I love books. I usually get through two or three books each month, mostly by listening to audio while doing other things. My favorite books are biographies (including stories of starting and growing companies). I also enjoy self-improvement / productivity, and once in a while I’ll throw in fiction to get a break from thinking too much.
These are the top 10 books I’ve consumed this year (so far):
1. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance. Elon Musk is incredibly inspiring. He’s building two revolutionary companies at the same time. It was interesting to learn about his struggle to get where he is today, and his future ambitions are mind-boggling.
2. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. A year ago all I knew about the Wright Brothers was they were the first to fly a manned aircraft. Last year I visited their memorial at Kitty Hawk, which was fascinating. I was excited when their biography was released a few months after that visit.
Their unwillingness to give up inspires me the most. They spent many years learning about flying, designing their flying machines, and testing a number of iterations. During much of that time they didn’t see much hope for success, but they never lost sight of their goal.
3. Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper. This is a fascinating look at the origins and development of the digital currency, Bitcoin. I have heard the hype about Bitcoin over the last few years, but I had no idea how it works. Although the technology goes over my head, I at least have a basic understanding now.
4. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. This book provides an in-depth look at how computers and the Internet were created. It reads like several biographies in one as the author describes the key players who pioneered this industry.
1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. This is one of two books I keep downloaded in my Audible app so I can listen multiple times (the other is How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen). This is near the top of my all-time favorite list. It has changed my thinking about how to live my life more than almost any other book.
I struggle with implementing an essentialist life, which is to focus my time on only the few most important activities. But I try to work toward that ideal, and listening to it frequently helps to keep me on track. It’s only about 6 hours long, or 3 hours on double time.
2. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. I wrote a separate post about this book. The authors package the five laws of stratospheric success into a brief, engaging, and easy-to-read parable. The five laws are value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity.
3. Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time by Rory Vaden. Although not quite at the level of Essentialism, this book has also changed my way of thinking about time management. I wrote a book review in a separate post.
Other time management strategies focus on efficiency and prioritization. It is about allocating our 168 hours per week to get as much of your most important activities done as possible. Instead of efficiency and prioritization, Vaden describes how to multiply our time. In essence, it’s about spending time on things today that will give us more time tomorrow.
1. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. I first heard about this story when the movie adaptation was nominated for several academy awards. I thought if the movie is good, the book must be better. I was not disappointed. I could not stop listening through the fast-paced action and the author’s unique story-telling style.
2. The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston. This book technically isn’t fiction, but I include it here because it reads like a story. I would sleep better if it was fiction. Hearing about the gruesome effects of the Ebola virus makes me think twice about touching anything. Regardless of it’s potentially scarring effect, the story is interesting.
3. The John Puller Series by David Baldacci. This is a three-book series: Zero Day, The Forgotten, and The Escape. The books are the adventures of John Puller, a combat veteran and military investigator. The events and prose can be a little over the top, but I enjoyed the suspense-filled stories.
Question: What are your favorite books of the year?