The Frontier Project’s Favorite Books, 2018 Edition
We loooooooooove a good book at Frontier. As a team of avid readers (aka: nerds), we consume a ton of awesome (and some not-so-awesome) content each year. So, several of us took a step back to reflect on what we particularly appreciated reading in 2018 in order to share a curated list of our greatest hits of the year. We hope you find your next soul-enriching read from the list below.
(P.S. Many of the “for business” books on our list were from our Frontier Academy Book Club list, so if you’re really into them too, be sure to check out our book club podcast.)
Clay Cutchins, Lead Consultant
For Fun: Sapiens—A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari
This isn’t a history book about wars or a listing of events but instead it explains the state of humanity today through engaging stories and explanations. Harari demonstrates that despite the rapid proliferation of technology and dynamic cultural shifts, our needs, hopes and fears as humans are largely unchanged.
For Business: Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, by Paul Bloom
While there was plenty to disagree with in this book, anyone who so aggressively goes after a sacred, trendy buzzword like empathy deserves admiration. Too many good writers have forgotten the crucial role they play as change agents when they simply piss people off. Bloom hasn’t.
Liz Grissom, Lead Consultant
For Fun: Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen
This is one of the most accessible treatments of spirituality I have read in a long time. Nouwen addresses topics such as purpose and suffering in a loving, conversational, and often poetic way.
For Business: Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity, by Kim Scott
I love how Kim Scott challenges the idea that in order to be a true professional, you better check your humanity at the door. She argues you can be a great boss because of your humanity, and provides practical ways to do the notoriously-intimidating, yet critically important work of management and leadership such as giving feedback, or “radical candor.”
Matt Newman, Consultant and Keynote Speaker
For Fun: Vacationland, by John Hodgman
I picked this book up on a client trip in Maine. I’m a Hodgman fan from his days on The Daily Show, but this memoir really opened a totally different window into his thinking. It’s touching, funny, embarrassing, sharp and insightful. It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve read a book and laughed out loud, hard, by myself.
For Business: The Power of Moments, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
A great mix of research data and compelling stories. This really put into words and stories the intangible qualities of our work, and reframed some of my own thinking for projects that we were working on at the time.
Kelsey Thayer, HR Manager
For Fun: Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
Digging into family dynamics, set in a quaint town with a lot of local flavor, and copious late-90s references—what more could you want from a book?!
For Business: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brené Brown
Navigating issues like loneliness, shame, and the dreaded “imposter syndrome,” this book is a quiet reminder that there is power and strength in being true to yourself. In fact, in such divisive times, we must all work to humanize people who are different than ourselves, and looking within is a good place to start.
Jess Erwin, Associate Consultant Manager
For Fun: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams
This year, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. But I had a word: joy. Reading this book was like sitting next to two spiritual masters as they swap stories of reliance and personal struggles. The stories are fascinating. But their ability to share with great compassion and humor is a valuable reminder that to have joy yourself, you must bring it to others. Joy is not a fleeting emotion; it’s a practice, a way of life—and one I plan to passionately pursue.
Ryann Lofchie, CEO
For Fun: Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, by David Whyte
This book is absolutely beautiful. Whyte explores, and in so doing, expands the meaning and relevance of words that we use in everyday conversations, treating each to its own short essay. It will reframe the way the reader looks at even the most common concepts; breathing new life into them, making them feel special, important, and utterly uncommon.
For Business: Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown
Oh wow, Brene, it’s like you don’t think her books could get any better and then they freaking do! This is the book everyone needs to read because it dives deep into the most important self-awareness concept: our stories. It’s our stories that cloud our vision and create suffering, pain, and drama. And if we don’t stop and consider the story we’re telling ourselves about the world around us, we are in danger of damaging relationships, harming our effectiveness, and ultimately, living a less meaningful life. But never fear, though that sounds heavy, Brene walks the reader through the steps to do this, so you can come out of the other side much better as a result.
Leigh Koptish, Lead Consultant
For Fun: Calling Me Home, by Julie Kibler
My favorite reads are one like this, where you can disappear into a different time and place. This book had the right mix of intrigue, well-developed characters, and just straight up great storytelling that had me curled up and completely unavailable until it was done.
For Business: Taking People with You, by David Novak
While this book has been around a few years, this was the most effective leadership development resource I used in 2018! Novak’s approach to vision-strategy-culture is easily digestible and is framed as a roadmap that leaders can use to go from the process of identifying a game-changing idea to celebrating the winning results—along with all of the leadership it’s going to take to achieve success.
Stephanie Wolf, Creative Manager
For Fun: The Art of Raising a Puppy, by The Monks of New Skete
Kinda obvious where my time has been going this year, huh? This books primes nervous first-time puppy owners the way What to Expect When You're Expecting prepares new parents. It's practically a day-by-day guide — starting when you even consider getting a dog — on what joyous chaos you'll be getting into.
For Business: Better Web Typography for a Better Web, by Matej Latin
What's great about this book is its intersectionality between the artistic and technical. It begins with the fundamentals of typography (a great refresh for those who have been a minute out of school) and moves into the new rules for the digital age. It has the code right next to samples and is super easy to follow and refer back to. It's a great desk reference for the print designer, like me, who isn't steeped in web design every day.