My Top Reads of 2014


What did you read last year?

I started 2014 with a hope of focusing more on long reading, rather than merely snacking on blogs and social media. While there’s so much great information available online, focusing on a single book or idea for a longer period is a valuable practice. A more deliberate pace and slower digestion.

But “reading” is a bit of a vague term these days, isn’t it? Looking back, I realize that I only actually read a couple books last year. Most of my “reading” was done aurally, listening to audiobooks.

These days I find that I have little time to actually sit down with a book. But audiobooks have been an absolute lifesaver. Listening to a book on the walk to work or while I’m driving helps me get the most out of those in-transition moments throughout my day. Although audiobooks are miserable for future reference and sharing, listening to a narration helps interact with a book in a different way, all while giving your eyes a break.

Here are some of the best books I read this year.


Die Empty

I really appreciate Todd Henry’s perspective on producing great work. As in his first book, Henry gives great advice for cultivating a creative lifestyle and producing work that you’re proud of. I love how Henry focuses on creating practices and disciplines that help you get your best work out.


The Dip

I listened to this one twice. In typical Seth Godin style, The Dip is a small book containing a big idea. In essence, the people who are the “best in the world” are the ones who stick it out for the long haul, longer than anyone else. If you’re not willing to stick it out through “the dip”, quit now. “You’re here to solve difficult problems. The Dip is the reason you’re here.”


Start With Why

In this great book, Simon Sinek distinguishes what makes people latch onto ideas or products, while ignoring others. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” An essential book for anyone who aspires to leadership, or wants to communicate more effectively.


To Sell is Human

While many have predicted the “death of the salesman”, Dan Pink argues both that traditional sales jobs are still important in our economy, and that more of us than ever are involved in moving people, regardless of our job title. Pink outlines the changing landscape of sales and shows us the skills necessary to move people in today’s culture. This is a great read if you, like me, don’t feel like you’re a “salesperson”.


Creativity Inc.

Pixar Inc. is a unique company whose birth and success relied heavily on both the development of new technologies and the art of great storytelling. In his book, Pixar founder Ed Catmull tells the story of the company’s growth and shares many great lessons learned in developing not just blockbuster films, but a culture of creativity. Insights and great perspective if you’re part of a creative team (or if you want a “grownup” excuse to watch your favourite Pixar films again).


Daring Greatly

Daring Greatly was my favourite of the year. Written on the heels of the overwhelming success of her TED talks, Brené Brown dives into all of the emotional ups and downs that you can relate to if you’ve ever put yourself “out there”. She challenges the culture of shame that’s prevalent in our society, and challenges us to continue to encourage vulnerability in our families and workplaces.

“Vulnerability is the the most accurate measurement of courage.”


Delivering Happiness

Zappos has been hailed as a leader in company culture, and one of the best places to work on the continent. Tony Hsieh, in very real and down-to-earth style, tells the story of his early success as an entrepreneur and how he learned the importance of culture, service and happiness.


An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

Canadians well up with pride at the mention of Chris Hadfield, the country’s foremost astronaut. In his book, Hadfield tells the story of how he, against unbelievable odds, realized his childhood dream and became the first Canadian to walk in space. Along the way he shares great advice for leaders and anyone who wants to realize a big dream. “Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.”

What’s on your reading list for the upcoming year?