Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Recommended Reading For Iraq!

Yesterday was a very interesting day, in that three different individuals asked me to direct them in their choice of reading materials. One of those individuals is currently serving in Iraq, a second person is heading to Iraq, and the third is a college professor in LA.

So, I figure there may be a few more readers out there who may want to know what I said in response to these requests. Here is a sampling:

Do you have a list of your top 5 favorite books of all time? I'm looking for some to take to Iraq with me.

Here was part of my answer to this West Point graduate:

Kyle, my friend,

It is always a treat to hear from you, and I am honored that you would ask for my recommendations. Narrowing it down to five is tough, so I'll give you a smattering of several different kinds of books that could be helpful to you both personally and professionally.

1) The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Brothers K. shows the deepest insights into the human heart, mind and soul of any literature outside of Scripture. Make sure you get a translation with a good introduction.

2) Good To Great by Jim Collins

A landmark study on sustained excellence in the business world that evolves into case studies on extraordinary leadership.

3) The Tipping Point and/or Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Both books tell great stories - first about how we connect to people in the world in order to influence them, and secondly, how me make decisions.

4) Bleak House by Charles Dickens

An amazing tour de force that studies personal relationships and institutions in a very moving and insightful way.

5) The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

A helpful tool for taking spiritual inventory of your life

6) Bonus selection! - It's Your Ship by Mike Abrashoff

A fascinating study in out-of-the-box leadership

7) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

A brilliant and deeply moving story set at Philips Exeter Academy in N.H.

In addition, I sent Kyle, Michael and Mike the list that I keep – and frequently update – of books that have been recommended to me that I intend to read in the next few months.

I am thrilled and encouraged that there are members of the emerging generation of leaders like these three men who are committed to growing by seeking to read good literature – of all genres.

I have learned that one of the best things one can do to encourage this sort of intellectual development is to make a habit of giving the gift of a good book – a book that matches the recipient in terms of interests, life experience or areas of curiosity. I encourage you to think about who you know that would be delighted to receive a surprise gift from you in the form of a carefully selected book.


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