My Top-10 reading list for 2013

Over the past few years, I developed a habit to set aside some time every day for intentional, reflective, reading. That time each morning is my favorite time of day. As 2013 draws to a close, I thought I’d share the Top 10 non-fiction books that have helped me personally this year. For some of these I’ve included links to reviews that I’ve written about them.

My Top-10 reading list for 2013



  1. The New International Version Bible (1984). I follow a reading plan to read through the Bible in a year. Year after year it remains my favorite read not only because it inspires me spiritually, but also because I gain more insight and ideas I can apply from that book more than any other. This year I tagged 107 passages where I gained new insights I hadn’t picked up before. Last year I tagged 67 such passages. In 2013, I read it alongside Larry Richards’ The 365 Day Devotional Commentary(1990). Next year I plan to read it again paired with Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters(2010). Read the leadership lessons I learned in 2013.
  2. Mindset (2006) by Carol Dweck. Noted Stanford psychologist hits the ball out of the park with this book about how the way we perceive our capabilities affects our learning outcomes. It so accurately described the challenges I faced in college and much of my life that I wish this book had come out 30 years earlier. It’s now required reading for my entire family. Read my review.
  3. Willpower (2011) by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney. This is the book to read before you make all those New Year resolutions. It’s jam-packed with important insights about willpower and habits from a pioneer in willpower research, Dr. Roy Baumeister. Pair this with Halvorson’s Succeed (#4) for even more practical insights. Read my review.
  4. Succeed (2010) by Heidi Grant Halvorson. Serendipitously I read this book after having finished Willpower. Even though it was published before Baumeister’s work, it seemed like it picked up where Willpower left off, offering page after page of practical suggestions on using your energy more effectively to accomplish your goals. Read my review.
  5. How God Makes Men (2013) by Patrick Morley. I was introduced to Patrick Morley long ago when I read his ground-breaking best-seller, Man in the Mirror. Many years since then, we’ve had the opportunity to become friends and I’ve benefited greatly from his counsel and friendship. That’s why I was so delighted by his most recent work. He’s packed thirty years of wisdom in working with men using ten giants from the Bible to illustrate important, life changing, truths. Read my review.
  6. To Sell Is Human (2012) by Daniel Pink. I’ve loved every one of Dan Pink’s book and this is no exception. Everyone is in sales. You may not be formally moving a product, but you are trying to move people. That’s called influence. Pink’s ABC formula for influence is as simple as it is effective. Read my review.
  7. Mastermind (2013) by Maria Konnikova. What made Sherlock Holmes such a mastermind? Konnikova creatively dissects this fictional character’s approach to solving crime, demonstrating how Holmes employed methods from cognitive science to achieve his spectacular insights. I came away with not only a better understanding of how our brain works but also with a deeper appreciation that Holme’s creator, himself, was a true mastermind. Read my review.
  8. Turning Pro (2012) by Steven Pressfield. This follow-up to his popular, The War of Art, Pressfield offers the kind of kick-in-the-pants plain speak we’ve come to expect from the guru of resistance. While not quite as incisive as his prior work, Turning PRO, wastes no time trying to shame you out of remaining an amateur in your pursuits.
  9. Accidental Genius (2010) by Mark Levy. Ever since I picked up again the habit of daily journaling, I thought there should be a book about the ways in which you could use journaling to unpack thinking about a variety of problems or everyday challenges. This is it. Levy has assembled a terrific collection of approaches to unlock new ideas and think more creatively about any situation. Read my review.
  10. A Failure of Nerve (2007) by Edwin Friedman. One of the more difficult to read books I’ve read in a while, Friedman offers extremely thought-provoking insights into leadership and the challenges leaders face to remain courageous and decisive in our anxiety-ridden, quick-fix culture. Every leader taking their responsibility seriously should read this book slowly and reflectively. And read it with patience. You’re more than likely to find a nugget just after you would have otherwise given up on it.

What books influenced your thinking most this year?

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2 thoughts on “My Top-10 reading list for 2013

  1. Thanks for continuing to display remarkable excitement about life, Leary. Sometimes, you’re the only one I can think of who is still in possession of the adrenal glands of a college kid.

    Most influential books this year: Prayers by the Lake by Nikolai Velimirovich; Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton; Essays of E.B. White; The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

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