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2017 Book Wrap-up


I have read or listened to 63 books this year. I have a long commute so audio books are great. I learned a lot of things from and about books this year, here are some of them.

  • Some books are just forgettable. Did I really spend hours on some of this just to pass the time? I need to be more careful with my selections.

  • Some authors, even famous bestselling ones, can write pretty terrible books. There were a couple I really, really disliked. Some I stopped reading or listening to fairly early on, but with a few I wish I could get my time back.

  • I greatly appreciate the role of a good editor. Many books would be better if they were shorter and tighter. In fact, as I look towards the next year, I think I am going to spend a lot more time listening to podcasts. Many authors do the podcast circuit. I may just get the gist of their books from that.

  • It’s hard to end a book well. Sometimes they just drift off into nothing, other times they end abruptly. With a couple audio books, I had to check to make sure I had actually listened to the whole thing. When my reaction at the end is “that’s it?!?” I tend to think that is a bad thing.

  • So yeah, I am going to be more thoughtful in my writing this year.

Here are some positive things that stood out this year.

  • Many books are great and I am better for having read/listened to them. The older I get, the more I like nonfiction over fiction. A good fiction book though that gets me engrossed in a story is a great thing.

  • The fiction books I enjoyed most were science fiction. Both Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and Redshirts by John Scalzi were unpredictable and did a good job of world building. They both followed the guidance to “show, don’t tell” that make any writing more interesting and immersive.

  • Unsurprisingly, most of my nonfiction selections this year were related to coaching and productivity. I highly recommend You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, especially as an audiobook as she reads it herself. It is a great book about coaching and generally taking action vice sitting around waiting for the world to change. It won’t change your life, but it might help you focus better.

  • The best book on coaching that I read was The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. He identifies 7 questions that can really create great conversations for coaches and managers alike. My favorite is #4 – what do you want? It has made me be more specific about focusing rather than just finding fault in things.

  • In a similar vein, Seth Godin’s Poke the Box is a great short book about taking action and not being afraid to fail. In fact, short as it is, I think I just summarized the entire point of the book in that sentence. You’re welcome.

  • Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly was a great audiobook that really made me think a lot about what I hold back because of fear. It was probably the book that made me most uncomfortable, but in a good way. I do wish she had read it herself – watch her on Youtube to understand what I mean.

  • Comrades by Stephen E. Ambrose made me appreciate the friends in my life. From Lewis and Clark to his own father and brothers, Ambrose discusses the importance of male friendship. I really enjoyed the chapters on Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Two more things to share. First, I am posting this blog because of some advice from a fellow coach, Jen Mabe. Jen can be found at http://discovertrueself.com/ and her style of moving clients forward includes strong empathy and encouragement. While her approach is unique from mine, she has kept me challenged and accountable for much of the past year. I think Jen might have an opening or two for new clients, I highly recommend her for those looking for a powerful career and life purpose coach. Take a look at her website to learn more. Thank you Jen for helping me figure out how to share these thoughts.

Second, one thing I have learned from nearly all of these books is the necessity to take action to make any story move forward. I am resolving to take more action on my own story this year. I encourage you to do the same.

For 2018, I have some exciting goals I will be taking on and blogging about. I have some free productivity workshops coming up too for anyone in the area of Loudoun County, Virginia area – more on those as we get closer to March and May.

Now, go make it happen –

Tom