I go through a lot of audiobooks. When I say “a lot,” I mean at least two per month and sometimes up to six. This assimilation of information is critical, in my opinion, to the intellectual and professional growth of anyone who wants to be more tomorrow than they are today. Reading — and I openly consider actively listening to audiobooks to be “reading,” as long as they are not simply background noise — is the best way we have to expand my understanding on subjects new and old.
Understand, however, that taking in this sort of media is not limited to business, psychology, or exclusively non-fiction selections. There are many classic and cult classic books out there that are both entertaining, and provide genuine insight into the condition of humanity. Perhaps more important, is the basic fact that there are so many books that provide cultural reference points that can anchor perspectives in a common landmark. Books such as “Starship Troopers” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” come to mind immediately, but there are dozens more in my own library.
It should go without saying that I do not entertain the idea that nobody has time to take in their essential reading, particularly in light of the ubiquitous and even free audiobook sources that are out there. Even if you don’t want to subscribe to a service in the way I do, most public libraries have huge selections available to their patrons. Likewise, there is always some time in any given day or week to consume a bit of an audiobook when we can truly listen to it and gain from the experience. I generally listen while commuting or on the treadmill at the end of my workouts. Likewise, I might pick up a chapter or two while cooking or doing other chores that do not require a lot of my attention to accomplish in a satisfactory manner.
In the coming weeks I may post a list of my favorite audiobooks in a few categories that are relevant to leadership and human capital management, but I am curious if any of you have recommendations. If you do, please post the title and author, and a brief description of why you think that book should be required reading for people who want to be effective leaders.