As of today, I have completed 53 books, more than one book for each week of the year. You can check out all of the books that I read this year on my GoodReads feed.
I worked hard to balance my reading between fiction and nonfiction, even within those categories. In terms of nonfiction, I read books related to my work at D3 (like the Origins of the Urban Crisis), being a more creative and better employee/person/volunteer (Originals: How Non-Conformists Rule the World), and focused on my own spiritual development and understanding.
I wanted to share some of the thoughts I had on the books related to my work at D3. For each, I’ll talk a bit about the book itself and also how it impacted my understanding of the work we do here.
For the Common Good?: American Civic Life and the Golden Age of Fraternity by Jason Kaufman
Having read many of Robert Putnam’s books about the decline of civil society in graduate school, this book allowed me to explore alternate theories of social development. As an analyst at D3, I’m always trying to be open-minded when I’m studying data for observations and outcomes. However, this book helped me remember that I have to continuously work to find the places where my own education might be causing me to miss an alternative theory.
Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves
The book really highlighted the complexities of conversations around income from a middle class American’s perspective. Working in a community like Metro Detroit where income disparities are very stark, the benefits of being even in the upper middle class were well laid out. As I research things like income, poverty, etc., I’m going to try to keep an eye out for differences at different income levels, not just those at the extremes.
The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit by Thomas J. Sugrue
Coming off of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 riots, Sugrue really connected a lot of dots in terms of how the work I do now is necessary, in part, because of historical events. It helped renew my commitment to making sure I speak openly about equity. It also forces me to remember to filter my data analysis through an understanding of historical context, every data point is just that, a point in time and it is partially my responsibility to ensure the story arc is not lost.
While Option B is heavily a personal memoir about the death of her husband, Sandberg and Grant also weave in psychological advice focused on confronting uncomfortable situations in our personal and professional lives. Everything in life can have an Option B, including some of the more complicated research projects I work on. I often struggle with complicated datasets and evolving expectations for results, so I’ve found implementing some of the perspective-changing tips in this book made my work life a little calmer.
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World By Adam M. Grant
Adam Grant co-authored Option B so when I saw this book’s title I knew I had to jump on it. Grant dispels many myths about creative thinking and people who take the risks that change the world. Grant weaves in case studies of innovators who succeed and fail with studies about psychology, business, and more.
Working at D3 is different than my previous jobs. The environment has been carefully crafted to be one where employees feel free to voice dissenting opinions. It was interesting to see so many values and qualities of the D3 work experience reflected in a positive manner in the research. I would be really interested to see what Grant thinks of our intentions to move to an employee-owned cooperative!
While it took me many years to finally accomplish the 50 book challenge, I actually finished the year with 54 books read total! I’m changing it up this year though and focusing on tackling some quality reads (one of the books on my list is over 700 pages!).