“We all can be the protagonist in our life stories.”
That quote from one of the readers featured in this week’s Bookmark column is a fitting theme, as they are all highly accomplished Kenoshans whose reading lists point to reaching one’s potential through stronger habits, deeper knowledge, or even a more vivid imagination.
Given their busy lives, it seems these accomplished locals wouldn’t have time to pick up a book. On the contrary, a peek at their lists suggests that reading just might fuel their success. Meet this week’s readers: project manager/fitness pro/entrepreneur Andre Adams, Kenosha County Board of Health member/business owner Julia Robinson and Kenosha Public Library communications specialist Brandi Cummings.
Adams, who is known for his athletic achievements as an International Federation of Bodybuilding (IFB) Pro, has also built a career as a senior product manager and entrepreneur. His book stack is packed with motivational titles, including one that jumped from a recent read straight to the top of his recommended list.
Currently reading/recently finished: “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, and “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey.
Favorite/most-read genre: Self-help/Enlightenment for my entrepreneurial and business life. For downtime I enjoy reading books on ancient history or science fiction.
Recommendations for the community: For anyone looking to improve their ability to execute on SMART Goals or “WIG’s” (Wildly Important Goals), I highly recommend reading “The 4 Disciplines of Execution.” Another great read to help elevate your mindset in a group or business environment is “The Dichotomy of Leadership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Leaders must find the equilibrium between opposing forces that pull in opposite directions. “The Dichotomy of Leadership” is meant to help leaders find that equilibrium.
What’s on your “to-be-read” list?: “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama, “Linchpin” by Seth Godin, and “Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds” by Gwenda Bond.
Another chapter: My passion is in helping people live a healthy lifestyle and reach their fitness goals. Other books that have had a huge impact on my mindset are books that are thought-provoking and drive divergent thinking and innovation skills. Some examples are “The Law of Attraction,” “The Innovator’s DNA” by Jeff Dyer, Hal Gregersen and Clayton M. Christensen and “InGenius” by Tina Seelig.
Robinson is a former alderwoman and current member of the Kenosha County Board of Health. She is also a local business owner. Her tastes run the full gamut from deep dives into non-fiction such as history and medical ethics to rich sci-fi/fantasy series.
Currently reading/recently finished: “Mistborn” series by Brandon Sanderson, “Chronicles of an Urban Druid” by Auburn Tempest.
Favorite/most-read genre?: I rotate between science fiction/fantasy, mystery and non-fiction.
Recommendations for the community: I have two: Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” is a great book that talks about the difference between quantity of life vs quality of life, and how each person should think carefully on what makes a “good life” and how medical decisions – particularly towards the end of life – may prolong life, but at the cost of what quality?
The second book is “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America” by Richard Rothstein. Many of us have heard of redlining, but I learned so much about banking and the refusal to lend for mortgages or businesses, the decisions surrounding where the interstate highways were placed, how laws about school district funding were decided, how churches and universities were involved in segregation, and how laws were changed so that prisons are able to use prisoners in effect as slave labor.
What’s on your “to-be-read” list?: “Fall” by Neal Stephenson and “The Hill We Climb and other Poems” by Amanda Gorman
Another chapter: I am blessed to read very quickly, so I read a lot. I love my kindle!
CS Lewis’ “Narnia” series and JRR Tolkien’s “Hobbit/Lord of the Rings” series were my introduction to fantasy as a child. Seeing new worlds and how people navigated those worlds to right the wrongs helped me realize that we all can be the protagonist in our life stories and fight for justice and what is right.
Surrounded by books in her day job, and responsible for putting books in hands and literary experiences in hearts around our community, Cummings is the Communications Specialist at the Kenosha Public Library. It’s no wonder that a strong appreciation for others’ stories and insights shapes her personal bookshelf.
Currently reading/recently finished: “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski. I normally breeze through books, but I am slowly savoring this amazing read and really challenging myself to reflect on the science and stories being shared.
What’s your favorite/most-read genre?: Memoirs, essays, and most non-fiction. I’m drawn to hearing people’s stories and the power that comes from finding connection to them through the written word.
Recommendations for the community: I constantly bounce between “Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life” by Eric Klinenberg and “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson as my go-to recommendations. Both books force us to reconsider our society from a person-first perspective and really take a look at how we care for each other.
What’s on your “to-be-read” list?: “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know” by Adam Grant. If the last year has taught me anything, it is that there is a lot of unlearning to do in order to build a more unified and supported community. I’m looking forward to diving into this book.
Another chapter: If Cummings has an “About the Author” page, it may sound something like this:
Understanding the power of connection, Brandi has spent over a decade developing community-focused strategies that increase the sense of belonging. She helps create company and community culture that fosters belonging and builds vibrant welcoming environments. When she isn’t spending her time talking about social infrastructure and public libraries and how we can all be kinder to ourselves and others, you can find Brandi laughing too loudly with her friends and family over copious amounts of coffee.