June 25, 2020

Each summer, I intend to take advantage of the shift in busy-ness and commit myself to completing a summer reading list. Perhaps nudged by reduced (nearly zero) travel, I have decided this is the summer I will not let myself off the hook. I will read Bill Gates’ Summer Reading List 2020. What will it take for me to stay accountable to what I have committed?

Here’s what I know about me (that I will guess is also likely true about many of you): I am most successful when I have partners in my accountability. I am more likely to accomplish my goal if I have spoken them out loud or written them to someone else or have to show up and meet someone.  I work out consistently twice a week only because I agreed to meet my trainer. Many of us will make excuses to ourselves; it is less comfortable to make excuses to others. This discomfort helps us remain accountable. Sound familiar?

To further my commitment, I am hosting a book club focused on this reading list. Beyond saying I’ll read, and more than joining someone else’s club, hosting means I must finish the reading and spend time reflecting and developing discussion points and questions for debate. The decision to host rather than to participate on the sidelines means not only must I show up, I must lead.  What leadership can you commit to that will push your own accountability to the next level?

Each month, I will blog on what we’ve read and discussed in book club. Please read along with any or all if you choose.

Bill Gates’ Summer Reading List 2020:

The Choice by Dr. Edith Eva Eger. This book is partly a memoir and partly a guide to processing trauma. Eger was only sixteen years old when she and her family got sent to Auschwitz. After surviving unbelievable horrors, she moved to the United States and became a therapist. Her unique background gives her amazing insight, and I think many people will find comfort right now from her suggestions on how to handle difficult situations.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This is the kind of novel you’ll think and talk about for a long time after you finish it. The plot is a bit hard to explain, because it involves six inter-related stories that take place centuries apart (including one I particularly loved about a young American doctor on a sailing ship in the South Pacific in the mid-1800s). But if you’re in the mood for a really compelling tale about the best and worst of humanity, I think you’ll find yourself as engrossed in it as I was.

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger. This is one of the best business books I’ve read in several years. Iger does a terrific job explaining what it’s really like to be the CEO of a large company. Whether you’re looking for business insights or just an entertaining read, I think anyone would enjoy his stories about overseeing Disney during one of the most transformative times in its history.

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry. We’re living through an unprecedented time right now. But if you’re looking for a historical comparison, the 1918 influenza pandemic is as close as you’re going to get. Barry will teach you almost everything you need to know about one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history. Even though 1918 was a very different time from today, The Great Influenza is a good reminder that we’re still dealing with many of the same challenges.

Good Economics for Hard Times by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo. Banerjee and Duflo won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences last year, and they’re two of the smartest economists working today. Fortunately for us, they’re also very good at making economics accessible to the average person. Their newest book takes on inequality and political divisions by focusing on policy debates that are at the forefront in wealthy countries like the United States.