Tag Archives: Seth Godin

LSS: Summer reading recommendations

Memorial Day weekend marks the official opening of summer reading. Whether you’re a voracious reader and can’t find enough to fill your appetite or you approach it much like the vegetables of childhood — something you have to do begrudgingly, I’ve tried to read a real variety to vouch for good stuff in different genres. I’ve read a number of other so-so books lately (The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout), but those on the list below rise to the top. Here are some recommendations, both new and old.

Fiction:

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — Such a fun read. About more than a funky bookstore. Much food for thought about technology, the love of reading and the risk of technology to isolate rather than bring people together, but basically it’s just a beautifully written and lovely story. Techy 20-somethings rejoice. This is your book.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Sometimes this book’s writing took my breath away. The story isn’t exactly uplifting, but it is a lovely tale of love, loss and New York City.

Fall of Giants and Winter of the World by Ken Follett. If you like history, historical fiction or great storytelling, you’re going to be absorbed by Follett’s Century trilogy. They’re big, but you have the luxury of staying with the books long enough to really feel like you’re a part of the story. I’ve recommended Fall of Giants before, but I am happy to do so again. The books tell the stories behind World War I and II. Both gave me an understanding of the war’s absurdities. Winter of the World also offered insight into life inside Germany during World War II. Yes, the stories are fiction, but Follett’s research is remarkable. I am not a war buff, but I loved reading these books.

Personal favorites I’ve recommended before: The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (three very different book types — all beautiful in their own way)

Young adult:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. One of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I’ve read in a long while. It leaves an impression and is sure to be a blockbuster movie. Read now and get ahead of the trend.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai. A lovely book, set between Vietnam and the Deep South. It is the story of one child’s transition and grief in the beginnings of war in Vietnam and her subsequent a trip across the world to rebuild a new life with her family and eventual new friends. A beautiful story, written in simple, poetic language. An easy read for children 8 and up.

These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine by Nancy Turner. One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in the last few years. Don’t let the dialect in the beginning discourage you. The difficult vernacular goes away, and the reading experience becomes smoother. Great book for teenage girls.

Non-fiction:

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. Even though we may not love the book or agree with the details of her ideas, the book has prompted a lot of great conversation about women rising in the ranks of the business world.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m the only person I know who didn’t love this book, but I still recommend it. Based on Louis Zamperini, born in 1917, and his incredible story of running in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and fighting in World War II. He has led a life stranger than fiction and survived more near death experiences than any cat around. Great book for adolescent boys and their fathers.

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin. I love Seth Godin, his thought processes and his books. Overall, he’s got a huge message on business and living. This book is about not holding back and being the most you can be. In other words, follow Icarus’ lead and dare to fly closer to the sun. Your wings won’t melt. If you’re in the working world or aspire to be, you should read this one.

And if you’d like a taste of poetry, check out Darrell Bourque’s new collection of Acadian migration inspired work, Megan’s Guitar.

Happy reading!

LSS: New songs to sing

When I was growing up and playing the piano for at least 30 minutes every day, I had one book of classical music issued by my piano teacher — and that was what I played. Every. Single. Day.

When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher asked if I’d like a book with all the music to The Sound of Music.

Can you say joy?

For a girl largely focused on words, playing something with lyrics was like a dream come true. Of all the songs in that book, my favorite to play and sing started off with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things.

Taking my cue from Julie Andrews in a dress made of drapes, I proceeded (and continue) to live my life based on the philosophy of focusing on favorite things.

These days, if I were singing that song honestly, I’d have to add finding people or writers who challenge me and make me think — especially in new and different ways to the list of my favorite things.

Last summer I discovered a non-fiction writer to add to my ever-growing list. His name is Seth Godin, a best-selling author who Business Week called “the ultimate entrepreneur for the Information Age.” His daily blog posts are inspiring and sometimes transformative. About a month ago, I opened his blog to see that he was having a two-day workshop in New York City. Just like that, I thought, “Why not go? It’s bound to be interesting.” I knew it was a place I was supposed to be.

I went and it was.

He talked about many of the themes of his books, but he also answered a lot of specific questions from workshop participants. So, while I’ll encourage you to go if it’s something that suits you, I’ll also share the major tidbits I walked away with:

– Share as much as you’re able.

– Lots of people say, “Do what you love.” Seth recommends, “Loving what you do.” And there’s a big difference. In my opinion, the ability to love what you do is often the difference in living a happy life.

– Stop waiting for other people to pick you. Pick yourself. The Internet allows the possibility to do that in a way that’s never been available to a society before. Even though we are hardwired to want to be picked, in today’s world, there’s not an advantage to getting picked.

– For something to be great and worth of people loving it, someone’s got to hate it too. Implicit in connecting to an individual’s worldview is that you can’t talk to everyone.

– Resist the temptation to persuade the haters who don’t get it.

– Almost no one wants to admit they’re wrong, but they can allow new information to change their minds.

– Leaders change the stories people tell themselves.

– The industrialist mindset doesn’t work anymore.

– We all need to find more opportunities to say, “This might not work.”

– Ideas aren’t scarce. What’s scarce is getting difficult work done.

– Secrecy is a false promise that makes you feel secure until it doesn’t.

– Deep is way higher yielding than wide.

– Most people feel like a fraud. The alternative to feeling like a fraud is to do nothing. The real question is, “Is your story authentic?”

– The way you take something out of the pricing of commodities is to sell it to people who care. Find people who care more about what you do than they care about their money.

– It’s easier to change you than change the marketplace.

– Be vulnerable.

Another of my favorite things is jolting my system to get geared up and moving. Seth’s workshop was just the thing for that. And, as great as he was, the new people I met and exchanged ideas with were equally inspiring. Surrounded by creative, hard-working people on a mission provided me new motivation and information to get my ducks in a row.

Just what I needed.