Winning Words

Opinion: Looking for book ideas this season?

Column by Michael Norton
Posted 12/6/21

If you are ever looking for a great conversation starter, try asking people what they may be reading.

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Winning Words

Opinion: Looking for book ideas this season?


If you are ever looking for a great conversation starter, try asking people what they may be reading. What people read can give us great insight to their hobbies, passions, and interests, and that helps lead into a fun and engaging discussion. This is also one of those questions I find myself answering as well. Depending on when that question comes my way will determine my answer as I have been following the same reading pattern for many years now.

In addition to my Bible, blogs, columns, and industry information, I read somewhere between 40 and 50 books per year. And the reading cycle that I tend to follow is this: A faith-based book; business book; biography; history; and then a fiction book. For me this provides a glimpse into the areas that help me personally and professionally, while also helping me to be prepared for conversations with family members, friends, people I meet socially, and my clients. I find the different perspectives extremely helpful in understanding how others view the things that are happening in our world.

At this time of year the question about what I am reading comes up a lot. Many of you send me emails asking for recommendations throughout the year, and during the holiday season, as people are looking for gift ideas, the question comes up with greater frequency. So here is what I recommend this year as I follow the cadence mentioned above:

Faith-based: “2 Chairs” by Bob Beaudine; “Grace” by Max Lucado; “Lead Like Jesus” by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges; “Bethlehem” by Max Lucado; “Hope for Each Day” by Billy Graham.

Business: “The Expansion Sale” by Erik Peterson and Tim Riesterer; “Business Secrets of the Bible” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin; “10 Leadership Virtues for Disruptive Times” by Tom Ziglar; “The New Psychology of Winning” by Denis Waitley; “Traction” by Gino Wickman

Biographies: “Joy” by Joy Clausen Soto; “Boyd” by Robert Coram; “Where Men Win Glory” by Jon Krakauer; “Washington: A Life” by Ron Chernow; “Colin Powell: My American Journey” by Colin Powell

History: “True Raiders” by Brad Ricca; “The Journey of Crazy Horse” by Joseph M. Marshall III; “In the Hurricane’s Eye” by Nathaniel Philbrick; “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen; “The Johnstown Flood” by David McCullough

Fiction: “The Evening and the Morning” by Ken Follett; “Fast Ice” by Clive Cussler; “Win” by Harlan Coben; “Plum Island” by Nelson DeMille; “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo

Maybe you have a different cycle of reading that you follow. Perhaps someone you know may be interested in one of the books I have mentioned here, so I hope this list is helpful in some way.

Each of us has our favorite books and authors. Some of us enjoy our books that we can physically touch and hold, myself included. Others prefer their e-reader. And there are many who enjoy consuming their stories through audio books. Whatever our preferences are, whoever our favorite authors are, and however we choose to take a mental, emotional and spiritual journey by engaging with our favorite books, the important thing is that we make time to broaden our horizons by reading as much as we possibly can and from as many sources as we possibly can.

How about you? Are you a fellow voracious reader? What are you reading these days? Is it time to mix it up a bit and start reading something new? Have you shared your reading list with others? I would love to hear all about what you are reading now, or even your favorite books from the past, at And when we can expand our thinking through what others are writing and sharing, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.


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