My bookshelf

My bookshelf

So much to learn, so little time…

Books are food for our thoughts, and our thoughts inspire our conversations. I share with you a selection from my bookshelf below and I invite you to join me in stimulating conversation. If you have thoughts on these books or others that should be on the list, I welcome your comments.

Books I have blogged about

Blogging about what I read helps me to know the material enough to be able to have a conversation about it. Even then, I don’t always remember what I write, but at least I now have somewhere where I can recall what I was thinking at the time I read the book.

Tuesdays with Morrie
by Mitch Albom
A real-life tale of the most important middle-age conversation we can have. A must-read for anyone thinking about, experiencing, or recalling mid-life. I wrote an overview here: Conversations with your future self in your own Tuesdays with Morrie.
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
by Nelson Mandela
A clear, detailed and authentic depiction of Nelson Mandela’s journey of a life as a freedom fighter. I captured some thoughts on application for personal freedom in Seven lessons in personal freedom from Nelson Mandela.
M. K. Gandhi: An Autobiography: Or, the Story of My Experiments With Truth
by M. K. Gandhi
I love Gandhi’s notion of life as an experiment. I wrote about it here: Three lessons from Gandhi’s experiments in truth.
The Power of Appreciative Inquiry: A Practical Guide to Positive Change
by Diana D. Whitney, Amanda Trosten-Bloom
A comprehensive review. Along with the The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook, one of the few books you will need if you are looking at introducing AI to your approach. I borrowed from the book for my post on the 8 principles of Appreciative Inquiry.
Mindfulness for Life
by Stephen McKenzie, Craig Hassed
The first few chapters provide a clear articulation of mindfulness, followed by practical application to 20 life situations such as depression, addiction, sports and careers. I borrowed many thoughts from the book for a post on mindfulness here: Mindfulness defined: A resolution to consider
by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
What does it mean to really enjoy life? Mihaly asked this same question of thousands of research participants. His results contributed to his notion of “Flow” and my blog posts here: Flow on Sideways Thoughts
Understanding Careers: The Metaphors of Working Lives
by Kerr Inkson
An exceptional book that uses theory to walk through the different perspectives we can take on careers. The book was recommended to me by a career expert who I sourced in my post about finding meaning in uncertainty. The book inspired my subsequent posts about whether we choose our careers, the stages we go through in our careers, different skills proven to help us in our careers, and our different career personality types.
Fierce Conversations
by Susan Scott
“Every conversation we have is with ourselves, and sometimes it involves others.” Scott highlights how the fierce conversation we have is as much with ourselves as it is with others. You can read more in the series I did here: Fierce Conversations on Sideways Thoughts
The Bass Handbook of Leadership
by Bernard M. Bass
An almost three inch thick book of applied leadership theory. A fantastic reference point for anyone who is intentional about studying leadership. I used the book an my analysis of leadership styles here: Autocratic versus Democratic leadership: Are you the right tool for the right job?
Christi-Anarchy: Discovering a Radical Spirituality of Compassion
by Dave Andrews
I had the honour of meeting author Dave Andrews and hearing his own account of his journey to radical community engagement. I wrote about the experience here: A transforming evening with TEAR and Dave Andrews: Commercial lessons from a community radical
Readings and Cases in Sustainable Marketing
by Clare D’. Souza
A casebook highlighting the field of sustainable marketing for both social good and organizational success. And I had one of my research projects published in it, which I share about here: I’m published! My Pizza Personality in Readings and Cases in Sustainable Marketing: A Strategic Approach to Social Responsibility
Religions, Values and Peak Experiences
by Abraham Harold Maslow
Maslow’s work in this book focuses more on the concept of peak experiences than on his more popular hierarchy of needs. I outline what he defines as the attributes of the peak experience here: Maslow versus the world: Self-actualisation and peak experiences through something outside of ourselves
by Daniel H. Pink
Motivating ourselves and others comes down to three principles: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. Pink provides powerful evidence that the carrot and stick of rewards and punishment to motivate people is not effective. I did a blog post on it here: A Drive with Daniel Pink through autonomy, mastery and purpose: Why do we continue to get motivations so wrong?
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose
by Jagdish N. Sheth, Rajendra S. Sisodia, David B. Wolfe
Organisations that stand for more than profit are more sustainable in the long run. This fact has a hard time filtering through the noisy demand for short-term results. I share my thoughts about this paradigm here: My frustration with Firms of Endearment: Shame, meaning, and action
The Shame of Reason in Organizational Change
by Naud van der Ven
A deep read on the philosophical side of change. Change often happens only when we are confronted with the “Other”, which is something so different to our current situation that we have no choice but to become unsettled and consider change. You can read more here: Change with meaning: Levinas on the il-y-a, The Other, hypostasis, and a new representation
Organizational Change
by David Collins
This book will resonate with anyone who is critical (and perhaps cynical) of the plethora of authoring management gurus and quick-fix n-step approaches to organisational change. I share Collins’ perspective in my post here: David Collins’ formula for a guru change model: “n-steps” to doubling a digital agency
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
by Stephen R. Covey
One of the first management books I encountered early in my career that shows what we mean by effectiveness and leadership. I did a series on how it applied to my time as a manager of a digital studio here: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People on Sideways Thoughts
The Philosophy and Practice of Coaching: Insights and issues for a new era
by David B. Drake, Diane Brennan, Kim Gortzr
Seventeen articles that provide great perspectives on coaching. I particularly appreciated the approach to using appreciative inquiry and narrative psychology, which I applied to our engagement with social media in my post here: The stories we tell: Social media as narrative psychology
Prayer: Does it make any difference?
by Philip Yancey
I read Yancey’s book following the responsse to the tragedy of the Japanese tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster. I share my thoughts here: Japan’s earthquake and tsunami: On prayer, Twitter, and tweeted prayers
Contemporary Social Psychological Theories
by Peter James Burke
This is an academic text, but it is a great summary of theories about the how and why we interact with each other and view ourselves. The book expanded my notion of identity and in particular the concept of how we perceive reality through our communication using symbolic interactionism: Symbolic Interactionism on Sideways Thoughts
Organizational Culture and Leadership
by Edgar H. Schein
The book that opened my eyes to what we mean by organisational culture. I give a summary and apply it to the notion of shadow cultures that exist in organisations here: Edgar Schein on Sideways Thoughts
The Art of Leadership
by George Manning
One of the books for my Masters’ leadership course. It is filled with practical self-assessments and models to assess your own leadership approach. I shared a couple of these models when I was going through the course: The diagram for organisational success (and confusion, anxiety, gradual change, frustration, and false starts) and Leadership questions to remember: 10 qualities that mark a leader and help influence the leadership process

Other books I have read

This is not an exhaustive list, but what is currently on my bookshelf from a a few years of reflection. A few may make their way into blog posts, all inform my thinking in some way.

Books about other’s stories

Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning
by Viktor E Frankl
Viktor Frankl, Jewish philosopher and holocaust survivor, took nine days after the war to capture his reflections. After facing the horrors of the German camps, his primary thought was that man’s search for meaning is his primary motivation in life. The book holds powerful lessons that no matter the situation, we always have control over our response.

Personal and professional development

Corpus RIOS: The How and What of Business Strategy
by Christopher John Tipler
Corpus RIOS makes the case for a new way of strategic planning and provides a a clear path forward. Part of what I see as a new wave, supported by concepts related to Appreciative Inquiry.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works
by A.G. Lafley, Roger Martin
Strategist Roger Martin and Procter & Gamble CEO A. G. Lafley team up to share insights from P&G’s success through a lens of a strategic planning model.
Authentic Happiness
by Martin E. P. Seligman
Martin Seligman, pioneer in “flexible optimism” and learned behaviour, is one of the founding leaders in what is now known as positive psychology. He shares his research-based perspective and scientifically defines what makes us authentically happy.
The Medici Effect
by Frans Johansson
A great summary of innovation. In particular, innovation happening at the cross-section of disparate concepts, and the need for successful execution in the right audience.
Team Roles at Work
by R. Meredith Belbin
The book contains the complete descriptions of the Belbin team roles to provide an understanding of how to analyse teams and then maximise output by using each member’s strengths. A good reference point for anyone taking teams tough the assessment, but unfortunately the book does not contain the assessment itself.
Please understand me
by David Keirsey
Describes sixteen basic personality types, argues that people try to reshape their spouses, children, friends, and coworkers into models of themselves, and discusses different styles of leadership. Very much aligned with the popular MBTI, and contains the assessment in the book.
Go Put Your Strengths to Work
by Marcus Buckingham
Buckingham’s book is a practical application of Seligman’s research. The book provides instruction on how to discover and use strengths to find jobs appropriate to your strengths and achieve success in the workplace. Having a basis of Flow and Seligman’s work helps put the material in perspective.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
by Patrick Lencioni
By using parable, Lencioni outlines what the five dysfunctions of a team can look like. It is easy to see others in his narrative, slightly less comfortable to see ourselves.
by Gregg Thompson
A practical coaching framework that focuses on three aspects of the coaching relationship: earning the right to coach, a perfect partnership, and dangerous conversations. A good model for anyone who is in a position of helping someone else realise their potential in a one-on-one relationship.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
by Eric Ries
An exceptional book with application beyond the technology startup scene. The principles can be applied to any situation that requires rapid and dynamic change in uncertain and complex environments.
How to Practise: The way to a meaningful life
by Dalai Lama XIV Bstan-ʼdzin-rgya-mtsho
A how-to guide that walks you through the three practices of morality, concentrated meditation, and wisdom. You don’t have to be a Buddhist (I am not) to get value from the sections on morality and meditation. It gets both philosophical and spiritual as it talks about wisdom and emptiness, but there is plenty to apply for anyone searching for meaning.
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action
by Simon Sinek
I struggled to get through this one. The writing I found to be rambling and repetitive and the approach overly reductionist. The book used a simple premise to explain away the complexities behind organisational success or failure and the psychology and sociology behind human motivation. I was disappointed because I believe in the underlying principle that personal and organisational purpose drives long-term success and effectiveness. Start with Why, but please follow it up with supporting structure and rigor.


The Natural Advantage of Nations
by Michael Harrison Smith
This book helped frame my perspective on the case for environmental sustainability when I worked at the Environmental Protection Agency. The book is an excellent frame for balancing Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market, the need for innovation, and the role of government as a facilitator and regulator in a free economy.
Believing Cassandra
by Alan AtKisson
Cassandra was the daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy. Apollo bestowed upon Cassandra a special gift–the ability to see the future. But when she refused his favors, he twisted her gift with a curse that caused those who heard what she had to say to not believe her. The parallels are obvious for those concerned about the environment. Required reading when I was at the EPA and anyone who feels they are shouting in the wind.

Reference books

The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change
by David Cooperrider
Exactly what the title says, a handbook complete with sample interview guides and worksheets. Very practical, this plus The Power of Appreciative Inquiry will be what you need if you are a manager, coach, or change practitioner looking to incorporate AI principles into your approach.
Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change
by Diana Whitney, David Cooperrider
Written by the originators of Appreciative Inquiry, this is a great succinct handbook that will get you quickly up to speed on the concept in under 100 pages.
Locating the Energy for Change: An Introduction to Appreciative Inquiry
by Charles Elliott
An excellent introduction to Appreciative Inquiry that gives the theory as well as practical thought process behind it and a step-by-step approach. The book breaks down what happens in organisations when we project our view of the world, be it positive or negative. I also appreciated how the book positioned AI as vitally important but not a cure-all: “Appreciative inquiry is a tool of organizational and community development; it is not a substitute for management.”
Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic
by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
I picked this up as the text for a Massive Open Online Course I participated in on how to analyse arguments. It is what the title says it is, a way to analytically dissect an argument. I didn’t get through the MOOC and skimmed past much of the book. It is good for those who want to critically dissect what other people say, which at this time is not me.
Harvard Business Review on Teams that Succeed
by various authors
A collection of eight HBR articles on successful teams from 2004. Easy to digest, you can’t help but take away one or two nuggets to apply to your situation.
Writers on Organizations
by Derek S. Pugh
Who has said what about organizations and their management? This handy compendium gives easy access to the principal ideas of the leading authorities. Brief, clear resumes bring out the main thrust of their thinking. A great quick reference for anyone ding management studies.
Abolishing Performance Appraisals
by Tom Coens
The authors separate the five discrete functions of appraisal: coaching, feedback, compensation, employee development, and legal documentation and clarify the objectives of each. They are very critical of the track record of appraisals. I used their step-by-step process for designing an alternative approach as a basis for a proposed coaching framework. Still leaves a few questions unanswered, but starts the conversation.
Social Identity Processes in Organizational Contexts
by Michael A. Hogg
A series of fifteen academic articles that clearly define individual and group identity in organisations. Makes you realise the answer to the question “Who am I?” largely depends on who I am with at the time.
Institutions and Organizations
by W. Richard Scott
We often refer to people who are ingrained in a way of doing things as being “institutionalised”. All groups of people have an aspects of an institution, The book looks at what this means from different levels of values and roles that emerge in an institution.
Organizational Change Theories
by Christiane Demers
The book is an academic literature review written for academics. It contains all the information about different approaches to change, but most would struggle for practical application. It is what it sets out to be, a synthesis of theories over time.

Academic text books

Global diversity management
by Mustafa Özbilgin
The text for my course on diversity. It touches on most aspects of the topic with case studies. I used one of the chapters as one reference for my post on gender inequality in Australia: Gender inequality in Australia: It’s alive and well, mate
Organisational Behaviour on the Pacific Rim
by Steven McShane
Standard academic text book, a little about everything. By the time it came across my curriculum, it was perhaps a little too little on many things but I can see how it might be a good introduction.
Modern Social Theory
by Austin Harrington
I have a soft spot for this one, my first introduction to social theories. The book opened my mind to thoughts from Kant, Marx, Voltaire, Nietzsche, and more. Easy to digest and opens the door to further investigation.
by Paul Davidson, Ricky W. Griffin
My first book when I started my Master’s path. I felt my mind explode and my world open. Others I am sure do not share my experience with academic text books. That’s OK, it was good for me.
Managing change in organizations
by Colin A. Carnall
A thorough overview of organisational change. Accessible coverage of leadership, management, theories, strategy, and process, with case studies to support. I wonder is all the popular management books on change could be distilled into a half dozen academic texts.

Books in the queue

I have a long list of books beckoning me from their place on my bookshelf. I have picked a few nuggets from each over the years, but I have yet to fully lose myself in their pages. Over time, I expect the list below will grow faster than the list above.

The Enneagram: A Journey of Self Discovery
by Maria Beesing, Robert J. Nogosek, Patrick H. O’Leary
The Enneagram is a most helpful instrument in assisting persons to see themselves in the mirror of their minds, especially to see the images of personality distorted by complusions and other basic attitudes about self.
Discovering Your Personality Type: The Essential Introduction to the Enneagram
by Don Richard Riso, Russ Hudson
Discovering Your Personality Type is the book readers need in order to begin to see the possibilties made available by understanding personality types.
The Enneagram
by Helen Palmer
Written by the leading world authority on the Enneagram, it offers a framework for understanding ourselves and those around us, as well as a wealth of practical insights for anyone interested in psychology, counselling, teaching, social …
The Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide
by David Daniels, Virginia Price
In this book, Stanford University Medical School clinical professor of psychiatry David Daniels and counseling psychologist Virginia Price offer the only scientifically developed Enneagram test based upon extensive research combined with a …
Principles of the Enneagram
by Karen Webb
Explains how the enneagram model works, the characteristics of the nine personality types, how to recognize personality types in others, and how to apply the model to personal growth.
Nine Lenses on the World: The Enneagram Perspective
by Jerome Peter Wagner
Nine Lenses on the World: the Enneagram Perspective describes nine personality styles each with its own way of looking at and responding to the world.
Understanding Nietzscheanism
by Ashley Woodward
This book charts Nietzsche’s influence, both historically and thematically, across a variety of disciplines and schools of interpretation. It provides both an accessible introduction to Nietzsche’s thought and its impact and an overview of …
The Nature Of Moral Reasoning
by Stephen Cohen
The author discusses landscape, or environment, in which moral reasoning occurs, and the ingredients which play roles in the activity of moral reasoning.
by Paul R. Lawrence
Through an examination of people in the workplace, this book offers a look at the four factors that drive human beings and lead them to the choices that they make.
The Prince and Other Writings
by Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince and Other Writings, by Niccolo Machiavelli, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and …
Heuristics and Biases
by Thomas Gilovich
This 2002 book compiles psychologists’ best attempts to answer important questions about intuitive judgment.
Cognitive Illusions
by Rüdiger F Pohl
Cognitive Illusions investigates a wide range of fascinating psychological effects in the way we think, judge and remember in our everyday lives. At the beginning of each chapter, leading researchers in the field introduce the background to …
Choices, Values, and Frames
by Daniel Kahneman
An approach to the understanding of human decision making.
The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making
by Scott Plous
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF JUDGMENT AND DECISION MAKING offers a comprehensive introduction to the field with a strong focus on the social aspects of decision making processes. Winner of the prestigious William James Book Award, THE PSYCHOLOGY OF JUDGMENT …
How to Win Every Argument
by Madsen Pirie
Deals with one fallacy, explaining what the fallacy is, giving and analysing an example, outlining when/where/why the particular fallacy tends to occur and finally showing how you can perpetrate the fallacy on other people in order to win an …
Stumbling on Happiness
by Daniel Gilbert
In this fascinating and often hilarious work – winner of the Royal Society of Science Prize 2007 – pre-eminent psychologist Daniel Gilbert shows how – and why – the majority of us have no idea how to make ourselves happy. We all want to be happy, but do we know how? When it comes to improving tomorrow at the expense of today, we’re terrible at predicting how to please our future selves.
The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success — No Nonsense, No Excuses
by Linda Galindo
With the toughest economic downturn in recent history, the issue of accountability has taken center stage. However accountability is often confused with punishment, fault, blame and guilt. In this book, the author argues that the only true accountability is “personal accountability” and the only…
QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life
by John G. Miller
This remarkable and timely book provides a practical method for putting personal accountability into daily actions, with astonishing results: problems are solved, internal barriers come down, service improves, teams thrive, and people adapt…
The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application
by Bruce Peltier
In this updated edition, topics reflect the latest developments in the field of executive coaching. Peltier describes several important psychological theories and how to effectively translate them into coaching strategies; essential business lessons in leadership…
Change 101: A Practical Guide to Creating Change in Life Or Therapy
by William Hudson O’Hanlon
Drawing on thirty years of clinical experience, Bill O’Hanlon–one of psychotherapy’s most innovative practitioners and teachers–examines this simple yet often elusive aspect of successful therapy: change…
The Diary of a Young Girl
by Anne Frank
One of the most famous accounts of living under the Nazi regime of World War II comes from the diary of a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, Anne Frank…
Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance
by Ferdinand Schlingensiepen
A new comprehensive biography of this hugely important Christian martyr, 60 years after his execution at the hands of the Nazis…
Made for Goodness: And why this Makes All the Difference
by Desmond Tutu, Mpho A. Tutu
In Made for Goodness, Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains that, though we sometimes act out of depravity and despair, we do know in our heart of hearts that we are not as we were meant to be, and were created to be so much more. The truth of human goodness can get hidden under the fear that we cannot live up to its demands, or it can get buried under faults or failures, or it can just get forgotten….
The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde’s only novel, a classic instance of the aestheticism of the 19th century English literature. Dorian is what I would like to be ? in other ages, perhaps, said Oscar Wilde describing this novel. Basil Hallward is what I think I am. Lord Henry is what the world thinks I am…
Watership Down: A Novel
by Richard Adams
A phenomenal worldwide bestseller for more than forty years, Richard Adams’s Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home…
The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living
by Russ Harris
Popular ideas about happiness are misleading, inaccurate, and are directly contributing to our current epidemic of stress, anxiety and depression. And unfortunately, popular psychological approaches are making it even worse! In this easy-to-read, practical and empowering self-help book…
Expressive Drawing
by Steven Aimone
The many people who long to draw—but feel too intimidated to try—will rejoice at the wonderful first entry in this brand-new creative series. Written by arts educator Steven Aimone, it’s packed with solid, friendly, hands-on instruction, as …

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