating. Helped me give names to behavioural patterns (I love anything that takes felt experience out of the subconscious into a space where can name it and understand it) and have used this in a variety of ways.

The Body is not an Apology- Sonya Renee Taylor

· Loved. Loved. A very insightful book about the body from a feminist perspective. Really got me thinking about my thinking and really challenged me to undo a lot of my ‘programming’. I’ll be coming back to this book.

Burnout- Emily and Amelia Nagoski

· The first chapter is the most relevant to actual burnout. The remainder is a feminist perspective on the pressures of being female. It’s a great read and like Sonya’s book, great to undo programming.

Grit- Angela Duckworth

· I’m a nerd, so going into the research on grit was fascinating. I really enjoy the concept of grit, much more so than ‘resilience’. I refer to this research often.

Mindset- Carol Dweck

· I’m all about Mindset. I’m all about consciously engineering and owning and governing our mindset. So I loved this. Every inch of it.

The Way of Integrity- Martha Beck

· This really had potential but feel short for me. A nice reminder to be true to yourself, but, eh…

Neurodharma- Rick Hanson

· Another one that had great potential. I had read one of Rick’s previous books, Buddha’s Brain, and enjoyed that. However, this one was very light on the rigour, so I didn’t finish it.

Think Again- Adam Grant

· I love Adam. While parts of this text felt a bit clunky, I really enjoyed it and thought it gave a really helpful lens on how we think.

How to do the Work- Nicole LePera

· I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this text but ended up loving it! Sometimes, books grounded in counselling methodology can irritate me as they don’t emphasise healthy personal responsibility. But I would definitely read this one again.

Intuitive Eating- Evelyn Tribole

· A really interesting look at the lenses through which we can view food and a nice way to remove some of the conditioning around food and return to what we know to be true for our bodies.

Noise- Daniel Kahneman

· A really interesting look at cognitive biases and how they impact our judgement- much without our awareness. A powerful read for self-awareness and critical thinking.

A Radical Awakening- Shefali Tsabary

· Wanted to love this as I had heard Shefali being interviewed. Hated it. Hated the overgeneralisations throughout the text. Was a struggle to get through.

Emotional Intelligence- Daniel Goleman

· An oldie but a goodie. Getting a bit dated now, but still some great stats and research to draw upon.

Working with Emotional Intelligence- Daniel Goleman

· A practical way to look at Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. I enjoyed many aspects this text.

Focus- Daniel Goleman

· Interestingly and ironically, I barely remember this text at all- could have been my ‘focus?’

Leadership is Language- L. David Marquet

· As someone who feels that language is incredibly powerful for so many reasons, I really enjoyed this book and think it’s a great foundational book for a leadership skillset.

Rising Strong- Brene Brown

· I enjoyed the emphasis on (my words) personal responsibility in this text. A good one for self-development neophytes.

Braving the Wilderness- Brene Brown

· As a first, I couldn’t finish this text. For me, it got preachy.

Rememberings- Sinead O’Connor

· Sinead O’Connor has a massive influence on my life through her music and lyrics. Reading this and more deeply understanding her songs was beautiful and powerful for me.

The Body Keeps the Score- Bessel van der Kolk

· A great read for anyone wanting to understand trauma more deeply. I really enjoyed this text and nerded-out on the links between neurology and physiology and felt experience.

The Naked Mind- Annie Grace

· This book is about alcohol and it’s affects on our lives and cultural indoctrination. It really made me think differently about a widely accepted cultural norm.

The Leading Edge- Holly Ransom

· Holly loves models in the way that I do and explains them really well! Her passion come through and I love that she wrote this at 30, proving we can be great leaders at any age. I bought 40 copies of this to give away this year my workshops.

The Longevity Paradox- Steven R Gundry

· I find a lot of info about food, health and eating conflicting. This was no different but had some great points of interest.

The Power of Habit- Charles Duhigg

· This is a very research-heavy text and great for nerds who want the ins and outs of habits. For those who want something practical switch to James Clear’s atomic habits.

The Talent Code- Daniel Coyle

· I wanted to love this book being a big Daniel Coyle fan however having read a few books on talent I honestly felt this didn't offer a different lens. Had this been the first book on the topic I had read I may have loved it. He has a follow up book called the little book of talent and that is great and practical.

A Tribe Called Bliss- Lori Harder

· I was really looking forward to the concepts in this book Anne was honestly bitterly disappointed at the practical or lack of practical advice it gave on building and harnessing a meaningful tribe. As all books there were a few great points though.

The Fire Starter Sessions- Danielle LaPorte

· I have read and re-read this book many times and still find it so useful for a mindset re-set. It’s got lots of great questions and thought-provoking insights which prompted me to make some big changes to what I did and how I did it.

Everything is Figureoutable- Marie Forleo

· Again on mindset, this is a nice read. Easy, digestible, not ground-breaking, but a good, solid read on approach and mindset.

Narcissistic Abuse- Lorelai Heal

· An interesting insight into this form of abuse and recovery.

Over The Top- Jonathan Van Ness

· Some fun to break up the seriousness. Love their energy, so thought I would love this too. I did. Fun read and insightful in parts too.

No Rules Rules- Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer

· Highly recommend! I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this, but I have to say it’s got to be an essential read. I know it would be confronting for some, but really goes through trust, establishing culture and normalising my favourite thing- healthy responsibility!

Radical Candor- Kim Scott

· I enjoyed the ideas in this book but can see that people in some contexts would find the concepts a tad- overreaching.

Atlas of the Heart- Brene Brown

· I got a hard copy of this book, but the binding fell apart and as I read each page, it fell out. That annoyed me so I got the audio version. It really needs to be read in hard copy. Good to build emotional language.

The Art of Insubordination- Todd B. Kashdan

· As a rebel spirit, I love this book. Great research and really good tips on how to be a ‘principled rebel’. A must-read for anyone who wants to challenge the status quo.

Destructive Emotions- Daniel Goleman and Dalai Lama

· I was really excited by this as I thought it would be a recording of the actual conference, but it’s Goleman recalling events from the session. Didn’t love it. Didn’t finish it.

Atomic Habits- James Clear

· So, loved this book completely! I have used lots of James’ ideas in a variety of ways. I loved how he explains complex constructs really clearly and easily.

168 Hours- Laura Vanderkam

· This is all about time and time management. I found it an interesting read and a good way to prompt me to think about how I spend my time and on what. Helpful if you struggle with time management.

5am Club- Robin Sharma

· A cute way of weaving together a life principle in a narrative. I read this before The Monk who Sold His Ferrari, so when I came to that book, I was over the concept. I wouldn’t read it again, but it was fun to learn about how early mornings can change your life through a couple of main characters.

Flourishing- Martin Seligman

· I’m a Seligman fan and I enjoyed this book. I found that the flow didn’t always work, for example some words on models didn’t correlate with terms he later used, and this annoyed me because I enjoy clarity. But the concepts, particularly towards the end of the book, were nicely explained.

Think like a freak- Steven D. Levitt and Stephen. J. Dubner

· Very fun, bite-sized examples of how to think differently. I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to challenge the way they think.

Give and Take- Adam Grant

· Adam provides a binary way of separating how people view and interact in relationships. It’s a little too simplistic for my liking, but provides some good language and a good lens for some situations.

What She Said- Monica Lunin

· I’m currently reading this and really enjoying it. It’s about speeches from woman throughout history and deconstructs how and why they were powerful. As a nerd, I’m loving both the speeches and the deconstruction!

If you have other recommendations for me and fellow punk addition followers, please, please, please add these in the comments below so we can all nerd-out together!


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