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As 2017 is coming to an end I thought it would be good to look back at the books I read this year and offer a few thoughts on my favorites, and general reading habits for this year. My goal was to read 52 books this year, but I only made it through 35.
- Of the 35 books I read this year, only 6 of them were books I own. The others were all books I checked out from the Library (yes, people still visit libraries).
- Of the 35 books I read this year, only 2 of them were ebooks. I’ve almost completely given up reading digital books, analog is the way to go.
- I started a fiction series by Brad Thor. I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy fiction spy thriller novels. It’s a blast! It’s like watching a spy movie, but without wasting your brain away.
- The best book I read this year was easily The Grid . I got it from Bill Gates 2016 favorite books list. (Where I also found Shoe Dog). It was a perfect example of how great writing can make almost any subject interesting. It probably didn’t hurt that It was about the field my Dad just recently retired from earlier this year.
- The most impactful books this year were The Benedict Option and Onward. Essentially about the end of the “Religious Right” and why that’s actually a great thing for “real” faith. A few runner ups were The Circle and Hillbilly Elegy.
- The book talked about the most this year? The Circle. Dave Eggers uses Hyperbole to show us our faults related to technology. The scary part, is every month it’s less hyperbole and more real world examples.
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1-Grit (Finished 2-11-2017)
Ironically, it took me a few tries to finish this book (which is not a reflection of this book in any way!), but I ran out of time in my library e-book “rental” (?). I realized I don’t have a lot of “stick to it-ness” but was reminded how important shipping your work is. Part of the reason I finally shipped a book I was working on this year.
2-The Art of Work (Finished 2-18-2017)
3-The Path of the Assassin (Finished 4-2-2017)
The first in the Scot Harvarth series by Brad Thor. Its seriously like watching an action movie. You can’t put it down.
4-Deep Work (Finished 4-9-2017)
I loved Cal Newport’s previous book, So Good they Can’t Ignore you. This follows perfectly in its path. We are incredibly distracted and can’t get any real meaningful work done. This book is a manifesto on how to break free.
5-State of the Union (Finished 4-28-2017)
Again-another Brad Thor book. This one felt like an episode of Designated Survivor, but a really good episode.
6-Unsubscribe (Finished 4-29-2017)
Honestly, I picked this up at the Library after seeing a Seth Godin quote on the front. It didn’t disappoint. Pair with Deep Work to learn how to survive your job and actually do work that matters. (Side note: Jocelyn K. Gleis podcast and newsletter are must listen/reads)
7-How’s Your Faith? (Finished 5-9-2017)
I found this book for super cheap at a local thrift store. It’s been on the reading list for a while and It didn’t disappoint. A journey to find your faith, all prompted by George W Bush’s question to former Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, How’s your Faith?
8-The Best Question Ever (Finished 6-3-2017)
Honestly I can’t remember what the question was.
9-Blowback (Finished 6-13-2017)
Brad Thor again. Again-awesome.
10-Shoe Dog (Finished 6-17-2017)
I couldn’t put this one down. Phil Knights story of starting Nike. Tons of blood, sweat, and tears. I went out and bought a pair of Nikes afterwards.
11-The Grid (Finished 6-25-2017)
This was my favorite book this year. I was hooked from the beginning and the author did a fantastic job of explaining the role our Electrical Grid plays in our lives and how we can possibly fix it. What a fascinating read.
12-The Undoing Project (Finished 7-4-2017)
The very first Michael Lewis book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen most of the movies based on his books, but this was the first book. It didn’t disappoint and showed his ability to craft a compelling story about almost any field or event.
13-The Benedict Option (Finished 7-15-2017)
By far the most impactful book this year (along with Onward), this book woke me up to the reality of the world we live in. It made me start to think what do I believe politically, why do I believe it? The death of the “religious right” is an excellent thing for true faith in Christ. It also set me down a path to investigate classical education. Which naturally led me here.
14-Onward ( Finished 8-8-2017)
This was an example of batch reading, where you pick a topic and batch read about the subject. This book pairs well with The Benedict Option. While I feel like it’s more hope than doom and gloom it’s got the same core problem. The “Christian Right” is coming to an end and it’s a good thing. One of the ideas that stood out to me was that as technology progresses, what it means to be “pro-life” will mean answering a lot of hard questions. He mentions that it’s likely that in the future when you can “choose” what type of child you have, Christian couples may be the only ones with a down syndrome child. I think that future is closer then we think.
15-Every Good Endeavor ( Finished 8-21-2017)
Tim Keller has an incredible ability to bring scripture to life and pull so much out of it. This book is all about why we work, and how we work. From CEO’s, to freelancers, to stay at home parents this book is all about the purpose of our work.
16-Learning Agile (Finished 8-27-2017)
This one was specifically for work. I was interested in learning more of the nuts and bolts of agile methods and this was a very practical book that made a possibilly dull subject, very interesting. Side note: if you’re looking to learn more about Scrum, this is the best book I’ve read so far.
17-Hillbilly Elegy (Finished 9-4-2017)
This book was on my list for quite a while, and I read through it quickly once it became available. It tracks the life of JD Vance as he grows up in poverty and navigates difficult life decisions. A big idea is what gets and keeps people in a life of poverty. This was a book that reminded me to be thankful for what I have, thankful for what my parents have done, and to work hard.
18-The Circle (Finished 9-24-2017)
Terrific book, terrible movie. This book pairs incredibly well with Neil Postman’s Amusing ourselves to death, and Technopoly. We so quickly accept new technology as good and better then the old. Lines that The Circle leadership say to the their employees remind me of church leadership attempts to get more work from their staff in the name of “ministry”. Mae’s increasing number of computer screens to monitor, ranks to ascend and maintain are an hyperbolic example of our current age. Stop, turn your phone off, and read this book.
19-To Pixar and Beyond (Finished 9-26-2017)
I love books about Pixar. Creativity Inc was one of my favorites. This book is more about the business behind Pixar and has tons of stories about Steve Job’s role at Pixar. If you enjoyed Creativity Inc or Isaacson’s Steve Jobs you’ll love this book.
20-Real Artists Don’t Starve (Finished (10-14-2017)
The second Jeff Goins book I read this year. This one was another encouraging in the the kick your butt kind of way. He gives practical examples why Real Artists aren’t the ones that are starving, but the ones that are making a living. You can make a living and make great art. This pairs well with Perennial Seller.
21-The Colson Way (Finished 10-22-2017)
A look at Nixon’s Hatchet man and his conversion and how he lived the rest of his life in defending his faith, challenging and engaging culture, and ministering to inmates. It was a great look at how stood firm in his faith, while engaging in the public square. It fit well in the club of The Benedict Option and Onward.
22-Draft No. 4 (Finished 10-25-2017)
I heard about this one from a Russell Moore book recommendation. Admittingly I didn’t know much about John McPhee before I started the book. This book is a fantastic book about writing in the vein of Bird by Bird, On Writing, On Writing Well, and The War of Art. My favorite quote is “Writers come in two principle categories-those who are overtly insecure and those who are covertly insecure…”. Substitute “writer” for any field or profession. In fact-human works well too.
23-Building a Story Brand (Finished 10-29-2017)
This was a quick read. It’s perfectly paired with Donald Miller’s podcast. Practical tips and tricks for growing your brand and reaching an audience. Big takeaway for me: It’s not about you or your company. Make the customer the hero.
24-To Sell is Human (Finished 11-8-2017)
Iâ€™ve had this one on the reading list for quite a while. I love Dan Pink’s Books. (Drive is amazing). This books shows why we’re all in sales and how to motivate those around you. We’re all practicing the art of persuasion whether we realize it or not.
25-Finish (Finished 11-12-2017)
Jon Acuff is becoming one of my favorite authors. Do Over was a great book, and Finish follows in its footsteps. This is a perfect book for the new year, and anyone hoping to achieve goals they’ve been trying to accomplish. A big takeaway for me was the idea of cutting your goal in half to make it more achievable.
26-Who Thought this was a Good Idea? (Finished 11-13-2017)
I heard about this book in a fresh air episode. In it, Alyssa Mastromonaco gives a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to work with a President. I love anything behind the scenes and it was fascinating to get a glimpse at what working in the White House looks like.
27-The Gatekeepers (Finished 11-25-2017)
Another example of “batch reading”. This one was a fascinating look at the role Chiefs of Staff play in the White House. This book should be added to any list of leadership books and anyone looking at a comparison between leadership styles. Main Point: Great leaders realize they can’t do everything, and rely on others for help. Insecure leaders create systems that make them at the center of every decision and process. Imagine the president not allowing anyone to use the White House tennis court without his decision (yep-that happened).
28-Side Hustle (Finished 11-25-2017)
This was a quick weekend read. Nothing life changing or new here for me, but a great reminder that with the Internet, you can make money doing what you love. If your work hard and connect with people, anything is possible.
29-Make Your Bed (Finished 12-2-2017)
Easy in read in a few hours-I expected this book to be nothing more than a stocking stuffer, gift store book. But the stories in the book were the perfect elaboration of this talk. Inspiring and practical.
30-How to Think (Finished 12-4-2017)
One of the most important books I read this year. Everyone that signs up for social media should be required to read this. In a world of re-tweeting articles we haven’t read, getting infuriated with things we know nothing about and a world where we’ve lost the ability to see from someone else’s perspective, this book teaches us how to see and love the “Repugnant Cultural Other”. If you want to do more then follow the lead of someone in your tribe, and want to learn how to ask why, you need to read this book.
31-The Richest Man who ever lived (Finished 12-16-2017)
A look at the principles of life and leadership King Solomon shared in the book of Proverbs. The most impactful part to me was the challenge to write out your vision for your life.
32-What is the Bible (Finished 12-21-2017)
This was a fast, easy read. While I don’t agree with a lot of the ideas Rob shared, I appreciate the heart of the book. The Bible is far more important and interesting than we often treat it.
33-Perennial Seller (Finished 12-24-2017)
How do you create work that has a lasting impact? Stop trying to find the hacks and short-cuts. Do important work, share with the right people and repeat.
34-This Bridge will not be Gray (Finished 12-29-2017)
This is the only “children’s” book on the list, but for an important reason. Wonderfully written by Dave Eggers and wonderfully illustrated by Tucker Nichols, it was as fascinating of a read for me as for my son. It’s about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the question of what color the bridge should be. The book is best summed up to me in this quote, “And for a good portion of the human race, because something has not already been, that is a good reason to fear it coming to be.”
35-Rest (Finished 12-30-2017)
One of those “duh” books. This just in, you can’t work endlessly, you need to rest at some point! I’m being a bit harsh, but it was a great read about how to have boundaries between your job and the rest of your life. Work and rest are equally important. The big take away for me, I need to wake up earlier.
Two of of my favorite book recaps for this year:
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