What I read & re-examined in 2023

Tim Collings
4 min readJan 30, 2024

I commenced a dedicated reading practice last year, challenging myself to read 2 books amongst across a broad range of subjects. In reflecting on my reading lists of previous years, I’d realised I’d become quite narrow in my focus areas (mainly work related on leadership and climate change) and was reading exclusively non-fiction.

This article is a reflection on my second year rising to this self-generated challenge, considering what I read what I noted about myself as I was reading. This year I also include a catagory of ‘re-examined’ as well as newly read, which I’ll unpack a little later in the article.

Image by author — books I’ve read & re-examined on the floor of my home workplace

Here’s the list of the books I read, as they appear in the image above;

Going Horizontal — Samantha Slade

The Lost Spells — Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

The Great Work — Thomas Berry

Rumi:Tales of the Spirit — Kamla K. Kapur

Oneness:Awakening from the Illusion of Separation — Joseph P. Kauffman

Earth Emotions:New Words for a New World — Glenn A. Albrecht

Our Only Home:A Climate Appeal to the World — His Holiness The Dalai Lama & Franz Alt

Belonging:Unlock your potential with the Ancient Code of Togetherness — Owen Eastwood

Small Graces:The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life — Kent Nerburn

The Prophet — Kahlil Gibran

Finding the Mother Tree:Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forst — Suzanne Simard

Practical Management Philosophy — Monosuke Matsushita

The Overstory — Richard Powers

A Feeding Frenxy in Washington — George Franklin

No More Gold Stars:Regenerating our Capacity to Think for Ourselves — Carol Sanford

The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying

Becoming Kin:An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the past and reimagining our future — Patty Krawec

The Old Ways:A Journey on Foot — Robert Macfarlane

Mission Economy:A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism — Mariana Mazzucato

The Democracy of Species — Robin Wall Kimmerer

Wabi Sabi:The Japanese Art of Impermanence — Andrew Juniper

Hidden Potential:The Science of Achieving Greater Things — Adam Grant

The Olympus Project — Zoë Routh

Terra Blanca — Zoë Routh

The Heartbeat of Trees:Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests & Nature — Peter Wohlleben

A Hidden Wholenes:The Journey toward an undivided life — Parker J Palmer

Ledger — Jane Hirshfield

Tao Te Ching — Lao Tzu

Bushido:The Soul of Japan — Inazô Nitobe

The Art of Peace — Morihei Ueshiba

These are all the books I read for the first time in 2023.

Beyond this group of works that I read for the first time, there is also a smaller group that I re-examined. Re-examining is a concept I was introduced in a conversation with Carol Sanford. The idea here is to re-connect with works that you’ve previously read appreciating the newness that you bring to the work — that you have changed/grown/shifted since the first/previous encounter with the work — and that you are re-engaging with the work wholey, engaging with the entire work not just skimming for quotes, turning to the dog-eared pages or being drawn to sections you’d previously underscored or annoted in the margins. This approach has been an energising fresh way of activating new insights and insitaging new experiential experiments from works I’d considered, somewhat naively, that I was done with and need not review. Look out for an upcoming article specifically on this approach — The Gain of Re-examining, not re-reading, coming soon.

Here are the books I re-examined in 2023.

The Patterning of Hope — Bill Sharpe

The Regenerative Business:Redesign Work, Cultivate Human Potential, Achieve Extraordinary Outcomes — Carol Sanford

The Advice Trap:Be Humble, Stay Curious & Change the way you lead for ever — Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit:Say Less, Ask More & Change the way you lead forever — Michael Bungay Stanier

What I’m noticing about me reflecting on this list

I feel curious about myself, which feels curious even as I write it! What I think I mean by that is that I’m curious to observe through practice and reflection what may have shifted in me as a process of having sourced from this set of resources over the last 12 months. I sense that there is more that I’ve integrated already than I recognise (something revealed by the re-examining process), and that there is also a lot more to be experimented with and experienced before, and perhaps until, more of what I’ve sourced is integrated.

What I’m noticing about what I’ve read

Varied, met my aim of reading ‘widely’ and also seeing patterns of sourcing from spiritual as well as experience-sourced and empirical resources. This reflects a shifting breadth in stimulus in this past year, as well as a broader range of encounters with people in varying stages of their own journey. I also sense that this year’s reading was an attempt to energise myself by sourcing from more spiritual and also creative works, rather than solely more academic and practical or practice-orientated works.

What next?

I’ll be continuing to deepen and expand my reading practice this year, and will look forward to sharing the outputs in an another article early in 2025 which I hope you’ll join me in reading. One clear focus area will be self-noting what I am sourcing from in my life and work, particularly which frameworks, and I anticipate this will show up as a meta-theme in the reading that lies ahead.

If you’re curious to compare, here’s the article I wrote reflecting on my reading last year.

As always, thank you for your time and attention with my words.

Be well,

Tim

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Tim Collings

Tim writes about his explorations of living systems in life and work as Founder of 4i & host of the Better World Leaders podcast.