My Favorite Books of 2013

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Here are some of the books that I found the most helpful and inspirational over the last year.

  “Tales of Wonder” by Houston Smith

Here is a deeply inspiring autobiography of a life well lived. Dr. Smith’s writings have influenced me ever since I taught a course in “World Religious Traditions” to Business Management majors at the University level. I used his book as a reference.

The author tells the powerful story of his life from his earliest years in rural China, through his deeply personal experiences with some of the major world religions, to his teaching experience at major universities in the USA, to the twilight of his life in an assisted living facility in California.

At schools like UC Berkeley he encouraged his students to live questions like,“How can we find life that is ultimately meaningful?” and “How can we discover what is truly worth knowing?”

“Practice Perfect” by Doug Lemov et al

Here is a step-by-step manual of evidence-based ways people change.

Lemov and his coauthors run through 42 practices such as,

  1. Focus your change efforts on the 2 behaviors that give you an 80% return for your efforts.
  2. Find drills you can repeat that ensure that the behaviors become part of your muscle memory.

 “To Sell Is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel Pink

I have never read a book by Daniel Pink that has not captured my imagination nor pushed me in new and creative directions.

The premise of the book is that, in one way or another, all of us are attempting to influence others at some time or another.

The part of the book that appealed to me the most was the way Pink built on the principles of Improv Theatre to help us with our influencing skills. They are,

  1. Be attuned to others
  2. Build on what they say with a “yes-and” and not a “yes-but”
  3. Make others look good.

A must read for all who want to improve their influencing skills.

 “Falling into Grace” by Adyashanti

Spiritual teacher Adyashanti helps awaken us to the chief source of our suffering, the ego. This restless advocate of the false self is seen in the stories our mind tells us. As the result of  machinations of the ego we are kept alienated and separated from others as well as our true selves. The path out of the ego often happens in difficult times when grace comes to us.

The last chapter of the book “Falling Into Grace” is worth the price of the book alone. Despite the fact that grace is difficult to define, he tells the story of a time in his spiritual quest when he felt utterly lost and totally frustrated.

In that moment grace came to him. He describes the experience.

“right in the middle of that moment my heart began to flower. It was like a golden love was being poured into my being.”


 “The immensity of unconditional love was just washing over me in waves.”

When we surrender to the fact that we don’t know, that we are lost, and give up our efforts at trying to control our lives, we may well have the opportunity to be surprised by grace.

 Your Favorite Books

 What were your favorite books for 2013 and why?



About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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