Book Review 2013 Blog Post

Reading is key to writing, or so I believe, so 2013 started with a personal goal to read 30 books. I’ve got a few weeks left until the end of the year, and I’m on number 28. I’d like to make a habit of creating a year-end book review to point others in the direction of what reading I found most insightful and meaningful.

The 2013 list:

Topic: Personal Leadership

Choice: First Things First

Blog posts from this year that include excerpts or ideas from this choice:

A Lesson in Personal Leadership 1: Define and Focus on What’s Important

Personal Leadership on Purpose


Topic: Leadership

Choice: The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People

This short gem of a read tells the story of how an MBA professor teaches the lessons of leadership to a student through the analogy of raising sheep. The people you lead are your “flock.”

Quote from the book: “What distinguishes a great leader from the mediocre one is that a great leader has a heart for his people.”

Blog posts from this year that include excerpts or ideas from this choice:

2 Questions for Striving Servant Leaders (this has been our most viewed blog post this year)

Servant Leadership

The Es of Leadership

Runner-Up in Leadership: Leadership and Self-Deception


Topic: Career Development

Choice: The Alchemist

Really a novel, like the choice for the year on leadership, most often the best points about a topic are made through a story. Many lessons on career and life pursuits are interwoven through the story of a young shepherd boy (maybe I have a thing about sheep and shepherds considering this years picks!…) seeking his Personal Legend.

Quotes from the book: “….when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

Blog posts from this year that include excerpts or ideas from this choice:

Are you Offering your Child Gold for Career and College Advice

Topic: Novel

Choice: And the Mountains Echoed

Khaled Hosseini author of The Kite Runner, has an exquisite way of painting the human condition across cultures and economic boundaries. He demonstrates through his storytelling that whether we realize it or not, we are all connected.

Quote from the book: “….one is well served by a degree of both humility and charity when judging the inner workings of another person’s heart.”

Topic: Miscellaneous:

Choice: What I Talk About When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami

Many of you know I run (although much less now and much slower at, currently, six months pregnant). I run for my sanity, as a way to cultivate meaningful relationships with some of those that I love the most, as a way to stimulate my thinking, and as Murakami so poignantly describes in his memoir, running in many ways, is a metaphor for work and life.

Quote: “Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals, and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running and a metaphor for life.”

Our blog post on Thursday of will pull from this book as a reflection on what it means to be a good coach through the perspective of parents taking on the role of coach in helping their kids make wise career and college decisions.

A category all its own:

The Bible– through The Message translation

I took on the 90 Days with the Bible Challenge this summer. No, I did not finish it in 90 days. A beach trip to cap off the end of the summer resulted in catching myself up by reading the entire New Testament (I was really behind), but as a lifelong Methodist I’ll have to admit, I was not taught nor trained to read and study the Bible as much as some other denominations do. Reading the Bible all the way through was something I had to do in order to be able to relevantly understand, question and strengthen my faith.

What I found in reading it through as a story of humanity is that we are all flawed (I couldn’t believe what some of the people in the Old Testament did! But its really not much different than all of us today) and that the best form of redemption, grace, and love has to come in the most unlikely way. Humankind’s paradigm had to be shifted, and God’s love had to come in the form of human relationships in order to truly be made real.

Quote from The Message related to work: From the intro of Nehemiah “Separating life into distinct categories of ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ damages, sometimes irreparably, any attempt at a whole and satisfying life, a coherent life with meaning and purpose, a life lived in the glory of God… the damage to life when separating the sacred from the secular is most obvious when the separation is applied to daily work… work, by its very nature, is holy.” Italics mine

Blog posts from this year that include excerpts or ideas from this choice:

Leadership Lessons from Moses

What was your favorite read of 2013 and why? Please share your favorite quote from the book with us!

Mary Ila Ward

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