Given how out of control my reading list is (200 books and climbing), it can be a while before I get to one I’ve added. Such was the case with The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The book made the Gizmodo Best of 2015 list, that was published in December of 2015. I added it then, so it took a couple of years to get around to reading it. Given the length of time some books languish on my reading list, that wasn’t all that bad. In fact, there’s books that have been on my reading list for over 5 years. I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever make it around to cracking those open.Continue reading
Over the last few years, I’ve discovered that success is directly correlated to how we manage ourselves, especially our inner voice or self talk. To improve, I’ve sought out a number of books on the topic and have adjusted my routine by adding a morning reading session focused on personal development. One of the books I consistently come back to is Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. It has had such a significant impact that I figured I should pick up another book authored by him (or in this case inspired by him), which led me to Zero Resistance Selling.
A couple of things stand-out with regards to the book. First, it would appear that it is a book about sales, which it is. However, there is a lot of things you can take from the book and apply to your specific career and, more generally speaking, your life. Second, the book isn’t directly authored by Dr. Maltz but by a collection of five authors who apply his Psycho-Cybernetics teaching to the profession of sales. Regardless, the book still feels as though it is written in the voice of Dr. Maltz himself.
A couple of the computer science topics that I am deeply interested in are machine learning and artificial intelligence. I’m particularly interested in the progress and development of artificial intelligence. It’s already a part of our everyday life. Currently, it’s narrow in the tasks that it handles. If you’ve ever used Google’s search engine, the Facebook news feed, a maps application for directions, or the sales chat/IM features on a website, you’ve interacted with AI.
The development path for AI is to move it from narrow to more general tasks. It is here where there is a fear that AI will reach the point of “singularity.” Singularity is considered the point of runaway technological advancement where the AI moves from narrow tasks to general intelligence. At that point, it develops the ability to learn, or improve itself, faster than humans can control it. In the apocalyptic scenarios, the AI evolves rapidly to the point where it sees humans as resources to be optimized, which might eventually result in the extinction of the human race. While that is the grim side, there is also the hopeful side that a runaway AI will usher in a new age of prosperity for the human race in which rote, menial tasks are done by machines while humans can focus on more meaningful items.
To keep myself honest with my diet and fitness, I like reading the occasional health related book. Through various referral paths, I got turned on to The Endurance Handbook by Dr. Philip Maffetone. Dr. Maffetone has spent most of his career working with endurance athletes to help them achieve peak performance and has written many books on the subject. In this book, Maffetone describes the methods and routines he teaches endurance athletes, which he has wrapped into a program that he calls the MAF Method.
What stands out about the MAF Method is that it’s not your conventional training program. It eschews a lot of the “no pain, no gain” themes that are the foundation of most modern workout programs. Instead Maffetone’s focus is on teaching the body to use and burn fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. While this is an important concept for endurance athletes, there’s a lot you can get out of the book even if you are just looking to futher your knowledge of nutrition, training, and fitness.
For example, last year I split my reading into morning and evening reads. Evening reads are my traditional fun reads, which include science fiction, business narratives, and health & fitness. My morning reads were a new addition to my routine. These reads focus on developing the proper mindset and approach to life. I had a good seed of books to get me started. What’s great is that the more of these books you read, the more books and resources that you discover. While they are all variations on the same theme, the repetition and reinforcement is good for developing the mind. It’s no different than lifting weights to build strength. The exercises may vary and work different parts of the body, but the combined effect of repeatedly performing the exercises keeps you physically fit. Well my morning reads keep me mentally fit.
One of the books that consistently appeared in my morning reads was The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. It was referenced so many times that I knew I had to read it for myself.
My go-to resource for web analytics is Avinash Kaushik. Guru does not adequately describe his level of expertise on the topic. If you have any interest in analytics, his blog is a great resource that is chock full of information. The articles are deep dives into the concepts, techniques, and tools that allow you to get the most out of your online presence. For bite-sized pieces of insight, I’d recommend subscribing to his newsletter, which you can do from his website.
So what does Avinash Kaushik have to do with the book Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It? In June of last year, Avinash mentioned the book in one of his newsletters. I have such high regard for his opinions and insights, that I immediately added the book to the top of my reading list.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a classic. It’s amazing to me how much of the book is relevant today. While PKD may have been a little off with how soon his fictional androids would become a reality, it’s quite possibly a future that is not that far away.
If you’re not already aware, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis of the original Blade Runner movie. I first saw the movie in the late eighties and really enjoyed it. It was many years later before I realized that it was based on PKD’s book. I make a conscious effort to read classic science fiction, so I added it to my reading list. The book languished on my never ending reading list for a few years. When Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the original movie, came out last year, I decided it was time to move the book up in my reading queue. I was determined to read the book before seeing the movie (which, by the way, I still haven’t seen yet).
There are book recommendations, and then, there are special book recommendations. When your mother says you should read a book, it qualifies as an extra special book recommendation. In other words, when mom says you should read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, you don’t ask why, you just do it.
I must admit that I was a little perplexed as to why my mother would find a book about the 1936 US Olympic men’s crew team interesting. After reading it, I figured out why. While the book covers the sport of competitive rowing, that’s not it’s primary theme. The book is more focused on the struggles facing America during the late twenties and earlier thirties. There were the effects of The Great Depression. The drought that turned middle America into The Dust Bowl. The rise of Hitler and the imminent threat of a second World War. Truth be told, it was a turbulent time. The book is really about how a group of boys came together and persevered through dedication and hard work to reach their ultimate goal against all odds.
Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills, Big Results by Larry Kendall is a blueprint for what has made Larry and his associates at The Group, Inc. in Fort Collins, CO, one of the most successful real estate companies in the country. In the book, he offers up the principles and techniques that he has used to build a successful and lasting career in real estate. What’s most interesting is that the information he presents is not specific to real estate. It can be applied by sales professionals in any industry. Furthermore, a lot of the teachings will help to one to become a better person and simply live a better, more fulfilling life.
I have a problem with my reading list – a big problem.
I organized my reading list over this past week for 2018. I was happy to learn that I read 28 books last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t even make a dent in my master wish list of books since I added 48 new books to my list during 2017. My wish list of books to read is sitting at over 200. Last year, I had 7 years of books on my list. This year it’s grown to 8.