I set an ambitious reading goal for 2015. I wanted to read 35 books, 33 of which were supposed to come from this list. I managed to read 25 books for the year, which was down from the 27 I read in 2014. Of the 25 I read last year, 17 came from my list, and 8 jumped the queue. For some reason, 8 seems to be the magic number as that was the same number that jumped the queue in 2014.
Even though I didn’t make my goal of 35, it was still a good year for reading. I focused my reading on authors that I like, recommendations from trusted sources (of the human variety), and a mix of primarily science fiction and business. I did my best to stay away from book series and trilogies, and focused my business reading on story-based biography books.
Here are the best books I read in 2015, which you may want to use to seed your 2016 reading list. As I did last year, I’ve broken the list into three categories: general recommendations, business books, and those I found entertaining which didn’t make my Must Reads list.
Recommended reading list for 2016
- Turing Exception by William Hertling
The Turing Exception is the fourth and final book in Hertling’s Singularity Series. Hertling builds on the story arc of the first three books by taking his vision of AI to the next level. I won’t spoil the book except to say you need to start at the beginning of the series with Avogadro Corp and work your way up to Turing Exception to get the most out of the series.
- Sand by Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey is a story teller, plain and simple. I didn’t think a book about people living in a world of sand could be that interesting, but Howey captivates and make you feel like a part of the world, much like he did in Wool and the rest of the Silo Series. Bottom line, if you enjoyed the Silo Series, read Sand. And if you don’t know who Hugh Howey is, I’d suggest picking up Wool or Sand and get started, because you’re missing out.
- The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
My favorite business books are those that tell a story, and Brad Stone does an outstanding job detailing the founding and growth of Amazon, and how Jeff Bezos’ personality and drive has been integrated into and permeates every layer of the organization. Whether or not you buy from Amazon, love them or hate them, the book is a fascinating read that will provide insight into how important it is to have a strong passionate leader surrounded with outstanding people if you want to build a lasting company.
- Departure by A.G. Riddle
Along with Hertling and Howey, A.G. Riddle is one of my favorite authors. I found Departure to be a fun, engaging read that had just the right amount of near-term (hard) science fiction in it to keep me fully engaged. Best of all, it’s a stand alone book that I was able to mow through over the course of a few days.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson
One of my reading goals for 2015 was to read a few classic science fiction works. I didn’t get to read as many as I wanted, but I’m certainly glad that Neuromancer was one of the books that I was able to complete. Written over 30 years ago, it’s amazing how modern the technologies in the book felt. In other words, the book has aged well and reads just as well today as it would have when it was first written. If you like the science fiction genre, do yourself a favor and read Neuromancer in 2016.
- Uncommon Stock by Eliot Peper
Uncommon Stock was one of the few new book series that I read during 2016, and it was certainly the best of the bunch. It’s a techno-thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Peper does a great job keeping on your toes with a number of interesting plot twists. He also does a good job describing the chaos and stress that surrounds starting a company, so it’s a good read both for entertainment value as well as understanding what goes into starting a technology company.
- User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product by Jeff Patton
Working in the web development and software industry, agile development is the talk of the town. I knew user stories were an important part of the agile process, but I was having a hard time understanding just what these were until I read Patton’s book. If you’re struggling to grasp agile development methods, or just want to get a lot better at the agile development process, then I would highly recommend User Story Mapping, even going as far as to make it mandatory reading for people in your organization.
- Same Side Selling: A Radical Approach to Break Through Sales Barriers by Jack Quarles and Ian Altman
I’m a bit of a sales book junkie and have read numerous books on selling processes and techniques over the last five years. Same Side Selling is the best one I’ve come across, probably because it best fits my style of working with customers. There’s a lot of great information in the book, along with a lot of practical examples of how Quarles and Altman put their concepts into practice either themselves or through their clients.
- Influx by Daniel Suarez
A government conspiracy/tin-foil hat thriller that moves fast.
- Resurrection by Arwen Elys Dayton
A new twist on ancient origin stories that will engage your imagination.
- Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
Alien contact story that that has some expected but many more unexpected turns.
- In the Plex by Steven Levy
If you’re interested in understanding more about how Google works, both as a search engine and as a company, you’ll want to make sure you read this in 2016.
Don’t Forget These
If you’re an avid reader and want more books for your list, check out my reading list recommendations from 2015 and 2014. A few of the books that I would highly recommend you add to your 2016 reading list if you haven’t read them yet are The Martian, The Circle, Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, Hatching Twitter, and Nexus. These are a good group of books to add to your list, although you can’t go wrong adding all of the books from my 2014 and 2015 lists if you’re looking for more than what’s listed here.
And remember, you can always see my top recommendations in my Must Reads list, and all of the books I’ve read are in my Book Reviews category. Also, if there are any books that you’d recommend for 2016, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m in the midst of prioritizing my outrageously large reading list and hope to have my goals and reading list for 2016 published in the next few days.