The Seven Best Books I Read Last Year
By Tim Elmore
The Seven Best Books I Read Last Year
Each year, I enjoy posting a list of my favorite books I read in the last twelve months. Admittedly, sometimes the books strike me simply because of the life station I am in. Books can stand out not so much because they are brilliant for everyone, but because they come at a time when you need them most. In any case, below is my “top seven” list for 2022.
1. From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks
Arthur C. Brooks is a social scientist who left his job leading a Washington think tank to begin investing in students at Harvard University—due to his research for this book. It was far and away my favorite read in 2022. In it, Brooks explains how our brains change over time and how to best repurpose the second half of our life. He not only encourages readers to quit the “rat race,” but clarifies exactly how to do it. He helped me capitalize on my maturation from “fluid intelligence” to “crystallized intelligence” in my current life stage. The book energized me.
2. Blind Spot by Jon Clifton
I am drawn to Gallup’s research, and this book is the result of groundbreaking discoveries by Gallup over the last several years. Leaders have been caught up in measuring economic and employment numbers to determine how well countries or companies are doing, but they have completely neglected people’s happiness and satisfaction levels. Clifton shows the blind spots of current leaders and how we must pivot to measure what was once assumed immeasurable. This book helps leaders create a more attractive culture for team members. It’s a great read.
3. Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin
I got to meet Doris Kearns Goodwin at a fall event and fell in love with her research on leaders over the years. She has written several biographies on presidents, each exposing the intricate features that made them successful leaders. This book summarizes the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson and offers unique insights not covered in her previous books. It’s a clinic on what we learn from the approach of each one. If you enjoy stories, especially ones that reveal how a leader became who they are, this book is for you.
4. Wisdom @Work by Chip Conley
Chip left a successful career as a hospitality mogul in his fifties to determine how to best leverage his time and talent now. He felt he was getting stale. This book covers his move to coach the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb (Brian Chesky). He now observes so many organizations possess “modern elders” and “young geniuses.” Sadly, the young and old rarely connect. Chip provides simple ways for the young to gain from “elders” and vice versa. He now refers to himself as a “mentern,” which is a dual role of “mentor” and “intern,” teaching and learning.
5. Gentelligence by Megan Gerhardt, Josephine Nachemson-Ekwall, Brandon Fogel
Megan Gerhardt teaches at Miami University. She and her fellow authors offer an academic treatment for how different generational cohorts clash at work and what current circumstances in the workforce mean to each one, including Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Z. I enjoy the research Megan provides and her insights into how work is changing from the norm of “older folks get to make the rules” to “younger teammates now determine the rules.” She argues for balance and moderation, and for creating “gentelligent” teams at work.
6. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
Today, we hear a lot about community. But we don’t experience it as well as we have in the past. This book is about taking meetings with others to a new level; it’s about moving from routines and conventional wisdom to distinctive approaches that bring out the best in the people who are present. This book teaches how to gather people (large or small groups) and to create meaningful, memorable experiences. Priya has been a facilitator of high-powered gatherings and explains how a few simple, specific changes can invigorate a group experience.
7. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
I re-read this book and got more out of it this year than I did in the past. It’s that good. Simon Sinek takes the concepts from James P. Carse’s 1986 book, Finite and Infinite Games, and builds on them, applying the ideas to today’s world 35 years later. He combats the economic beliefs that success is all about profits for stakeholders and says that infinite games are about working for a just cause, with trusting teams, who have worthy rivals, who enjoy existential flexibility, and possess the courage to lead. This book changed the way I see business. It’s a great read.
I’d enjoy hearing of any good books you’ve read this year. Let’s keep on growing!