My Summer 2015 Reading List

Sunday was the summer solstice, meaning it’s officially sum-sum-summertime!

I’m regularly asked about what I’m reading. In celebration of the first day of summer, here’s my summer reading list. It’s my usual mix of history, business and personal development.

I’m in the final chapters of “The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-89,” by Joseph L. Ellis.

The popular perception is that the American Revolution was fought to create a new nation. More accurately, some disaffected citizens of the 13 colonies fought to break away from an increasingly oppressive British government. The outcome was 13 small republics held together in a loose confederation.

Ellis makes that case that a second revolution was undertaken to actually found the new nation long after the actual fighting stopped. This second revolution was stage-managed by the quartet of George Washington, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. They realized that the republican ideals of the American Revolution would die unless a new national vision was embraced. The political calculations and machinations employed stand in sharp contrast to the mystic, providential creation story we’re taught, but that makes America’s founding all the more fascinating and illuminating.

On several best-seller lists is another of my summer reads, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg.

Duhiggg writes that the biggest stumbling blocks for most people are actually their own habits. Pure willpower isn’t sufficient to guarantee enduring change. Rather, the conscious process of replacing old, unproductive or destructive habits with new ones is the only way to succeed.

Technological innovation is the topic of my third featured book. The change swirling around us is concurrently unsettling, exciting and confusing. Future Trends reports that every 50 to 60 years we undergo a techno-economic revolution. Beginning in 1771, it was the Industrial Revolution, followed by the Age of Steam and Rail in 1829, the Age of Steel, Electricity, Heavy Engineering in 1875, and the Age of Oil, Auto, Mass Production in 1908.

We are now in the middle of the Age of Information and Telecommunications, which began in 1971. In the middle of these transitions, old models and processes are changed or replaced. “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in the Time of Brilliant Technologies,” by Erik Byrnjolfsson and Andrew McAfee brings the promise and peril of this transition into focus. It’s a particularly important topic for an innovative, forward-focused community like Fort Collins.

My favorite writer is David McCullough. His well-researched books are accessible and non-academic without being shallow. This summer I’m reading one of his older works, “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914.” The dream of a navigational shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans was finally realized through monumental engineering feats on a scale never attempted before.

Finally, on my list are two offerings by local authors: “Make Your Job a Calling,” by Bryan Dik and Ryan Duffy, and “Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership that Works,” by Chris Hutchinson.

Have a wonderful summer and happy reading!

Column originally published with The Fort Collins Coloradoan June 18, 2015