big reading

It's officially summer, which means it's time for our annual list of the books that have captivated us over the past 12 months. It's an eclectic mix: from action-adventure to comedy to thought-provoking non-fiction. Whatever you choose to pursue - we hope you have a great summer! 

If you have a book that you think should be on our list, please send us a note - we'd love to hear about it.


My pick this year is Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, the world's largest hedge fund and a truly unusual organization. For 40 years, Dalio has tried to operationalize the idea of 'radical transparency' and to build an idea meritocracy where the best ideas float to the surface regardless of where they originate. In Principles, he lays out an incredibly comprehensive view of his principles for work and life. Some of them are pretty extreme (for example, every single executive meeting at Bridgewater is recorded and archived for anyone to listen to in service of transparency) and you likely won't agree with all of the principles (I didn't!) but I guarantee they will make you think critically about your own philosophy - which can only move you forward.


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My recommendation for your summer reading list is Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment by Robert Wright. In addition to being written with a lot of great first-person story-telling by a witty, self-acknowledged skeptic, I found the approach of trying to analytically ‘prove’ that a religion is ‘true’ quite fascinating. In truth, Wright focuses more on the secular and spiritual practices of Buddhism than on the ‘religious’ aspects of it, but it was very interesting to see the psychological and biological research on how the brain evolved and works compared with the practices that Buddhists have been espousing for thousands of years. If you’re at all interested in meditation, or in arming yourself with a perspective that will generate more peace and less angst in your life, it’s a compelling read.


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My pick this year is The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. Michael Jordan credits Mumford with transforming his on-court leadership of the Bulls, helping Jordan lead the team to six NBA championships. Mumford also helped Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom and countless other NBA players turn around their games. A widely respected public speaker and coach, Mumford is sharing his own story and the strategies that have made these athletes into stars. His proven, gentle but groundbreaking mindfulness techniques can transform the performance of anyone with a goal. On a personal note I spent three days with George at a mind flow conference in Vancouver in the spring. He is the real deal!


For 2018, I'm recommending The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath. Once again the Heath brothers have written a research based yet practical book. This one helps focus our energy on creating moments that matter.  The book outlines what makes an experience memorable and meaningful and then, through many examples, shows us how to create these defining moments. The insights gained in this book can be applied in your home life to create amazing experiences and memories or in your work life to improve client or employee experiences.  Each chapter is filled with good questions that help you figure out how to translate the concepts of the book into action. It’s a fun read that will get your creative juices flowing and help you see what could be possible.


My pick this year is The Last Tribe by Brad Manuel. It was actually recommended to me by a client and is the first work of fiction I have read in a long, long time - which I think led my imagination to suffer as a result! The story itself is a post-apocalyptic tale but without over-the-top villains or evil hordes of people or zombies. Instead, it’s a very human story focused on survival, adaptation and group dynamics under extreme circumstances. In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t actually ‘read’ it, I listened to the audiobook version but the 22 hours flew by.


In the highly practical and research-based book The Ripple Effect, author Greg Wells provides a well-written account of the links between various aspects of our lives: how much we sleep, what we eat, how much we move, and how we think and focus. If you’re looking for simple, effective ways to implement positive change in your life, this book is a wonderful choice. In each chapter, Dr. Wells not only outlines the “what” and “why” of the ways in which sleep, food, exercise, and cognition are related, but also offers “Dr. Wells’ 1% Tips” that give suggestions for micro-improvements you can make in your life to move you towards optimal health and reaching your potential. You don’t have to become a vegan and start training for an ultra-marathon to make positive change in your lifestyle! Start today and share the ideas with family, friends, and your community.


Is it possible to combine a passion with a career - and do both at a very high level? If so, what would that look like? What if that passion was surfing? Could you really combine the two and be satisfied with your progress at either? Well, William Finnegan seems to have done this and his Pulitzer prize-winning autobiography Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life tells the full story. In truth, this book is about surfing and his many adventures while surfing, but what was most interesting to me was how it ended up shaping his life rather than consuming it. So if you wish to understand how someone can follow their passion but still earn a living this will give you some guidance. The other thing it will do is improve your vocabulary. You don’t expect this in a book about surfing, but when the author is a high profile writer for the New Yorker you will find some intriguing words you didn’t know existed.


When I talk to family and friends, read my twitter feed, meet with clients or watch the news I get the distinct impression that something big is going on. Our lives are being transformed in so many ways simultaneously it can be dizzying.  “I am so busy” is a comment I hear every day. In an attempt to understand why people often wear this statement as a badge of honour, coupled with my unwavering passion for punctuality, I picked up the book Thank you for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman. This book gave me permission to just slow down and be alone with my thoughts and curiosities – without having to tweet about them, take a picture of them, or share them with anyone.  From “what the hell happened in 2007” through to insights into control vs chaos this historical field guide book is a great read on how we must learn to be fast (innovative and quick to adapt), fair (prepared to help the casualties of change), and slow (adept at shutting out the noise and accessing our deepest values).  A terrific read for those who need to “dance in a hurricane”. 


Our lives are messy. Complicated families. Complicated feelings. Writing her memoir, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls tells the story of her and her siblings' dysfunctional upbringing with non-conforming parents living a non-fairytale nomadic life. The novel has spent 421 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, selling 5 million copies since it was published in 2005. The Glass Castle movie release last summer did not meet the critics approvals despite a star-studded cast. Stick to the reading novel for summer time enjoyment or you can grab the audiobook on Audible and listen as Ms. Walls narrates her own story.


Quirky, funny, easy to read and insightful, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman is profoundly sad and lonely and very bright and funny. This is another book that broadens our understanding and empathy for the slightly odd characters that exist all around us. Profound loneliness takes centre stage alongside a hilarious and well-written perspective on every day social interactions and behaviours. There are many reasons for Eleanor’s isolation and these reasons are slowly unpacked over the course of the book; creating a bit of a mystery. Main characters aren’t goodies, baddies, or plot devices - they just feel like real people. This is a narrative full of quiet warmth and deep but unspoken sadness. It is well written and funny. I like books that broaden my perspective on people and gently invite me to become a bigger person.


My must-read for this summer is Educated by Tara Westover. This wildly popular memoir is about finding your place in the world, even if that means having to leave your family. It is a stirring testimonial to personal resilience in the face of enormous odds.




My recommendation is Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham and the Science of Success by Matthew Syed. In it, Syed argues quite convincingly that achieving greatness in sports and other complex performance-based activities is largely a matter of intense practice. Syed, who is a former international table tennis champion, engages the reader with success stories of sport super stars, chess players, musicians and leading edge thinkers. He shows that while many people believe their achievements come from their DNA, they instead typically come from continuous practice and a lot of hard work. Bounce offered great insight and affirmed my belief in hard work and continuous practice to achieve success.


I'm recommending The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. This book was very inspirational and moving.  The topic of being joyful in times of  pressure and change is so important, and the book really does make a very deep impact on the reader.




With all of the questioning of proven science these days, Science in the Soul is a reaffirming delight to read. This collection of 42 Richard Dawkins essays and speeches from the past 30 years of his career convey vast scientific principles and arguments in a style that does not require a science degree to digest.

The author’s love of nature, science and rational discourse is a treat to explore. His incredible wealth of knowledge is on full display and put forth in a very illuminating style with great narrative wit. The man does not suffer fools.

Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. He insists that we apply reason, thought and empirical evidence to many pressing issues including, climate change, prejudice, bad science, justice and the teaching of myth in schools at the cost of scientific facts.

This is a great book to dive in and out of on a long summer’s day as it certainly offers food for thought in each chapter along with the hope that scientific truth will win in the end.


My favourite book this year was Big Potential by Shawn AchorAnytime I have an opportunity to hear a perspective on how to help others realize their potential you have my full attention, and I’m happy to share that not only did Shawn grab my attention - he kept it throughout the book. Big Potential was easy to read.

What surprised me most was that the book wasn't just about helping an individual achieve their potential - it was about team potential. In Shawn’s research over the last 10 years he’s been able to confirm the power of connectivity with others, how helping others reach their potential helps us reach ours, and how whether in work, life, sport or anywhere else “the way to win is to create a system in which members can assist each other, carry each other on their shoulders, and make each other better.”

He pulls research together with powerful examples and stories, and links it all to realistic strategies for creating these team environments that enable individuals to reach their potential.  


I read for a lot of different reasons – to learn, to travel in my imagination to other lands and other times and, also to meet extraordinary people. This spring I met Saroo Brierley through his memoir now titled Lion. I also got to meet him in person and talk about his incredible life story. Born in a poor village in India, Saroo lived hand to mouth in a one room hut with his mother and three siblings… until the 5 year old boarded a train and got lost. For twenty five years. This is the story of what happened to Saroo in those twenty five years. How he wound up in the streets of Calcutta. And survived. How he later wound up in Tasmania, living the life of an upper-middle class Aussie. And, how, at thirty years old, he found his way home. Tragedy, kindness, hope and technology converge in this story of resilience.  If you’d like an example of the strength and power of the human spirit spend a bit of your summer with the lion, Saroo.  

June 26,2018 By The PCI Team