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I love to read. I read a LOT of books. And then I try to fumble my way through some of the ideas and suggestions I pick up from books. Here’s a list of some of the books that have inspired me.


Fumbling for Creativity

Soul Fire, by Thomas Ryne – This is one of those books that arrived just at the right time for me.  I was becoming restless in my career (even though I loved it) and that restlessness was turning into a burning desire to dig deeper into my creative energy and forge a new path.  When I read this quote, I knew I’d found just the right book: “At the midstage of life, the impatience of our inner reserve begins to make itself felt in various ways: the sense that we have brought to our present work all that we can and it is time for a new challenge; a vague but pervasive feeling of discontent with the configuration of activities and relationships in our life; a growing desire to step out and allow a recurring fantasy to become a reality.”  This book would benefit anyone who’s exploring their creativity and giftedness, but is especially poignant for those of us in the “over 40” club.

Six Thinking Hats, by Edward de Bono – This is a great book for exploring the ways different people think (represented by different colour hats.  I’ve used this in teambuilding workshops where we’ve practiced trying on each other’s hats to learn more about what it feels like to think differently than we normally do.  It’s a useful tool when you need to brainstorm, or you need a breakthrough when you’re stuck.

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron – This is one of those brilliant, life-changing books that has the potential to change you if you let it.  The first time I read it, I started buying copies for friends.  If you work through some of the exercises (morning pages, artist’s dates), you will unleash your creativity in new and exciting ways.

The Gift, by Lewis Hyde – This book had a dramatic impact on me when I first read it, and it has contributed to some of what I’ve done on this website.  Hyde explores the many ways that gift-giving has a positive transformative affect on a society and the people in that society.  It will open up your thinking and shift things in you if you let it.

Color outside the Lines, by Howard G. Hendricks – This is one of the books I used when I delivered the original creativity workshop that helped me explore “what I wanted to do with the rest of my life”.  It has some useful tools and ideas for nurturing our creativity and using it in positive ways.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – A simple but profound book about how to get past resistance in your creative life. He tells it like it is and gives great practical advice. I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven Pressfield here.

The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp – Twyla is a wise teacher in the ways of creativity. This is less about how to earn a visit from the creative muse and more about the hard work it takes to get the creative muse to stick around for the duration.


Fumbling for Leadership

The Authentic Leader, by David Irvine – I was in a challenging place in my leadership role when a friend recommended this book to me.  It was just what I needed.  It changed the way I lead my team in a really significant way.  Instead of trying too hard to appear competent and knowledgeable, I met with my team and laid my cards on the table.  I told them what I was struggling with, admitted that I wasn’t sure I was the right person to lead them, and asked them to help me find a way out of the dysfunction we’d entered into. It had a transformative affect on me and my team.  It also helped me to further explore my own authenticity in how I was living my life.


Fumbling for Giftedness/Self-discovery

Crossing the Unknown Sea; Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity, by David Whyte – I absolutely loved this book.  It’s another one of those books that arrived just at the right time – when I was contemplating my way forward in my career.  I underlined this quote, because it so clearly described where I was at at the time: “Some have felt eager and engaged by their work for years and then walked into their office one fine morning to find their enthusiasm gone, their energies spent, their imaginations engaged in secret ways, elsewhere.”  This is a great book to read if you want more clarity in your personal calling and giftedness and want to ensure you’re not just showing up at work for the pay cheque at the end of the week.

The Path, by Laurie Beth Jones – This book helped me explore my personal vision and mission statement, and was a big part of the journey that led to this website, to my career, and to the workshops and public speaking I do.  It’s a simple little workbook that asks all the right questions and helps you gain greater clarity and understanding about what you have to offer the world.

Callings, by Gregg Levoy – This is another one of those books that I just couldn’t read without a pen in my hand. Reading it helps you get to the heart of the longing deep inside you that calls you to what you are meant to be doing. It will teach you things about yourself you didn’t know were true.


Fumbling for Words

Bird by bird, by Anne Lamott – I love Anne Lamott and her thoughts on writing are unique, inspiring, authentic, and thought-provoking.  In fact, when I think of an authentic writer, Anne Lamott is the first person that springs to mind.

Your Live as Story, by Tristine Rainer – A great book about writing personal essays and memoir.

Old Friend from Far Away, by Natalie Goldberg – Years ago, my roommate Diana had a book she kept in the bathroom called “Writing Down the Bones”. I’d read it once in awhile, but never got around to trying the great writing exercises in it. Recently I picked up this newer book by Natalie Goldberg and I fell in love in a bookstore in Toronto where I scribbled the first exercise in my journal. It’s full of practical writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing.


Fumbling for Spirituality

Take this Bread, by Sara Miles – This is a wonderful personal memoir about someone who came to faith and a sense of her calling in an unorthodox, unusual way.  Sara Miles is inspiring, personal, and authentic and there is much to learn from her about how we can contribute to the beauty of the world by sharing our giftedness (even when it feels like we’re merely stumbling in the dark.)

Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
– This is one of my favourite books of all time.  Anne Lamott has such a unique, authentic way of telling her story that you can help but be intrigued and drawn t her.

Addicted to Mediocrity, by Frankie Schaeffer
– If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated with how little value religious communities (in this case Christian) place on excellence in the arts, this is an interesting read for you.  Schaeffer challenges those people who take a primarily pragmatic approach to faith and ignore the search for beauty and creativity.


Fumbling for Justice/Global issues

Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibagiza – This is a stunning personal account of surviving the Rawandan genocide and emerging with remarkable faith and the ability to forgive. It will inspire you to dig deeper into your own personal strength to find ways that you can serve the cause of justice.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah
– This personal account of growing up with the horrors of war and surviving the brutality and manipulation of being forced to serve as a boy soldier will shock and inspire you all at once.

Everything Must Change, by Brian McLaren On those days when you’re faith is wobbly because you see too  much damage being done to God’s beloved planet and people – often in the name of faith – this is the kind of book that will give you hope. Brian McLaren talks about the tough stuff (the destructive direction we are heading with over-consumption, conflict, and the evils that are being done to our planet), but then he offers a message of hope and transformation.  I’ve met Brian McLaren several times and even had the chance to interview him in my day job. 


Fumbling for Wisdom

The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, by Barry Schwartz – This is one of those books that often comes up in conversations for me.  It has changed the way I communicate, the way I face major decisions, and the way I look at marketing.  Schwartz believes that we are often paralyzed by the over-abundance of choices in modern society (think about the last time you had to choose a breakfast cereal from the 75 choices on the wall).  For greater contentment, he suggests, we need a balance – just enough options, but not too many.

The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell – I’ve read several of Gladwell’s books, but this is still the one that sticks in my mind the most.  It’s an interesting exploration of how trends emerge and how things go from just someone’s good idea to spreading like wildfire.

I Thought it was Just Me (but it isn’t), by Brene Brown – When I first picked up this book, I thought “it’s not really that applicable – I don’t deal with a lot of shame”. But I picked it up anyway because it intrigued me.  Boy was I wrong!  Brown’s exploration of how shame keeps us from fully experiencing life and all its goodness is powerful, personal, and life-changing.  Her suggestions for shame resilience will help you address things you didn’t even have names for.

Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, by Chip and Dan Heath – I first learned about this book when I attended a workshop put on by Chip Heath (they’re brothers) at a fundraising conference in Dallas.  If you ever have a chance to see their presentation, I’d recommend it.  These guys know how to make messages stick! I remember more of their presentation than most of the hoardes of presentations I’ve seen over the years.  The book is equally memorable.  They explore why so many urban legends stick in our mind when so much more useful information disappears

Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally, by Patti Digh – This book feels like a conversation with a trusted friend. Patti Digh is a master at living life with her heart and eyes wide open. Her wisdom, compassion, and generosity shine through the pages of this book. She’s also one of my favourite people to follow on Twitter.

Ordinary Sparkling Moments, by Christine Mason Miller – There’s an interesting story about how I got my hands on this book here. I read most of it on the plane on the way home and it felt less like reading and more like savouring a tasty treat. Through the pages of her beautiful book, I felt like Christine had become a trusted friend on my journey.

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