Summer reading

A sure tell-tale sign for the upcoming summer holidays is the tidal wave of impressive reading lists, which flood the social media right now. For someone who loves books and loves to read it is impossible not to look at all these lists. Much in the same way as I can explore people’s book collections for hours given the chance.

Quite often I come across startup entrepreneurs or corporate executives (I know, but that happens to be my echo chamber) who present the 20+ must-read startup/business books, they plan to read over the summer holidays. I get it. Summer holidays are the time to catch up on all the reading that we believe we are supposed to do. So that we know all the right expressions. The hot topics in business strategy and execution. But while it may look and possibly feel like a challenge to read all these business books, it really is mental laziness. It is the safe bet and the sure path to group-thinking and corporate comfort.

Having been down that path myself and seen the dead end, I have taken another approach to my choice of reading material. I want my reading to expand my world, give me insights in new fields of humanity and challenge, what I think I know.

I prefer to buy books in bookshops, because I can buy books according to alternative criteria such as the look and feel of the cover (for instance, the cover has to have the colour green in it). Selecting a book by its cover, without prejudice to what its content may be, can lead to surprising discoveries. I also ask the bookshopkeeper, what she reads, and not what she thinks I want to read or what other people like me have also read. Sometimes I look at what people, who are clearly not like me, buy and then I buy the same (try to do this on Amazon).

It really takes a lot of effort to fight our own biases and inclination to fit in with crowd. But it is worth all the effort and while it may seem trivial for such a thing as a summer reading list, I dare to say, that if we continuously challenge our minds to break biases and see the richness of diversity in the world, then our minds will also make us act accordingly and embrace diversity and unbiased thinking in the way we build our businesses and live our lives.

Happy summer reading!

P.S.: Books I am currently reading are “An equal difference” by Gabrielle Motola, “The sellout” by Paul Beatty, “The strategy of conflict” by Thomas C. Schelling and “The origin of species” by Charles Darwin

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