Reading Maketh a Full Registrar*

*with apologies to Francis Bacon

At the recent WARUCC 2015 conference, a few of us were sitting around the lunch table talking about what we read that inspires us in our job. Someone suggested that I write a blog post on this topic, which I thought was a good idea. However, I warn you that I am a voracious reader. I read a lot and I read every day. I think from my list you might see that I read broadly.

Francis Bacon famously wrote, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; writing an exact man.” I’ve tried to live by these three maxims for a few years now, which is partly why I read, which is exactly why I write this blog, and which is why I go to conferences and present (when I can) and why I teach courses. Less well known are his reasons for reading: “Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”

Mostly I read because I love it. I can get in someone’s head by reading what they have written. I can be inspired to think differently. I can relax and forget my troubles. Reading can give me hope. Reading can help me be prepared to handle any millions of things that come my way. I think reading is central to who I am.

Without further ado, here is my reading list with headings to help explain what they are and why I read them.

Blogs (I use Feedly to collect all the blogs I read into one place):

  • Seth Godin who inspires me every single day. There is no better blogger, in my opinion.
  • Paul Greatrix Registrarism a UK vision of the registrarial world.
  • Canadian Privacy Law for perspectives on privacy. Yes I admit to reading a lawyer but with a GREAT amount of discretion – this one is more reasonable than most. For my usual thoughts about lawyers, read Shakespeare’s Henry VI, specifically Dick the butcher’s comments.
  • PsyBlog – a blog about Psychology with practical implications for daily life. Helpful to understand student issues.
  • The Art of Manliness – a guilty pleasure, but also packed with life lessons and philosophical virtues. Also written by a lawyer, but not as on lawyery things. But let’s not quibble…


I use Twitter to bring these to my attention, so I’ve linked to the Twitter feeds. Specifically, I create a Twitter List and use Hootsuite to curate a stream of these, which I check once in the morning and once in the evening.

  • Fast Company for innovative, non-traditional business ideas
  • Harvard Business Review (no introduction necessary)
  • Time (although only the odd article)
  • The Atlantic (always, often, regularly, love it)
  • The Walrus (started as the Canadian version of The Atlantic but not even close. I force myself to read it when I have the stomach for it…)


The list could go on for pages and hours, so I’ll just give you some categories with a few examples rather than a specific list.

  • Philosophy – I try to read one major philosopher every year, and lean towards political philosophy. My all-time favourites are Aristotle, Augustine, Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, but also Lao Tzu, Machiavelli, Marx, John Stuart Mill, and Locke. I force myself to read Kant, Aquinas, Plato, Nietzsche and others, but only because I know I have to eat my vegetables. A modern philosopher I enjoy is Stephen Toulmin. My favourite book of his is Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Marshall McLuhan. Oh, where to stop….
  • Religion – There is a mighty thin line between Philosophy and Religion, but we academics are nothing if not definers and drawers of dividing lines. That said, here are some examples. I read the Bible every day. If you haven’t read it, you should know that it is a collection of 66 books by various authors. Anything by C.S. Lewis – amazing at teaching me how to think. Alexander McGrath. Many Popes, some of whom were quite brilliant. Henri Nouwen on leadership and faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a pastor in the time of Hitler – powerful, personal, “could I make that decision?” challenging kind of writing.
  • History: mostly the history of societies, things like the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, etc.
  • Literature: All of it. Examples on my shelf: Shakespeare (my favourite is Much Ado About Nothing), Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, Tolkien, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Alexander McCall-Smith.
  • Leadership: Machiavelli, Stephen Covey, John Kotter, Max De Pree, Patrick Lencioni, Drucker (of course), Adam Smith – yes, The Wealth of Nations is a great book on leadership. Greenleaf , Ken Blanchard, Jim Collins,
  • Sociology, Work, Education & Leisure – finding a balance: Business as a Calling by Michael Novak, Leisure: the Basis of Culture by Pieper, anything by Parker Palmer, anything by Robert Bellah et al (Habits of the Heart, The Good Society, etc.).

I can see already that this is getting too long. Perhaps I’ll make a book review a regular feature of this blog.

What do you read? Leave a comment!


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