My Holiday Reading List 2020

As the weather gets cold and we take time off to share in the holidays, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite books for you to enjoy.

My Holiday Reading List 2020 is a mix of the inspirational and the just plain enjoyable. Typically readings lists are "of the moment". While we have one new book on ours, I've shared some of my favorites and some of the books that have inspired me as an entrepreneur and a leader during this historic year. These are some of the bedrock lessons that have helped guide us through a challenging year. These are books that helped me grow as a leader and a person, or that I have simply enjoyed. All of them are easily available.

I hope you will enjoy these books a much as I have, and I wish you the very best of this Holiday Season.

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

This his probably my favorite book to read, re-read, and quote around the office. Think and Grow Rich is one of the first and still the absolute best among the leadership and motivational books, with approximately 20 million copies in print. It is full of so much great wisdom, I could talk about this book and how much it has impacted my life for days. Think and Grow Rich is encouraged reading at Rubicon. It will change your life.

A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton

I love the late Sue Grafton’s “Alphabet” mysteries. Grafton, a Kentuckian, wrote with a breezy style that is both funny and precise, and her character of detective Kinsey Millhone is a tough, but likeable hardboiled mystery solver. Sadly, Grafton passed away before she could write the final book in the series (her Alphabet ends with Y is for Yesterday), but that still leaves 25 great mysteries that are well-worth reading.

Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business, by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey

I have been so proud that Rubicon is one of the first and largest Certified B Corporations, and that we lead our business with our mission: to end waste. Mackey’s follow-up to the best-seller, Conscious Capitalism, goes deeper into what it takes to lead a values-driven company, like Rubicon or Whole Foods. Mackey's leadership at Whole Foods has been an inspiration and a precursor to how a successful B Corporation is run. From the book: “Capitalism is the greatest thing humanity’s ever done. We’ve told a bad narrative, and we’ve let the enemies of business and the enemies of capitalism put out a narrative about us that’s wrong. It’s inaccurate and doing tremendous damage to the minds of young people. We have to counter that.” I agree.  I can’t recommend this book enough.

This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A disrupter in his own right, Fitzgerald wrote about the American Dream at a time — much like our own — when many were struggling in a challenged economy. He wrote about aspects of the American Dream in all of its forms, and how individual characters seek it, casting his characters as people capable of rising above their station to achieve success on their own terms. This Side of Paradise is his debut novel, and one of my favorites.

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kerns Goodwin 

Framed around Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with three political rivals, Team of Rivals follows Kentucky-born Lincoln from the 1850s through his election to the Presidency and the U.S. Civil war. In this stunning portrait of the man, we see his humanity and grace not just as anecdotes to history, but as the central characteristic that made Lincoln great.

The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Schwartz, PhD. 

Schwartz’s idea that whatever you think, you become, is a powerful antidote to the constant barrage of negativity and uncertainty we face every day. Think big, and you will lead a big life. It sounds so simple, but it really is a powerful way of looking at the world, and it works!

Theodore Rex, by Edmund Morris

In this second installment of Morris’s landmark trilogy on the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt, we see Roosevelt enter the White House as the youngest man ever to assume the office, at 42 years old, and leave it still at the relatively young age of 50. In those eight years, Roosevelt addresses a national act of terrorism, helps build the Panama Canal, wins the Nobel Peace Prize, and establishes America’s great system of National Parks. There is a reason why I consider Roosevelt one of the greatest American Presidents, and this book explains why.

Business at the Speed of Thought, by Bill Gates

Written 20 years ago, Bill Gates’s amazing book about the effects of the internet on business and American life could have been written today. Reading this book reveals exactly why Gates is considered such visionary leader and thinker. It is a must-read for anyone working with information networks, and managing teams online, which, in this time of COVID-19, is almost all of us. The pandemic, especially, has accelerated digitization faster than anyone could have anticipated.

A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe

A Man in Full centers on its main character, Charlie Croker, who has achieved all of his dreams and yet finds himself struggling. As he works to avoid financial ruin, he works within the political and financial systems, navigates complicate race relations, and attempts to run his waning business empire. The book is a masterpiece of American literature, and offers a cross-section of American life in one of my favorite cities, Atlanta, GA, from the perspectives of an assortment of characters from all walks of life.

All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1947, All the King’s Men is Kentucky-born Robert Penn Warren’s incredibly realistic story about the political machinations in the Depression-era Deep South. Loosely based on the larger-than-life United States Senator Huey P. Long, the novel is a fascinating look at rising to power and the toll that takes.

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