The Best Books I Read in 2016

I read a lot of books this year.

Many were medical/health related books. I haven’t listed those here. I’m no medic and have no idea how accurate they are. Some were helpful, others less so. If you want recommendations – email me.

Here are the books I enjoyed the most:

Media/Technology

  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson – This is an important book about the power of platforms such as Twitter and how they’ve been used to destroy people’s lives. It’s about the vicious mentality held by trolls and others willing to voice their opinion on the internet, and how the psychological results echo barbaric and medieval punishments. Sounds depressing but the way Ronson writes is captivating.
  • Trust me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday – I read this during the Brexit referendum. It’s about how easily the media and people in general can be manipulated. I’m not a fan of the tabloids. I find it tragic that so many people read them and take what they read as gospel.
  • Future Crimes by Marc Goodman – Everyone should read this book. Most people aren’t aware of the dark side of the internet, or the implications of sharing data, and the security risks that are attached to advances in technology. It’s a fascinating read, and in some places disturbing. I think it’s important that we educate ourselves about the risks so that we can protect ourselves, while still benefitting from the advantages that technology provides.

Leadership

  • The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh –  This is one of the best books on leadership I’ve ever read. Apart from what I’ve learnt from watching Rudy, (one of my favourite films), I know nothing about American football and still got loads out of this book. The principles can be applied to any leadership situation.
  • Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek – I’m a big fan of Simon. I enjoyed this book more than Start With Why. It’s about creating an environment that inspires people to go to work and how to foster trust – crucial for any good team.
  • Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willing and Leif Babin – This is military heavy but I loved the principle of owning everything we do. I’m a lot more disciplined since reading this book.

Relationships/Communication

  • Who’s Got Your Back by Keith Ferrazzi – I really enjoyed Keith’s last book, Never Eat Alone. I felt like I was struggling with the same issues that Keith was dealing with when he wrote this book.  It’s about building deep and trusting relationships, and the importance of doing so. The ideas in the book are worth reading about, even if some of them are hard to implement.
  • Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed by Michael D. Eisner and Aaron R. Cohen – I was interested in most of the people profiled in this book and found it interesting as a result. It’s a useful read for anyone contemplating working in a partnership. It echoed Keith’s books in its emphasis on working with others, and the joy and importance of good quality working relationships.
  • Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Patterson, Granny, McMillan and Switzler – There’s a lot of common sense in this book. I found it useful when I had to have a few difficult conversations myself this year.
  • Lying by Sam Harris – I think everyone should read this book. It’s not long. I’m a huge advocate of being honest and direct with people, and try to be as open and straight as possible. It is difficult. Especially when people aren’t used to brutal honesty.  So many relationships are destroyed by lies and hiding the truth. This book emphasises why.  (Waking Up, about “Searching for Spirituality Without Religion” was also not bad).
  • Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger – This book is mostly about post traumatic stress disorder and the importance of feeling a sense of connectedness and belonging. It’s an interesting short read.

Auto/Biographies<

  • Elon Musk: Inventing the Future by Ashlee Vance – I think Elon and what he is trying to achieve is amazing. This book’s an impressive account of his life so far.
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – I’ve never seen Anthony Bourdain’s TV shows but I loved this autobiography. Hugely entertaining and great if you like food, or are interested in life as a chef.
  • A Survival Guide for Life by Bear Grylls – I really enjoyed Mud, Sweat and Tears, Bear’s autobiography. I really like how this guy thinks and got a lot of inspiration from reading this book.
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey – I listened to the audio version which was entertaining. If you’re at all interested in Tina or Saturday Night Live. It’s worth a listen.

Self Improvement

  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – This was brilliant. Funny and entertaining. It’s one of the best books I read all year.
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World Class Performers by Tim Ferris – I’m a huge Tim Ferriss fan and was looking forward to this book. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I first started it. It contains a page or two distilling what Tim’s learnt from 200 or so podcast guests. It felt piecemeal and wasn’t what I was expecting. I was quickly converted after reading a few interviews however. The book is full of tips and recommendations which I’ve found useful.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – I love Ryan’s writing, (going over my notes on The Obstacle is the Way was invaluable this year).  This book was no exception. It’s not long and can be read in a day. I think ego can be useful sometimes but this book  demonstrated the benefits of controlling it.
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller and The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone – these books are pretty long for what they are but the main idea in each book is worth noting. Mainly, do the right thing, and do it ten times as well or as much as anyone else.

Random but Interesting

  • The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – I’d heard people go on about this book and was keen to find out why. I read it when we moved into a new property and found it useful. In particular, I liked the tips on figuring out what to keep or throw away and the philosophy behind doing so.
  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari – I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book but I was fascinated by it. Worth reading.
  • Show Your Work and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon – I found both of these short books useful in terms of encouraging me to share my work and be more creative.
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande – I’m a big fan of checklists. We’re all human and capable of making mistakes. No matter how confident or practiced one may be, there are always things that can be forgotten in the heat of the moment. (Trust me, I know this more than anyone.)

Nutrition

  • Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders. I found this book fascinating. Based on what I’ve read this year, I’m convinced that the gut and microbiome are far more important than many people currently give them credit. It will be interesting to see what more we can find out as science develops in this area.
  • Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg – There seems to be a growing body of evidence about the dangers of sugar and carbs as opposed to fat. There’s a history of type 2 diabetes in my family and my insulin levels tend to be on the high side. I’ve cut down my sugar and carbs intake over the years and feel much better for it.

Fiction

  • Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book. It isn’t the kind of thing I usually read but I was desperate for a good story. I wasn’t disappointed.

Spirituality/Happiness

Business

  • The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck – This book taught me the importance of appreciating customers and not taking them for granted, as well as the value of engaging with them directly.

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