Live Your Great Life
John’s Reading List

John’s Reading List

I love to read. Why?

I read to learn.

I read to lead.

And I read for pleasure.

Whether you’re looking to read more or read more thoughtfully, you can find a list of what I’ve read and enjoyed below. Each of these books has contributed to my enjoyable life.

Read to Learn

Learning to learn is one of the most important skills you can develop. Not only is the compound interest of learning to learn outstanding over the course of your life, it improves your ability to lead an enjoyable life. Whatever that means to you.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

I originally came across James’ work years ago but somehow I didn’t ride the initial Atomic Habits wave when it came out. I finally picked it up during the COVID pandemic and it was hugely helpful at a time when I was questioning my identity without my usual routines.

This book helps you reframe your daily habits, specifically the why and how of what you do regularly. If you are trying to learn new habits or stop old ones, you will find great value out of his emphasis that you must connect habits to identities. This is the single biggest lesson for me; you will do the things that align with your chosen identity. Therefore, the best way to change your behavior is to change the way you see yourself.

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday

I’m a big Ryan Holiday fan, in fact I’m probably one of his 1,000 True Fans since I have been following him for 6+ years. Any of his work, online or printed, is great, and I highly recommend you join his reading list as a great way to find new reads. Much of my reading over the years has ben inspired by his recommendations. He emphasizes biographies, character studies, and a note taking system that I’ve adopted in various forms.

Read to Lead

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Leaders by Stephen Covey

If leaders want to lead others, they need to understand themselves, first.

There’s a reason that Seven Habits has stayed relevant 30 years since it’s first publication.

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Jim Collins is a business strategy GOAT. He has sold millions of books and his theories are religion to some business leaders. As a leader who has taught and coached other leaders over decades through his books, speaking, and coaching, it’s reasonable to guess that Jim has influenced over 100 million people over the course of his career.

A great cheat sheet for Jim’s theories is his Concept Map, where you can read short snippets about his theories and see how they fit together in the big picture visually. Jim’s work is a major influence on the work I do and how I do it.

Read for Pleasure

Books give you a chance to escape, to be somewhere else, and to examine the questions of life in an alternative world.

One way I love to read fiction is in bed when I’m ready to go to bed. I’ve conditioned myself for sleep once I’m in bed and reading on my Kindle with the lights off. I’ve even had my Kindle fall on my face before; that’s a good a tell as any I should go to sleep!

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion is one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. I’ve only cried twice while reading a book; besides When Breath Becomes Air by Paul (& Lucy) Kalanithi, Hyperion moved me to tears while reading it. It’s structure is modeled after the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer but in a sci-fi/fantasy setting. There is a great deal of mystery involved and the diverse cast of characters and style of stories told make it a truly enjoyable book. Despite reading Hyperion multiple times, I’ve only read the first of it’s three sequels once.

Dune by Frank Herbert

It’s hard to say things about Dune that haven’t been said before (spoilers inside). It won the first Hugo Award, as well as many others and it’s considered the world’s best selling science fiction novel. Dune probably inspired many of your favorite works (again, spoilers). Herbert blends politics, religion, ecology, technology, and emotion in a deep and multi-layered story that spans millennia, if you choose to explore the sequels.

If you liked Dune, be sure to read the short letter Dune Genesis from Frank Herbert (spoilers inside) where he discusses the themes of Dune and it’s sequels. It’s enjoyable to get inside the head of the author for works you really enjoy, and Frank’s letter is no exception.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas