Books

Personal Improvement

Josh Waitzkin was the child chess prodigy, jujitsu master and inspiration for the movie, Searching for Bobby Fisher. Through stories of martial arts wars and tense chess face-offs, Waitzkin reveals the inner workings of his everyday methods, including systematically triggering breakthroughs, cultivating top-1% technique in any field, and mastering the art of performance psychology.

An old favorite of mine. I haven’t written a review yet, but plan to do so the next time I do a re-read. Worth a look for any aspiring writer or creative.

SmartCuts is an attempt at explaining how the outliers Snow has observed in his journalistic career have managed to completely bypass the traditional, incremental, system of progress that most of us work through.

Just finished The Obstacle is the Way and will be working on a review.

Fantastic introduction to Stoicism through the lens of modern and ancient stories we can all relate to. Ryan will inspire you to take adversity and use it to your advantage. Must read.

Thinking Fast and Slow is a masters class on the human brain, it’s systems, strengths and weaknesses, and how our programming can work against us.

If you are a fan of Charlie Munger and mental models this is a must read and will certainly help your investing and is the truth in comparison to Malcolm Gladwell’s fun but incomplete (and inaccurate) book Blink.

Stumbling Upon Happiness was a favorite book of mine prior to the book reviews. Must read if you want to learn to better understand what really makes us happy and the stumbling blocks to get there.

Personal Finance

I recently finished up a classic, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. This is the progenitor of the entire Financial Independence movement. This book changed the lives of millions and helped countless people get out of debt. A lot has changed since then, particularly in the investing. Bonds aren’t doing much for income investors these days. The section of specific tips also got pretty boring (but so do a lot of modern day blog posts on the same topic).

I recently finished Patrick O’Shaughnessy‘s book, Millennial Money. who also has a great blog over at Millennial Invest. I really enjoyed the book. It’s good to hear an investment philosophy specifically geared toward the under 30 crowd. There wasn’t a lot of groundbreaking information, but it was a very solid primer on all the advantages that youth conveys to the average investor and how starting early and often is the real key to ending up wealthy.

I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. The One-Page Financial Plan by Carl Richards is a masterpiece in simplicity. His ideas aren’t necessarily new and the book covers a lot of the same ground as many others. BUT Richard’sability to distill important ideas in to simple, memorable, and teachable images is a gift. It’s incredibly accessible to the average person and convey’s lessons in a single image I could spend an hour trying to convey.

Entrepreneurship

Choose Yourself is about principles and mentality, but light on actionable strategies. He answered those criticisms with his follow-up best seller, The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth which gets down and dirty for the tactics.

The world is changing.  Everything we aspired to for “security,” everything we thought was “safe,” no longer is: College. Employment. Retirement. Government. It’s all crumbling down. In every part of society, the middlemen are being pushed out of the picture. No longer is someone coming to hire you, to invest in your company, to sign you, to pick you. It’s on you to make the most important decision in your life: Choose Yourself.

Everybody knows Tim Ferriss and likely his original best seller – The 4 Hour Work Week. The expanded and updated addition is worth anybody’s time and will be a classic for those of us who struggle with the tools and systems to be efficient in our businesses and can open eyes to the type of lifestyle possible if you work hard (and smart) enough to get there.

Networking

Overall a valuable read for any aspiring entrepreneur, executive or writer. Mastermind Dinners by Jayson Gaignard. It was a very quick and easy read with a lot of valuable information on the power of networking, through providing value to others, specifically utilizing dinner parties.

I really enjoyed Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. One my my professional development goals for the year was to improve my networking, specifically how to do it in a more systematic and methodical way.

Marketing

I recently finished up Unthinking – The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy by Harry Beckwith. Beckwith attempts to use his 50 years as a marketer to explain the hidden biases and mental quirks that cause consumers to do what they do. I’d say if your not in marketing or just have limited reading time, this one should go on the backburner.

History

I’ve got to be honest I didn’t love the The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe . It was waaaay to long to make the points it was trying to make and it goes so in to the weeds that I couldn’t make it through some huge chunks of it. However, there were quite a few great concepts that I tried to pull out and the book gave me a new mental models on evaluating and viewing the differences between the generations.

 

Biography

More than any preacher in American history, Billy Graham has acted as the religious of the Protestant faith in this country. He’s held court worldwide with politicians, presidents, celebrities, and many others. His long career also meant he was forced to deal with a changing landscape of civil rights, women’s rights, the Cold War and dozens of other shifts in America. It’s a shame for any student of American history to not understand his influence across generations and administrations.

Fiction

I just finished This is Where I Leave You by Jonathon Tropper. It was a fantastic combination of hilarious and heartbreaking with a lot of insight in to minds of men and brothers. While I don’t have a host of siblings, I found myself reminded of the dysfunction in my own family.

Science Fiction

I just finished up the first novel of the series, Consider Phlebas, an intergalactic war is raging, and our hero is crossing the galaxy, fighting off the Culture, in an attempt to capture a computer that could win the war.

The Martian is one of the best near-future science fiction novels in a while. Andy Weir’s extensive knowledge on the actual process of space flight made the book an education as well as a lot of fun. He’s also an inspiration for any aspiring writers since he self-published on Amazon and is now a best seller with a hit movie.

This was my surprise series of the summer. I grabbed one on a lark and quickly hammered my way through the trilogy. The books take a common premise (the origin of humanity) and takes it for a fascinating spin. The premise is fun, the characters are relatively well written and the pacing is fast.

The Atlantis Gene (Book 1), The Atlantis Plague (Book 2) and The Atlantis World (Book 3)

I recently finished The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. I owe our prior roommate Jane a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Cixin. She’s Chinese and gifted me the English version, saying it was her favorite Chinese fiction. This is the first Chinese science-fiction to become a major hit to the point that it has been translated and distributed in the US and I can certainly see why.

These books were fun just because I always enjoy a good insurgency series. The earth has been invaded, but rather than just getting rid of humanity we’ve been occupied. Humanity is on the brink but fighting back as usual. The books weren’t anything new or unusual, but they were a fun and quick summer read.

Conquest (Book1) and Empire (Book 2)

Sanderson finished up one of my all time favorite series The Wheel of Time, after the unfortunate death of Robert Jordan, and he did a fanstastic job.

His new work The Reckoners Series is set in modern day earth but humanity has suddenly developed super powers, not unlike the X-Men or the old show Heroes. In this version though, US (and world) have been largely destroyed and the remaining cities are ruled by the specials.

Fantasy

I finished Book 1 and Book 2 of the Stormlight Archive series. I have to say, if you enjoyed Tolkien and Robert Jordan, you can’t go wrong with the books. The characters are engaging, the world building is relatively original, and the pace is fun. If you enjoy fantasy, give these a try.