WHAT'S ON MY BOOKSHELF?
Want to know what I'm currently reading and what I've read that's inspired, challenged or changed me? These books, blogs and websites are about connection and the impact of loneliness and competition.
For a minimalist, the books have made the transition from Kindle to hard copy and occupy space on my bookshelf. High praise.
WHAT I'M READING NOW*
(as at 18 February 2020)
I'm still reading Ronan Farrow's book 'War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence.'
Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts.
* I neither solicit nor receive remuneration for what I read or my comments.
BOOKS I'VE READ
THAT HAVE INFLUENCED ME
Here’s what I have (in alphabetical order):
‘I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t): Making the Journey from ‘What Will People Think?’ to ‘I Am Enough’’
Her first book introduces many of the concepts she explores in subsequent work. Written for a female audience, her work applies to all who feel shame about something (so, that’s everyone who’s not a sociopath).
‘The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are’
This is her second book and the first book of Dr Brown’s that I read. I had bought it and it sat on my Kindle for months until I opened it and started reading at the same time I was identifying my sources of shame. Her words were written expressly for me. Serendipitous.
‘Daring Greatly: How The Courage To Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’
Her third book. Dr Brown draws inspiration from former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man In The Arena’ speech at the Sorbonne in 1910. I remember the words from this speech when I’m feeling scared to be seen.
‘Rising Strong: How The Ability To Reset Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead’
Her fourth book. The premise of this book is to share techniques to help us get up when we fall. The falling is inevitable if we are putting our authentic, genuine and human selves into the world.
‘Braving The Wilderness: The Quest For True Belonging And The Courage To Stand Alone’
Her fifth book. The first chapter of this book had me in tears. It changed my life. And is one of the reasons for my tattoo.
You may not be inspired to get inked, but it’s an amazing book.
‘Dare To Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts’
Dr Brown’s sixth, and latest, work. This book was full of ideas of how to lead in a workplace. She details some of the work she and her company are doing in organisations with toxic workplace cultures.
‘Unleash Your Alpha: Eat Like A Man, train like a beast, operate like a gentleman and become a legend’
The tagline says it all. I read this book in 2013 and began to follow Mike’s blog and on social media. It’s full of clear, no nonsense advice for men to lift out of their slump and step into themselves and into the world.
In October 2016, I nervously accepted his invitation to join the first intake into the School of Personal Mastery; a five-month long course focusing on emotional intelligence, physical intelligence and social intelligence.
One of the best decisions of my life. I have not looked back.
Mike is now a trusted mentor and I support him in his work with other men going through the School of Personal Mastery programs.
‘Insanely Gifted: Turn your demons into creative rocket fuel’
I first read this book in July 2017. A few points in the book have stuck in my mind, but I largely forgot it.
I re-read the book in May 2019 and all I can say is 'wow'. I ordered the hard copy as soon as I could.
This is another one of those books that happened to me at the right time. I love Catto's writing style. I love the content even more.
I've gifted the book to a few friends. Highly recommended.
Stephen R. Covey
‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’
The original is always the best. There’s an elegant simplicity to this book and I find myself coming back to it as a resource again and again. This book changed my approach to management and leadership – of others and myself.
Harvard Business Review
A series of easily-digested short essays on the importance of managing and knowing yourself first so you can be an effective leader and manager of people.
‘The Obstacle is the Way’ and ‘Ego is the Enemy’
‘The Obstacle is the Way’ introduces classic stoic philosophy into the contemporary world. Classical stoicism speaks to me very deeply, especially the cultivation of a mindset that sees opportunities and choice in how we approach every situation. The situation is the situation, how I perceive it is up to me.
‘The Ego is the Enemy’ investigates how our ego can get in the way of our learning and development as well as our response to situations.
‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’
Kondo devised the ‘KonMari’ method of organizing and decluttering based on what ‘sparks joy’. It is perhaps the term ‘spark joy’ that you’ve heard and associate with minimalism. Kondo’s method is a simple and elegant approach to tidying and decluttering your house and life. While I do not hug my clothes and other things to feel if they speak to me as I am tidying, I do hold them in my hands and feel if they do give me good memories or make me feel good. Anything with negative memories or ‘bad mojo’ (my words) is out.
Published in the late 1950s, Dr Maltz was one of the first plastic surgeons in the United States. He developed his theory of psycho-cybernetics after seeing that patients who had poor self-image prior to corrective surgery often maintained their poor self-image after the physical healing happened.
His work on creating mental boltholes to which we can escape when needing to quickly recharge is instructive.
‘The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck’
A bestselling book based on a blog post he wrote. While the first chapter gives us an insight into how to swear creatively (and, hilariously), the book is about the importance of knowing who you are, what you stand for and why so you can avoid giving all your f*cks away to stuff that isn’t important to you and to save your f*cks for what is.
His final chapter had me on the edge with him, too.
‘A Million Miles In A Thousand Years’
I find that there are books that come along to me at the right time. This was one. Miller wrote a bestselling autobiography and two screenwriters came to work with him to turn his life into a movie. The only problem was that his life was boring.
He set about living his best story and found meaning. It is a little religious at times for my tastes, but remembering the importance of spirituality – whatever that is to you – was the key point for me during these parts.
I read this book in December 2016. His work made me resolve to make 2017 my year of living my best story by being authentically, genuinely and humanly me in the world.
Here I am.
David de las Morenas
I read de las Morenas’ book 'Shredded Beast’ in mid-2014 and proceeded to do total-body workouts for the next four years. The focus on simple compound movements, progressive overload and eating well meant that I continued to get stronger at the gym and remained largely injury-free during that period. This is a great start if you’re looking for no-nonsense advice before launching into weight training.
‘The Barefoot Investor’
Pape’s book is a fantastically clear resource on getting control of your finances explained with such elegant simplicity. I’m not a financial expert by any means, so his financial plan that can fit on a paper napkin or on the back of an envelope really spoke to me.
‘The Pinstriped Prison’
Pryor’s exposé of the organisational cultures within major consultancies, investment banks accounting firms and law firms made many uncomfortable when it was released in 2008.
Pryor looks at why many staff in these companies get to their 30s and wonder why they worked so hard to do everything ‘right’ at school, university and their communities and are now very unhappy and feel trapped by their choices.
‘The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book'
This book is simple, calming and written with elegance. This short book took me a few weeks to read as I would read a paragraph, reflect and then read the next. The four agreements are simple and easy to remember and absolutely changed my life.
I highly recommend this book.
‘The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment’
This book is well-known for good reason. It's simple message of recognising when our minds dwell on the past or worry about an imagined future and then returning to the now is very powerful. Tolle provides some great strategies on how to get our minds back into the now.
We can spend much of our time and energy worrying about future scenarios that may or may not happen. For diplomats who are well used to preparing for every possible contingency in their daily work, this message could be helpful.
BLOGS I FOLLOW
A diplomat’s life is complicated enough. We live and work in multiple locations at the same time. Our work is complex and nuanced. For me, simplicity in everything is central to keeping balance mentally, emotionally and physically. It helps me remain both connected to what’s important to me and untethered by my belongings so I can experience the world around me.
I simply cannot recommend simplicity more. Here’s where I get my fix and ideas.
Joshua Becker – ‘Becoming Minimalist’ - https://www.becomingminimalist.com
It was actually reading Becker’s book ‘Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their House and Life’ that I read on the beach in November 2014 that got me interested in minimalism.
Courtney Carver – ‘Be More With Less’ - https://bemorewithless.com/
Carver, a prolific writer and blogger, devised ‘Project 333’ to show people how to build a capsule wardrobe.
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – ‘The Minimalists’ - https://www.theminimalists.com/
‘The Minimalists’ are the rockstars of minimalism and are often people’s entrée into the concept. Their blog, books, podcasts and movie have been accessed by millions.
Mark Groves – Create The Love - http://markgroves.tv/
Groves’ work makes me feel like I can do anything so long as I remain true to who I am. I recommend his work to so many people. His Instagram page (@createthelove) is extremely follow-worthy and has a knack of posting exactly what I need to see at exactly the right time.
Mark Manson - https://markmanson.net/
Writer of The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck and his excellent blog.
Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project - https://gretchenrubin.com/
I haven’t checked in for a while, but Rubin’s blog and books are testaments to the power of being consistently curious about yourself.
Emma Seppällä – The Science of Happiness, Health and Success – https://emmaseppala.com/
Dr Seppällä is an author, speaker and research scientist at Stanford University and the co-director Wellness at Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence.
GOT ANY SUGGESTIONS?
You know a book, blog or podcast that you think will be helpful for me and others?