2021 – a year of reading

Many will know that I love a good book. I consume a lot of books across a year, usually one a week. Largely thrillers but then also books around the built environment and leadership. In fact I love nonfiction books as much as fiction. It’s just that sometimes fiction allows you to get lost in another world – solve a crime or see how a family recovers from heartbreak. 

Reading about the built environment helps shape my own views around Cities, Construction and more. Topics have focused on inclusion in Real Estate and how the world can adapt to more sustainable ways. Alongside these are a vast bookshelf of John Grisham and Henning Mankell novels. I don’t believe in reading a book once so I keep and dive back in depending on the mood. Probably across the year I will have re-read more books than I have read new books – but what’s wrong with that! 

These are my favourite new reads of the year – of which I’ve already re-read two of them:

Broken Homes (Housing focused) – This was my Summer holiday read and since then I’ve re-read a couple of chapters (four and six). I’ve been fascinated with housing for many years and often reflected on some of the challenges faced by those looking for a home and those supplying them. This book brings together a balanced view of both sides though striving ultimately to seeing better housing delivered for those who need it. 

Joy of Work (Workplace culture) – It’s the title of a book that triggers a snigger by many who see it lying around my house. Yet many who have then borrowed my, now tatty, copy find it eye opening. Twelves way to recharge – particular favourite is “shorten your work week” as a huge fan of finishing earlier on a Friday to focus on starting the weekend right with the boys. Eight ways to bring a team closer with my favourite being cutting meetings down. Lastly, ten ways to energise teams – found learning about “hack week” interesting, not come across before but something to consider how could bring into my role. 

A Time for Mercy (Fiction) – Okay so John Grisham is not everyones cup of tea but I love him as a writer. Largely legal based fiction but some other gems. This new book has become one of my favourites and follows the same basis as A Time to Kill. Telling a story of a bad situation that simply gets worse for a young boy. I find the characters are brought to life in the way Grisham writes. And even better that a new one arrived for Christmas to enjoy. 

This is your Moment (Leadership) – Having met Andy Woodfield maybe 8 years ago I have followed some truly inspiring leadership so was naturally excited to get a copy of his book. The dedication says it all, a book for people who felt this place isn’t for you. Clear My Head – my favourite chapter. Often my head is so overwhelmed by the past, present and future that it gets foggy. Reading this chapter helped provide some real gems to take forward to clear the fog. 

First Break All the Rules (Leadership) – Yes it feels and looks like a self help book but I found the chapters very relatable to some challenges I have faced over the last year as I transitioned into a new role and took a different turn in my career. I think “Break all the rules” is what stood out to me. I like uniqueness and the tips and advice within allow that to shape on a personal level. 

The Man Who Smiled (Fiction) – Alongside John Grisham I do enjoy Henning Mankell novels. Largely focused on Kurt Wallander and providing an eye opener to Swedish life. I find myself lost in the chapters with turns and twists and small clues that slowly piece together to create a true novel. This book really resonated as it focused on the main character at a low point yet thrust back into something they love. 

Modular Housing Handbook (MMC) – I worked with a number of modular builders and very much for their increased use. This book has a great “part II” which gives eight case studies including a favourite of New Islington by Urban Splash. For those interested in modular then it is a worthwhile investment to help really appreciate the method of construction. 

Restorative Cities (Future of Cities) – And lastly I came across this book through twitter and glad I did. The designing of our communities has been on my mind and working with large corporations that deliver huge regeneration schemes I wanted to understand more. The vision of a restorative city presents what you could say as simple ideas but they need careful consideration and interpretation to ensure that we create cities that are inclusive for everyone. So many useful takeaways that can be applied to large or small cities and villages. Simple steps to hopefully improve a generation of deteriorating cities and wellbeing. 

So I hope you find these recommendations useful. I am always up for hearing suggestions so please do share. Anything related to the built environment, future of cities and work and a good thriller will see me right through to 2023!

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