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  • Writer's pictureAlison Conigliaro-Hubbard

Building A New Habit: How 10 Pages a Day Changed My Life & 12 Book Recommendations from the 1st Half of 2024

18 months ago, at the beginning of last year, one of the personal growth goals I set for myself was to become an active reader. I had gotten away from reading for enjoyment. Yet I knew from experience reading books I enjoyed that there would be growth and peace and joy and perspective for me on the other side of building this muscle (as opposed to getting lost in social media nonsense). 


I knew that to build the muscle I had to commit to something measurable that I knew was achievable every day.  Consistency would be king – I write about this topic often, and I had already mastered this habit-building process in a wide variety of other categories where I’ve found success. I decided to commit to a minimum of 10 pages a day, every day in 2023. I could handle 10 pages a day. I wouldn’t say it was comfortable in the beginning, but I was determined to breakthrough.


This new habit became firmly embedded later in the year when I participated in a 7-month intensive program that required a significant amount of weekly reading and training people about what I had read. I’m glad to say that I call myself an avid and FAST reader now. I look forward to my daily reading time – and now it’s much more than 10 pages.


In fact, there were added benefits. Not only did it become fun, but it also helped me to move away from my devices at night, and in turn, improved my sleep (and at my age – that’s no easy task)!  Not only has this habit given me a broader perspective on so many important, global topics (I tend to read non-fiction and historical fiction), but it has improved my overall wellness!  How about that!


While you may not immediately look at these titles and think that I am reading about ‘leadership’, I would be happy to debate that notion. After all, LEADERSHIP is about people, communities, and perspectives.


In the first half of 2024, I’ve read 12 books.  And they’ve taken me on amazing journeys into the past, and through the lens of other people, places, and communities, from Black America to the experiences of women in 13th century China, Vietnam and America during wartime, and Pottstown, Pennsylvania in the 1930s; athletes, creatives, Jews, politicians, business leaders, nurses, soldiers, Veterans, and beyond.


I’m quite fluid about sensing what I am drawn to read next. I read non-fiction and historical fiction most of the time. I aim to learn something meaningful when I read, and most often in this day of headline-based learning, about a topic I don’t understand about enough.


If I were to offer a single theme to this list, it’s HUMANITY.  Each of these books has offered a glimpse into humanity in some meaningful way, and I have been able to expand my own lens as a result.  WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RECOMMEND ADDING TO THIS LIST?  I’d love to hear your perspectives!


The Creative Act - Rick Rubin We are all creative beings in our own way. The master in the music industry takes us on a journey into his own internal process and inspires us to call on our own inner creative for success in anything we do.

Lady Tan’s Circle of Women - Lisa See Beautifully written historical fiction about the life and trials of the real woman doctor Tan Yunxian. We learn about what it was like to be a woman – even a well-studied woman in a privileged family - in 15th century China.


Once a Giant - Gary Myers Perhaps not the most literary, but for those who are sports fans, this book shares a unique perspective perring into the post-career lives of players on one of the NFL’s most distinguished teams of the 1980s.


Oath and Honor - Liz Cheney (372) No matter your politics, the word I came away with is INTEGRITY, and truly worth taking the time to read to understand the courage and commitment it can take to honor what we value most.


How to Know a Person - David Brooks I thoroughly enjoyed a precursor article he wrote in the NY Times OpEd in October 2023 (so good it’s still in my bedside drawer). This book is a GIFT from years of observation and interaction, about building real connections with people anywhere.


The Return of the Great Powers - Jim Sciutto I met Sciutto in an airport just as this book launched and told him I would read it, so I did. Not bedtime reading. Educational and contextual about the world we live in, and the global players impacting us all.


Knife - Salman Rushdie A deeply personal memoir – almost a diary – of Rushdie’s recovery from a brutal knife attack that almost claimed his life. For me, so relatable after the cancer battle. His ability to tap into such authenticity as we journeyed through his inner process is impressive.


Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew - Emmanuel Acho & Noa Tishby Timely, fair, educational conversation between two friends (Black man and Israeli-Jewish woman in America) who do the work to help us understand how things got so misunderstood.


The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store - James McBride Historical fiction about the blending of Jewish immigrants and the African American community in early 20th century Chicken Hill/Pottsdown, PA. Eye opening, goes deep into the experience of life on the margins of Christian White America.


Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man - Emmanuel Acho Acho wrote this book first, right after leaving the NFL. Nigerian American, he answers many of the questions people are often too uncomfortable to ask about the experience of being Black in America.


The Women - Kristin Hannah Brilliant historical fiction gave me such a new and important view into what it was like for Vietnam War Veterans (like my dad), and especially the sacrifice and commitment of the women nurses who served in harm’s way.


No Ceiling, No Walls – Susan Colantuono I was sent this book to read before a work-related event, and it didn’t disappoint.  Addresses the important business factors that often stand in the way of women advancing over men in the workplace.  Even after 26+ yrs in global business, it was an excellent refresher and eye-opener.


What book(s) would you recommend to me or to others from the 2nd half of 2024?


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