With the demands of the day, and the constant need to keep up with the breakneck pace of change in our respective trades, reading is often relegated to “snackable” formats like social media, blogs, and short articles.
While short-form content can be great for quick exposure, there are clear benefits to immersing yourself in a good book once in a while. Books help us focus our attention, broaden our horizons, and challenge our thinking on a deeper level. (Don’t just take it from me—studies show reading books can boost creativity, enhance communication skills and even help you live longer.)
If you’re among the ¼ of Americans who haven’t read a book in the last year, there’s no time like the present! I’ve assembled a list of some of Modo Modo’s favorite books on business, leadership and creative thinking to get you started—or to round out your summer reading list.
1. “A Beautiful Constraint” by Mark Barden and Adam Morgan
This book reframed my perspective on limitations. I think we’ve all felt that moment of frustration and defeat as we exclaimed, “We don’t have the budget!” or “There’s not enough time to pull this off!”
“A Beautiful Constraint” takes what we traditionally perceive as roadblocks and positions them as gifts that force focus and foster discovery of new and better approaches. It argues that we’re all capable of breakthrough thinking and walks through the thought processes that hold us back from problem solving in the face of constraint.
My favorite chapter was on the mental exercise of “Can-If”, which pushed me to shift from “We can’t because….” to “We can IF”. It’s problem-solving and attitude adjustment, all rolled into one exercise!
– Amanda Creger, Director of Strategy
2. “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman
People think of user experience (UX) as such a digital concept, but it’s really about taking into account all aspects of how a person interacts with something—whether that’s a digital property, a one-to-one personal exchange, or even an object. It’s about understanding a user and being empathetic to their needs.
This book was actually written well before the height of the modern digital era but it’s founded on core principles that are every bit as relevant and important today.
– Allen Hsu, UX Design Lead
3. “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel H. Pink
I have to stop to immerse myself in a good book. I enjoy Daniel Pink’s books because they explore work, management, mastery and purpose.
This one is about the move from the information age to the conceptual age. It focuses on different kinds of thinkers whose minds are perfect for today’s challenges. It’s an interesting read, in light of how quickly the world around us changes and the increased understanding and appreciation for people who are wired to think, learn and communicate differently—and very successfully.
– Moira Vetter, CEO
4. “Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions” by Edwin A. Abbot
At first glance, this may seem like a left-field entry in the summer reading list, but I’d argue that it’s essential reading for anyone looking to come up with new ideas.
Written by a mathematician in the 1800’s, the book explores the Victorian England class-system through characters that live in a two-dimensional world. When presented with visual evidence of a third dimension, they simply choose not to believe it.
It challenged me to go beyond the reality I see immediately in front of me, and to be open to the possibility of the undiscovered.
– Kirk Wells, Associate Creative Director
5. “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown
One of the foundational ideas of this book strongly resonated with me: “At the heart of daring leadership is a deeply human truth that is rarely acknowledged, especially at work: Courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. Most of us feel brave and afraid at the exact same time.”
Whether you’re a start-up or part of a Fortune 500, today’s environment means constantly adapting, evolving and pushing into uncharted territory. It can be scary to do as an individual, much less to lead others through. This book helped me think about my own leadership style—both internally and with clients—and helped me think about what it means to cultivate a culture of courage.
Additionally, one of the quotes that resonated most with me is an idea so simple, yet so powerful: “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
– Nicole Wedekind, Group Account Director