2010 was a good year for reading. I read 14 great books (well actually, 13 great books and one that wasn’t so great). The year was filled with a wide variety of insights on coaching, executive development, and building strong organizations.
(A note: I don’t actually “read” non-fiction books. I devour them. I engage with a book as if it’s the backbone of a graduate-level independent-study course and I am preparing for an oral defense. I create a note in Evernote for each chapter. I highlight. I transcribe my highlights into Evernote. I make notes. I memorize. I capture the outline and the best ideas and I interweave them with my own ideas and reactions. I don’t just “read” books. I make them my own and integrate the models and the ideas into the services that I provide for clients. Books are good stuff.)
And now, for the 2010 book list . . . in the order of completion
While there were always plenty of books in the house growing up, I was never a voracious reader. Then, somewhere after college, I got the reading bug. I devoured books — fiction, non-fiction, classics, contemporary — I read them all. I had so much lost ground to make up for. There was one year in my late twenties in which I read fifty books! While I have yet to exceed that high water mark of almost a book a week I continued to read extensively for years.
That is, until Internet came along. My pace of reading dropped to a trickle in the last few years. Between 2004 and 2008 I read less than three books per year, and one year I read only one book. Ouch!
I am proud to report that in 2009 I got my reading mojo back. I read a dozen books this year. I don’t think it is a coincidence that 2009 was also the year that I got a Kindle (even though only half of the books I read were available in Kindle format). In the age of gadgets and electronics, the Kindle has made reading fun again. After almost a decade of wandering aimlessly in the Internet wasteland of too many RSS subscriptions I have rediscovered the depth and quality of well-written books.
Here are the books I read in 2009:
Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they are written.
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I have always been a deliberate reader. When I stumbled across this quote while reading Walden so many years ago, it simply gave me permission to enjoy the pace at which I read. Good writing is more than just conveying ideas or recounting a story. Good writing creates a mood, and images, and evokes emotions — and these cannot be digested while speed reading.
One of my favorite writers is Pat Conroy, and my favorite book of his is Prince of Tides. When I read this poetic prose I am drawn in to the rich and colorful images Conroy is able to create. Every sentence feels like a sculpture carefully crafted.