Storytelling library

This is a series of books, slides, and thoughts about how you can build up the storytelling muscle.

The book list. I love audiobooks and compiled a couple hundred that I have listened to and use in my work.

A few good books…

The Lincoln Conspiracy

What a great story about what almost happened.

Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell

Great book about the fears baked in to talking to people we don’t know. I always enjoy a Gladwell book, and during this time (April 2020) of COVID -19 it seems more poignant. Virtual meeting with actual strangers is a little stranger than normal.

This illustrates my sense of how anxious I feel as my familiarity intersects when I talk to strangers.
I feel like my own anxiety goes down as familiarity increases.

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African American of the 19th century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era….

The arc of Fredrick Douglass's life
The complex arc of Fredrick Douglass

Reading this, listening to this history was amazing. Fredrick Douglass was complex, brilliant, driven and engaged in the life and time he lived in a way not many are these days. From early on he was a sponge and figured out ways to be free and through his life, free others. While his pen and oratory skills developed the book chronicled in a deliberate and detailed way what a life lived to it’s fullest looked like in 19th century American South.

Through the civil war and the reconstruction period you get a sense of how difficult it was for blacks in this country in a way I could never have imagined.

The lessons and history in this biography and others like it have not been learned. Marches, movements and causes struggle to break through. Fredrick Douglass for all his struggles. Was ultimately proven right in his summary judgements of the people and times in which he lived. We need more Fredrick Douglasses. #keeplearning and #keepmoving.


Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light….

This was an amazing book, it makes you feel lazy and complacent when you understand the amount of work, working inventing reimagining of all the things we take for granted today. Light, phonograph, movies, battery tech and 1800 more patents and inventions.

Not the best personality or personal life smoothness. Not a great father or spouse. His professional life was a near obsessive compulsive addiction. He and the people around him thought of him as near godlike. Henry Ford was such a fan and contemporary who was amazingly rapt by the things he would come up with.

He was compulsive well in to his 60s and 70s with bought of furious invention, protection of inventions and constantly evolving his ideas. He created an early movies with sound. A bit smoke and mirrors and he was profoundly deaf through much of his adult life.

Solid book, I am a history nerd and getting a real inside look at Edison was awesome. The chronology of the book was a bit weird jumping forward and back in time seemed odd.

Cant Hurt Me:Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.

This is a good story of how we can overcome. I about half way through at the time of this writing and learned two things about myself. Mind-wise the reality no one can ever hurt me again unless I let them. Also my life experiences, while not as horrendous as the author’s, there are many parallels that was a little validation for me that the struggle to overcome obstacles is valuable.

Confidence moment, when uncertainty goes down and knowledge and experience increases.
Confidence moment, when uncertainty goes down and knowledge and experience increases.

What is affirming in the book is the following (so far):

  • We operate as humans at about 40% of our capacity… we are lazy #40percentrule
  • Bullies at times are the most hurtful truth tellers… at times
  • Self discipline is crucial in nearly all things… make your bed
  • Self talk that is negative is your own effing problem… reframe spirals
  • You are your own worst enemy… go to work on this enemy
  • Excuses and whining is waste… find your grind.
  • Accountability to your self is the first order of business
  • Impossible tasks are meant to push you past comforts… pain gain
  • Set backs are opportunities, period. Learn what they teach.

I’ll add to this post after I finish.

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

Publisher’s Summary

Heralded by the New York Times and Time as the couples therapy with the highest rate of success, Emotionally Focused Therapy works because it views the love relationship as an attachment bond.

This idea, once controversial, is now supported by science and has become widely popular among therapists around the world. In Hold Me Tight, Dr. Sue Johnson presents Emotionally Focused Therapy to the general public for the first time. Johnson teaches that the way to save and enrich a relationship is to reestablish safe emotional connection and preserve the attachment bond. With this in mind, she focuses on key moments in a relationship – from “Recognizing the Demon Dialogue” to “Revisiting a Rocky Moment” – and uses them as touch points for seven healing conversations.

Through case studies from her practice, illuminating advice, and practical exercises, couples will learn how to nurture their relationships and ensure a lifetime of love.©2008 Dr. Sue Johnson, EdD (P)2020 Little, Brown Spark

My couple of thoughts.

I thought the way the cases were outlined and played out was a really good way to remember the various levels, techniques the author shares. The protest polka and demon dialogues are my favorites. They illustrate the blindnesses and biases we all have with living life on the surface of our relationships and ignoring the deeper attach/abandon issues we all have at times. The other keeper for me was the transient nature of feelings and when they aren’t engaged negative stuff builds up and erupts away from that initial moment of some thing small negative that needed attention.

All in all a good read, learn by listening. Enjoy.

Stillness Is the Key

book cover of stillness is the key.

Publisher’s Summary

Instant number one New York Times best seller and Wall Street Journal best seller

In The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy, best-selling author Ryan Holiday made ancient wisdom wildly popular with a new generation of leaders in sports, politics, and technology. In his new book, Stillness Is the Key, Holiday draws on timeless Stoic and Buddhist philosophy to show why slowing down is the secret weapon for those charging ahead.

All great leaders, thinkers, artists, athletes, and visionaries share one indelible quality. It enables them to conquer their tempers. To avoid distraction and discover great insights. To achieve happiness and do the right thing. Ryan Holiday calls it stillness – to be steady while the world spins around you. In this audiobook, he outlines a path for achieving this ancient, but urgently necessary way of living. Drawing on a wide range of history’s greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius to Thich Nhat Hanh, John Stuart Mill to Nietzsche, he argues that stillness is not mere inactivity, but the doorway to self-mastery, discipline, and focus.

Holiday also examines figures who exemplified the power of stillness: baseball player Sadaharu Oh, whose study of Zen made him the greatest home run hitter of all time; Winston Churchill, who in balancing his busy public life with time spent laying bricks and painting at his Chartwell estate managed to save the world from annihilation in the process; Fred Rogers, who taught generations of children to see what was invisible to the eye; Anne Frank, whose journaling and love of nature guided her through unimaginable adversity. More than ever, people are overwhelmed. They face obstacles and egos and competition. Stillness Is the Key offers a simple but inspiring antidote to the stress of 24/7 news and social media. The stillness that we all seek is the path to meaning, contentment, and excellence in a world that needs more of it than ever. ©2019 Ryan Holiday (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Holstee manifesto
The holstee manifesto

For me, the book is excellent and more from Ryan’s experience and picking all the good and bad examples really bring home meaning of what an abundance of stillness available every day means. I have this Holstee manifesto which outlines really valuable ways to live, I have had it on my wall for many years to remind me. Finding moments of stillness is easier having read this, turns out stillness is everywhere it’s me who keeps moving.