Weekend Briefing No. 253

Welcome to the weekend. The last three briefings of the year are going to be a little different than the typical briefing. This week, I’m sharing my favorite books of the year, next week I’ll share my favorite podcasts, then the last week will be my favorite articles. If you have some favorite articles or podcasts, send them my way.

Prime Numbers

123 B – Who said nobody reads anymore? The revenue from the global book publishing market is forecast to slightly increase in the coming years, growing from around $113B in 2015 to $123B by 2020.

67 – Print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 67%of Americans having read a print book in the past year. And while shares of print and e-book readers are similar to those from a survey conducted in 2016, there has been a modest increase in the share of Americans who read audiobooks, from 14% to 18%.

59 – I finished 59 books this year. Here’s a complete list ranked worst to best.

Atomic Habits

The title of this book is as brilliant and essential as the content. The concept is how creating positive habits at the smallest atomic level in your life can compound to make an atomic explosion of change. We’d all like progress in our business, relationships and life to happen overnight, and there are a million books that promise that. But James Clear instead gives us guidance on how to build achievable, replicable habits that lead to enduring positive change. I’ve learned a lot about the power of incremental improvement from this book. If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read to kick off 2019.  Amazon  

New Power

The world seems chaotic. Polls failed to predict that Trump would win. Airbnb is worth more than Hilton. #MeToo is taking down powerful, previously untouchable heads of industry. But when you step back from the chaos, you can notice there’s an underlying force at work: “new power.” By understanding new power you can reshape the world around you. The future is a battle for mobilization. Those who flourish will be those best able to channel participatory energy — for the good, the bad, and the trivial. And this battle will have big implications for people, organizations, and for the world at large. In this indispensable guide to navigating the 21st century, two visionary thinkers reveal the unexpected ways power is changing— and how new power is reshaping politics, business, and life. Amazon

Dare to Lead

Brene Brown’s previous book has had a huge impact on my thinking and relationships. In Dare to Lead, she brings her methodology to the office. Here are a few of the big ideas on being a courageous leader: 1) You can’t be courageous without rumbling with vulnerability and embracing the suck. 2) Self-awareness and self-love matter. 3) Courage is contagious. The skill sets that make up courage are not new; they’ve been aspirational leadership skills for as long as there have been leaders. We just haven’t had the courage for real talk about courage. But it’s time. And if you want to call these “soft skills” after you’ve tried putting them into practice—go for it. I dare you. Amazon

Falling Upward

This book has been the most impactful spiritual book of the year for me – it has given language to my process. In Falling Upward, Father Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or “gone down” are the only ones who understand “up.” What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as “falling upward.” In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain. Rohr offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens – loss is gain. This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more the struggle than by doing right–afresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life. Amazon

The Obstacle is the Way

If you’re feeling frustrated,demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era. The Obstacle is the Way has become a cult classic, beloved by men and women around the world who apply its wisdom to become more successful at whatever they do. The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck. Amazon

Deep Work

One of the most valuable skills in our economy is becoming increasingly rare. If you master this skill, you’ll achieve extraordinary results. Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a superpower in our increasingly competitive 21st-century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep – spending their days instead in a frantic blur of email and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way. Deep Work is an indispensable guide for anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world. Amazon


In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to a secret detachment 2702. Their goal is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy’s fabled Enigma code. Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse’s crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a “data haven” in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy attempts secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty…or to universal totalitarianism reborn. Amazon

Weekend Wisdom

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.George R.R. Martin

About the Weekend Briefing

A Saturday morning briefing on innovation & society by Kyle Westaway– Managing Partner of Westaway and author of Profit& Purpose.

Photo by ThoughtCatalog.