These are the last days of 2017 and I think that it’s a good excuse to recommend some great reads.
At the beginning of 2016, I set up a personal goal to read a new book every two weeks.
I always felt that learning by doing is important, but reading can help direct your actions and accelerate your learning process.
Also, as a content marketer and blogger, I think reading is like inspirational fuel that helps keep you fresh.
Did I achieve my 2016 goal? Hell no. Not even close.
But I did read quite a lot of books that I think worth mentioning.
Before going into the list, I want to share an insight I got on my reading habits.
How I choose books (apparently)
There are so many great books to read and so little time.
Also, ever since I posted my reading goal for 2016, I’ve been getting book recommendations from awesome people through email, Twitter, and Snapchat – The list of potential books is massive.
So how did I choose what to read this year?
I start by thinking of a problem I need help solving or a new skill I want to acquire. Then I research what book promises to deliver the answer.
Next step is getting recommendations on it from either a friend or an authoritative figure I trust.
The best 12 books I read in 2016
Greg Mckeown – Essentialism
“Essentialism” might not be a book talking directly about entrepreneurship, but I feel like it’s a book every aspiring leader should read.
By taking you through the process of what is essentialism, the book helps you gain insights on what is a “must have” in your life versus what is “noise.”
If you “get” what the book is trying to tell you, you’d be able to reduce stress and optimize your time and efforts. It’s not a productivity book. It’s an efficiency book.
Robert Greene – 48 Laws of power
This one’s a classic.
Gaining real power is rarely done by brut force, but by smart strategize decision making.
Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of power is a book that gives you a whole new perspective on what is power, how to gain control and put yourself in a strategic position to win.
Yes, at times this book feels a bit evil. But like anything else in the world – it’s what you make of it that counts.
Gary Vaynerchuk – #AskGaryVee
Gary is the poster boy for the hustle generation.
If you’re following his DailyVees or #AskGaryVee shows you already know what he’s about.
The book #AskGaryVee is a compilation of questions Gary answered on his show with a fresh take.
Some parts of if are actionable and good; others are inspiring, and some are just Gary being Gary.
The Audio version of the book is better than the written version for two reasons:
- Gary’s thing is his charisma; the book does really good work channeling it.
- The audio version answers are more robust than the written book’s version.
This book gives great insights on Gary’s philosophy about entrepreneurship and business and of course – inspiration.
You just have to remember that a lot of Gary’s talk is inspiring, but if you don’t translate it into action it’ll be useless.
Richard Branson – The Virgin Way
I love Richard Branson, but then again, who doesn’t?
Branson has become the” ideal entrepreneur” for millennials.
Unlike the harsh yet brilliant Steve Jobs, Branson is the “cool” guy, a playboy and a fun loving spirit.
What I loved about Branson’s book is that it shows his unique his DNA and the unique character you have to be to learn something from him.
You can learn his philosophies, but you can’t BE Branson. You can’t mimic his behavior or attitude without going a bit too far yourself.
The second thing I found valuable in his book, is that Branson is not a “follow your passion” type of entrepreneur, but the “follow the best opportunity and have fun while doing it” kind of entrepreneur.
This is what real entrepreneurship usually looks like.
This book is a must read especially if you’ve been over-reading the tech-related biographies, the Tim Ferriss ‘How To’s and the Gary Vaynerchuk (yes yes, I get the irony) hustle digests.
Also, his April Fool story alone is worth reading the whole book for.
Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers
It’s hard finding people that need the recommendation to know Gladwell’s book. It’s pretty well known and rightfully so.
“Outliers” debunks the myth of what makes people successful.
If you’re an inc.com reader, you might believe that “waking up early” or “being grateful every day” is the key.
Well, it’s fun to think that it’s that simple, but it’s usually a symptom, not that the reason.
In his book, Gladwell goes deep and analytical into the reasons and circumstances that lead some of the most well-known and influential people to become who they are.
From the date of birth, number practice hours, culture and legacy to geography and more. “Outliers” gives a detail and thoughtful look into the origins of being successful.
I’ll give you a clue – luck makes a very small part of it.
Peter Thiel – from zero to one
‘Zero to One’ is probably the first book every aspire entrepreneurs read when going into the startup world.
I think they should sell a copy of it at the Apple store as a “comes free with every 13 inches MacBook Air”.
It took me quite some time to find the attention span for it, but after reading it, I get why some see it as a must-read book.
For first time entrepreneurs, Peter’s book can seem like a guideline on how to succeed in your venture, and it does provide some really good insights and perspective.
The book is a bit outdated in it’s approach to “what will make your company successful.”
As the tech world advances, there are a lot of new opportunities to build great companies that might’ve not fit Peter’s criteria.
None the less, some of his key messages could’ve saved a lot of entrepreneurs time, frustration, and money.
Gary Vaynerchuk – Jab, Jab, Jab, right hook
Yes, two Gary books made it to the list.
I think ‘Jab Jab Jab, right hook’ is the best book ever written about social media for executioners. I’ll explain.
There are a lot of great books to focus on the mindset and some other book who focus on very specific tactics (usually focused on ‘hacks’ or one-trick ponies). Gary’s book is a combination of it all.
He talks about how to approach content marketing and content creation, but he also provides huge value by giving tons of examples based on real posts by top brands.
For every example he gives, he shares his breakdown on how he would improve that piece of micro-content.
Most books on the topic give you a “notion” of what would make a post good. Gary dives into details.
I think every social media marketer has to read this book. At least once.
Gabriel Weinberg – Traction
If you are currently building your startup, you should read his book.
Traction is the key factor to modern startup marketing and growth.
Combine what you learn from this book with Brain Balfour’s growth process, and you’ve positioned yourself to win
In his book, Weinberg (Founder of Duck Duck go) explains his approach to startup traction and the 19 traction channels available.
This book won’t make you a better marketer, or even uncover winning tactics and “sure wins,” but it will open your mind a bit on how to do your marketing and how to approach your marketing strategy.
Ryan Holiday – The obstacle is the way
Besides being a marketing prodigy, Ryan Holiday has written several books heavily inspired by Stoicism.
Stoic philosophy has served as inspiration and guidelines for a lot of leaders in Silicon Valley, Coaches and more.
On “The Obstacle is the way,” Holiday explores how every obstacle can be turned into an opportunity.
By breaking down the different phases of dealing with obstacles, showing how different figures in history have faced their challenges and preserved – you get real life examples of practice.
The combination of the philosophical aspect with the examples of how it is used in practice make the book more than just another “inspirational” book and more of a toolset.
You can call it practical inspiration.
Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
While being to very different books, together they can easily be thought of the 101 to stoicism.
If you liked Ryan Holiday’s the easy-read version of the stoic philosophy in my previous recommendation – this is the hardcore version. The source.
Written by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, Meditations is one of the cornerstones of stoic philosophy literature.
Aurelius wrote what came to be ‘ Meditations’ in the days when his reign was in danger by war.
The book is a collection of thoughts, lessons, and self-reflections occurring in the face of the challenges he experiences.
I think it was Tim Ferriss that managed to capture the essence of the book by summarizing it: “Aurelius outlines a philosophy of commitment to virtue above pleasure and tranquility above happiness.”
The Tao of Seneca
The Tao of Seneca is Tim Ferriss’s audiobook that serves as an introduction to Stoic philosophy through the letters written by Seneca.
Very similar to Marcus Aurelius, this letter suit is a guide for the practical philosophy of stoicism and how to live daily life in a humbled but empowering way.
There are some good lessons here to coping with stress, leadership, and modesty that will give you a new perspective on how you live your life.
In both books, you’ll find lessons you can implement in your daily life. Lessons that will help you improve your life’s quality and happiness.
Anthony Robbins – Awaken the giant
Some might say it’s tacky, but I think Tony Robbins is legit.
Sometimes he throws corny statements to the air, but sometimes, they just resonate with you. And that’s what being motivational is all really about no?
Getting you to take the next step, feel better about yourself or help redirect you and put you on the right path.
I don’t know if it’s what he says or his crazy charisma, but this book works for me.
This book simply refocuses me by getting me to ask myself some hard questions, but most importantly get the answers I need and plan my route.
Once a year, if I feel unfocused, I will go back to it (or its audio version).
2017 Is around the corner
When I was in the first year of my psychology degree, my professor for philosophy told us: “When you read a book, you have the chance to talk back to it, to ask it questions and spend as much time as you want in finding the answers”.
That really changed how I feel about reading books. For me, these 12, were the ones I interview most in the past year.
Now I’ll need your help choosing the books I’ll read in 2017 – So please leave your recommendations in the comments!
Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is The Enemy is also a great read.
I have a copy if you want to borrow it 🙂
Hey Roy, I feel like one of the most impactful books I read in 2016 was Deep Work. It dives deep into the neuroscience behind how to get into our natural flow state and how to strategically tune out distractions in our lives. Given that you do a lot of writing, I’m sure you’ll find it a good read that will help you to punch out more great content in 2017. 🙂
Sounds like it’s right down my alley!
I’m currently reading Tim Ferriss’s new book “Tools of Titans”, but it’s definitely going to be my second book for 2017! 🙂