This morning my friend Justin Foster mentioned Victor Frankel’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. We agreed it’s one of the all time greats – worth reading again and again. That got us talking: of all the books we read, which ones do we come back to repeatedly?

We set ourselves a task: pick five books to re-read each year; five books that are so useful, insightful, and interesting, they warrant a spot on our once-a-year bookshelf:

Here are mine:

  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This is a book about the creative process and effort required to overcome ‘resistance’ – temptations, distractions, fears and weaknesses that prevent us from doing what we set out to do. It is a deep and soulful kick in the ass – a reminder that life is short, so let’s get shit done. Quit talking and thinking and planning and get busy doing.
  • Illusions by Richard Bach. This book reminds me that each of us has the potential to change the world – or better, serve the people around us with love and compassion. It reminds me of all the ways in which I let my desires for safety and approval lead me to a small and fearful life. It reminds me that love – for life, for others, for myself – offers release from the frustration, grief and pain of existence.
  • Sum by David Eagleman. This book is an elegant and cosmic kaleidoscope, offering forty delightful and startling ways of imagining the afterlife – and by extension transformational ways of experiencing this life.
  • Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. This little book is a huge reminder of how much time and effort I spend covering up for how little I know; it reminds me of the power of asking others for help; it pierces my ego and self-regard and reminds me that humility and inquiry are far more powerful leadership skills than vision and expertise.
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White. I make my living through words – writing, speaking, listening, reading. This book has been a constant companion reminding me that the way we assemble words into sentences and paragraphs matters as much as the words themselves. It reminds me how much I can express by saying less. It reminds me to have style – in my writing, and my life.

What’s on your once-a-year book shelf? Which books do you find so useful and inspiring that they’re worth coming back to again and again?

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