You are what you read (even if you don't read). There is a reason why we look at other people's bookshelves (maybe not for long, with Kindle libraries taking over) - the collection of titles tells us a lot about our hosts' mindset and beliefs, in a kind of intimate way that direct conversations may not immediately reveal. Realizing that you share similar reading interests or even specific books can give you an instant sense of belonging.
Which is not a surprise - if you consider that everything we read, whether it's books, newspaper articles, tweets, papers, and blog posts, shapes how we think, how we perceive the world, what we deem possible, and what we do or don't do. The right book at the right time can help us overcome fears and crises, spark new ideas, kick-off radical life changes, and help us see the world's benignity again after all.
A recent new project idea and the urge to purge and clean my own bookshelves led me to look back on some of my personal reading highlights of the past years. In particular those that had a siginificant influence on my entrepreneurial, creative, and body/movement life. So I thought I might just as well share this highly subjective virtual bookshelf, Kindle editions included, of, approximately, the last five years. This way you get to meet me - and I hope to meet you, too.
So the following a-little-more-than-Top-30 list is not so much a reading recommendation but more of a mindset or philosophy I'd like to share with you; a connection point - and, hopefully, a kick-off to your own list that I would love to see (in the comments or elsewhere).
Here we go!
[If available, I have listed both the English and German titles.]
Entrepreneurship, and how to find and do your own thing:
Dick Richards: Is Your Genius At Work? 4 Key Questions To Ask Before Your Next Career Move [If you, once and for all, want to find the ultimate core guiding light behind your actions, attitudes and your Everything - read and work through this. The result will be two very personal words that will have meaning for the rest of your life.]
Tim Ferris: The 4-Hour-Workweek/Die 4-Stunden-Woche [An absolute CLASSIC with respect to doing your own thing. German readers should read the German edition, as the very helpful resources in the book are adapted to the German-speaking regions.]
Michael E. Gerber: The E-Myth Revisited/Warum die meisten kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen nicht funktionieren (German edition currently available only as audio book, at least at Amazon.de) [THE legendary classic about how to get from freelancing to entrepreneurship.]
Seth Godin: a lot; in particular. The Icarus Deception and Permission Marketing (German edition with the same name) [A thought leader who encourages everyone to shoot for uniquness and a different kind of marketing.]
Seth Godin's Freelancing Course (Webinar) on Udemy: https://www.udemy.com/seth-godin-freelancer-course/
Amanda Palmer: The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help (will be available in German in September 2015) [So impressive with regard to how close you can actually be with your fans and followers. Incredible read. I also recomed Tim Ferris' podcast episode with her: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2015/03/30/amanda-palmer/]
Hélène Grimaud: Lektionen des Lebens - Ein Reisetagebuch (not available in English - but another one of her books is: Wild Harmonies - A Life of Music and Wolves [A worldclass pianist who lives and works with wolves - to me a prime example of following your own path....]
Chris Anderson: The Long Tail - Why The Future of Business Is Selling Less of More (German edition with the same title) [About the "niche-ing" of former mass markets - and what that means for entrepreneurs. Even if you do not work in digital markets of any kind it's still important to understand the consequences.]
Garr Reynolds: presentationzen - Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery/Zen oder die Kunst der Präsentation: Mit einfachen Ideen gestalten und präsentieren [Prior to reading this I thought that you just had to live with PowerPoint bullet points and other presentation terror. No - there is a whole different way. Eye-opening.]
Christopher V. Flett: Business Report: Was Männer Frauen nicht erzählen (Original: What Men Don't Tell Women About Business: Opening Up the Heavily Guarded Alpha Male Playbook) [I wish I had read this book at 20 or so. I probably would not have to work any more.]
Brad Blanton: Radical Honesty - How to Transform Your Life By Telling the Truth/Radikal Ehrlich: Verwandle Dein Leben - Sag die Wahrheit [A refreshing counter point to things like Nonviolent Communication or pretending that everything is ok.]
Simon Sinek: Start With Why/Frag immer erst: warum: Wie Top-Firmen und Führungskräfte zum Erfolg inspirieren [Or maybe it's sufficient to watch his legendary TED talk (which is one of the most viewed in TED history): http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action]
Oliver Burkeman: The Antidote - Happiness For People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking [Wonderfully sobering book for anyone who is tired of Tony Robbins, positive thinking and other chakka-stuff. No, you do not always have to be highly motivated and in a great mood as you walk your onw path - actually it may be quite the opposite: It's all the unspectacular, little everyday steps in tough times that make the difference between succeeding and not succeeding in life.
Susan Cain: Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking/Still: Die Kraft der Introvertierten [This book also followed from a very popular TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts. To me it's an important read which exemplifies how powerful "quiet" can be.]
David Marquette: Turn The Ship Around! A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules [Ok, so if innovative and autonomy-based management concepts can succeed even in the US Army - why not elsewhere??]
Jody Thompson, Cali Ressler: Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it - The Results-Only Revolution/Bessere Ergebnisse durch selbstbestimmtes Arbeiten: Erfolgreich mit dem ROWE-Konzept [I have to confess: This book has radically, once and for all, changed how I think about work, productivity, results and leadership. It deconstructs all the current managment standards and will strip you of any self-delusions you may have left around work-life-balance.]
Doug Kirkpatrick: Beyond Empowerment - The Age of the Self-Managed Organization [If you want to take it one step further: This probably at the highest possible level of employee-centered leadership. It totally inspires me to see what is possible. If you keep at it. Experiment. Weather critics. Believe in your ideas.]
Dan Clements, Tara Gignac: The Practitioner's Journey - The Path to Success for Holistic, Alternativve and Integrative Health Professionals [This is another "manual" on how to get from being a practitioner/studio-owner/self-employed coach to becoming an entrepreneur. And eventually, there is no way around it if you don't want to burn out.]
Personal Finance Management and Money Issues Beyond Old, Self-Sabotaging Beliefs
Barbara Stanny: Prince Charming Isn't Coming - How Women Get Smart About Money/Märchenprinzen warten nicht [This book was my personal kick-off to a new mindset around money and finances.]
Barbara Stanny: Overcoming Underearning - A Five-Step Plan to a Richer Life
The Creative Process And the Resistance that comes with It
Steven Pressfield: The War of Art/Morgen fange ich an....warum nicht heute?
Steven Pressfield: Do The Work
Steven Pressfield: Turning Pro [Steven Pressfield's books have helped me tremendously in becoming aware of the inner resistance that kind of automatically accompany creative and entrepreneurial processes. It's as inevitable and natural as gravity - but you can still climb mountains.]
Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit [A famous choreographer describes her creative approaches. Yes, it's still about 90% perspiration.]
Steve Martin: Born Standing Up [This also revolves around 90% perspiration. Decade-long work in order to get a few minutes of comedy to perfection. I always find it liberating to read about the huge amount of work behind "overnight" success. Plus, I didn't know how good of a writer Steve Martin was!]
Anne Lamott: bird by bird - Some Instructions on Writing and Life (German edition - same title) [One of the timeless classics about the creative writing process, but applies similarly to other creative endavours. If always wanted to write a book or start your own business - you definitely will, after reading this book.]
Tim Ferris: The 4-Hour Body/Der 4-Stunden Körper [Even if you don't like everything that Tim Ferris does - but all these small and big hacks, ideas, and learnings that he extracted from his self-experimentation are in many cases absolutely groundbreaking. Great compilation that let's you pick the areas you want to dive into.]
Norman Doidge: The Brain that Changes Itself/Neustart im Kopf: Wie sich unser Gehirn selbst repariert [Sorry, counter to my introduction - this is an absolute MUST-READ if you ever deal with the body in the slightest way (e.g. if you have one). My most recommended book ever and a hell of a game changer.]
Naomi Wolf: Vagina (German edition - same title) [For women - and for men who want to know more about women. About the crucial role of female sexuality for EVERYTHING else.]
Tim Parks: Teach Us To Sit Still - A Sceptic's Search for Health and Healing/Die Kunst stillzusitzen: Ein Skeptiker auf der Suche nach Gesundheit und Heilung [For men - and for women who want to know more about men. A touching account of a busy alpha male on the search for health and realness.]
Feldenkrais: everything that he has written; in particular: Abenteuer im Dschungel des Gehirns/The Case of Nora, Das starke Selbst/The Potent Self. A Guide to Spontaneity. [I would argue that all "modern" = CNS-integrated/evolutionary/functional movement and training systems can be traced back to Feldenkrais' original thoughts and work. Which preceeded all the recent neuro-scientific evidence, which is in itself remarkable. Fascinating, groundbreaking, even though you have to allow yourself a lot of time to read the book. Well actually not to read the book, but to re-read it, and then re-read it, and then hopefully get a good part of it.] (Little gem for German readers: There is a wonderful German edition of Feldenkrais' most popular book, Body and Mature Behavior - Der Weg zum reifen Selbst. It was translated by Robert Schleip - AND he included updates/new scientifc insights whereever appropriate. It can't get any better.)
Hanns-Josef Ortheil: Die Erfindung des Lebens (unfortunately no English translation available) [I am always fascinated by unconventional healing patterns - and this one is very impressive. A boy who does not speak; a father who observes and experiments with actually quite simple approaches; a boy who suddenly starts speaking and all kind of other interesting stuff.]
Kristine Barnett: The Spark/Der Funke: Die Geschichte eines autistischen Jungen, der es allen gezeigt hat [An autistic boy who does not speak turns to prodigy and groundbreaking scientist: A mother goes beyond standard therapies in order to unlock her son's and many other kids's potential. Her main approach: Find what they love - and that will take care of their weaknesses, too. This book has deeply influenced my own attitude with respect to therapy and rehab.]
Enjoy my bookshelf - and now yours!