Book Tree

Leaders learn and learners read.

In hopes to inspire others to commit to reading for personal and professional development, I began sharing what I am reading over the year. I started with a 2017 mid-year review highlighting the books I read from January through June; you can find that post here.

Now, I close 2017 by sharing the books I read over the last six months, July through December. I conclude this post by sharing my top five books of 2017, so make sure you catch those at the bottom of the list!

I completed five of the books on this list as audiobooks via the Audible app. I recommend you check out Audible audiobooks to help support your reading program. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.

All book titles are listed with hyperlinks to purchase on Amazon in case you want to add that title to your leader library for 2018!

Leader Development


The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations, by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner. I feel this is the best book to read to understand the theory of “transformational leadership.”

Leadership: Theory and Practice, 7th Edition, by Peter G. Northouse. I must note up front, this is a textbook. It covers all of the major leadership theories and models that have been researched and studied, and taught in academia. In my opinion, it is the best piece of literature to begin to understand the “science” of leadership.

Leading Minds: An Anatomy Of Leadership, by Howard Gardner

Leading Change: The Argument for Values-Based Leadership, by James O’Toole

Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success, by Hughes, Colarelli Beatty, and Dinwoodie

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey

Human Development


David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell [via audiobook]

Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell [via audiobook]

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg. This simple read could absolutely change your life. It’s system of defining cue-routine-reward to satisfy a craving translates to personal life, organizational behavior, and social norms. The stories throughout serve as compelling examples that reinforce the power of this book. I highly recommend for everyone, regardless of where you are at in life or work.

History & Historical Fiction


This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach [via audiobook]. An incredible recount of the Korean War that effectively covers the strategic to tactical levels of the conflict. I truly believe that with an addition of modern technology complexity, this could be an accurate depiction of our next military conflict.

The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien. This book speaks to the warrior’s heart, not just his or her mind. It argues the importance of storytelling, especially in war, and does an amazing job of connecting the Soldier’s emotional web of humor, joy, hurt, sorrow, desire, fear, passion, confusion, loyalty, and bravery. Even short 2-page chapters throughout forced me to put the book down and reflect on it the rest of the night.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller [via audiobook]. As of writing this, I finished the book one week ago. I still haven’t found the right words to describe this book. Best I can say now is: it is an experience. I highly recommend this book, but I encourage potential readers to research context around the book online before beginning; gain an understanding of the book beforehand so you can appreciate it from the beginning. I did not and I feel I did not come to truly appreciate this book experience until halfway in.

Carved from Granite: West Point Since 1902, by BG (Ret.) Lance Betros. I believe every USMA graduate should read this book. It allows alumni to have a deeper understanding of the academy in a variety of ways (governance, admission, academics, athletics, military training, character development, etc.) and thus a greater appreciation for their alma mater.

Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, by Sontag, C. Drew, & A.L. Drew [via audiobook]

Top 5 Books of 2017


Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, by L. David Marquet

Once an Eagle, by Anton Myrer

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, by Steven Pressfield

This Kind of War, by T.R. Fehrenbach

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

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