For another year in a row, I’ve achieved my goal of books – one a month during 2017 was a follow on from 1 a month plus 1 in 2016, a step down in number but a step up in difficulty. I only just achieved it, the final tick by virtue of combining an iron, some creased bedding and an audiobook.
So here are some of my thoughts on each of the books I read this year. There was a definite theme, just as there is most years, of self improvement rubbing alongside amusing stories – perhaps something which should shift a little in 2018.
- The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever
All aimed at helping you to identify and conquer the ‘advice monster’, this is a good reminder of exactly what behaviours are the best for helping other people to reach their best – and most importantly, how to avoid just doing things yourself. A particular flaw of mine as I get busier is to abandon coaching and begin doing – so it’s a timely reminder, and one that I’ll try my best to heed.
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Probably one of the best ‘business’ books I’ve ever read, and insanely useful in identifying how a ‘team’ works and where you can make improvements. Highly listenable as a result of the style – a story with a point. Give it a listen on your commute this week, and then set about deciding which of the characters you see in your day to day.
- The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything
This one is a follow up to the last. Trust is an essential part of being a team, and this was all about it. Insightful, not because i said anything particularly new (although there may have been a few bits that have slipped my mind) but because it performed a kind of mental defragmentation on stuff already in my head. Sometimes you just need something to draw in the lines between thoughts.
- The Million Dollar Blog
This was actually terrible. I bought it in an airport bookshop out of curiosity and boredom. I mean, I am pretty certain I was not in the target market but even taking that into account doesn’t create enough excuse points. I hope whoever next opened the drawer in the Airbnb I abandoned this one in wanted to become an influencer.
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls
I lovd David Sedaris. I got the audio book version of this so it was much more like an extended version of his Radio 4 show, and just as good. A lovely escape from reality and a lovely reminder that everyone’s life is just that ridiculous.
- Emotional Intelligence: Managing Emotions to Make a Positive Impact on Your Life and Career
This, again, didn’t really tell me much and my memory of it is patchy. That’s because I read it (almost in full) on the same day I had reason to question my own emotions because later that day I learnt what a 6.7 earthquake feels like. Emotions are a pain, because they’re more primitive than rational thought and – therefore – refuse to abide by a calendar or to understand that what you’ve just been talked through is actually right. And they don’t let you to believe a Greek hotelier that a building that has huge cracks in it is structurally sound.
- The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do
I picked this one up off the shelf in Waterstones because anything that has the balls to sit in the self help section of Waterstones proudly shouting ‘fuck’ in slightly glossy red letters deserves my attention. Particularly in Hampshire. I already consider myself quite good at not giving a fuck, but I am also quite good at occasionally completely forgetting about that and freaking out. I could work on my consistency, in other words.
- Stop Talking, Start Doing Action Book: Practical Tools and Exercises to Give You a Kick in the Pants
This didn’t really give me a kick in the pants. Sorry.
- Managing Activism: A Guide to Dealing with Activists and Pressure Groups
It was this book which inspired my project for my CIPR Diploma project. I’m still fascinated by the idea that the only tool we have as communicators to respond to activism is engagement (earlier and earlier, if we can) – and yet as we persist with this model, activists are becoming more entrenched and less interested in engaging.
- Peas and Queues
I am not entirely sure I realised what this was when I added it to the list of books I wanted to read this year. I was expecting something intelligent and perhaps also slightly amusing, and I did indeed get both of those things. I am just not convinced that the format worked – it felt forced, and most all it felt like the format was an excuse for the the topic being worthy of discussion.
Well, I don’t think anyone should be remotely embarrassed to say they find closing doors on people is a way of asking them to leave or to feel the smug satisfaction of knowing that it’s only the rolls at breakfast that should ever be cut with a knife. It’s a book for people who sit seething at their distant relatives and friends at dinner tables – and that I have been doing for years.
- Peggy and Me
Another interesting look at life from Miranda. Serious, yet light hearted. Another book that I couldn’t face on paper, lest I miss a joke. Well kind regards to you, Ms Hart, and great thanks. May you continue on your journey to national treasure.
- Black Box Thinking: Why Some People Never Learn from Their Mistakes – But Some Do
Wow. Some of the tales in here: life, death and why aviators are fabulous (I’m marrying one, so…) We are all terrible at learning from mistakes, biased towards seeing only our own successes and finding that reason why things didn’t work. And yet, despite all doing it we somehow let ourselves and other people get away with it. I think this hit home for me because I was reading it at the same time as I was finishing up on my CIPR Diploma work. My thoughts were on objectives, measurement and how to measure success. No one wants to fail, but it is only through failing in a new way each time that we can learn. It’s definitely worth a re-read from me, and a read from you. But, of course, I could be wrong…
So there it is. This year I’ve set myself the same challenge of reading 12 more books across the 12 months. I love reading, but I also struggle to make time for it so for me 12 serves a nice function of being large enough to make me feel like I read, but small enough that I probably won’t fail and invalidate the whole purpose of this thing.
What could I do better next time?
I do believe in making changes though and writing this post led me to realise that my target, while SMART, wasn’t quite as SMART as it could be. So, this year I have not only set myself a target number of books but an actual target of which books they are.
So, I’ve started 2018’s look back post already and you can find it – and follow my thoughts on the books I’m reading here. Perhaps knowing you’re watching will spur me on to read more often? Let’s find out together.
How did I do on my other goals?
This post was part of a series of posts organising my thoughts about how I did last year. You can also find out how else I did with my goals of 2017 in my other posts on the topic here, and sign up below to get an email whenever I post something new.
And finally, check out my aunty’s post from on her blog A Year Of Saying YES , where she reveals the tool I used to plan my 2017 (and my 2018).