As I put together this list of books and their brief descriptions I went through my highlights and notes which felt a bit like revisiting old friends. I hope you enjoy the tidbits here and there. If there are any you’d recommend for 2016 please list them out in the comments.
This past year I read 29.5 books, I couldn’t quite finish the last one before the new year. And while the number of books read isn’t important, the knowledge gained is. The amount of knowledge gained is difficult to measure with books read but it may be the best yard stick with which I have to measure. Somehow Bill Gates reads around 50 books a year, how the heck does someone as busy as he is do that? In 2015 I had some down time between books because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to read next. I also had some down time while waiting on holds to come up at the library. This year I’m hoping to hit 35 books, that’s one and a half books every two weeks.
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac: The last few years I’ve been reading one of his books a year. I love his sense of adventure and pure pursuit of life. At times the his emotional ups and downs can be like a roller coaster, and the lows and somewhat depressing.
One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America’s Future by Ben Carson: A gift from my father in law, read with an open mind.
Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness by Donald L. Barlett: There is something I find fascinating about neurotics, especially those who have the ability to succeed in multiple fronts. Howard Hughes life was exceptionally interesting from his work in movies, designing airplanes, to his real estate investments in Las Vegas. Shortly after reading this book I got to visit the museum in Oregon where his Spruce Goose is stored, what an impressive machine!
The Truth About Retirement Plans and IRA’s by Ric Edelman: A gift from my grandfather. This book was a great refresher on retirement planning.
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson: This book was one of my favorites of 2015. It was amazing to reading about the evolution of technology through the minds of those who developed it.
On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker by A’Lelia Perry Bundles: The story of an African American Female entrepreneur who had amazing success in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Me, Inc. by Gene Simmons: Besides being a member of a small band named KISS, this guy is a serious entrepreneur with tons of grind. From humble beginnings in Israel this man has had one amazing journey.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries: I learned the value of shorter and shorter feedback loops when seeking improvements. Try many small experiments, gather objective data, make adjustments, rinse and repeat.
“if you cannot fail, you cannot learn.”
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler: Small adjustments to our courses now can have large impacts on our future destinations. The greatest example given was:
(In a commentary on gun control, Homer once replied to a gun store clerk who informed him of a mandatory five-day waiting period before buying a weapon, “Five days? But I’m mad now!”)
The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being in Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be by Moises Naim: Today’s borders are easier to cross than ever before, likewise money moves around the world at the speed of light. With these options in front of people, power isn’t quite what it used to be. If you don’t like the income taxes in California, just move up the coast to Washington State. Your corporation doesn’t like the American corporate tax rates, then reincorporate in Ireland. Movie produces don’t like the cost of filming in California so they ship everyone up to Vancouver, over to Louisiana, or New Mexico. These types of examples are becoming more and more prevalent.
If a ruler throws out an edict in the middle of a forest he governs and nobody is there to hear it does the ruler have any power?
The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence by Josh Waitzkin: This guy became a chess grand master, became the basis for the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher. Then when looking for an outlet for the stress of competition turned to tai chi, eventually becoming a champion at that too.
“The key to pursuing excellence is to embrace an organic, long-term learning process, and not to live in a shell of static, safe mediocrity. Usually, growth comes at the expense of previous comfort or safety.”
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts: Why do we spend the best years of our life sitting in a cubical so we can have limited freedom during some of our weakest years of life? Ever wonder if we have it all backwards? Rolf Potts did, and also did something about it at the same time; becoming a travel writer and sharing some amazing stories along the way.
“we choose to live like monks anyway, rooting ourselves to a home or a career and using the future as a kind of phony ritual that justifies the present. In this way, we end up spending (as Thoreau put it) “the best part of one’s life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.””
Abundance: The Future is Better Than you Think by Peter Diamandis: One great example given of how far we have come in the past few years:
“A week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than the average seventeenth-century citizen encountered in a lifetime.”
When he presents ideas on where we will go over the next hundred years your mind will be blown.
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird: If you ever want to humble yourself read this book. Wow was he smart, I felt a bit like the village idiot when reading about Oppenheimer.
He spear headed The Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during WWII. Tackling problems such as, when a bomb this size goes off will it ignite the earth atmosphere and destroy all living things on Earth?
Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Anthony Robbins: Love him or hate him, Tony Robbins has some incredible access to very high level investors. In this book he compiles lessons learned from them. I had a ton of highlights in this book.
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” —WINSTON CHURCHILL
Marco Polo Didn’t Go There: Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer by Rolf Potts: Some very humorous stories told by an experienced travel writer. There are times when I’ve wanted to be a travel writer in the past. The adventure part of it sounds amazing, but at other times I like the routine of having a home base, home cooked meals, and good indoor plumbing.
A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father, Sargent Shriver by Mark Shriver: A name I was familiar with, but I knew very little about the person.
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big by Bo Burlingham: Some excellent case studies on small companies that have made the decision to stay small, rather than grow as fast as possible.
“Profits are not optional in business. If you don’t have them, you’re dangerously close to going broke.”
Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts: Our mind is a powerful machine, and at times it can deceive us.
“We assume that other reasonable people see things the same way we do. If they disagree with us, they obviously aren’t seeing clearly. Naïve realism creates a logical labyrinth because it presupposes two things: One, people who are open-minded and fair ought to agree with a reasonable opinion. And two, any opinion I hold must be reasonable; if it weren’t, I wouldn’t hold it. Therefore, if I can just get my opponents to sit down here and listen to me, so I can tell them how things really are, they will agree with me. And if they don’t, it must be because they are biased.”Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance: Wow was all I could say when reading about Elon. This guy has one amazing ability to learn, persist, and put it all on the line to execute a dream. You should read this book.
The Thin Green Line: The Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy by Paul Sullivan:
The Martian by Andy Weir: Great novel on the exploration of Mars. Got me even more excited about our current space race between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown: Paraphrased “Stop trying to make a millimeter of progress in a million different directions, and start generating tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital.”
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield: This astronaut delivers some great lessons and stories from his experience as a Canadian Astronaut.
Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman: This physicist was one special guy, he helped develop the atomic bomb during WWII, but also had an interest in cracking safes. Of course that lead to some pretty hilarious stunts performed around the top secret military installation where they were doing their work.
The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance by Ron Chernow: I’ve been interested for a while in large family business, how things were built, and how knowledge, education, and money were passed down generationally. This book provided an excellent example, and a very inspiring story of one such family.
Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes: Since I’m new to the sales world I figured I had better become a student of my craft. This was my first step in that direction. From this book I took away the importance of methodically building relationships with your customers.
The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey: A great read that leads to many questions about what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind. This book also gives several solid tips on how to do so.
The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle: I wanted a fun sci fi novel to read going into the holidays. This one did just that. It also paralleled nicely with all the news as of late on the CRISPR technology.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind by Yuval Noah Harari: I was half way finished with this book going into the end of 2015 so I figured I’d put it down here anyway while it was still fresh in my mind.
This was my favorite book I read this far, recommended my Mr. jlcollinsnh. It gives a very broad view of us, homo sapiens, for as long as our species has been in existence, as well as some ideas on where we are going into the future. For thousands of years little changed in human lives while we were hunter gatherers. Then we had the agricultural revolution which kept us steady for another 10,000 years, then came the enlightenment paving the way for another 500 years, then the industrial revolution completely changing the next 200 years, now we are in the middle of the digital revolution. As you can see these revolutions seem to be occurring at closer and closer intervals. Who knows where we will end up in the next thousand years.