8 books for your summer (pandemic) reading list

Whether to further your personal or career goals, or just to escape for a moment into a world without face masks and physical distancing requirements, here’s a list of our summer reading picks—some hot off the press, and some oldies but goodies.

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2020 summer reading book list

It’s stating the obvious to say this summer is a bit different from past summers. For one thing, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Many of us are working from home and have cancelled (or altered) our vacation plans. That week in Italy might have morphed into a camping trip or even a staycation.

Even though we’re only halfway through it, 2020 is already a year for the history books. And while there’s a lot of uncertainty ahead, there’s something about long, hot summer days that help us relax and recharge. And what better way to do that than delving into the pages of a good book?

Whether to further your personal or career goals, or just to escape for a moment into a world without face masks and physical distancing requirements, here’s a list of our summer reading picks—some hot off the press, and some oldies but goodies—including a few recommendations from the Allstream team.

Leadership by Algorithm
By David De Cremer
In addition to the myriad things that might be keeping you up at night, you might also be worried about the future of work—and if your next boss might be a robot. Those who work in tech understand how artificial intelligence will change the way we run our organizations. But the question tackled in this newly released book is around who will take the leading role: machines or humans? Drawing on research, De Cremer looks at how algorithms will collide with human skills—and how to deal with these challenges in the workplace of the future. Hint: not all leadership skills can be replaced by a machine.

You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!
By Olivier Sibony
Hot off the presses, this research-based guide from a professor of strategic thinking is aimed at helping you make smarter, more effective decisions (it’s funny, too). Whether you’re wondering if you should trust your ‘gut’ or how to avoid biases in your business strategy, Sibony outlines nine common decision-making traps (made by almost everyone, including renowned business titans). He then provides 40 methods to create a decision-making architecture in your organization, drawing on the latest research from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology.

Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
By Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Recommended by Michael Strople, Allstream’s president and CEO, this book—published in 2002—is still highly relevant. Bossidy, an acclaimed CEO, and Charan, an advisor to senior executives, pooled their knowledge on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered. “Not pure IT but if you are an IT pro you need to know how to ‘get things done.’ [The book is] 18 years old but just as relevant today as it was then,” says Strople.

Leading Without Authority
By Keith Ferrazzi
This book, released in May, is highly applicable to our COVID-era workforce. The New York Times bestselling author redefines collaboration in the workplace—where leadership no longer demands an office or even a physical workplace. Ferrazzi says we can no longer afford to waste time navigating the complex chains of command or bureaucratic bottlenecks present in most companies—especially when employees are working from far-flung locations across the globe. Instead, we can choose “co-elevation” to boost productivity and create mutual trust, accountability and purpose.

2020 summer reading list

A Gentleman in Moscow
By Amor Towles
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, this book—though set in 1922—is highly relatable to our present set of circumstances. The main character is a Russian count serving a life sentence under house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, located across the street from the Kremlin. (For context, the Bolsheviks have just taken power in the newly formed Soviet Union.) The book follows Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov over the next 30 years, encompassing everything from romance to politics and espionage. The book made it on Bill Gate’s summer reading list, saying it was “a fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat story about making the best of your surroundings.”

Never Split the Difference
By Chris Voss
Recommended by Allstream’s UC sales specialist and solution engineer Michael Susara, this classic business book explains that everything you’ve previously been taught about negotiation is wrong: You’re not rational, there’s no such thing as fair and compromise is the worst thing you can do. Voss breaks down the art of negotiation, based on field-tested tactics used in negotiating with criminals and hostage-takers. The game-changer, he says, is injecting emotional intelligence and empathy into the negotiation process. You can apply these same tactics in the workplace (or perhaps with your teenage offspring) to anything from asking for a raise to changing the terms of a contract.

The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness
By Andy Puddicombe

If the stresses of our COVID-era world are hurting your productivity, you might need to get into a new headspace. If you haven’t tried meditation, Puddicombe’s book is a good intro (plus, there’s an app). Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, shows how just 10 minutes of meditation each day can increase your productivity and focus and help you deal with anxiety, sleep issues and personal relationships. The idea is to give you more “headspace” by bringing this ancient practice into the modern world.

Analogia (available Aug. 18)
By George Dyson

Hitting store shelves in August is this tome on the history of technology, which initially may not sound like a riveting page-turner for your Saturday afternoon backyard lounging session. “But Dyson does history his own way,” says Jason Kehe in a review for Wired. Dyson looks back at the analog age and looks ahead to the future of technology, “which he believes will return us to our analog-computing origins,” says Kehe. “It’s dizzying stuff, at times magical, unburdened by deference to chronology or completeness.”

Images: Gerasimov174/iStock; Peopleimages/iStock

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