It really annoys me that I haven’t met my Goodreads reading challenge this year! I was meant to have read 52 books. I’ve completely read 47, and half read about 50 or more… which is ridiculous!
This year, I somehow cultivated a tendency to start reading one book before switching to another, depending on what’s going on in my life, or if something more interesting catches my eye.
I definitely need to be more disciplined – curbing my tendency to spend a fortune with Amazon, and trying my best to finish what I already have.
On the upside – I read some great books this year. There were lots of good ones. You can find the full list here.
Here are some of my favourites in no particular order:
- Deep Survival: Who Lives and Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales – this was an interesting read exploring the mindsets cultivated by people who find themselves in extremely frightening and life threatening situations. It mainly focuses on accidents and things that go wrong in the wild, but the core concepts can be applied to any difficult situation.
- Winners: and How They Succeed by Alistair Campbell – this book explores the mindsets and strategies implemented by a variety of impressive people from politicians, business leaders, sports people, and the Queen. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book and was a bit skeptical about reading it since all I know of Alistair Campbell is how he was Tony Blair’s spin doctor for years. I really enjoyed it however and learnt a lot that ended up being useful when setting our strategy and objectives at work.
- Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within by Chade-Meng Tan – I really enjoyed Chade-Meng Tan’s first book. This one was also useful and I like how the guy writes. I definitely need to get back into meditating regularly again.
- Originals: How Non-Conformists Change the World by Adam Grant – this was one of my favourite books of the year. It goes into how people can cultivate creative and novel ideas and the value of doing so. I also enjoyed Give and Take by Adam too.
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – I know a lot of people who could learn a lot from this book, me included. It explains the value of having clear priorities and being disciplined and conscious of how, and where you spend your energy, and the importance of simplicity.
- Grit: The Power of passion and perseverance by Angela Duckworth – I loved this book. It examines what factors lie behind outstanding achievement and the importance of passion and perseverance over talent or luck.
- Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio – this was by far one of my favourite books of this year. It made quite an impression on me. It goes on about the importance of meaningful relationships and the value of honest and candid feedback. Ray’s ideas and the way he runs his business really resonated with me.
- Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups or How to Build a Future by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel – I’d put off reading this book for a long time as I was dismayed by Peter’s support of Donald Trump during last year’s election campaign. I’m glad I gave in as I learnt so much from this book. I like Peter’s philosophy and ideas surrounding building a business and also on relationships.
- Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts by Ryan Holiday – I wasn’t sure about this book when it first came out – I thought the book would only apply to the making and marketing of work like a book or something similar. The principles apply across the board though, and there’s plenty about how they apply to any business or product. I’m a huge Ryan Holiday fan, and it ended up being one of my most highlighted books!
- How Google Works by Eric Schmidt – I read this when I was hoping to end up at Deep Mind. I’ve always been impressed by Google and found this book really interesting, especially the recruitment piece. It was great to learn more about their hiring philosophy and how seriously they take it. Every company in my opinion should be applying the same principles – who you hire is so important!
- The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead by Richard Branson – I didn’t think I’d get much out of this book but I was seriously wrong. I love Branson’s approach to business and I learnt a lot from it. It also inspired a lot of ideas (for better or worse…). I read Branson’s second autobiography Finding My Virginity too this year which was pretty good.
- Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight – this was one of my favourite books of the year. So many people recommended it in 2016. I’m glad I finally got round to reading it. It’s a great story. I wasn’t familiar with how Nike got started at all so found it really interesting, and inspiring.
- Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull – I really enjoyed this book, especially the first half when Ed writes about the start of Pixar, his interactions with Steve Jobs, and Disney. I’m a huge fan of Bob Iger and having worked at Disney I’m probably more interested than most in stories about the company.
- Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari – this was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time! I loved Harari’s Sapiens and I’ve always been fascinated by the future. I really enjoyed reading and thinking about Harari’s predictions.
- The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking – I have no idea how I came to read this book but I’m glad I did. I love the concept of hygge especially the way it can be applied to the people you love and the experiences you create.
- Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath – I had to make some difficult decisions this year and found the framework presented by this book pretty useful.
- Captivate: the Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards – I learnt a lot about the importance of body language in this book. There’s a lot of practical content, like tips on reading and responding to people. It also taught me about love languages which I’ve found useful.
- The Power of the Other: The Startling Effect Other People Have on You by Henry Cloud – I’ve always been a big believer in how you are influenced by the people you spend the most time with. This book discusses the power that other people have over you whether you like it or not, and talks about the benefits of surrounding yourself with the right people, and the effect your interactions with people have on your brain.
- Power of Moments: Why Certain Experienced have Extraordinary Impact by Chip and Dan Heath – This book examines how we can enhance our every day experiences and increase their impact. I experienced a bit of epiphany towards the end of the book when it goes on about the importance of responding to people you love. I’ve been struggling with a lot of relationships this year. It’s true. It’s hard when people don’t respond or ignore you. It also emphasised how important it is to be present and to respond in a meaningful way to the people we love.
- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – I’d put off reading this book for a long time. Mainly because of it’s length and because I find it hard reading anything that is non-fiction sometimes. I like feeling like I’m learning something and rarely indulge in story books. (I should read more fiction however as it’s much easier to switch off when reading a good story!) I’m so glad I read this book. It’s beautifully written and having travelled around India and being familiar with Australia, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it over the summer when I was pretty ill. The parts on suffering really resonated with me.