With 2014 winding to a close in the coming weeks, I wanted to take the time to list my top 5 books from this past year. As I’ve stated before, 2014 has been a big paradigm shift for me in how I view the world and my place in it. And books have been a key catalyst in enacting this change.
I started off the year with the goal of reading 10 books. While that may seem modest, and by most accounts, it is (check Ryan Holiday or Tim Ferriss. Its ridiculous), to me this was a big jump forward in making the effort to read regularly and often. I took stock of recommended book lists from seemingly every business or thought leader, and just dove in.
I ended up reaching 18 books this year, so paring this down to five is not as difficult a task as I initially thought, although I am looking to up the difficulty curve on myself next year by shooting for 40. Going to get a lot of run out of the Audible app on my phone, which is really great for long drives or any form of travel.
Last thing to note, at this point in my life I am more focused on breadth over depth, building a knowledge and philosophical base from which to build upon as I move throughout my life. These books are a snapshot of where I am in life right now, and what was most meaningful to me, not simply the best 5 books I read. In no particular order:
The Goal – Just wrote up a review on this one you can check out, but in summary, 1) Don’t take old assumptions at face value. The world is constantly evolving, our thinking should mirror that. 2) Identify your goal, and align everything you do to that goal. If something doesn’t help you achieve your ends, its a distraction.
4-Hour Workweek – Speaking of Tim and Mr. Holiday, both make an appearance here. This book, by Tim Ferriss, is a book that in my opinion needs to be taken in from a distance. Dig out the key concepts laid out, not all the shiny details and promises of easy money. The core of this book is to first go after what you really want, and effectiveness is the tool to get you there. Not efficiency, but effectiveness. Tim is a big proponent of the Pareto Principle, and the first half of the book is where this really shines. Very easy read, and again, seeing the big picture with this book is key.
Money: Master the Game – Same opening line as 4HWW: don’t take this book as a prescription. Take it as a vitamin. Money and investing is not a topic I am broadly familiar with, but something I know is critical to have a degree of familiarity with. Tony Robbins does a great job of laying out some of the basic principles of personal finance and investing, and definitely pumps his shine into the book. Just use your own judgement and take some of the finer details with a grain of salt. Times are always changing. But a great starting point, without having to take any of the mind-numbing Finance classes at school.
The Obstacle Is the Way – By Ryan Holiday, this is a quick, but highly effective read. Ryan does a great job in summarizing the Stoic viewpoint, which is essentially that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it. People like Teddy Roosevelt aren’t born great, but they become great through their self discipline in making lemonade from the proverbial lemon. A great primer on the practical philosophy of Stoicism, a topic I plan on really delving into in the coming year.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – This one might go down as the best book I’ve ever read. Being a functioning introvert myself, this was a quake book for me, one that totally shattered any preconceived notions I held on introversion, and how I dealt with it. A more detailed review will be soon to come, but Susan Cain knocks this one out of the park. A must read for anyone who often finds themselves on the quieter side of life, and still highly recommended for the social butterflies, as Susan addresses not only the discrepancies between introversion/extroversion, but how to understand the other side and co-exist. Not everyone is meant to be highly vocal, and not everyone that is highly vocal is meant to be a leader. Can’t speak highly enough of this book.
But there you have it, my personal top 5 books of the year. Share your thoughts or any books that impacted you that I should look into for next year down below, or you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.