At Third Factor, we’ve made it our job to learn as much as we can from top performers in sport, government, academia, industry, business and share their best practices with people like you. It should come as no surprise that this group of lifelong learners loves to read, and our deep curiosity leads us in some unexpected directions.

Because reading is no fun if you can’t share it with others, we’ve made it an annual tradition to share our top picks in a Summer Reading List. Whether you want to learn something new or lose yourself in a story, these are the books our team recommends for Summer 2023.

Titan is an incredible book that chronicles a remarkable life. Neither celebrating nor condemning Rockefeller, author Ron Chernow delves deeply into the inherent contradictions of a deeply religious man who amassed the greatest fortune in history, a robber baron who ruthlessly accumulated capital and also revolutionized science, medicine and education through his unprecedented philanthropy. It is a biography that provides a wealth of lessons on leadership (my copy is full of dog-eared pages on communication, delegation, and management), a reflection on ethics, a cautionary tale on the inter-generational challenges of wealth, a rollicking account of the dawn of industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, and an intimate survey of a 98-year life that is unlikely to ever be duplicated. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Let me start by telling you what this is not. It is not a traditional time management book. We are mortals and assuming you live to 80 years of age you have roughly 4000 weeks. The human lifespan is observably, terrifyingly, insultingly, short.

When you get efficient at managing your tasks, you actually end up with more of them and many of them will not be what you really want to do. In other words when you get efficient at using your time, time ends up mastering you, and you end up with more demands that will offset any benefits.

In the appendix, at the end of the book, Brukeman includes 10 tools for embracing your finitude. That list alone is worth the price of the book.

This is an easy book to read, light in tone, and very practical on a philosophical level. I highly recommend it!

Nothing but the Truth is the memoir of Canadian lawyer Marie Henein and is an inspiring example of an authentic leader amidst numerous obstacles. Breaking away from the confines of a male-dominated system, Henein fearlessly embraces her true self and values. Through her actions and choices, she demonstrates the power of staying true to oneself rather than conforming to societal norms. “Nothing but the Truth” is a surprisingly brilliant read that will leave you motivated and empowered.

Our modern approach to work looks radically different than the hunting and gathering work that our brains evolved to do – it’s no wonder burnout, disengagement, and unhealthy work cultures are so prevalent across our organizations today. In Tomorrowmind, Gabriella Rosen Kellerman and Martin Seligman explore our changing workplaces through the lens of behavioural science and offer practical solutions for fostering resilience, creating meaning, navigating change, and tapping into creativity to build the mindsets needed for the workplaces of today and the future.

Kevin Kelly is the former editor of “The Whole Earth Catalog”, the Chief Maverick at Wired Magazine and dubbed “the real life world’s most interesting man.” His book, Excellent Advice for Living, is essentially a collection of quotes or mottos to help guide practical action and decision making in everyday life. For example: “That thing that made you weird as a kid could make you great as an adult – if you don’t lose it.” While you can read it in an hour, its insights are worth practicing for a lifetime. I wish I had picked it up earlier.

With a long history of studying and teaching resilience I’m drawn to life stories that demonstrate conscious reflection and balanced perspective. Run Towards the Danger is a collection of 6 essays that bring an insightful voice to adversity and the inner dialogue that occurs while navigating challenging times. Award winning actor, screenwriter and director Sara Polley reveals intimate details about work, family, and health that represent the complexity and humanity that surrounded her. As Polley makes sense of her own life experiences one cannot help but think more deeply of one’s own. There is tremendous vulnerability and pain, curiosity and humour on these pages and much inspiration to live fully with courage and understand the past with compassion.

This is a beautifully written story of family with five boys, the youngest of whom begins to voice thoughts and feelings about being a girl at a very young age. What unfolds is an insightful and enlightening exploration of how the family, the parents and the brothers, manages the challenges presented for the child and themselves. There are so many layers morally, practically and emotionally that inspired and challenged me as I reflected on how I would respond as a parent. While this sounds like a dark and psychologically dense topic the book is written with a beautiful lightness that captures the chaos and joy endemic in a family with two good parents and 4 boisterous, kind young men and one young woman in the making. Reading this book was an enjoyable and mind broadening exercise complete with hope. It evoked deep empathy and great respect in me for any family or individual who must make this journey.

This inspiring and thought-provoking book was my intro to performance psychology. In this captivating memoir, former child chess prodigy and martial arts champion Josh Waitzkin shares his insights on achieving excellence in any field. This taught me all about the concept of the learning process as an art form, emphasizing the importance of mindset, adaptability, and resilience. It’s a great way to enjoy a read while in the pursuit of mastery in any field (from leading in an organization to simply tending to your summer garden).

Essentialism is about eliminating the non-essentials from your life to make more room for doing less, but better. I chose this book because it inspired me to make small changes to how I prioritize my life at home and work that have really made a difference. Some tips I took to heart were if something isn’t a clear yes, it’s likely a no – and how to say no gracefully, yourself. It also emphasizes the importance of sleep which is key to getting everything else right.

I love a good memoir and this book did not disappoint. A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, necessity and the transformative power of simple hard work. It’s a wonderful and inspiring story of how we can tap into some skill or natural talent when we have the single-mindedness and fortitude to commit. If you’ve watched and enjoyed Bryan Cranston’s work, you will enjoy this book.

This summer I’ll be reading Nudge: The Final Edition by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, whose work has helped governments and businesses around the world achieve better outcomes not through force or persuasion, but using environmental design. The Final Edition promises to incorporate new stories and insights learned from the frenzy of activity the first edition initiated when it was published in 2008.

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