How many books are in your reading list right now? What about sitting on the shelf, half-read or never begun? If you are anything like us, you'll have several sitting around with great titles like "The courage to be disliked", which we know will be incredibly insightful, but we just haven't got round to it.
Do not beat yourself up about it. Chances are, if you are buying the type of books that help you grow as a person and as a professional, you are already a lifelong learner. That means you are learning and developing all the time, in every conversation, setback and success. And let's face it, the people who write these books are often not the greatest literary talents. Sure, the ideas are dynamite, but what are the chances of being, say, an expert in behavioural psychology and an incredible writer?
Some of these books are not easy to get through, and others need to be read when you are ready to read them, and receptive to what they have to say. With that in mind, here are five books we recommend for the summer that are really well written and also inspire practical improvements in the way we work and live.
We always throw you a curveball, don't we? Blinkist is not a book about someone who needs sunglasses, but is actually an app that summarises so many influential books and podcasts into 15 minutes or less. Take personal development books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, or the 5am club. Blinkist squeezes the juice from these, and gives you it in one refreshing glass of ideas. That is a terrible metaphor, just to remind you how draining it is to read dull writing.
From parenting to communication, mindfulness to Web3, Blinkist condenses the core ideas into something which fits snugly into any part of your routine, whether it's a quick metro journey, or between dips in the sea. Notably, the writing is really good, and holds your attention. If you really like the condensed version, you can go read the unabridged book on your terms. There's something much more conducive to focus and retention of information in that approach, which you rarely get from going in cold to 500 pages of theory.
We'll be honest, this sat on the shelf for a while! We guess that, with all the resistance from the presenteeist culture about moving to a four-day workweek, one which lasts four hours just seemed pie in the sky. That's not really what it is about, however. Really, at its heart, this is a book about rethinking what we value. When we prioritise time as a currency, things begin to shift.
Ferris applies oft-overlooked ideas from forgotten economists, shows you how to reframe the long-haul career leading to retirement idea, and best of all, it is actually quite relatable and accessible to everyone. We can all take something from this, even if it's just a shift in perspective about what we think we have to do, because everyone else is. You'll be easy to spot on the beach reading this, because you will be the person with the facial expression that says "mind blown". You can get a flavour of his ideas in this interview with The Young Turks.
Ok, this is amazing. This is the neutron star of our list, because the matter inside these pages is dense, rich and beautiful. That means slow-going, at least that was our experience. Why? Because every two pages you stop and say "wait...what?!". This book actually charts our evolution, and before you naturally select another article to read, we have to tell you that this is not dry and distantly academic like so many others of its ilk.
Sapiens fuses cutting edge research from psychology, biology, neuroscience, archaeology, geology, and any other -ology you can think of, really, to tell the story of how we got here. There is amazing stuff in here that makes you look around at our world in a new light, and zooms out to give us a perspective we might need as we extricate ourselves from the routine of daily work and start to recapture that lost part of ourselves amid the silence of a sunrise.
Seriously, give it a go, but give it time, and we recommend just diving in and out in short bursts to help absorb the amazing insights it contains.
The life of the entrepreneur is over-romaticised. It is hard, gritty, non-linear, and endlessly humbling. Yes it can be joyful, liberating and life-changing too, but attempts to help us make sense of what it really feels like, have often fallen far short. Not so with this book. Horowitz gives us the soft underbelly of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, in the same way that Anthony Bourdain did for the world of the professional chef.
This is the stuff they never tell you. From losing friends to realising who people really are under pressure. From navigating impossible choices to finding inspiration in the face of absolute chaos, Horowitz lays it all bare with humour, candour, vulnerability and an undertone that somehow helps you reflect on your own journey and invites you to revist unlearned lessons and missed opportunities. If you are already on this path, this book will feel like a confidant. If you are getting started or just thinking about going it alone, then this book will help you do it with eyes wide open.
Have a wonderful summer, whatever books you read, don't read, put aside for later or just use to prop up that wobbly table, the most important thing is that you take care of yourself and find the time to recharge and refocus. If that means reading something inspiring and thought-provoking, then we hope these recommendations have been useful. Happy summer from the NEO team!