adrift on a cosmic ocean

Writings on various topics (mostly technical) from Oliver Hookins and Angela Collins. We have lived in Berlin since 2009, have two kids, and have far too little time to really justify having a blog.

Another great read - Tribes by Seth Godin (and other books)

Posted by Oliver on the 5th of December, 2019 in category Thoughts
Tagged with: BooksReadingleadershipmanagement

Oh dear, it's been another long time since my last post. To be fair, this year has been very hectic. Earlier in the year I was focussing a lot more on spending my commutes meditating (somewhat successfully), but recently I've found that reading on the train and in whatever free time I can scrape together has almost the same effect - so I don't mind meditating less.

When I was in primary school I took part regularly in the MS Read-a-thon - much less for the fundraising aspect as for the reading aspect. I was a mad reader. I think in the month or so of the read-a-thon I managed one year to crank through around 35 books. Admittedly these weren't exactly Ulysses-sized or complexity, but I think that's a good indication of my interest in reading.

Over the last decade or so my reading has declined quite a bit, and become dominated first by technical books, then leadership and management books. I haven't been reading so many books purely for enjoyment, which is a bit sad. A few months ago I started taking my kids to the local library to get books for them, and the habit grew (and grew). I had already signed up for a card from the library near my parents' place, added another network near where we moved to earlier in the year, and then signed up for yet another network in another part of the city that doesn't have any local residence requirement. Three networks! And since it is all computerised these days, it's very easy to search for books at home, reserve them and pick them up at your leisure.

I have a sizeable Amazon wishlist which is where I track my ever-growing list of management and technology reads (and a few novels) and I realised I could chip away at it without breaking the bank. Not every title is on the list but quite a few are.

tribes Seth Godin's "Tribes" has attained the place on my personal list of "if I could recommend one book on leadership to a person, this would be it". I recently finished this book (it looked interesting when I was borrowing another book, and I couldn't resist getting it as well) and for an "accidental" borrow (it wasn't on my list) it was a great read. I think it sums up perfectly many aspects of leadership, innovating, instituting change and building a movement. All very critical things not only in my line of work but for anything of worth in this world. I think I'll be buying a copy and re-reading it in the future.

Other titles I've managed to get through in the last few months, and actually could recommend any of:

  • Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
  • Sheryl Sandberg: Lean In
  • Ken Blanchard: One Minute Mentoring
  • Ivo Stourton: The Happier Dead
  • H.G. Wells: The Time Machine
  • Steve Silberman: Neurotribes
  • James Dashner: The Mazerunner (trilogy)
  • Haruki Murakami: 1Q84 (trilogy)

And a few others. This isn't a humble brag, and actually I'm surprised I managed to get through them - it's only through absolute dedication on my commutes that it was possible at all. I also have no problem admitting that amongst the heavier reads there was also some young adult fiction - sometimes it's nice to just read something for a creative story, and actually enjoy it! Not every read has to be an epic journey and learning experience. Especially given that I often give up meditating in order to read more, enjoyment and relaxation is critical.

Probably one thing that deserves some inner reflection is the compulsion to "read everything" - perhaps more in general but also specifically all of the things on my aforementioned reading list. It's currently over 70 books, many quite dry management/leadership books and I doubt I'll get through them in the next ten years. Perhaps the lesson here is to just let go and do what is enjoyable in the moment, and not keep score. Lists can be both an organisational blessing and a terrible anchor holding you down.

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