Books I read in 2022
This is my book reads in 2022, after my 2021 goal (not quite met) of reading 100 books. Some of these are re-reads that I am revisiting to dive deeper. Others are brand new.
The Effective Executive: the definitive guide to getting the right things done. Drucker.
Crucial Conversations: how to talk when opinions vary, stakes are high and emotions are strong.
Little Bets: developing new ideas and approaching problems in a non-linear manner.
On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to observation follows a journalist + 12 different people with different perspectives.
Against the Gods: the remarkable story about risk. This long read is about the development of different ways of measuring probability, uncertainty, and risk management, told from the perspective of the people who made the breakthroughs. Written in a very accessible style.
The Problem of Pain. CS Lewis. Classic discussion. Probably more signal than noise than any other book I’ve read this year.
Working Backward. Examination of several of Amazon’s business management tools, especially the 6-page process.
Aware. A book about presence, mindfulness, and meditation. Some good stuff in here, but some bathwater that has to be thrown out too. I actually found the bit about breathing exercises to be the most valuable, because it discussed the huge problem of distraction in our society, and how a very simple breathing exercise displines our minds to pay attention.
Making Numbers Count. Chip Heath. A little too obvious, a little too short for the $.
Letters to Malcolm, chiefly on prayer. CS Lewis. I hadn’t read this one before, and thought it was a collection of Lewis letters, only to later find out the “Malcolm” was entirely fictional. Nevertheless the book is chock-full of the typical Lewis insights. Well worth the read.
Four Disciplines of Execution. Fairly straight-forward book about getting better at executing, revolving around four “disciplines”: focusing on a single goal, act on lead measures that you can influence, keeping a compelling scoreboard (staying engaged), and creating a cadence of accountability (the actual work). This is better as a follow-on to Effective Executive and High Output Management, in my opinion. Lots of practical advice.
High Output Management. Andy Grove. An eminently readable and sensible book about the various aspects of the job of management. Not simply a “lifehack” but really more in the vein of Drucker’s Effective Executive.
Hearing God. Useful exploration of the topic with lots of little nuggets, and a classic.
Multipliers. All about not being a Diminisher, but rather multiplying the ‘genius’ around you. A business book about skill development in others intersects some of the ideas about scale that are found in movements.
Future Shock. Less about predicting the future and more about the implications of the speed of change on our psychological well-being).
The Third Wave. An interesting exploration of the knowledge economy that predicted a lot of the stuff that happened between 2000-2020, written in 1980.
Powershift. Third of the Toffler books, is about shifts away from violence and money as drivers toward knowledge. Could probably read Futureshock and this and get the scope of what he was predicting. Much of this has come to pass, though not precisely in the way envisioned. Written 1990.
Think Again: the power of knowing what you don’t know. A book all about forming a discipline of questioning and rethinking one’s assumptions.
How Behavior Spreads: the science of complex contagions. Information spreads through weak ties. Behavior change doesn’t; it spreads best through strongly connected communities. This book explores the science of this reality, which has significant implications for movements.
Leading without Authority. A great read around building teams of people through empathic listening, candor, and feedback, but mostly a context of charity and mutual edification. Very applicable in mission and movement contexts.
The Lord and His Prayer. Good, but I felt a little short for the money. (About as long as Problem of Pain, though, and I didn’t say that about it.)
The Advantage: why organizational health trumps everything. Patrick Lencioni’s exhaustive work on processes that can make for relationally healthy organizations. Most of these are common sense examinations of trust, agreed-upon values for behavior, and so forth.
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: the difference and why it matters. Classic book. Good strategy is a cohesive, focused response to a critical challenge.
Radical Candor. While a little salty at times, this book would be incredibly useful for anyone doing any kind of coaching or mentoring. I appreciated its practical advice so much that I have bought the Kindle version, then a paperback version, and then bought another paperback copy and gave it to a co-worker. It essentially advocates for avoiding Obnoxious Aggression and Manipulative Insincerity and going for Radical Candor, which includes Caring + Challenging. How to do that on a regular daily basis with co-workers, bosses, direct reports, colleagues, etc.
The Crux. A more current book from the author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy about strategy as problem-solving. Lots of practical advice.
Art of Action. Another book on strategy, complementary to GS/BS, Crux, and Radical Candor. This one is very practical, derived from Prussian military techniques. It essentially tells how to develop and implement grand strategy while leaving flexibility in implementation to specific departments, especially in periods of high uncertainty. If I had to choose between this and Crux, I’d get this, but I’d try and get both. This book changed how I write strategy statements.
Pilgrimage to Eternity. This was an interesting book about a guy who took a land pilgrimage from England to Rome, and the spiritual meditations along the way. Not exactly a believer, he was more a cultural Christian with some spiritual hunger for a miracle. The end of it reminded me sort of the end of Job.
Anatomy of Buzz Revisited. If you’re interested in viral campaigns, this book has a mixture of analysis of tactics, strategies, and practical advice. Some of the chapters are longer and some are shorter. Shows how to apply weak ties, advertising, etc. Pretty useful, but I’d look for a used copy. I picked it up off HPB’s Clearance rack, and it was easily worth what I paid.
Conan Doyle for the Defense. A fascinating book about how the author of Sherlock Holmes took up the case of a guy who was accused of murder. Contains a lot of backstory of Doyle’s life, plus exploration of the times he lived in and a few real life cases he worked on.
Practice of the Presence of God. Short read on Kindle, classic. While I’m not sure I found things that were immediately practical, the thought of what this man’s life was like was inspiring.
From Megachurch to Multiplication. Chris Galanos’s book about how they transitioned e-Life to focus on movements. Lots of practical advice for US churches attempting to do this.
Gospel Allegiance is a fantastic exploration of pistis=loyalty, not belief … Gospel doesn’t say “believe against all evidence”; it says “bow the knee & confess”
Managing the Unexpected: I had planned to skim this, but ended up reading it cover to cover. … a lot of examining how to pay attention to possible failure, pick up on signals, and rapidly address them.
The Art of Choosing is an accessible introduction to how people make choices … applicable to questions like whether to give, or apply as a candidate …
The Potato is a fascinating survey of the impact of a vegetable on social classes … dynamics like one adopts potato & other says “if they did, I won’t”
Innovation & Entrepreneurship by Drucker is an older yet immensely practical book … Innovation in most cases is not the blind stroke of genius. Here’s how to foster it.
The Introvert’s Edge: how the quiet and shy can outsell anyone … Process trumps personality. Another immensely practical book. Think fundraising.
Knowledge of the Holy: the attributes of God is an old Tozer book I hadn’t read yet. … I’m highlighting stuff on nearly every page. I know, I should have read this before.
Driving in the Dark: Ten propositions about predictions and national security … an analysis of the perils of predicting the future, and how to grapple with the unknowable.
Deeper. Wife read, and highly recommends. Am reading. (From the author of Gentle & Lowly).