- anything...while that sounds silly, the fact of the matter is that most people do not read anything of substance ever in their lives. I recently read that 42% of college graduates never read another book after college...and that 80% of American homes have not purchased or read a book in the last year. If you are part of one of these statistics, it doesn't matter what you read...just start reading
- books on leadership...there are some very fundamental skills, behaviors, and attitudes that go with leading others and reading and thinking about them are the building blocks for one's leadership ability. There are a list of classic texts that all leaders should read, including my top ten that you can find on my blog page. No list is complete, but here is one that includes most of the important leadership texts
- great fiction...reading War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Brothers Karamazov, Great Expectations, Huckleberry Finn, and a host of others not only introduces leaders to some of the most interesting characters in the world, it also provides an introduction to how words, when expertly woven together, can make magic happen. An additional bonus is that leaders can learn more about people and empathy through great fiction than most any other means. Here is one list I would recommend
- poetry...again, it is the use of words that make poetry great and the images that poets can create just by using words. Leaders spend much of their time helping others to capture a vision of what the organization can be, and they often do it through words. If you are new to poetry, here is one place to begin
- philosophy...it is absolutely true that there is nothing new in the world, and when leaders begin digging into the great philosophical texts, they begin to see that everything they have read about leadership up to that point is merely a rehashing of ancient thought. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, and Kierkegaard are but a few of those who have influenced my thinking over time. My top three include Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Ethics, and Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Here is a great place to start.
- great drama...when I began to read the great drama of the world (dating back to the ancient Greeks) I began to realize that I had missed a whole genre that could open my eyes to the ethos and pathos that is human life. Reading Antigone made me rethink how I treat others...reading Death of a Salesman made me rethink how I think about my work...reading An Enemy of the People made me rethink how I come across when fighting for what I believe is right. Here is a list of the top dramas to start reading. And by all means, read all the Shakespeare you can...you will not regret the time spent learning and knowing these works
That's my list...I have some of each on my reading list, including the first category of "anything" ...because I never know what I might find in my local bookstore in Maine.