My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2011

I traveled a lot this year, so there was ample time for reading on the plane. One of my resolutions for 2011 was to read more, and I more than met the resolution. My top 10 list below is not indicative of the “best” books of 2010 — I’m in no position to be an authority on the best books. Neither is my list limited to books published in 2011. These are the 10 books that meant the most to me in 2011:

10. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt by Darren Dochuk. How Southern California, and Pepperdine University, became a hotbed of southern evangelical faith and Republican politics in the period of Southern California’s boom. For me, the book answered a lot of questions that had baffled me previously about the influence of evangelicalism, southern culture and Republican politics on Southern California and its institutions, and vice versa.

9. The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar. The definitive novel about Los Angeles in the 21st century.

8. Building Great Customer Experiences by Colin Shaw. I read many books on customer experience this year, but none does a better job in explaining the theory as well as the strategies behind customer experience as this book by Colin Shaw.

7. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr. Someone needed to write this book. Rohr helps us to understand life’s deaths and resurrections, its valleys and peaks, in a spiritual context that made me feel human and hopeful.

6. The Carrot Principle by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. How the top companies in America use employee recognition to drive employee engagement.

5. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. I laughed, and I learned. Loved it.

4. That Used to Be Us by Thomas Friedman. A look back at what made America great, and the investments we can make now to make us great again.

3. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink. Employee awards and gift certificates don’t really motivate employees towards greater performance. Greater opportunity, purpose and autonomy do.

2. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry. This is a simple but practical guide to emotionally intelligent behaviors. If I had read this a decade ago, I could have saved some relationships and prevented some silly mistakes in my career.

1. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. When I am in LA, I sit at the feet of this Jewish metaphysical spiritual guru every Monday night. I don’t always agree, and her approach to spirituality sometimes has remnants of Platonic thought that leave me longing for Aristotle. But regardless, her essential approach to life, love and faith kept me inspired all year, and living a better life.

Honorable mention: The 2012 Playbook: The Right Strikes Back, Your Company Sucks, I Promise You a Crown: A 40 Day Journey in the Company of Julian of Norwich, Have a Nice Conflict, A Slice of Trust, The Elephant in the Room, Peace from Broken Pieces, The Great Stagnation, Stories I Only Tell My Friends (Rob Lowe)

2 Responses to “My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2011”
  1. Colin Shaw says:

    Hey Todd, one of my team have just sent me this link. Just a line to say I am pleased you enjoyed Building Great Customer Experiences. I wrote that some ten years ago now so pleased it is still useful. We are now working on our fifth book now….doesn’t time fly!

    Colin Shaw

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