Overall, 2017 was a very good year for book reading. My goal is to read 25 books during the course of a year, with a stretch goal of 30. My book count finished at 28 last year.
I changed things up a bit last year. In the past, I had only one book in progress at a time. In 2017, I almost always had two going at once. I would read a fun book during the evening, and a business or personal mindset book in the morning. I believe this strategy helped push me over the top with respect to my reading numbers. It also shaped my readings as the majority of the books I read last year were of a nonfiction variety. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’d like to read a longer list of lighter, entertaining books in 2018.
I’m nearly finished compiling my 2018 reading list and plan to post in the next few days or so. In the meantime, here are the books I recommend that you include on your 2018 reading list.
- Elon Musk – Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance
One of the most intriguing business characters of my generation is Elon Musk. Most people my age and younger are enamored with both what he has accomplished and what he is setting out to do. The goals are truly audacious, world-changing even. You would think that Ashlee Vance’s work would be a coronation of all Musk has done and wants to do. It’s not. Vance does a great job telling Elon Musk’s back story. It’s fascinating. Depending on your point of view, it will either polish or tarnish your image of Musk.
- Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
I don’t normally read autobiographies, especially business autobiographies. When I do, I generally don’t like them. I received a strong recommendation to read Meyer’s book, and I’m glad I did. It’s both entertaining and informative. If you haven’t dined in one of Meyer’s restaurants, you will want to after reading Setting the Table. I was lucky enough to dine at one of his New York City restaurants shortly after reading the book. It was fun seeing everything Meyer wrote about regarding hospitality in real life. It was easily worth the trip.
- Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
I’m going to start this synopsis with a confession – I’m not a runner. This was another highly recommended book, so I decided to give it a shot. I found out you don’t need to be a runner to enjoy it. I’m not sure how to explain it. It’s got adventure, intrigue, mystery, thrills, and disappointments. It will give you a new appreciation for the sport of running and make you question whether you should be spending more than $20 on a pair of running shoes.
- One Year After by William Forstchen
Be aware that you need to read One Second After before reading One Year After. Yes, it’s a sequel, and it’s a good one. As the title implies, the story picks up one year after the US is hit by an EMP attack and chronicles Professor John Matheson’s struggles to rebuild his small North Carolina community. When you consider events on the world stage, One Year After is a story that, unfortunately, is all too plausible these days.
- The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz
If you could read one personal improvement book in 2018, this is the one. The principles contained in The New Psycho-Cybernetics are foundation concepts that many other self-help books are built from. There are also quite a few exercises and practical tips presented in the book that you can use to start making positive change in your life immediately.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
If you have time for a second personal improvement book in 2018, make it this one. Covey’s book is a timeless classic for a reason. His 7 Habits are no less important today than when he first penned them. My challenge for 2018 is to take his habits and in-grain them in my daily routine. In other words, make the 7 Habits my habits.
- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor
Shawn Anchor blends his experiences, observations, and scientific research to show that happiness does not come from success. Surprisingly (or not), success is an outcome of happiness. It’s a fascinating read proving his theory. It will certainly make you evaluate how you look at yourself, and how you look at the people and world around you.
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
The Power of Positive Thinking reinforces what you read in The New Psycho-Cybernetics, 7 Habits, and The Happiness Advantage. It’s written from a spiritual aspect, but the message is the same. Dwelling on the negative leads to negative outcomes in life while dwelling on the positive is the key to sustained happiness and success.
- Zero Resistance Selling by Dr. Maxwell Maltz
I know what you’re thinking, “I’m not in sales, so why should I read this?” Trust me, you need to. Zero Resistance Selling may be targeted toward sales people, but the concepts are equally applicable in all areas of one’s life. As a colleague once told me, “When we interact with customers, we are all salesmen.” He may not have realized it at that time, but those were profound words that have stuck with me throughout my career and life.
- Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills, Big Results by Larry Kendall
Wait, what can I learn from a book about selling real estate? Turns out, you can learn a lot! Just like Zero Resistance Selling, Ninja Selling shows you how and why you need to get control of your actions and shape your attitude before you can achieve success. In this case, it is applied to selling real estate. The same concepts can easily be applied to all areas of your life.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
I’m always impressed when a book written 75 years ago is just as applicable today as it was then. There are a number of anachronisms in Think and Grow Rich, but the overall themes still apply. By interviewing some of the nations most successful people of the early 20th century, Napoleon Hill documented a common set of traits that he found in each of them. Today’s successful people exhibit many, if not all, of these same traits.
- Scrum – The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J.S Sutherland
In the world of software development, Scrum and Agile development frameworks are the primary methodologies by which work gets done. The Sutherlands book is, hands down, the best I’ve read about what it takes to make Scrum work. The Sutherlands also show you how to apply the concepts to areas outside of software. I know companies who are successfully using it for projects across the entire company. The framework is that powerful making the book a definite must read.
- Be Like Amazon – Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It by Jeffrey Eisenberg and Roy Williams
What do you do when your favorite web analytics guru, Avinash Kaushik, recommends a book? You read it. This book wasn’t even on my 2017 reading list. When it showed up in Kaushik’s newsletter, I added it to the top of my list. There are many actionable items presented in Be Like Amazon that are applicable across all sizes of businesses. It’s a book that I’d like to revisit in 2018 and beyond to better digest what was presented.
- It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
The title of this book says it all. Your health is directly related to what you feed into your body. If you’ve read Grain Brain or Wheat Belly, It Starts with Food doesn’t introduce any radically new concepts. It does reinforce the importance of diet choices and provides some simple tips and suggestions on how to make better food and diet choices.
Here are the books that I didn’t feel were compelling enough to put into my Must Read category but are still very entertaining. These are the fun ones that you take on vacation or use to pass them time during the cold winter months.
- Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
A very, very well written story about the University of Washington crew team that took the gold in the 1936 Olympics. Brown does a great job making you feel a part of the story. You feel for the hardships the team members experienced. You experience their disappointment and joy, the highs and lows of every competition. It’s also a good history lesson regarding the events leading up to World War II from the Olympics perspective.
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
I’m a big fan of the original Bladerunner movie which was based on this book. I wanted to watch the movie again before seeing the reboot, Bladerunner 2049 (which I still haven’t seen, by the way). Instead, I decided to read the book, which was almost like watching the movie. I liked the book better as it went deeper into the internal struggles Decker experienced as an android bounty hunter. Even if you’ve seen one (or both) of the movies in the past year, I’d still recommend reading this book to understand more of the back story.
- The Hurricane by Hugh Howey
The Hurricane is a classic Howey tale. He does a great job creating an immersive environment around the landfall and aftermath of a category 5 hurricane. It doesn’t have the hard science fiction concepts that I really enjoy in a Howey book, but it is still a good read nonetheless. It’s even more timely given this year’s active hurricane season.
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
If you like space soap operas, then this book is for you. There’s action, but the character development is where this book shines. It reminds me a lot of Forging Zero, although I would give the nod to Chamber’s book.
- Cumulus by Eliot Peper
Peper is another one of my favorite authors. His stories are well written and fast paced. Cumulus is no different. The book fits nicely into my Fun Reads category. If the plot didn’t feel somewhat familiar, I might have nudged this one into my Must Reads.
- The Belial Stone by R.D. Brady
The Belial Stone checked a couple of key boxes for me – new author, science fiction. It didn’t disappoint. The action starts immediately and doesn’t let up. It’s entertaining and reads fast, which is exactly why I consider it a Fun Read.
As you may have noticed, not all of the books are linked to a written review. I’m at least 10 book reviews behind heading into 2018. As I finish these up, I’ll do my best to update the post with a link to my review.
And one last thing – if there are any books you would recommend for a 2018 reading list, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m always game for new additions to my never-ending list of books that I’d like to read.