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Of Books and Beaches: Summer Reading 2016


Of Books And Beaches: Summer Reading 2016

We’re well into summer and many of you probably have plans to power down and relax at some point in the coming days, whether it’s on a beach, in a cabin, or in the comfort of your own home. During this prime vacation time, I like to compile a list of recommended “beach reading ” material, soliciting the help of some of my well-read contacts. Take a look at their recommendations below or feel free to skim some lists from past years like these.


Collective_GeniusCollective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation
By Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove & Kent Lineback
Recommended by Gib Mason, COO & VP Finance and Administration, UMBC Training Centers; Executive Director, Center for Leadership and Innovation

As a lecturer and co-creator of the minor in entrepreneurship and innovation, and entrepreneur-in-residence at UMBC, I am constantly on the lookout for books that challenge our thinking about innovation. The authors set the stage early, focusing on the leader’s responsibility to “create a place – a context, an environment – where people are willing and able to do the hard work that innovative problem solving requires. ” They further suggest that a leader’s job is “to set the stage, not to perform on it…that is to create a place where people innovate time and again. ” Concepts developed in “Collective Geniu –  include: creating a permission to learn environment, fostering an environment of friction, amplifying people’s differences to produce a richer, more robust marketplace of ideas, and acting your way forward. For innovators, your thinking will be validated and challenged. For those looking to learn about how to create a more innovative workplace, you will find plenty of practical ways to move your organization forward.


By Neal Stephenson
Recommended by Steve Frey, Vice President of Engineering, Ocean Optics

When I think summer reading, I almost always turn to fiction. Being an engineer by trade, it usually ends up being science fiction. Many people aren’t excited by “Sci-Fi,” but the recent popularity of some great space movies could change your mind. If “The Martian” and “Gravity” have whet your appetites for a good space read, try “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson. I love books in which I can immerse myself in a slightly different reality – a mix of history or current events and fiction.

“Seveneves” starts on page one with the moon exploding. Neal Stephenson then takes you on a fictional journey that feels so detailed and so plausible; an immersive reality world that is so engrossing that you can’t put the book down. And it’s not just science  fiction; it blends in the sides of humanity and personalities that make it so real. So, if your idea of summer reading is a book or Kindle on the beach for hours, “Seveneves” is a great choice!


Reconstructing_AmeliaReconstructing Amelia
By Kimberly McCreight
Recommended by Sandy Zwickel, VP Human Resources, Suburban Propane

The story opens with workaholic but loving single mother Kate learning that her brilliant 15-year-old daughter  Amelia has jumped from the roof of her tiny Brooklyn prep school after being accused of plagiarism. Grief-stricken, Kate is forced to accept that her daughter has committed suicide – until she receives an anonymous text message that reads: “Amelia didn’t jump. ”

What follows both in flashback and the present is an examination of relationships and regret alongside peer pressure, cyberbullying, and emerging sexuality of the teen set.   It is told from both Kate’s and Amelia’s points of view, and it is heartbreaking.  Once the mystery is solved, you will want to hug your own children and maybe even re-read this book with them.  A movie version is in production starring Nicole Kidman – read the book first!


Emotional_IntelligenceEmotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
By Daniel Goleman
Recommended by Gary Corbett, Chief Operating Officer, Alliance Material Handling, Inc.

Almost 15 years ago, I read “Emotional Intelligence ” by Daniel Goleman. The topic continually resurfaces in business and in life, challenging our definitions of intelligence and what skills are most important in our efforts to achieve success and happiness. Kind of dry stuff but a very powerful message relative to how much more important it is how we manage ourselves, our emotions, and our outward persona than what book-smarts, training, or “traditional IQ ” we bring to the table. I cannot say it is an easy read but I guarantee it is a powerful one!



By Kristin Hannah
Recommended by Mary Good, Chief Human Resources Officer, hCentive

This is the best beach read I’ve found this summer. It’s a compelling tale of two sisters living in a small village in 1939 France. The story provides insightful character development about how two siblings handle the invasion of the Nazi soldiers into their lives and how they cope with loss and the increasing restrictions on their freedom. It’s an exciting story of love, loss, and survival with a moving and uplifting ending.

This book was also suggested by Kathleen Galinat, Reading/Language Arts Teacher at Buck Lodge Middle School, who continues to be my go-to person for a fantastic book recommendation.



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