We’ve all heard the saying about how Bill Gates and Warren Buffet each read daily and manage to get through about 50 books a year which they attribute as one of their keys to success.
This year I was drinking deep from the well of knowledge found in books in a wide variety of areas which makes it that much harder to identify the top books that I’ve read this year.
Although, one of the advantages to reading more is that over time you become more discerning as to which books actually make a difference to you and are those true gems worth mentioning and sharing. The more points of comparison that you accumulate in the book department, the easier this cataloging becomes.
As an aside, this year I actually resolve to read fewer books. Perhaps in the sense of cover to cover if nothing else because I think it was Simon Sinek who said most books today are written for the purpose of being a business card for the author who can then hand out that book, even if it sucks, as a way of saying they are an authority on a subject.
I find that I get sucked into books that maybe just aren’t that good and I have a compulsion to finish them, so then I’m stuck wasting my time reading through pages that don’t provide me with any new or valuable information.
So here’s the list for this year, because if you find just one useful nugget from the best of the best, then maybe it was worthwhile for me to also dig through the rest after all.
Da Vinci lived an incredible life focused on learning and improving to a painstaking level of detail. As interesting as his life story is, the real selling point of this biography for me was the high-resolution, colour photos of da Vinci’s best works that were the focal points of the chapters and that Isaacson went to great detail to learn about and break down throughout the book. Things that I didn’t know or understand could be identified as traits of an individual artist became much more apparent throughout this biography.
If I had to pick just one biography for the year, this would be it. No other athlete has changed the landscape of his or her sport as much as Tiger Woods has and it started when he was just two years old and swung his first golf club at an age where most kids have enough trouble just walking.
I picked Principles because if you’re looking to start a business or are already in a leadership position, I think there’s much about great leadership in this book that you can pick out and apply quickly due to its readability and extensive indexing and summarization.
This is the best book on marketing that I have read. There are no gimmicks or shortcuts in TIM, it’s about making a difference and doing marketing that counts for the people you care about. Another great book for its readability, This Is Marketing can offer you a nugget of insight on each page that you can contemplate and apply for yourself. If you’re interested in how to better reach your audience or why those big companies do what they do in terms of marketing, this book offers insights backed by twenty-plus years in the marketing world.
I really enjoyed reading Subtle Art because of its fresh take on the “self-help” genre of books and encouraging you to decide for yourself what is meaningful and makes you happy, rather than depending on the opinions of others and following fads. It took me a number of years of seeing this book holding a spot on the bestseller list and recommendations from others before I finally decided to read it because something about the bright orange cover and the blatant use of “fuck” on the cover and throughout the book turned me off from it. But the book really was entertaining to read and had the right amount of impactful information to convey blended into storytelling.
It seems like not everyone truly “gets” this book but I received it as a timely gift for Christmas and it left enough of an impact to deserve a place at the top of the list. Silence is a collection of answers -more like chapters or essays, really - to the question of "What is Silence?”
On the first pass through my book list for 2018 Deep Work almost didn’t make the cut but I had to include it because after thinking about it (and talking about this book more to friends recently) I realized that people need to read this book to learn how to create the type of work that only humans are capable of when performing in a flow state. Deep Work offers both the “why" and the "how to” of operating in a state of what Newport calls Deep Work, where you block out everything else and focus on the valuable task in front of you.
I’ve had The Fountainhead sitting on my shelf for years now but it seemed such a daunting task to open up that 700-page behemoth that I never got around to it. But after seeing it top the lists for many of the people featured in Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors book, particularly those who recommend it for entrepreneurs, I knew I had to crack it open. I loved it. I think that the power of this book is really driven home in the testimony of Howard Roark at the end of the book and will really inspire you if you are looking to create something of your own or contemplating whether the effort and struggle of entrepreneurship are worth it.
The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the thickest books by far that I read this year. It’s an incredibly rich story of interwoven lives all culminating in the revenge that Edmond Dantes waits to exact on those who have plotted against him at the beginning of the book.
This book isn’t new in the training world but I’m shocked that more people don’t talk about how awesome it is. There are a few strong voices out there that talk about the Purposeful Primitive being on their list of training and nutrition books to read but there really should be a lot more. Marty has been a coach and writer in the fitness industry for longer than I’ve been alive and he’s trained and learned from the best of the best for decades. This book not only brings Marty’s own philosophies to focus but those of legends in strength and nutrition like Paul Anderson, Ed Coan, John Parrillo, and Ori Hofmekler. This tome on training has answers to everything and I was impressed to find a large section on the mental component of training and zen and mindfulness in general.