Each year, I like to put books by authors I haven’t read on my reading list. It keeps my reading fresh, keeps me from falling into a rut, and best of all, I usually discover an author or two each year that I want to get more familiar with.
One of the new authors on my reading list last year was Madeline Ashby. Her books Company Town and vN appeared repeatedly in my Amazon recommendations and through my other book recommendation sources. Since her writing falls squarely into my near-term science fiction interest, adding one of her books to my list was an easy decision. For my first selection, I chose to read Company Town.
I’m a fan of the short story format. It’s impressive when an author tells a captivating story with well-developed characters in a condensed number of pages. I’ve also found it a great way to explore new authors to get a feel for their writing style.
So in the breaks between books on my reading list, I’ve been working through the short stories in the Amazon Forward series. I’ve read four of the six stories, and recently finished the 5th – Ark by Veronica Roth. If the author sounds familiar, she wrote the Divergent series of books that was made into a series of movies starting back in 2014.
No, this isn’t a book review about gambling. although it tends to be the way most companies price their product, especially when the product is software. Why is that?
Pricing a software product is a difficult, challenging task. The problem is that the cost of software doesn’t lie in making another copy. The marginal cost to make an additional unit is effectively zero. The internet has eliminated the cost of distributing it. So if production and distribution are free, what makes software so expensive?
It’s the cost of the people required to develop, market, and sell it. These elements add up quickly and can get very expensive.
In Don’t Just Roll the Dice, Neil Davidson addresses the difficulties pricing software. And as the subtitle states, it is a ‘usefully short guide to software pricing,’ with the operative words being short and software.
If you’ve been following my latest business book reviews, you’ll notice they’ve been mostly of the storytelling type. They include The Energy Bus, The Go-Giver Leader, and Get A Grip. I like business books written in this style. They’re much easier to read than business books written like academic textbooks. They’re more entertaining, obviously. Best of all, when they’re written well, I learn from them.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my latest business book read was also of the fable variety. My nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, has clearly figured me out. It suggested The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, multiple times. I finally relented, purchased the book, and added it to my reading list.
Most business books tend to be dry and boring. An author introduces a framework or set of concepts. These are explored in detail. Theoretical examples of how to apply them are given. Every once in a while, I’ll come across a business book in this format that is well written and reads easily. For the most part though, these books are a slog and take me a long time to read.
The business books I like are those that weave the framework or concepts into a story. They are easier to read and entertain at the same time. While I may not be able to apply or use the concepts presented, more often than not, I read through this style of business book faster. It feels a lot less like work and is way more enjoyable.
My latest business read, Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, uses the story-telling style to introduce their Entrepreneurial Operating System framework, or EOS for short.
What do you do when your mother gives you a book recommendation? You read it, of course.
I don’t get a lot of book recommendations from my mom. One of the last ones that I remember getting was Boys in the Boat, which I enjoyed. So when I get a recommendation from her, I take it seriously.
The most recent recommendation I got was for Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously by David Green. If you don’t know who David Green, don’t be ashamed. I didn’t know who he was either until I started reading the book.
In 2018, I added a daily reading to my morning routine. I read The Daily Stoic, which had a short passage by an ancient Greek or Roman Stoic philosopher, followed by a written summary that provided more insight into the passage. It was similar to a daily devotional, although it was more secular than spiritual in nature.
For 2019, I decided to read a ‘true’ daily devotional. I’ve always wanted to read, learn, and understand more about The Bible, and a devotional seemed like a good way to get started. I chose Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, which was recommended to me by a close business associate.
As I like to do every year, here are my book recommendations for you to consider adding to your 2020 reading list. I like to break the recommendations into sections – general recommendations, personal development, business reads, and fun reads.
I read 32 books in 2019, which is more than I usually read. For some reason, the books leaned more towards non-fiction, so this year’s list will be a bit light on the fiction side. I’m planning to read a more balanced selection of books in 2020, which I addressed when creating my reading list for this year.
Here are this year’s recommendations:
When I was growing up, my parents taught me to be wary of strangers. “Don’t take candy from strangers” was ingrained in my memory. My parents also taught me to avoid dark alleys and the areas of town where danger lurked. They taught me how to stay safe in the real world.
While I’ve passed those lessons on to my children, a new danger has emerged. It’s the danger of the online world, of surfing the internet. It affects all of us, both young and old.
Criminals, who are always looking for ways to exploit weaknesses, have moved online to carry out their nefarious activities. Not only are the weaknesses easier to exploit on the internet, they are also easier to scale. In the real world, a thief has to rob a person or a store one at a time to make their money. They take the risk of doing it face-to-face hiding behind a mask. In the online world, a thief can write a script that can steal the credit card information for thousands of people at one time. The internet makes it easy for them to hide their identity and cover their tracks. They can also carry out their attacks from anywhere in the world, which can make it difficult to bring them to justice in the countries where the victims are located.
In Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for Our Connected World, Marc Goodman looks at how criminals are carrying out their online attacks, the risks posed by future technology, and what can we do to improve online security now and in the future.
One of my favorite books from last year was The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. It’s similar to a daily devotional. There is a passage for each day from an ancient Stoic philosopher, such as Marcus Aureilius, Seneca, and Epcitetus, followed by a short interpretation of it. I liked it so much that I decided to read through it a second time this year with The Daily Stoic Journal. I had wanted to start journaling daily, and this was a good way to kick-start the habit. The Journal has a prompt that follows along with the daily reading to inspire and direct my thoughts and writings.
Ryan Holiday has written other books based upon Stoic philosophies as well. Since I enjoyed his work on The Daily Stoic, I decided to read Ego Is the Enemy.