Books to read – the 2017 edition

After coming up woefully short of my reading goal of 36 books in 2015, I set a goal of 30 for last year. I managed to get in 25. It’s the same number I completed in 2015, and just shy of the 27 I read in 2014. Out of the 25 books I read last year, the good news is that 21 of them came from my 2016 reading list. It’s good sign that I managed to stay true to my plan for the year. I attribute it to having goals, reading themes, and trusted sources that I use to populate the list. I’m going to use the same process for my 2017 reading list, which I will be publishing in the next few days.

Even though the number of books read in 2016 were the same as 2015, it felt like 2016 was a more productive year for reading. I read quite a few good books. Here’s the best of the bunch that I would recommend you add to your reading list for the upcoming year. As in the past, I’ve broken the list into General Recommendations, Business Books, and Fun Reads.

General recommendations

  1. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen
    One could contend that it should be on my Business Reads list for 2017, but I found The Slight Edge so powerful and thought-provoking that everyone needs to read it. It’s a personal development book that will have a profound impact on how you manage yourself. In particular, it will help with managing your “inner voice” and self-image. Olsen breaks the book into two parts. Part one is a bit slow. Don’t despair, Part Two won’t disappoint.
  2. The Wayward Pines Trilogy by Blake Crouch
    I’m not a big fan of the trilogy. I prefer reading stand-alone stories from different authors. So when a trilogy makes the list, you know it must be good. I was very impressed by The Wayward Pines and Blake Crouch’s writing and couldn’t stop after the first installment. He does a great job telling a compelling story that will keep you engaged and entertained.
  3. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
    How can a book that was written over sixty years ago be more relevant today than it was when it was first published? You have to read I, Robot for yourself to understand why. It’s such a good book, that it should be required reading for computer science majors, particularly those in the field of artificial intelligence. Having them comprehend Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics could keep us from being subsumed by the machines.
  4. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
    I’ll be the first to admit I took a flyer on this one. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. It came recommended from Bill Gates blog, which isn’t one of my go-to sources. He spoke very highly of it without giving away any of the plot. I won’t either. What I will say is if you work or live with anyone who is an engineer, scientist, or mathematician, or are a big fan of the television show The Big Bang Theory, put this at the top of your reading list – now!
  5. Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey
    I’m a big Hugh Howey fan, but you already know that. Don’t discount this recommendation due to how much I like Howey’s work. In Beacon 23, he does another outstanding job building an environment and characters that will suck you in. You’ll feel like you’re a lonely beacon operator stranded at one of the most remote outposts in the galaxy.
  6. Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter
    I wasn’t sure what category to put these next two books into. They’re more educational than anything else, so they don’t fit neatly into any of my three categories. That doesn’t make them any less important. What you read in Grain Brain could drastically change your life. It has certainly influenced my diet choices. I’ve cut back on wheat in my diet, reduced my carb intake, and am feeling better than ever. It’s worth reading, it may help you, too.
  7. Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis
    In Wheat Belly, Dr. William Davis professes that wheat is at the root of all that ails us. While I’ve seen improvements cutting down on wheat intake, and my daughter has too, I don’t think cutting it out is the answer to every one of our health problems. Don’t let this deter you from reading Wheat Belly. In fact, I urge you to read it. It’s a great compliment to Grain Brain. The concepts in the two books reinforce each other and will help you alter your eating habits for the better.

Business Reads

  1. UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want by Jamie Levy
    Developing software products is a very tricky business. Labor costs can add up quickly, and there is no guarantee of success. If you are not careful, you can easily spend tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars before you realize that your product idea has missed the mark. Levy discusses practical strategies that you can employ to significantly reduce your upfront investment, manage product risk, and iterate quickly on a product idea to give it the best chance to succeed. If you are contemplating any type of software product, including mobile apps, UX Strategy is an absolute must read.
  2. High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove
    The field of management changes so quickly that books on the subject rarely stand the test of time. High Output Management is one that has defied this principle. It was first published in 1983. The concepts are just as applicable in today’s knowledge worker dominated business environment as they were back then. If you have any kind of management responsibility, particularly in a technology company, you need to read this book. It will help you to become even more effective than you already are. I guarantee you will pick up at least a couple of new management techniques, if not more, that you can apply immediately.

Fun reads

These are a few books that were in the running but didn’t quite make my Must Read list last year. They’re definitely worth considering to fill out your reading list for 2017.

  1. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot by David Shafer
    To be clear, this book has absolutely nothing in common with the Tina Fey movie of the same name. It’s an adventure novel that ties together the lives of three seemingly unconnected individuals. The writing is witty, and I found myself laughing out loud numerous times. It’s also a cautionary tale of the perils related to the concentration of technology among a small number of companies and/or individuals.
  2. Kill Process by William Hertling
    I’m a huge fan of William Hertling’s work. In Kill Process, he weaves a fictional tale that will make you think twice about your social networking habits. It can be a bit dark and disturbing at times. He also takes on the topic of domestic abuse and the effects it can have on a person. Heavy topics for sure, and I’m not certain many authors other than Hertling would be able to pull them off.
  3. Short stories by Hugh Howey
    If you’re not ready to dive into Howey’s more significant works, then you should sample his short stories. He’s written quite a few, and I read four of them this past summer. They are a great introduction to Howey’s genius. Be forewarned that it will likely lead cause you to read his longer novels, which isn’t such a bad thing. I’d recommend starting with Wool if you are ready to make the jump.
  4. Nuts by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg
    I love business origin stories that are written by third parties. Nuts is the story of Southwest’s founding and how their culture propelled them to success. I’m already a fan of Southwest and their business practices. Nuts reinforced my positive view of Southwest and helped me understand how Herb Kelleher used grit, determination, and his true, authentic self to build a lasting company.

And ones not to forget

If the above isn’t enough to keep you busy for the year, I’d suggest you look at my books to read for 2014, 2015, and 2016. Some of the books I’d recommend from these list include William Hertling’s Singularity Series, The Everything Store, Depature, Neuromancer, Uncommon Stock, The Hard Things About Hard Things, and Primal Body Primal Mind.

And remember, you can always see my top recommendations in real-time on 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 2017, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’m in the midst of prioritizing my reading backlog and will have my 2017 reading list posted soon.

Happy reading!


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