Favorite Books of 2017

Credits: Pancho Rodríguez^2

Continuing the tradition of publishing my top 4 books of the year as I did in 2015 (Spanish) and 2016, I’m happy to share the books I enjoyed the most this year.

This time around it will be way easier, because I completely missed my reading goals for the year. In 2015 I read 24, in 2016 36, and for 2017 I planned to read some lengthier books, so I chose 30 as the 2017 goal.

It seems I’m going to end up with only 12 books read this year. I have around 7 books at 40–80% (I need to control that horrible habit of mine of starting a new book when I already have 2 or 3 started) but they won’t be finished this year. The bright side of this is that I’ll probably have a very healthy book count by the end of the first week of January, since that will be my last week on vacation.

Anyway, here’s my top 4 in no specific order:

‘Radical Candor’ by Kim Scott
(4.23 ★ on Goodreads)

I know I said they were not in any specific order, but out of everything I read this year, this one the one that takes the title of ‘Book of the Year’ for me.

Some people at Techstars that I trust a lot recommended this book and at the first chance I had I bought it.

Here’s a brief explanation of the main concept of the book and some of the supporting ideas:

Radical candor is the sweet spot between managers who are obnoxiously aggressive on one side and ruinously empathetic on the other. It’s about providing guidance, which involves a mix of praise as well as criticism — delivered to produce better results and help employees achieve.
Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees, and Scott has identified three simple principles for building better relationships with your employees: make it personal, get (sh)it done, and understand why it matters.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah
(4.44 ★ on Goodreads)

I’m a big fan of Trevor Noah and The Daily Show. Part of my morning routine includes watching/listening short clips of the Daily Show, so I was happy to buy this book.

To be honest, I didn’t have high expectations for the book, so it really caught me by surprise when I found myself doing the “Ok, 1 more page and that’s it” dance before going to bed.

Trevor shares his story growing up in apartheid South Africa. Born to a black mother and a white father, Trevor stood out from day one:

“Nearly one million people lived in Soweto. Ninety-nine point nine percent of them were black — and then there was me. I was famous in my neighborhood just because of the color of my skin. I was so unique people would give directions using me as a landmark. “The house on Makhalima Street. At the corner you’ll see a light-skinned boy. Take a right there.”

I won’t share more about the details of the book, but just beware that by the end of the last chapter:

Here’s the book description:

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother: his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

‘Thanks for the Feedback’ by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen
(4.02 ★ on Goodreads)

My boss suggested this book to our team and I think it’s one of the best books I’ve read on communication. Not only for teams, but for day to day stuff.

It took me a good chunk of time to finish this one because I would stop to think about some of the ideas on the book. I easily had at least 6 or 7 “Aha!” moments.

Here’s a quick blurb on the book:

We swim in an ocean of feedback. Bosses, colleagues, customers — but also family, friends, and in-laws — they all have “suggestions” for our performance, parenting, or appearance. We know that feedback is essential for healthy relationships and professional development — but we dread it and often dismiss it.
That’s because receiving feedback sits at the junction of two conflicting human desires. We do want to learn and grow. And we also want to be accepted just as we are right now. Thanks for the Feedback is the first book to address this tension head on. It explains why getting feedback is so crucial yet so challenging, and offers a powerful framework to help us take on life’s blizzard of off-hand comments, annual evaluations, and unsolicited advice with curiosity and grace.

‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari
(4.43 ★ on Goodreads)

I won’t say much about this book since I know everybody is raving about it. It took me almost 3 months to finish this book. It’s very well written and I appreciate the little bits of humour scattered across the book. It’s a little dense so I’d recommend reading something light and silly as a palate cleanser, so to speak.

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical — and sometimes devastating — breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

And that’s it!

The goal for 2018 will be 24 books, with a stretch goal of 30. Any recommendations?

And, as always, here’s my (sad) Goodreads data for this year.


If you liked it, clickity-clack the 💚 below. Share any thoughts in the comment section or via twitter at @aldoaguirreg.