Brad Blackman's Reading Stack for Summer 2020 includes Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, 52 Things Sons Need from their Dads by Jay Payleitner, The 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky, How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist (7th Edition) by Carroll Michels, Start with Your People by Brian Dixon, and The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson.

The Most Interesting Books I’m Reading (Summer 2020)

What’s in your reading stack for Summer 2020?

This summer, I’m reading about personal growth, art, the business of art, and parenting.

If you’re like me, you’ve set book-reading goals every January. Well, in 2019, I actually hit that goal for the first time. I said I would read twelve books, and I read thirteen. I was elated. So of course, I doubled my goal for 2020.

I got off to a good start, but I wasn’t counting on a pandemic to make reading simultaneously more available and harder. I have way more time to read now that I’m home all the time, but less motivation to read. That said, in the first few weeks of the shutdown I finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy after starting it two years earlier. But once I finished that, it was time to move on to some other books that have been on my list for a while.


I compiled this list a few weeks ago, when my biggest concern was getting back to work after the pandemic is over. Then I learned that being “not racist” is not the same as being anti-racist, so this summer I’ll be adding some other books to this list to further educate myself as a white man who needs to come to terms with the impact of racism and how to teach his own kids to be anti-racist. I’m looking to add some books to this list such as White Fragility (which I looked for at my suburban library last summer and it wasn’t even in their system, which was not entirely surprising) among others that I’ve seen recommended lately. I want to hear your recommendations.

So, here are seven books I’m going to try to knock out this summer.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck

My friend Cory Huff (who has mentored me through The Abundant Artist) recommended this to me some time ago, and it’s all about two major mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. In a nutshell, the fixed mindset says that there are limits to what you can do and either you’re born with gifts or you aren’t. The growth mindset says that all things are possible. I’ve come to realize that I have a growth mindset when it comes to my creative effort, but a fixed mindset when it comes to my business. I subconsciously limit myself, and that’s something I’m working to change.

52 Things Sons Need from Their Dads: What Fathers Can Do to Build a Lasting Relationship, Jay Payleitner

I forgot I had this – I found it when I was cleaning out a few weeks ago. As a father of two boys, this sounds like something I need to read. I read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters when my daughter was little. Things are definitely different for boys nowadays than when I was their age. I want to prepare them for the challenges of growing up to be men who love the Lord.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

This is another book I found while cleaning out. I didn’t know I had it. Maybe it was my wife’s before we got married. I’m not sure. But what I am sure of is that I will be listening to my friend Jeff Brown’s podcast episode with the author’s son Stephen M. R. Covey. Because this book has made such an impact over the last 30 years, I have no doubt I’ll come away with some new habits to put in place.

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky

I read this one about twenty years ago, and it was such a great read. So much food for thought from one of the pioneers of abstract art a hundred years ago. What has really stuck with me is the illustration of society riding on a large triangle pushing through advancements, and the front edge of the triangle is the forefront of knowledge and consciousness. It’s strikingly similar to an illustration in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance where the forefront of consciousness is at the nose of a train, and everything else catches up to it.

How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself without Selling Your Soul (7th Edition), Carroll Michels

A few weeks ago, my friend Beth Inglish texted me asking if I could use some books and art supplies as she was getting ready to move several states away. One book was How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist. I actually read the 5th edition of this over a decade ago. It was great, but I don’t think it had much to say about selling art online. I knew I was due for a re-read, especially now that I have other books like How to Sell Your Art Online and Art Money Success, but I predict this 7th edition will be a fantastic update.

Start with Your People: The Daily Decision That Changes Everything, Brian Dixon

Brian Dixon is one of those people who knows a lot of the same people I know, which tells me he’s somebody I can trust. So when he started showing up more and more in my online circles I began to follow him, and when he came out with this book last year, I had to grab a copy. I’m only now getting around to reading it, but it has been incredible so far. The premise is to serve those immediately around you first, before trying to puff yourself up and make yourself great.

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The curious Economics of Contemporary Art, Don Thompson

Another book that Cory Huff recommended to me, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark is about how the economics of the contemporary art industry works. To be clear, this is about the upper tier of art gallery and auction sales. It’s astonishing how much money some people have, and how much they will pay to prove they have good taste. If you’ve ever wondered how expensive art gets so expensive, this book explains it.

So that’s what I’m reading this summer.

What’s in your reading stack for Summer 2020? If you have any great fiction recommendations, just drop them in the comments below!

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