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My Favorite Books of 2013

Each year, I post a list of the best books I read the past year. Here’s my list from 2013:

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Focus, Daniel Goleman

The author who put “emotional intelligence” on the map for every one of us has written a book on the profound impact focus has on a leader’s success. The ability to focus one’s attention for extended periods of time is a great differentiator today. In this book Goleman talks about three areas of focus and how each is necessary for leaders to embrace. Very practical; very researched based; good stories.

David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell

I read everything that Malcolm Gladwell writes. In a conversation with him, he told me this book is his favorite of all the books he’s written. It’s about how we perceive advantages and disadvantages. Gladwell demonstrates through case studies that our disadvantages may be the very “gifts” that carry us to success. I love the book; it’s full of new angles on old stories (including David & Goliath) and great case studies.

The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine

In this book, Dr. Levine reaveals that America’s new “at risk” teen is an upper-middle class adolescent who has the latest smart phone and the coolest clothes, but has not learned how to navigate an identity apart from image and possessions. This book is loaded with research and was helpful for me to understand why so many affluent kids are struggling with angst and depression. Well worth the read.

To Sell is Human, by Daniel Pink

Dan Pink is another author I read regularly. This book is a follow up to Drive, and covers how every one of us is selling ideas, products, services, and even ourselves. Through documented research, he lays out how effective people approach the art of selling themselves and their ideas and the counter-intuitive means that make some people effective. I like this book almost as much as I did his others.

How College Affects Students, Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini

This book is not for the faint-of-heart. It is long and full of academic research and interpretation. However, it is a reference book on the state of college students in the U.S. It is a follow-up to the authors’ earlier volume on the same subject and I believe should be a “must read” if you’re involved in higher education. It covers the long and short- term effects of college life on students. Long but good read.

Boundaries for Leaders, by Henry Cloud

This is the third book by Henry Cloud I have read. They are all insightful. Cloud is a licensed psychologist and understands the challenges of leadership extremely well. The book is a sequel to his original best-seller on boundaries but focuses on the necessary three boundaries leaders must establish. He talks about how leaders can be “ridiculously in charge” by establishing proactive guidelines for themselves and everyone around them. Helpful read for personal growth.

Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, by John Maxwell

This book is classic, vintage John Maxwell. As the title indicates, it’s all about appreciating the importance and value of losing. Yep, you read that right. But it’s not just about keeping good attitudes. He walks the reader through how to make the very most of a failure or loss, be it financial, relational, vocational, you name it. The book is practical in nature and, as always, full of stories. A motivational and simple read.

Generation on a Tightrope, by Art Levine and Diane Dean

While full of research on student-affairs on university campuses in America, this book is easy to read and full of helpful findings. Much of the data is predictable but Levine and Dean still provide practical conclusions on how faculty and staff must view and approach their students’ needs. I found myself coming up with all kinds of ideas on what could be done to better lead students as I read the book.

Decisive, by Chip and Dan Heath

Once again, Chip and Dan Heath are authors I’ve chosen to read everything they write. Following their books, Made to Stick and Switch, this book addresses the issue of how to be a more decisive person (whether or not you are a leader) and how to create a system for making decisions that prevent you from being haphazard. The book is researched based and loaded with anecdotes and ideas. I loved it.


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My Favorite Books of 2013