Book Recommendations:  June 2020 Edition

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Here is another installment of books I read last month.  My year-to-date total as of the end of June is 58 books read, so I’m slightly under-pacing my goal to read 120 books this year.  If you have read my prior summaries, you know that I decided to report on what I read each month as a way to keep myself accountable.

It’s been helpful to do these write-ups: it helps me reflect on what I’m reading, but it also draws my attention to the sheer variety of things I’ve been reading.  Sure, I could have even more variety in the genres I read, but my aim with my reading has always been to read fiction I enjoy and to read nonfiction in areas I want to explore.  If that means I rarely read romance, westerns, or biographies, then so be it.  (Perhaps genre exploration can be a goal for a different year. . .)

My goal for this year also included the mandate to read at least half of the books I read from among books I already own.  I notate that here, too, to keep myself honest.

This month was heavy on nonfiction, it appears.  Without further ado, here are the books I read in June, 2020.  (Links to the books on Amazon are provided for your convenience in the paragraph headings and elsewhere in the post.*)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien (shelf)

My daughter Rowan and I decided to make a summer project of reading the LOTR trilogy and then watching the three movies.  I previously read these amazing books many, many years ago when I was a college student living in Germany for a year.  As a kid, I was never a fantasy reader, but the “English Bookstore” (I believe that was the actual name of the store) I visited to get my fix was fairly limited in selections.  What the heck, I figured, I hear good things about this series, so I should read it.  I was so glad I did!  The only mementos from that year that still occupy a spot in my house are my set of three LOTR books I bought while there, and my ratty old green Michelin Guide to Germany.

We started this summer project by watching all three of the Hobbit movies to get in the mood.  As of this writing, we’ve both finished the second of the three LOTR books, and we are getting ready to watch that film.  Good times!

In the unlikely event you haven’t read these books if you are an avid reader, do yourself a favor and add them to your bucket list.  They are every bit as good now that I’m 51 as they were when I was, ahem, 19.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson (new)

This book was the June selection for my book club.  It tells a story about a woman who finds her calling delivering books to the far reaches of the Kentucky hills as a member of Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project.  The main character is an outcast due to the blue pigment of her skin.  I was interested in the history of this novel, but at the same time, I found the story to be a bit contrived.  Overall it was an enjoyable read.

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer (shelf)

This book was tough for me.  It was a referral from a good friend, and I put a lot of stock in book recommendations from my friends.  The subtitle was intriguing: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.  Amanda Palmer is a rock star who had an unusual path to success in her art.

The book was heavy (seriously heavy) on personal anecdotes.  But strewn throughout the book were priceless gems about what it takes to be a creative person in the modern world and lessons about asking for help when you need it.  Asking for help is very difficult for me.  I can’t say I have stopped worrying since reading this book, but I do have a healthier sense about asking for help, and I’m glad I read it.

Rocket Fuel, by Gino Wickman (new)

Last month I reported on reading Wickman’s other book, Traction.  This book was a follow up that went into more depth on the concept of being either a visionary or an integrator as it pertains to running a business.  I’m a visionary all the way, and this book provided some insights for me: some were painful, and some were enlightening.

The Dip: A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit, by Seth Godin (library)

This book was another referral from a friend.  It’s a short, pithy book – standard Seth Godin fare.  I have read other books by Godin over the years, and I find his writing style to be a bit random.  But much like Palmer’s book above, there are absolute gems to be found in Godin’s work, so I persist.

This tiny book is geared to business owners, and it differentiates between quitting on purpose (because the future of the endeavor looks bleak) and quitting just because something gets hard.  He attempts to destigmatize quitting by pointing out that strategic quitting is often just what the doctor ordered.

Sometimes people carry on with a venture long past when they should have just quit and moved on to something else.  Figuring out whether you should or shouldn’t quit is just what this book is about.

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink (shelf)

Like so many books I’ve been rediscovering with this year’s “read the books you already own, Starks!” project, I was delighted to find this one hidden on a dusty shelf.  A couple years ago, I watched an interview with Daniel Pink in which he talked about his research on motivation.  It was fascinating, and I subsequently found his book at my local used bookstore.

I found this book to be eminently readable.  He includes book summaries of varying lengths (including the “Twitter version”!), which was helpful to review what I just learned.  As you have probably gleaned, I have long been interested in time management, productivity, and by extension, motivation.  I sincerely enjoyed this book and plan to do further research on the topic as a result.

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael Singer (shelf)

I started reading this book several years ago but put it down.  When I decided this was the right time to read it, I started anew.  I’d like to say I plowed right through it, but that isn’t the case.  This is a deep book, and it is not my standard fare, topic-wise.  I struggled to read it, honestly.  I could only read one chapter at a time, because it really required time to sit and ponder the meaning of the writing.

It’s a book about examining one’s inner life and questioning self-imposed boundaries.  Despite my difficulties, I’m glad to have read it.  In fact, I’m keeping it to reread in the near future, in the hopes that I’ll get more out of it on my second pass.

That’s it, my book haul for June.  See you next month!


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You might also enjoy:

Book Recommendations: April 2020 Edition

My Reading Goal is on Track: Books I Read, May 2020 Edition


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