As you know, I love reading. I love everything about books, learning, curling up with coffee and a new book, discovering ideas and curating conversations. Here’s a list of what I’ve been learning from this past week–as well as the books I’ve recently read or am nearly done with from the last month or two. Since I started taking the bus more regularly to work (I no longer have my car, by the way–more updates on that later)–I’ve had a lot more time to read and I love it.

I’m doing a lot of this as research for a couple of upcoming events: I’m hosting a Walk + Talk with Sandbox tomorrow (Sunday) in San Francisco, for which many of these readings are a starting point. (If you’re in town and you’re curious what it is, email me.) On Wednesday, November 14th, I’m teaching a Storytelling and Narrative workshop in San Francisco with General Assembly.

And speaking of books! Stay tuned on Tuesday, because we’re launching the book I’ve been designing and I’ll have excerpts and all of the digital and physical book details! (I designed the book, and it’s fun to watch this project come to life–I am SO EXCITED to share it with you). But for now: back to reading.

Here are books I’ve been reading in the last two months. I highly recommend ALL of these: 

Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman. An American woman raises her children in Paris, and what this teaches her about cultural differences in child-rearing, parenting, and more. Fascinating cultural study and insights into the psychological beliefs about humans and how they operate. I loved it.

Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. I’m about a third of the way through this book and she’s already made me cry, several times. Our biggest fear is that we’ll be ordinary; we’re afraid that we won’t matter; we’re ashamed that we’re not living up to our greatness. This culture of shame–and scarcity–is a widespread problem, and until we learn how to be vulnerable and okay with the less-than-desirable emotions, our capacity for love, wonder, and greatness will also be hampered. I love this book.

Happier At Home, by Gretchen Rubin. I LOVE GRETCHEN RUBIN. I can’t describe it. The way she writes–and her authenticity about what she likes and doesn’t like, her quirks, and her own personal love affair with good literature, books and philosophy caused me to sit on my couch for three hours on a Friday night and read this book, out loud, over the telephone to other people. Yes. Love it. Her affinity for numbered lists and children’s books, her advice to “abandon a project,” and her counter-intuitive advice that possessions aren’t always the devil (some possessions remind you of experiences or enable you to have experiences, for example), lands well in my current itch to make my home more of a “Home,” and to study what makes me happy, even while dancing across the world and moving from city to city.

I Live In The Future And Here’s How It Works, by Nick Bilton. A quirky, eccentric Brooklynite who seems to know everything Apple and Tech, I love his analysis and presentation of the way the world is shifting and how our our communications media (internet, twitter, the fact that we all have computers in our pocket) are changing the world permanently and also changing our minds, behaviors, and interactions as well. If you don’t understand or haven’t heard of the relationship of the digital shift to the previous disruptive effects of the printing press, read this.

Here Comes Everybody,  by Clay Shirky. Along the same lines as Bilton’s book, but from 2008–he tells us how the organizational and instantaneous abilities of digital connectivity allow us to have much more radical transparency and power of assembly, as with the recent Church scandals, and how this organizational change is disruptive in massively good ways (but still highly disruptive.) Incredibly highly recommended. Clay Shirky tops my list of favorite authors.

The Guide To The Good Life, by William B Irving, on Stoic Philosophy. I’d actually never heard of Stoicism before, and it often gets a bad rap because the word “stoic” is associated with “not feeling or showing emotions,” which is not exactly what the philosophy is about. Have you ever read a book that feels like someone took ideas in your brain and put them into a clear structure? Much of my life is lived in line with many Stoic ideas–so hearing about them, and confirming the ideals, has been a transformative experience. From practicing negative visualization (the idea that we should sometimes imagine what it would be like to lose what we have, in order to better enjoy it in the present), to giving up dreams for wealth or fame, to learning how to delight in every single moment and marvel at the present, as it unfolds around us –this book is a beautiful anecdote (if not a lot more) to the current cultural and societal norms surrounding us. It also taught me a lot about the history of Philosophy and early philosophers.

The Impact Equation, by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. “Trust Agents,” their earlier co-authored book, was one of my favorite books when I started blogging and realizing how to create and leverage relationships and influence (in a good way) through online interaction. This book pushes to the next step, teaching people how to use their platforms for high impact and also how to stop making noise in a world that’s getting increasingly noisier. I’m only a couple of chapter in, but I’ll finish it very soon.

READING: “Weekend Edition” –or, the start to an endless number of conversations. 

Is the creative industry a death trap? Are we doing work that matters? What does it mean to be Pro-Life? What were we fighting for in this election? Is freedom really free? Is fairness free? What is equality? Should the government’s role be to give us freedoms (“freedom to”) or to protect us from harm (“freedom from”)? What does it mean to live in cities? Is our world moving towards an increasingly rural-urban demographic shift? What can you do with your own two feet to affect climate change? Does the internet make us lie more–or less? Why does the arc of the moral universe bend towards justice? Is disagreement good? And what are we fighting for afterall? 

“The creative industry operates largely by holding ‘creative’ people ransom to their own self-image, precarious sense of self-worth, and fragile – if occasionally out of control ego. We tend to set ourselves impossibly high standards, and are invariably our own toughest critics. Satisfying our own lofty demands is usually a lot harder than appeasing any client, who in my experience tend to have disappointingly low expectations. Most artists and designers I know would rather work all night than turn in a sub-standard job. It is a universal truth that all artists think they a frauds and charlatans, and live in constant fear of being exposed.”

  • Why I Am Pro-Life:  Let’s talk about the untalkable! Abortion, politics, legislation, ownership over narrative. This is a juicy one, by Thomas Friedman. 
  • Freedom Is Fairness? What is Fairness? What is Freedom? More importantly, what are we fighting for in this country? I read a wide range of perspectives, and I am grateful for Francis’ very well-written thoughts (although not necessarily in agreement with all of them).
  • Stop Climate Change, Move To The City, Start Walking:  The title says it all, and I think it relates to a fascinating trend of urbanites being largely liberal and rural (white, older, male) populations trending largely conservative. I’m curious: why is this happening?
  • Jeff Hancock’s “Three Types of (Digital) Lies,” on TED, (but also that the internet tends to make us more honest, afterall). We lie not because we are trying to damage a relationship, but because we’re protecting particular relationships by setting up boundaries and buffers in how we want to spend time with someone.
  • Now that I’ve gotten many of us thoroughly piqued, let’s follow up with a great TED talk by Margaret Heffernan, Dare to Disagree, which talks about the importance of disagreement. Good disagreement is central to progress, yet we often shy away from it–individually, in business, in science.
  • And lastly: The Fight. A reminder from Dustin Curtis about why we do all of this in the first place, and to remember to fight for the life you want.

 What are you reading? Anything interesting that you want to share? Tell me your most recent read or your favorite book in the comments!

Also: A huge congratulations to Melissa, who won the book giveaway in the last post of “The Impact Equation.” — Thanks to everyone for commenting and sharing all of the remarkable changes and transformations (and struggles) that they’re working towards or through. I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU. Thank you, and keep on keeping on. Stay tuned on TUESDAY, when the next giveaway launches. :)


Get my monthly newsletter, not available anywhere else: The SKP Monthly.