Here is a short list of books that I have found valuable and that I think are relevant to the coaching experience. 

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman (2021).  The title of this very wise book comes from the idea that the average human life span is 4000 weeks, a bracing way of putting it.  This book rethinks time management.  It’s not a matter of prioritization, it’s a matter of too many priorities.  Burkeman guides you through how to find the most important things to focus on, and how to move past the avoidant behavior that is behind most procrastination.  I’m also a fan of his earlier book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (2012) which debunks a lot of self-help myths.

Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind, by Judson Brewer, Md, PhD (2021). 

Curiosity is a core precept of coaching, and also turns out to be a key to contending with anxiety.  Dr. Brewer shows how curiosity and mindfulness can be deployed to break up addiction to anxiety and learn new behaviors.

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges with Susan Bridges (2019).  This updated edition of a forty-year-old classic deconstructs and analyzes the process of transition.  Transitions are messy and it can be helpful to know that the messiness is expected.  Bridges sets out three phases of transitions, including the Ending of something that came before, a Neutral Zone of bewildered reorientation, and a New Beginning. 

Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra (2003).

This is a book about reinvention of ourselves.  It is a framework for exploration of the different manifestations of your working identity, discerning what that means for what you want to become, and the implications for the transition you seek to make. 

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.  Marcus lived from AD 121-80.  This work, an essential text of Stoic philosophy, was written while he was the Roman emperor.  He wasn’t writing for the ages; the book is essentially his journal with thoughts on how he can continue to learn and improve.  Stoic philosophy can be very helpful and this work is a good place to start.

The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D. Putnam with Shaylyn Romney Garrett (2020).

The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks (2020).

From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness, and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life by Arthur C. Brooks (2022).

These books all capture the idea of an upward cycle, a downward cycle, and the possibility of rising again in a different and better way.  The Upswing builds on Putnam’s earlier work, Bowling Alone, to show how a series of economic, social, and cultural trends map to a pattern he calls the “I-We-I” curve.  It is a swing from the self-referential Gilded Age to change driven by the Progressive Era that promoted more community-oriented societal activity.  This trend peaked in the 1960’s and began a descent through the “Me Decade” of the 1970’s to the individual-focused (some might say narcissistic) society of today, with highly polarized politics and massive income inequality akin to that of the Gilded Age.  The data is extensive and expertly handled.  The explicitness of the methodology is a masterclass in social science technique.  It’s a helpful and insightful history of the last 125 years.  The remedy, according to the book, is not top-down government action but bottom-up community action, driven by other-oriented individuals acting locally.  In The Second Mountain, David Brooks talks about who is going to be taking that community action. It will be people who have climbed the metaphorical “first mountain” of career success and now seek to ascend the “second mountain” of a moral, other-oriented life with deeper meaning.  Arthur Brooks in From Strength to Strength also has the idea of a renaissance, after the first rise based on strengths that don’t last, and a second rise based on new strengths rooted in wisdom, experience, and deeper purpose. 


Books on leadership abound.  I often find it helpful to mine biographies.  Two that I think are valuable because they are about great leaders who grappled with their flaws and found their own way to learn and grow are Truman by David McCullough and Eleanor by David Michaelis.  Here are two leadership books that I thought were particularly poignant:

Leaders: Myth and Reality by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Jeff Eggers, and Jason Mangone (2018).

There are oodles of good books about leadership. I think this one excels because it looks at a variety of leaders from diverse periods of history and diverse jobs, not just military leaders and politicians. It also looks at various manifestations of leadership.  The overall effect is to move away from a traditional top-down conception of leadership to a redefinition of the concept of leadership as, “a complex system of relationships between leaders and followers, in a particular context, that provides meaning to its members.” 

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box by the Arbinger Institute (2000).

Reading this book is a worthwhile and humbling experience.


Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies by Woodrow Hartzog (2018).

There are lots of great books about privacy out there.  This is the privacy book I recommend both to privacy professionals and people who are not privacy professionals.