Tamara’s Reading List – NZ Fall Edition

Yesterday was the first day of winter here. Time flies! And yes, it’s getting pretty cold. It wouldn’t be too bad, except that most buildings (including my apartment) don’t have heating. I go to bed in hiking socks and merino wool, and can see my breath in the room in the morning. I’ll almost be glad to be back in hostels which at least have plug-in heaters in the rooms! So what did I read over the fall? Here’s a pretty good list:

1) Non-fiction – Poke the Box, by Seth Godin

To be honest, I read this in April and now can’t really remember what it’s about. Being by Seth Godin, it was likely very good though!

2) Non-fiction – Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh

Wow. There’s so much I want to say about this book, but really, it just boils down to: wow. If you work in any form of customer service, this book is a must-read. I couldn’t put it down. The overarching story is the rise of Zappos, one of the online shoe giants, but it also includes a ton of stories from Tony Hsieh’s early life and career before Zappos. He’s a great storyteller, and the things covered in the book are applicable to many things other than startups, so go read it! You won’t be sorry.

3) Non-fiction – Crush it!, by Gary Vaynerchuk

Basically a book on how to build and keep an audience, which is really important for entrepreneurs and people who want to become known as an expert about something. It’s a pretty fast read, considering the size of the book, so even if you’re not one of those types of people, you may find value in it anyway. The e-book version includes videos.

4) Non-fiction – Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, by Todd Henry

This was on my wishlist after the summer reading list, and I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations! Again, it’s about hustling and creating value out of your life– but specifically about legacy and what you want to leave behind. It’s slanted towards the creative fields, but definitely a worthwhile read for anyone in any field of work.

5) Non-fiction – The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, by Josh Waitzkin

Also on my wishlist as a re-read– and re-read it I did! Loved it all over again. It’s the story of a chess genius-turned-martial-arts-champion, and how he learned to do both at a global competition level. I love his narrative voice in this one– it brings life to the stories and a thoughtfulness to his explanations. This is someone who has thought a LOT about how he internalizes his learning– he thinks about the way he thinks– but it’s never overly philosophical or too high-level.

6) Non-fiction – Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington

You may recognize the author from the formidable Huffington Post publications. Her book is an interesting blend of personal stories, life tips, and information, and while I enjoyed it twice over, I’m not entirely sure there was anything actionable in it which I didn’t already know. Not to say that I do all of the things which she suggests, but some of them, like getting more sleep/increasing quality of sleep, for example, are now part of very common advice on how to live well in the middle of the ratrace. Still, a good read.

7) Fiction – Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig

Oh boy. So this was recommended to me for a long time, but I kept forgetting. Firstly and unexpectedly, this book is fiction. I think. Secondly, it’s both very down-to-earth in parts and highly philosophical in parts. Thirdly, it’s essentially told from the first-person perspective of a man composing a long speech/narration/lecture (a chatauqua) in his head. One of those books which stuck with me for a while. I didn’t find it particularly earth-shattering, although some of the opinions expressed matched my own and helped put to words how I actually feel about certain things. It’s a good book to put down in the chapter breaks and pick up again a day or two later.

8) Non-fiction – Reach for the Skies: Ballooning, Birdmen and Blasting into Space, Richard Branson

I’m not sure what I expected out of this, both as a book on aviation, and a book by Richard Branson, but either way, I wasn’t disappointed. I actually had no idea that Richard Branson had done all of this flying before he founded Virgin (although, I suppose that makes a lot of sense in hindsight, considering Virgin’s beginnings). There were lots of really interesting stories about early flight, although definitely slanted towards hot air balloons, and plenty of cool information about the future of space travel. I suspect I will be picking up his other books shortly.

9) Non-fiction – The Mobile MBA: 112 Skills to Take You Further, Faster, by Jo Owen

I’m still in the middle of this one, and so far, I’ve found it really boring :/.

10) Non-fiction – The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, by Todd Henry

Another Todd Henry! This one actually came before Die Empty, but for some reason (i.e. ebook pricing), I’m only reading it now. Currently in the middle of it, but it’s been really good so far. Lots of practical advice on how to operate at 100% while both still loving your job and not burning out. This one is definitely slanted towards those in a creative profession, but I’m finding it really relevant to what I do as well.


10 books in a season isn’t too bad– some of them were re-reads as well. So what’s coming up on my wishlist (non-fiction unless marked otherwise):

– Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

– One Day by David Nicholls (fiction)

– Hands Across the Water by Peter Baines

– Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace by Ronald J. Deibert

Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Richard Branson

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff (the title makes me think of this– +10 points for naming the movie this is from: “We’re in now now. Everything that’s happening now, is happening now.” “What about then?” “We just passed it” “When?” “Just now.”)

Suggestions? Let me know in the comments 🙂

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