I’ve always used books to keep me balanced. Though I absolutely need relief and release (which I get through fiction) I also need a chance to think deeply. I value non-fiction books over simple internet articles because, in every case, it represents a person’s absolute best effort to explain something that is complex and important.

That is certainly true of the books in this roundup.

Whether that is the story of their life (like Will), how to re-calibrate the classroom to center youth voice (Who’s In My Classroom) or how to raise a child with ADHD (Fire Child, Water Child), nonfiction books are the yang to the fiction-narrative-transport yin.

Fire Child, Water ChildA very validating and strengths based approach to ADHD.

What Works: This book is a deep and heartfelt examination of the default corporate, accomplishment-focused culture along with a new way to look at work that is less likely to lead to burnout. Really well done. 

Write a Must Read: I used this book to write my own book. If you have “write a book” anywhere in your mind, this is the place to start.

The Hollywood Approach. This book suggests that if you think of your life like a Hollywood movie, you can begin to see your story in a bigger, bolder light. I enjoyed the stories and watched all the movies she references. A good book to read over the holidays once you’ve finished all your fluff.

Leading Inclusion:

This book really made me think. Whether you work in corporate or not this, this examination of what has gone wrong with DEI initiatives across the country is stark but supportive. A must-read for anyone wanting to manage everyone better.

Fluent Forever: If you want to learn a new language but have always failed at Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, or any other language learning system… this book will open your eyes. I tried his app and uses his coaching model for a little while and it was substantively different than my (many!) other attempts.

Save the Cat: This book will blow your mind as it breaks down every movie you’ve ever seen into a small number of story structures. Turns out all the screenwriters use it, and once you’ve seen it, you’ll never look at movies the same again.

How Not To Die: Sometimes a book comes along and is so good, so thorough, and have so much authority that you can just stop looking for more information. When I read How Not To Die (I have it on kindle, and a copy sits on my living room table for easy access), I stopped looking for healthy eating information anywhere else. Now my goal is to follow as much of his advice as possible.

Will: Boy, Will Smith had a big year. Published a book and became notorious almost at the same time. After reading his book, I found myself thinking of him as less of a spectacle and more of a human. That’s an effective book. 

Who’s In My Classroom: Speaking of a humanizing book, this one creates empathy, empowerment, and insight into the lives of diverse student populations. The case studies were written by the students themselves and they are aligned and integrated with theories and tactics to support a developmentally and culturally responsive classroom and school. If you care about schools at all, you should read this book.

Books make great stocking stuffers and Hanukkah presents (for yourself?) and support people who are striving to share their Great Work with the world.

About the author

Dr. Amanda Crowell is a cognitive psychologist and business coach who helps accidental entrepreneurs get more clients and have a bigger impact. She is the author of Great Work, the host of the Unleashing Your Great Work podcast, and the creator of the Great Work Journals. Amanda's TEDx talk has received almost two million views and has been featured on TED's Ideas blog and Ted Shorts. Her ideas have also been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, and Thrive Global.