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What’s on my bookshelf this winter/spring (2019)

I’m overdue a book list.

This is what I’ve been reading over the past few months (stretching back to the end of 2018). The rest of this list is books I’m planning to read over the next few months.

Dare to Lead

Brene Brown


I’ve finished this book: I’m a big fan of Brene Brown’s writing. The title of her latest book hooked me this time.

Lessons from the 21st Century

Yuval Noah Harari

I’ve got about half way through this as it was heavy going. I’m planning to pick it up again soon. Good food for thought.

This is Marketing

Seth Godin

I’ve finished this book: I used to read all Seth Godin’s books and enjoyed going back to his writing. What Seth talks about and frames as ‘marketing’ provides plenty of good ideas and inspiration that can be reframed as 21st-century leadership and, more broadly, design.

Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine

Hannah Fry

I’ve finished this book: This is a brilliant commentary on algorithms, data, and the roles for humans versus machines in the digital age. There are lots of practical application and ideas to think about more here.

Future Politics: Living Together in a World Transformed by Tech

Jamie Susskind

This is another book about the impact of technology in our lives, and thinking specifically about the future politics and questions this raises. I’m looking forward to reading this next.

Stand Out of Our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

James Williams

A book I’ve just started reading. This is about unpicking the attention economy – again, thinking about how technology and new types of services/platforms are shaping society, norms and behaviours. And then how to think about the alternative – something I’m increasingly becoming very interested in.

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Neil Postman

This is an older, more famous book. One I feel that I should have read already.

I plan to read this alongside/or close to ‘Stand Out of Our Light’ (above) for more thinking around the history of the attention economy and service models.

Future Ethics

Cennydd Bowles

This also follows on from some of the themes earlier in the list. I’ve known Cennydd for a few years and have heard him speak on this topic so am looking forward to getting into the detail of the book.

Bluffocracy

Andrew Greenway

This is a short read. I enjoy Andrew’s blog posts and writing about government and have been meaning to read this for a while.

The Art of Not Falling Apart

Christina Patterson

I’m just finishing this and it’s been an enjoyable and uplifting read.

This is a book about how life isn’t always what we want or expect, but it’s also full of stories to remind us why life is worth living. I found plenty of reasons to be thankful here – an important reminder not to take anything in life for granted.

The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story

Christie Watson

I’ve finished this book: It has been at the top of the bestsellers/UK book charts for a while and caught my attention. Increasingly I’m thinking about service design challenges in health and I really enjoy these first hand accounts from nurses and doctors about the realities of the health and care system (there seem to be lots of these books being published at the moment).

Why We Get the Wrong Politicians 

Isabel Hardman

I’ve finished this book: This was a Christmas read. It’s a good commentary on how UK politics really works through the eyes and experience of a journalist and writer I’ve always thought was a credible and relevant voice in and around Parliament.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

Twyla Tharp

I’ve finished this book: This is a wonderful read, captured through the eyes and experience of the famous US based dance choreographer Twyla Tharp. I’ve had this sat on my bookshelf for a few years and never got around to reading it before. The book is genuinely insightful with lessons that I think are as applicable to design as they are to performance and the creative arts.

Make Time: How to focus on what matters every day

Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky

This final book here is a brand new purchase. I’m not sure if I’ll like it, and whether the answers are as easy as this makes out. I plan to give it a go – if I need anything it’s more time, especially to get reading through the rest of this list!

Ben Holliday is an experienced design leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.