Can’t get enough of books? Me neither! I’m continuing my reading odyssey, and I’m well on my way to meeting my huge goal of reading 120 books this year. I decided to report on what I read each month as a way to keep myself accountable on my reading goal.
Doing these write ups also helps me to reflect on what I’ve read. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for reading about what other people are reading. Hopefully if that describes you, too, you might find some gems in my reports.
Finally, in addition to making a reading goal for this year, I embellished the goal by vowing to read at least half of the books I read from among books I already own. I notate that, too, to keep myself honest.
Ready or not, here we go! Here are the books I read in May, 2020. (Links to the books on Amazon are provided in the paragraph headings and throughout the post. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you purchase items using my links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks!)
Ownership Thinking, by Brad Hams (shelf)
There is a theme this month in that I read several books related to running a business. This book was an older book that I found in our local used bookstore. Picking it up off my shelf in May was fortuitous, because my business partner and I have been working on a project to improve how we are running our business. If you are a business owner who struggles to provide the right sort of incentives for your employees, this book is worth a look.
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen (shelf)
Without a doubt, I’m a productivity junkie. I love to read anything and everything about how to improve my efficiency and/or become more productive. This classic book on the topic by David Allen has eluded me for years. I was quite certain I MUST have read it sometime in the past, but when I searched my spreadsheet, that was not the case. This was another used bookstore find, and I decided the time was right to finally read it.
The book is chock-full of techniques to manage your life using the analog technique of files and to do lists. Allen does address more modern technologies in the updated version I read, but at its core, Getting Things Done is about list-making. As a ninja-level list maker, I spent a good bit of time nodding my head in agreement as I read. I picked up a few things to chew on, but overall, I was already pretty familiar with Allen’s work through the work of others that had been inspired by him.
The New Husband, by D.J. Palmer (audio)
After my successful foray into listening to thriller books last month, I eagerly started this one by D.J. Palmer. I had not previously read anything by this author. This book sucked me in pretty quickly. As a rule, I highly dislike reading books that feature female protagonists who are wimpy or make silly life decisions. They make me want to yell at the main character, so I find them frustrating. (Sorry, just a quirk of mine!)
Despite the fact that in this book Nina made me roll my eyes more than once, I was interested to hear how the story turned out. With her husband missing and presumed dead, Nina finally remarries. Her daughter is skeptical about new husband Simon’s motives, but Nina thinks he’s the cat’s meow. Chaos ensues. (That’s all I’ll say!)
I have a terrible habit that started back in my graduate school days when I was reading scary books by the likes of Dean Koontz. I would skim the endings to make sure the main characters were still alive, then I could relax into the story. The anxiety of not knowing what would happen to the characters was just too much.
Unfortunately, that habit lasted over two decades. Recently I have made efforts to avoid sneaking a peak at the endings, and I must say I enjoy books more when I am left to guess.
Audiobooks, as well as Kindle books, have made a dent in my bad habit. It’s not easy to peak at the end in either scenario, so I have had the pleasure of actual suspense more than once in recent months. Who says you can’t teach and old dog new tricks?
The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff (shelf)
This was a second read for me on this book. I read it for the first time many, many years ago, and I kept it on my shelf for decades, assuming I’d read it again someday. Since I’m making a concerted effort to get my bookshelves pared down, I decided it was time to give this book another go. If you are unfamiliar, Hoff takes philosophical ideas and explains them through the lens of Winnie the Pooh. The book is charming and an easy entry point to learning about Taoism.
X, by Sue Grafton (new)
Sue Grafton is one of my favorite mystery writers. Her Kinsey Millhone series has been long running, and is now, alas, ended. I started reading her series with A is for Alibi back in 1993. The series has now run through the alphabet and ended with Y, which is on my shelf to read soon. Grafton died this past year, and I cannot stop thinking about whether she was bummed out to die before completing her series. Silly of me, maybe.
Grafton’s protagonist, Kinsey Millhone, is a quirky, but resourceful private investigator. The books were written starting in the mid 1980s, and Grafton made the decision to keep the series in the 80s, versus leaping forward into the 90s and beyond with her settings and stories. This means Kinsey has no smart phone or even an old-fashioned cell phone. If she needs to make a call, she uses. . . a pay phone!
I have sincerely loved this series, and I’m sad to be reaching the end. Perhaps I’ll start at the beginning again someday.
Outer Order, Inner Calm, by Gretchen Rubin (shelf)
I have read several books by Gretchen Rubin, and I have enjoyed all of them to some degree. Confession: I bought this book purely on the basis of aesthetics. It’s a lovely, colorful, small book that I bought myself for a treat last year. But honestly, it was underwhelming. It was light on content, since it was designed to be a very-short-tip-per-chapter sort of book. Nevertheless, it was pleasant to read.
Those looking to increase their inner calm through decluttering their outer world would be more satisfied with Francine Jay’s The Joy of Less, Joshua Becker’s The Minimalist Home, or Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Despite my slight disappointment with this book, I remain a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work.
My Reading Life, by Pat Conroy (shelf)
It had been years, DECADES since I’d read anything by Pat Conroy. I remember him as a favorite fiction writer, though, and a couple years ago I found this book at a used bookstore. It was finally time for me to read it, and I’m glad I did. In it, Conroy talks about his struggles and his successes as an author, but he also shares painful and joyful stories of his family and friends. All while using books that affected him deeply as the framework for this book. The relationship he describes with the cantankerous school librarian was a highlight, but I enjoyed the book from beginning to end.
Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz (new)
A surprise hit for me. This was our book club selection for May, and when it was chosen, I was pretty uninterested. Generally speaking, I don’t enjoy reading about war or military subjects. As it turns out, this choice is peripherally related to current events. While not entirely about racism, the book does highlight some concerning world views that are still present in the south.
This book was published in 1998, and Horwitz spent a great deal of time touring around former confederate states. He participated in several Civil War reenactments to dig into why so many people are dedicated to the cause of war reenactment. He interviews numerous people, ranging from white supremacists to black schoolteachers.
I anticipated this would be a boring book about a subject I had no interest in reading about, but I was wrong. Horwitz was a talented journalist and writer, and I found myself stopping numerous times in order to go look up Civil War battle sites, information on legal cases cited, etc. It wasn’t a page turner, but I definitely think I learned (or relearned, since my recollection about the war was pretty foggy) a lot reading it. This book definitely made me think.
ClockWork: Design Your Business to Run Itself, by Mike Michalowicz (shelf)
Continuing with the theme of business books this month, there is this book by Mike Michalowicz. I previously read his book, Profit First, and enjoyed it immensely. Mike’s goal is to end “entrepreneurial poverty,” which is a noble goal to be sure! ClockWork picks up where Profit First left off: it provides keen insights on how to manage your business better by focusing on the most important function of your business.
If you are a business owner, you should definitely check out both of these books. They are full of useful strategies, and Mike’s sense of humor is a riot – it makes reading what could be a boring business book much more enjoyable.
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman (new)
And for the third business book of this month, we have Traction. I actually listened to this book on audio several months ago. I was so taken with Wickman’s process for managing a business that I bought the paperback and started again from the beginning. Wickman’s book introduces his EOS: Entrepreneurial Operating System®. EOS is a detailed approach for how to streamline and manage your business, while eliminating the typical roadblocks that can occur.
My company’s leadership team has been working through this system since the beginning of the year. We are loving the process of reexamining every part of our business, and I am confident this is going to improve how my planning firm is run going forward. Are you a business owner that manages people? Add this book to your list.
There you have it, my book haul for May. See you next month!
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