Our summer reading list

Summer Reading List 2023 Kearney Group 2
19 January 2023 Read time: 6 min

2023 summer reading list.

When it comes to reaching max relax status, everyone has a different way of unwinding and recharging during those dreamy, floaty, long summer weekends. Without going all ‘woo-woo’, self-care for some is as simple as reading a damn good book. As it turns out, the Kearney clan is packed full of number nerds AND book worms. So we’ve collated some killer recommendations from our team in case reading is your idea of indulgent down time, too. Here’s our 2023 summer reading list…

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High


By Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, and Ron McMillan.

Hard conversations are an uncomfortable, but inevitable part of life. From overbearing in-laws or difficult work discussions, to raising something tricky with a client, how we handle these conversations is indeed crucial. Crucial to the future of that relationship and life thereafter, that is.

This New York Times bestseller will teach you how to avoid conflict (hopefully) and come to positive solutions in high-stakes conversations. Allowing you to “be persuasive rather than abrasive” in your personal and professional life.

The book’s premise is refreshingly simple. When you are stuck in any situation – whether it’s at home or work – there is a crucial conversation keeping you from accomplishing your goals. If you can teach yourself the skill of effective communication, and learn to speak up, then you’re more likely to achieve what you’re after. [Sorry, you’ll have to read the book to learn the tools – no cheating!]

Of course power, position and authority dynamics are at play, particularly in work relationships. But the authors conducted a study over 25 years and concluded that what set ‘influential’ people apart from their cohort was their ability to have and navigate crucial conversations. Interesting food for thought for anyone looking to up their communication game.


Picked by our COO, Matt Englund who says:


“The authors describe ‘Crucial Conversations’ as being “a discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.” Given how often these happen in our lives, it’s important to gather tools that can help make these situations feel less daunting. My main take-away was how critical it is to focus on your intent, not on being right.”

Sacred Econmics Revised

Among the 3 most important books I’ve ever read… This book is breathtaking in its potential for fundamental impact.

– Paul Kearney

Sacred Economics


By Charles Eisenstein

Sacred Economics details how our monetary system has arrived at a point of extreme competition and ruthlessness. It’s equal parts damning and full of hope for the future.

Author, Charles Eisenstein, traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to late-stage capitalism (including cryptocurrencies). It details how our current economic structures work to enshrine an ‘endless growth’ mentality. The mentality that rewards those who hoard resources, even at the expense of our community, long-term stability and the environment.

Eisenstein posits that capitalism has reached an extreme of “alienation, competition, and scarcity”, but that we also have a “golden opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being.”

Another key point from this book is that it encourages you to reflect on your place in the world and how you want to contribute. It’s a rallying cry, encouraging a renaissance of “the Commons”. It is a fresh approach to monetary systems and policy. It offers a permission to live to your values, even in a world ruled by the dollar.


Picked by our CEO, Paul Kearney who says:


“Among the 3 most important books I’ve ever read. We’ve forgotten how money works. Sacred Economics reveals how it gets created and shapes our world. Moreover, it shows how it has led us to the many crises we now face as a global community. The proposed solution? Treat money like every other commodity and see it as only valuable when shared widely in the community. This book is breathtaking in its potential for fundamental impact.”




By Kirsten Bradley & Nick Ritar

“After the screens are put away, and the busyness of modern life is paused, what are we made from?” asks permaculture educators and Milkwood authors Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar. They live, grow, forage and keep bees on their two-acre regenerative farm also named Milkwood, near Daylesford.

Milkwood details five key permaculture or self-sustaining farming skills. These skills are what you need to ultimately live off of the land (the chapters cover seaweed, tomatoes, mushrooms, honey and other wild food). OK, that sounds just slightly unreachable to the city folk in our midst. But short of a total life-as-you-know-it overhaul, Milkwood encourages us to just start living a more home-grown life.

This one made it onto our summer reading list, because it raised some ideas that we should all take into 2023. Ideas for if and when we’re feeling exhausted and overstretched. This book is a call back to simplicity. It is an inching towards sustainability and an example of living within our means without sacrificing our dreams. Yep, we’ll read to that!


Nga Vu says:


“The ability to share your bounty and your knowledge forward. Into community. Into a resilient, liveable, low-impact future, for everyone around you. This is richness indeed”. My first tip-toe into the world of permaculture has got me hooked! A lot of it boils down to just taking notice of nature’s abundance.”

Entangled Life


By Merlin Sheldrake

This one is about the surprisingly interesting origins of plant life and how fungi is at the root of it all. Literally. Yep, we’re that fun-guy (ha!) at the party wanting to talk about fancy mushrooms. Entangled Life explores the mind-boggling biology behind fungal life. There’s drama (think insect killing fungi). There’s fun (think psychedelics). And there’s cute fungi puns (think ‘Wood Wide Web’).

Top line: Fungi is very important. It’s a biological control agent responsible for breaking down organic matter. It’s vital to humans for consumption (like the fungi found in the five food groups: bread, coffee, wine, cheese and beer) and for medicines. As such, it’s vital to industry and our economy, too.

Bottom line: This book itself actually has nothing to do with finance, or business, or the bottom line. And that’s why we like it. A fascinating read.

“To use the world well, to be able to stop wasting it and our time in it, we need to re-learn our being in it” (Ursula Le Gruin) in Entangled Life.


Jane Vanden Boom says:


“I loved this book – furthering my fungal fascination and interest in nature. The magical networks that live beneath our feet spark our curiosity and can teach us so much. Entangled Life provides the keys to better understanding our planet, and life itself.”

Be More Pirate


By Sam Conniff Allende

Be More Pirate follows a really fun analogy to demonstrate good-sense business principles. They are useful for junior employees right up to leading entrepreneurs.

Connif Allende reveals the radical strategies of Golden Age pirates and applies them to the here and now. These were highly skilled sailors, with a well-coordinated network of collaborators. They could outmanoeuvre and out-strategise the global superpowers of the time. Be More Pirate draws parallels between the strategy and branding of infamous pirates to modern day ‘rebels’ like Banksy, Malala Yousafzai and Elon Musk. Genius? Probably. Disruptive? Absolutely. (Now if only we could get Malala in charge of Twitter somehow?)

The Golden Age pirates didn’t just reject society, they reinvented it. They did it with mischief, purpose and the power of a great brand that invokes images in our mind to this day. We can learn a thing or two from that. Great ‘pirates’ know that confidence and risk-taking is key to creativity. They win hearts and minds by leveraging the power of storytelling, fearless branding and a singular unrelenting key message.

A final interesting parallel is that modern businesses should collectively challenge the status quo (that is, internal corporate processes) and invite feedback and collaboration. They should do this rather than wait for people to turn away or tear the rules down. In short, Be More Pirate gives us the formula to build a modern-day pirate code that will help us avoid mutiny.

Brave New Work


By Aaron Dignan

Traditional organisations are in crisis, hampered by bureaucracy and analysis paralysis. In Brave New World, author Aaron Dignan challenges traditional top-down organisational structures. He reframes the roles of both management and team members. This book puts forward ‘autonomy, trust and transparency’ as the way to bring our best, most productive and satisfied selves to work. Additionally, he suggests it is also the way to transform our businesses into agile and ultimately, successful operations.

Dignan believes businesses aren’t machines to be predicted and controlled, but rather human systems full of potential waiting to be released. This book is motivational and inspiring but not fluffy or intangible. This is why it’s rated a mention on our summer reading list, particularly for people in management roles.

According to Dignan, everything that slows us down (spoiler: that Zoom meeting that really COULD have been an email) or makes us feel less human is out. Everything that makes us more efficient and plays to our strengths is in. That’s something we can get on board with. Certainly something to keep in mind when making decisions, building processes and working with people in the modern work environment.


Kale Foulds says:


“Brave new work is a fantastic book about alternative ways to design and build organisations. It rethinks the way we work and the way we approach management and decision making within growing organisations. It provides a forum for navigating bureaucracy and hierarchy for businesses that long for a better way.”

There you have it. Our (not so) light summer reading list. We hope that it will leave you feeling intrigued, reflective, a little bit clever and more motivated. We’d love to know what you thought of any of our picks.

Finally, remember that reading before bed instead of scrolling *actually* works. Go on, try something on our summer reading list and we guarantee you’ll sleep more soundly. 

Stay tuned and get lots more ideas, big thinking and a bit more finance.

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