Favorite Books

I read a lot. One of the most powerful things a person can do is introduce you to the right book, so below are some of my favorite books from 2015 and before. After that, you can find my favorite books in yearly roundups:

I was inspired by people like Julien Smith, Jason Evanish, Ryan Holiday, and Ted Gonder who share all the books they’ve read, but my list is just the best.  Any book summary blog posts are linked to in the title.

Don’t forget the crowning literary achievements here – Life is a Game: Group Games for Kids, Teens, and Adults, and The Habitual Hustler: Daily Habits of 50 Self Employed Entrepreneurs!

Nonfiction:

Timeless Business:

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker. People pay for value given. Therefore, assuming no foul play, businesses are as successful as the value they add to society.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. Networking doesn’t have to be slimy. Add value to the health, wealth, and family of all  you meet.

Science/Society:

The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb. Stop trying to universal causality happen. It’s not going to happen!

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. It’s not just men holding women back in the workplace. Done is better than perfect. Get on rocket ship companies without asking which seat.

Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nicholas Taleb In a world filled with uncertainty, the most powerful things are anti fragile, those that are made stronger through mishandling

New Business:

Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham. Real life – suburbs = societal taboos. School, prison, and “ladies who lunch” are alike in that they have no effect on the real world. 

Zero To One: How To Build The Future by Peter Thiel The only business is monopoly. Indeterminate futures and dreaming big.

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher In the modern world, you can’t wait to be chosen by gatekeepers. you have to choose yourself. 

Actionable:

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday.  Ask yourself when consuming info “What do I plan to do with this information?”. If it’s merely distraction, you might as well be watching Comedy Central.

I Will Teach You to be Rich by Ramit Sethi. Amassing money isn’t hard with discipline. Make a budget, stick to it, and save.

The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR by Jason Kincaid. Read this book instead of hiring a tech PR rep. Seriously.

Personal Development:

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow. Here’s how smart people make their own luck in today’s world.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work you Love by Cal Newport ‘Follow your passion’ is a fallacy. Instead, build rare and valuable career capital through deliberate practice.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Humans are merely bundles of habits. Here’s how to recognize your own and form the right ones. 

Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create Purpose In Their Lives by Isiah Hankel. The only self development book you NEED to read.

The Startup of You by Reid Hoffman. Your network is your net worth. Invest in it and keep it healthy.

What I Wish I Knew When I was 20 by Tina Seelig. The bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. Cater to luck. Protect your reputation.

Philosophy:

Principles by Ray Dalio. Write down your principles so that you can truly live by them.

The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday Great intro to Stoic philosophy. It’s up to you to turn reality to your advantage.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Making art is hard, and Resistance will conspire against you making it. Fight it!

Pop Science:

Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims.  Fail forward through iterative experiments.

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant. Givers outperform takers and matchers in most things.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. Sticky ideas are: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credentialed, Emotional, Story.

Semi-biographical:

On Writing by Stephen King To be a good writer, write a lot and read a lot. 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Suffering (and life) is what you make of it.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman by Richard Feynman. The greatest physicist of our era was a diehard prankster whose gleeful curiosity  fueled his discoveries.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Fascinating look at the journal of a true visionary, yet authentic douchebag at times.

The Fish That Ate The Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King by Rich Cohen Fascinating true story about how Samuel Zemurray clawed his way to the top and controlled half of Latin America all through bananas.

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Fiction:

Meaningful

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky Fantastic Harry Potter fan fiction revolving around the scientific method and rationality. Petunia married a biophysicist and Harry becomes the ultimate scientist.

Dune by Frank Herbert. Religions are methods of control. Sandworms are badass.

Mushashi by Eiji YoshikawaDiscipline is the only path to greatness.

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Expuery. Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Money is a neutral indicator of value. Charity is overrated. Pure Meritocracy is the only way to govern.

Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. Women are the best and worst things ever. Happiness is deceptive.

Gripping

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson Men who hate women will get their comeuppance from Lisbeth Salander. 

The Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniI forgot I had a physical body while reading the first third of this book. Absolutely enthralling.

City of Thieves by David Benioff. Irreverent, dark, and gripping. Shenanigans in besieged WWII Leningrad.

Hilarious

Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins Straight up narrative hippie proselytizing, but with the most beautiful prose and metaphors.

Fluke and Fool by Christopher Moore. Moore is hilarious. Everything’s better with a little cheekiness

A Confederacy of Dunces by John O Toole. Life is a tragicomedy.

Scifi/Fantasy

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip Dick. What makes us human? 

The Magicians series by Lev Grossman Actually entering Narnia opens up a whole host of problems. Stay away from gods.

Beautiful Prose

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. The value of storytelling in a skeptical world.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. English is a funny language. Children’s books can help elucidate adult problems.

The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett. Masterful intergenerational storytelling with nasty villains.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov can write better in his third language than anyone else can in their first. He made me empathize with a pedophile.