I've been told my whole life that reading was valuable and yet I didn't start actively learning until I was 30. I read a little bit in school, and I read a little bit more college, and that's about it. I had read a few books for personal interest over the year and while rare, I really enjoyed most and found them valuable. I also always considered myself smart, and I liked being smart (as I thought). I would bet most people think they are smart, and they also like to be considered smart. Books taught me how little I really knew.
This started a few years ago when I found the Bigger Pockets podcast and developed a really good habit of listening to them in the car and learning about real estate. It was literally life-changing, I listened about how to invest in real estate during my commute to college and the podcasts were the education that really made me money (not to say college isn't valuable). Podcasts eventually turned into audiobooks and it only takes a few good ones to get really hooked. Now I listen to audiobooks or podcasts nearly every day. In the mornings I play through a Bluetooth speaker I have in the shower, in the car it's always playing, and even sometimes at the gym. This is easy to incorporate into your life, inexpensive, VALUABLE, and way more fun than people realize. This is not a chore, this just a largely missed opportunity.
The idea for this page came when I listened to an audiobook with my coworker and we both really enjoyed it. Being able to learn WITH someone and discuss the content was much more rewarding and valuable than just learning on my own. We still read books together but not all of them, and I really liked this way to share this experience, knowledge, and growth with someone.
I've included this list on my website to encourage people to find books they like, make suggestions, or share common interests
Instead of breaking out this year’s books by category, I’ll be doing them in the order I read them, and ‘I’ll include reviews and comments where and when I can.
Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty
The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
The Gene: An Intimate History
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are Better Than You Think
Trump: The Art of the Deal
Letters to a Young Contrarian
Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Principles: Life and Work
Trump: The Art of the Deal
Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki
I read this years ago and just re-read it this year in an attempt to motivate a friend to read it with me, the friend didn’t read it, but I got just as much value out of it this second time as I did the first time. Quick listen (~6 hours), fun, useful and jam-packed with value.
Zero to One – Peter Thiel / Blake Masters
Was surprised how much I liked this book. Talks about Peter Theil’s entrepreneurial experience, how to think differently, and how to think big.
Principles – Ray Dalio
Along one, but fantastic. Ray Dalio narrates and it really helps create a connection to the story. The book is about his experience through building one of the biggest investment firms of all time, and the underlying principles he applied to succeed.
The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It Michael E. Gerber
ECONOMICS / FINANCE
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt – Michael Lewis
Evicted -Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and it’s Aftermath
The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence – Vicki Robin
I’ll tell you what, a lot of people love this book and I am not a fan at all. It’s a short 3 hour listen on how to think differently about how you affect money and how money affects your life. Maybe I read this way too late, probably better for beginners in personal finance. Another reason I think I’m bias is it seems this book comes across differently whether you read it or listen to it (I imagine they all do), Vicki Robin narrates it and her style is just not for me.
The Post-American World 2.0 – Fareed Zakaria
13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown – Simon Johnson, James Kwak
Richest Man in Babylon – George Clason
This book was one I read after my financial apocalypse in an attempt to both change my behavior in self-improvement (reading) and to learn more about how to maximize my economic situation. I was awestruck by how much value I found in this book! It’s written as a fiction novel, but it’s directly and immediately applicable to daily life. I started implementing the “rules of gold” that it provides and my financial situation started improving immediately. Fun read, short, engaging, and useful, what could be better?
The Doors of Perception – Aldous Huxley
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
I rarely read fiction, but this one was worth it. I think most people read this in high school, I was 34, and I’m ok with it. The book shows a dystopian future, one where gratification is instant, everyone is stoned 24/7, relationships have no value, and empathy is nearly non-existent. I think the point of the book was to make this look scary, but I found it fairly appealing!
Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
This book is fantastic! The first book of 2017, I listened to it in a marathon when I drove from North Carolina to Las Vegas and it is quite moving. This might not be the type of book I would usually say I like, but this is definitely an exception. Trevor Noah narrates it and in this book, in particular, it couldn’t be more valuable. He tells his personal story about growing up in South Africa during the apartheid movement. It provides perspective on culture and racism and really got me to make a deep empathic connection with this history. It’s also incredibly entertaining!
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
I read this book because every time Mark Cuban talks about books he raves about this one, He says it amps him up and gets him super motivated, well I want to be amped up and super motivated too!
Ayn Rand is a polarizing writer, to say the least, her style can come across as very selfish. This book has found its’ way deep into politics and debates about different economic systems, though it is written as a fiction story. I wasn’t coerced too much by the theme or it’s supposed ideal motive: If everyone does what they want, to their best ability, the world will be perfect. Regardless it is very interesting, motivating, and it speaks for a genuine position for the greater good, but one that many say is faulty. That said, the main character Howard Roark is determined, resilient, and inspiring. Telling people you love this book seems to come with a bias that you agree with its principles and politics.
Fantasyland – Kurt Andersen
I read this book in 2017 and I’ve been raving about it ever since. Fantasyland discusses why America is the only country in the world that believes in crazy shit en masse. Why are we the only people who deny evolution, think aliens landed in Roswell, and choose our own facts to believe in. The gun craze, Disneyland, and las vegas are all part of what the author calls “the fantasy industrial complex”, and he explains in depth why we chase such nonsense and the origins of so many wacky theories. Great read to give you an objective view of America and our culture.
Letters to a Young Contrarian – Christopher Hitchens
This is written as a letter to someone, a young contrarian having a conversation with Hitch. Hitch explains how to be confident in your values, regardless if it goes against the mass appeal. How to stay vigilant, always, against the immoral and stand up for the weak, even when it’s not popular. Hitchens speaks with conviction, and his style is forceful but brilliant, he always knows how to deliver a potent verbal punch.
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think – Hans Rosling
Fantastic book! I found this being hailed by Bill Gates as a book he claimed was incredibly important to him. I read it immediately and I’m glad I did, too much awesome to really explain other than it’s a thorough explanation of what the title describes. The data says the world is getting better, MUCH better and it explains reasons why it’s so common to think the world is falling apart. This is not a book about positive thinking, it’s about to properly unpack and analyze data. I loved this book from start to finish
On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century – Timothy Snyder
Fantasyland – Kurt Andersen
This one made my top 5 of all time last year. Man everyone in America should read this book.
Mein Kampf (The Ford translation) – Adolf Hitler
Richard Nixon – The Life
Why the West Rules – for Now; The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future – Ian Morris
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos – Jordan Peterson
Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better than you Think
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
Consciousness and the Brain
Deciphering How the Brain Codes Our Thoughts – Didn’t make it through this one, unfortunately. Informative, but not very entertaining, Long, and I couldn’t get excited about it. Cleaned off about 8 hours and I did get some neat points from it, by no means a bomb I may come back to it.
Nobody likes ‘tough love’ more than me. To me, there is no other kind of love! That said, this book traded usefulness for brashness. Some people need a brash kick in the head, I got plenty in the Army. Not a bad read at all, the narrator is passionate, but just wasn’t that useful for me at this point in time. Would have been more useful when I was younger maybe.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life – Before 8 am – Hal Elrod
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated) – Tim Ferris
The Demon-Haunted World – Carl Sagan
Undeniable – Bill Nye
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
Astrophysics for People in Hurry – Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies – Nick Bostrom
The Greatest Story Ever Told – So Far: Why Are We Here? – Lawrence M. Krauss
Merchants of Doubt – Naomi Oreskes / Erik Conway
Did you know that cigarettes are bad for your health? Everyone knows now, but we didn’t always know this. Information about the dangers of cigarettes was available for long before it was accepted by the mainstream. The data was covered up, distorted, and provided in a way that showed DOUBT so that it wasn’t a universal truth, but rather an opinion. Problem is, damage from cigarettes is not an opinion, they are a fact, and yet it took decades to slow the use of cigarette smoking. Those same tactics along with some of the exact same people are being used in the campaign to introduce doubt about climate change. Climate change is real, pretty much everyone knows this and agrees but there is an unfortunately not insignificant portion of the population have been introduced to doubt of the dangers or even existence of climate change, and they accept it. If you know the forces that are being used to shape opinion or create culture, you can see how you fit into them and make a more concise worldview. If you don’t like being sold nonsense propaganda (no one should!) then this is a must read!
The Emporer of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World – Bill Nye
A Brief History of Time – Steven Hawking
I read this book for no apparent reason when I was about ~15 years old simply because it was laying around the house. I couldn’t have gotten luckier to read such an important book at this young, formative age. It helped me shape my worldview and give me an insight into high concept science so early that it helped create the foundation of scientific and fact-based rationality I base my whole life on now.