Mind-Expanding Reading, 2016

Well, 2016 has been a crappy year hasn’t it? One of the few good things that happened to me this year was that I read many many books. Here are a few that I enjoyed the most.

Fiction

  1. The Neapolitan Novels, Elena Ferrante. I was skeptical that a set of novels translated from Italian would hold their magic through the translation. I was wrong. I’ve heard these called “cinematic” and you really do feel like you’re watching a film as you read them, but a film with amazing actresses who can portray the confusion, pain, and beauty of life as it is lived. Just wonderful.
  2. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead. This won the National Book Award. You don’t need me to tell you to read it, but I’m telling you all the same.
  3. Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga Book Series, Jane Smiley. From the world of a farm in Iowa in 1920 through to the modern era and slightly beyond, these follow an extended family as they grow and scatter. Jane Smiley would be just another good storyteller if it weren’t for what feels like a desire to pull at the threads and show the seams of life in unexpected ways.
  4. The Golden Gate, Vikram Seth. Set in the bay area in the mid-80s, written in verse. It is lovely and sad and so very very perfectly bay area.

Non-Fiction

  1. Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom For Living A Better Life, Eric Greitens. I loved this. I read it at a particularly low point in the year where I felt I had been struggling against the uncertainty of my attempts to make it on my own, and it is a really lovely book full of nuance. I love that the author draws heavily from philosophy and history and is willing to admit what he doesn’t know. A great read for anyone going through a hard time and looking for inspiration to keep moving forward.
  2. Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success, Carol Dweck. I enjoyed the push this book gives to believing that you can learn new things, that success is not merely a matter of innate skill but that hard work can break through many boundaries.
  3. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Gallup Press. This is something I wish I had read when I first started managing. I don’t agree with all the advice, and some of it seems outdated (we broke all those rules already, I guess). The basic templates for new managers are pretty good guidelines to think about, at least as it comes to what you should focus on to keep your teams performing well in the day-to-day.
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