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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Lansdowne

Bibliophile... confessions of a lifelong learner

This quote by Adam Grant is one of my favourites, and expresses perfectly my delight in learning:

It takes curiosity to learn. It takes courage to unlearn.

Learning requires the humility to admit what you don't know today.

Unlearning requires the integrity to admit you were wrong yesterday.

Learning is how you evolve.

Unlearning is how you keep up as the world evolves.

For several years after I finished my PhD, I couldn't so much as look at another book. When I finally did slip between the pages of a book, I'm not ashamed to say it was the Game of Thrones Series. I needed escape, and I needed to remember what reading for pleasure looked like.

The beginning of the pandemic brought back my desire to read new books with a vengeance. I probably have about 40 books I'd like to read that I haven't read - yet - so I've slowed down on the buying of books, but my appetite for reading is definitely here to stay. And at levels that I haven't achieved since the first few years of my PhD program: 1 book per day.

It's easy to find escape in books, or to find an echo chamber. And for that reason I try not to let favourites sway me in one direction or the other. I try to find sources and subjects that stretch me outside my comfort zone. My hope is that it allows me to keep up with the world as it evolves around me.

One book I read in 2021 was the 3rd edition of Margaret J. Wheatley's "Leadership & The New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006). She talks about her journey discovering the way that Newtonian-based scientific understandings of the world (from the 17th century) are in the process of being radically upset by quantum theory. She writes:

Each of us lives and works in organizations designed from Newtonian images of the universe. We manage by separating things into parts, we believe that influence occurs as a direct result of force exerted from one person to another, we engage in complex planning for a world that we keep expecting to be predictable and we search continually for better methods of objectively measuring and perceiving the world. The assumptions... come to us from seventeenth-century physics, from Newtonian mechanics. They are the basis from which we design and manage organizations, and from which we do research in all of the social sciences. Intentionally or not, we world from a world view that is strongly anchored in the natural sciences.

But the science has changed. If we are to continue to draw from science to create and manage organizations, to design research, and to formulate ideas about organizational design, planning, economics, human motivation, and change processes (the list can be much longer), then we need to at least ground our work in the science of our times [emphasis mine]. We need to stop seeking after the universe of the seventeenth century and begin to explore what has become known to us during the twentieth century. We need to expand our search for the principles of organization to include what is presently known about how the universe organizes. (pages 7-8)

I love these words so much. My hope for each of us is that we find the time and courage and the integrity - if not to unlearn, than at least to build on what we already know, and to stretch ourselves to deeper understanding. That's how we reach a state of sála. So with deep gratitude for everything I've read in 2021 and how I hope it will shape my world in 2022, I share with you the reading list from the last 52 weeks - in no particular order:

  1. Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City - Matthew Desmond

  2. Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America - Ijeoma Oluo

  3. So You Want to Talk About Race - Ijeoma Oluo

  4. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents - Isabel Wilkerson

  5. Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economic Table - Carol Anne Hilton

  6. The Ickabog - JK Rowling

  7. Welcome Homeless: One Man’s Journey to Discovering the Meaning of Home - Alan Graham

  8. Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada - Harold Johnson

  9. The Innocents - Michael Crummy

  10. The Sea Gate - Jane Johnson

  11. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World - Laura Imai Messina

  12. Dreadfulwater - Thomas King

  13. Team Human - Douglas Rushkoff

  14. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones - James Clear

  15. Think Again - Adam Grant

  16. Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism - Mariana Mazuccato

  17. In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience - Helen Knott

  18. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground - Alicia Elliott

  19. Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism - Barry Prizant

  20. Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

  21. The Advantage - Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business - Patrick Lencioni

  22. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right - Atul Gawande

  23. A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency - Seth Klein

  24. The Gatherings: Reimagining Indigenous-Settler Relations - Shirley Hager

  25. Untamed - Glennon Doyle

  26. Gutter Child - Jael Richardson

  27. The Majesties - Tiffany Tsao

  28. Half-Breed - Maria Campbell

  29. A Generous Spirit: Selected Works by Beth Brant - Janice Gould, ed.

  30. All My Puny Sorrows - Miriam Toews

  31. Power: A User’s Guide - Julie Diamond

  32. The Marrow Thieves - Cherie Dimaline

  33. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

  34. Coaching for Equity: Conversation that Change Practice - Elena Aguilar

  35. In Search of April Raintree - Bernice Mosionier

  36. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle - Emily Nagoski

  37. Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned from Filmmaking - William Azaroff

  38. The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters - Priya Parker

  39. Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds - Adrienne Maree Brown

  40. Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First - Martha Piper and Indira Samarasekera

  41. The Sustainability Mindset: Using the Matrix Map to Make Strategic Decisions - Steve Zimmerman and Jeanne Bell

  42. Leadership & The New Science: DIscovering Order in a Chaotic World - Margaret J. Wheatley

  43. Bewilderment - Richard Powers

  44. Represent: The Woman's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World - June Dian Raphael and Kate Black

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