7 Books for Local Government Leaders That Have Nothing to do With Government

“After a long day of work budgeting, planning, purchasing, and managing, I can’t wait to dig into a book about local government.”

Said no one.

That’s why we’ve compiled a shortlist of seven books for government leaders that are entertaining, inspiring, and aren’t actually about working in government–on the surface, that is. These stories contain unexpected lessons in leadership, connection, and creativity that may just help you re-energize at the end of the day, while also providing practical solutions you can apply to your work.  

Pick your own adventure and happy reading!


7 Books to Add to Your Nightstand


1. If You’re Craving an Adrenaline Rush

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

If you’ve been craving an adrenaline-riddled adventure, this nonfiction book is for you. Kurson details the real-life adventures of multiple diving pioneers whose lives seem almost too insane to be true. While they survive close calls with 18-foot sharks and near-death emergencies 200 feet below the Atlantic, they also uncover historical treasures on the ocean floor. Their final mission solves a mystery from the World War II era, recovered 60 miles off of the coast of New Jersey. 

Good for: Adventurers, History Buffs, Mystery Fans


2. If You’re an Uninspired Home Chef

Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner

Be warned, this book will probably have you reaching for tissues at certain points, but it’s worth the emotional turbulence for the Korean dishes Zauner describes in her deliciously detailed narrations that will leave you hungry for more. Miyeokguk (seaweed soup), naengmyeon (chilled noodles in cold broth), and samgyetang (ginseng-stuffed chicken soup) are just the tip of the iceberg in this immersive culinary experience that explores how we discover ourselves through family and cultural connection.

Good for: Foodies, Concertgoers, World Travelers


3. If You Can’t Spend Another Night Watching TV

Hello, Fears by Michelle Poler

Are you living? Or are you living living? That’s the question Poler asks in this provocative memoir that details her journey to face 100 fears. Whether it’s holding a tarantula, singing loudly in public, or walking the streets blindfolded, not only will these short accounts help you identify your own existing fears, but embrace the opportunity to conquer them in this one life we’re given. Goodbye, TV–hello, fears.

Good for: Binge-Watchers, Planners, Routine-Enjoyers


4. If You’re a Former Intramural Captain

Larger Than Yourself by Thibault Manekin

If you miss the camaraderie of sports, this uplifting read about the unifying power of basketball is for you. Manekin details his leadership journey co-founding the nonprofit, PeacePlayers, an organization that teaches children growing up in divided communities how to connect through sports–overcoming war, racial segregation, and religious differences in the process. His broader message on the importance of community chronicles how to take a powerful idea and turn it into a powerful movement. 

Good for: Sports Fans, Leaders, Social Entrepreneurs


5. If You Miss Dinner Parties

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

If you’re missing out on deeper, in-person conversations—the sort you get into at a dinner party or an after-work hang out with colleagues—read this book. Yes, it revolves around a therapist’s office, but it’s certainly not a downer. Gottlieb (who is an actual therapist herself), provides observational anecdotes based on her own experiences and those of her patients. Her perspective is both humorous and honest, making it a surprising page-turner.

Good for: Extroverts, Introverts, Humans


6. If You’re a Remote or Hybrid Employee

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

If you’ve been stuck at home and talking to your pets (or yourself) too frequently, you might especially appreciate the world Ishiguro creates for this novel. Set in an alternate reality that resembles our world, AI robots are purchased to act as intelligent companions for human children, supporting them emotionally as they grow up. Klara, a female robot, is the narrator and the story unfolds from her perspective. It’s a tale that speaks to modern questions about class, innovation, love, and the human experience. 

Good for: Remote Workers, Environmentalists, Sci-Fi Fans


7. If You Love Dreaming Big

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth by Chris Hadfield

What did you want to be at nine years old? For Hadfield, there was no other path besides being an astronaut. And no obstacle was going to get in his way, no matter how big. This is an inspiring story that shows how preparation, problem-solving, and perseverance can catapult you to spaces beyond your wildest dreams.

Good for: High Achievers, Space Enthusiasts, Problem Solvers


Grab Your Reader and Get Cozy

If reading more was on your to-do list for 2022, the list above is a great place to start. If listening is more your style, check out The Most Influential Podcasts for Government Leaders.

And finally, if you are craving a good book actually about leading local government, check out our ebook, The Strategic Planning Guide for Local Government: Aligned Projects from Concept to Results.

Happy reading!

Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Stephanie Beer

Category: Thought Leadership

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