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2020 Book Reading List

I used to be a prolific reader. Books were an integral part of my life and it wasn’t unusual for me to churn through at least one, sometimes two books in a week. But, along came smartphones, social media and digital distractions which increasingly began to consume my attention, without any obvious benefit other than the addiction of the dopamine high.

In 2020 I’m going to reclaim my love of reading. To focus my attention span on text that’s longer than a caption and more meaningful than a few sentences strung together and posted online with some hashtags to round it out. Reclaiming this love has been a little more difficult than I expected, as I’ve come to learn over my Summer holiday. The intention is strong but it seems my brain has grown so accustomed to short form text that churning through a book in a couple of days isn’t likely. Although, setting a steady pace for this goal is one that I’d be most happy with.

My goal for the year is to read 15 books. It seems like such a low number but one I hope is achievable. And, I hope by focusing on this goal I’ll reduce stress; improve my memory, focus, concentration and vocabulary; gain knowledge and indulge in a little escapism.

Below are the books I’ve earmarked to read in 2020. No doubt, as I get back into the swing of making reading a book a priority, the list will grow.

2020 Book Reading List

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow 

I’ve chosen this book to kick-start my reading goal as a number of friends and colleagues have recommended the book. And, it seems to have all the mix of things that appeal to me for an entertaining read: true crime, celebrity, power and espionage.

Pulizter Prize winning journalist and author, Ronan Farrow (son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen), uses his investigative skills to expose abusers from Hollywood to Washington, the most notable being Harvey Weinstein. Exposure of Weinstein’s abuse of women, which spanned multiple decades, was the catalyst to the #metoo movement.

It’s been an outstanding selection for my Summer holiday read and I know this book is going to set a high benchmark for the year.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Dr Amantha Imber, organisational psychologist, best-selling author, and Founder of leading consultancy firm, Inventium has taught me a great deal about productivity and focused work. Some of Dr Imber’s work draws on the deep work principles in Professor Newport’s books. I’d like to expand my learning around deep work and how to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks, so this read is high on my list for professional development.

What do we want? The story of protest in Australia by Clive Hamilton, Germaine Greer (Contributor)

Activism has played a major role in ending slavery, challenging dictatorships, protecting women, the environment, opposing racism and many other issues.

The more I learn about the inherent failure of governments’ failure to take meaningful action towards correcting impeding catastrophic injustices towards people, animals and the planet; the more activism and social justice becomes important to me.

This book explores the big social movements that defined modern Australia: from woman’s right to vote, peace, environmental action and more – protests have defined the ugliness of society and caused defining shifts in social attitudes.

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
I don’t care to admit I’ve not read any books by Brene Brown, nor watched her TED talk or The Call to Courage on Netflix.  Many who know me have suggested Brene’s work would resonate with me, so it seems timely to include one of her books on my 2020 list. I’ve chosen to start with Dare to Lead, as the intention of the book is to encourage us “to dare greatly, rise strong and brave the wilderness”. The themes of staying curious, aligning power with accountability and choosing courage over comfort excite me and this is a book I’m very much looking forward to starting.

Stop Fixing Women: Why Building Fairer Workplaces is Everyone’s Business by Catherine Fox

Catherine Fox is one of Australia’s leading experts on leadership, the future of workplaces and the status of women. In three plus decades of journalism and advocacy, Catherine Fox has had a stellar career with numerous awards and roles to reflect her expertise and experience.

I’ve had the good fortune to hear Catherine speak a number of times and I purchased this book after hearing her speak in late 2019.  Gender equality continues to be a systematic problem women face in the workplace. This book looks at fixing the system, rather than women.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
An iconic woman of modern times, Michelle Obama’s down-to-earth approach to one of the most powerful positions in the world is one I feel we can all learn from. Her capacity for grace, compassion, composure, humour, style and leadership through triumph and disappointment surely contains lessons for us all – regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum.
Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport
Such is my confidence in Cal Newport’s teachings, I’ve included two of his books on my reading list for 2020. Whilst the first book I’ll use to strengthen my professional skills, I feel this second book will enable me to conquer my digital addiction. The idea of becoming a digital minimalist is a pathway I’ve already started on and mastering technology to support my goals and values, rather than allow it to control me is a key goal for 2020.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

From the very first moments of the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, I was hooked. From a storytelling point of view, the narrative is compelling – not only for the rich characters and suspense but for the imagery of a dystopian society, which arguably mirrors our own in many ways. Although The Testaments has had mixed reviews, I yearn to know Offred’s fate: does she rescue herself, other Handmaids – or does Gilead consume her?

Additional reads
The nature of my work means I have privilege of meeting extraordinary people – almost every week. Often these meetings are accompanied by the gift of their most recent book, which means I have quite an enviable book stack. As the year unfolds, I’ll  supplement the above list with the books I’ve acquired through my professional circle.

Let the 2020 Book Reading List begin!

Writing the list of books I’m planning to read in 2020 has well and truly motivated me to enjoy this new habit. No doubt, my pace of reading will increase and once again, I’ll be eagerly reaching for my current book rather than mindless scrolling on social media.

To inspire me further, I’ve created a profile on Good Reads. If you have a reading goal for yourself in 2020 you may also enjoy the Good Reads site, “the world’s largest community of book lovers”. And of course, if you have any recommendations for me to add to the list, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy reading.

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