01 June 2022

Books of Summer (2022)

 "Classic:  A book which people praise and don't read."

--Mark Twain

Forbes Magazine reported that print book sales in the U.S. were up 9% in 2021. There's similar growth in the U.K.

U.S. publishers sold 825.7 million books last year, although the share of Americans reading remained flat. The typical American adult read five books during 2021, a consistent number since Pew Research began tracking that information in 2011.

Who's reading

Pew found that women read more than men, younger people read more than older people, more educated people read more than less educated people, members of higher-income households read more than members of lower-income families, and urban residents read more than suburban or rural residents.

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Recommended reading

Consider adding one or more of these books to your leadership library:

Making Numbers Count. Chip Heath and Karla Starr (Avid Reader, 182 pages)

Whether you run a FORTUNE 500 company, consignment store, or charity, numbers are essential to the enterprise. So it's important to keep track of the correct numbers and to communicate what they mean. 

For example, when it comes to energy costs, think about inflation this way--a $1 increase in the price of a gallon of gas costs the average American driver $56 per month or $672 annually, according to Kelly Blue Book research.  

"Math is no one's native tongue," observe Chip Heath and Karla Starr. They write, "after we get past 1-2-3, our ability to grasp numbers quickly deteriorates."

The Bookshelf Review in The Wall Street Journal highlights the value of making numbers come alive through stories, which our brains process better than statistics. The best way to translate numerical information is through images and messages that make numbers unnecessary. 

Unlike too many cluttered presentations, Steve Jobs used simple, creative images and prose to support his Apple narratives.

How to Think Like a CEO. D. A. Benton (Hachette Audio, listening length 3 hours 2 minutes; Warner Books, 470 pages)

This book is helpful for anyone working in an organization of any size. Or who sits on a governing board responsible for finding the next CEO. I recommend the audiobook format. Listening to Debra Benton narrate makes the stories come alive. 

An observer of organizational behavior for over 40 years, she reminds us that many high achievers don't make it on the first try but have to be tenacious. Ms. Benton also notes that CEOs make mistakes. But they generally don't make the same mistakes twice.

Leading Change. James O'Toole (Jossey-Bass, 304 pages)  

The sub-title is, Overcoming the Ideology of Comfort and Tyranny of Custom.

That says it all. Why? Comfort is a thief, and custom is a way to become frozen in time. O'Toole is saying that leadership is about "change."  But it should be values-based, not just an intelligent next move on the part of those in charge. Trust, integrity, listening, and respect for others come from his study of Rushmorean leaders who grace Mount Rushmore: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.  

Leading Change makes a good book study by management teams.  

A Failure of Nerve. Edwin H. Friedman (Church Publishing 10th Anniversary Edition, 228 pages) 

A review posted on Amazon offers this assessment of the book--

Friedman's thesis is that many approaches to leadership end in failure because they need to recognize that leadership is more about a leader's own emotional processes than techniques to motivate others.

Leaders with weak emotional processes are susceptible to avoiding all risks, blaming others for their mistakes, or being influenced by emotionally reactive people. Instead, leaders must have the capacity to move themselves and their organization forward, propelled by their own internal guidance system, rather than being tossed by the perceptions, complaints, or reactions of others.

Leadership takes confident character (courage) and strength (nerve).  


©  Bredholt & Co.