Ten Books From 2015

A Quick Glance At My Favorite Reads From This Past Year

Back in September, I had just recently moved overseas and was sort of dealing with the adjustment process that occurs when a college grad finishes school and begins working full time. I had quite a bit of free time, and was not sure what I should be doing to maximize my productivity.

After much thought, I then wrote an article expressing my opinions on how us post-grads should be utilizing our time now that our lives have changed so drastically — and one of the ways I argued that we should be using our time was to read.

Again, a good friend of mine from a previous company once told me the following:

“After graduation, taking time to study and learn is only more important”.

Ever since hearing this advice, I’ve made a point to seek out books that will not only entertain me, but also build me as a person. If my good friend Dean was right, taking the time to read these books certainly is an investment in my future — or at the very least — they will have served me as being a wonderful source of entertainment these past few months.

Since writing the article in September, I’ve read 10 books, and I’d like to share a few of them with you.

(I’d also like to note that none of the content provided below is connected through affiliate links at all. I’m receiving absolutely no monetary compensation for any of it. Everything that you’re about to read is purely from me to you, with the only motivators being my enjoyment of the books, and my inspiration to share their content with you. However, I have provided links to the Amazon pages for each book in case you would like to read it yourself).

1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich — Remit Sethi

This book was recommended to me because it has loads of actually useful advice on how to manage your money. As a college graduate, I had just entered a part of my life where instead of spending the majority of my money as a student, I would be saving it. So with a consistent series of paychecks being put into your hands every month, this book helps you develop habits, and more importantly, systems and processes that allow you to get a better grasp on your personal finances.

Key takeaways:

  • When it comes to saving and investing, “stop debating minutia” and actually do something about your personal finances. Anybody can talk about the right way to save, or what stocks to invest in. It’s much more difficult (yet significant) to be the type of person that actually acts when it comes to their personal finance life. Open an investment account and use it. Start paying off your student loans instead of just talking about it. Act.
  • Mint.com — Use it. It will change you. This nifty website acts as one convenient location for all of your bank/investment/student loan/credit card accounts, and helps you keep track of expenses, bills, and spending habits. You just link all of your information into their system and watch as the magic happens. If you’re the type of person who likes to keep a close eye on your money, but you’re sick and tired of having to log in to several websites for your credit cards, your bank, et cetera… then this website is something you’ll love. It’s also absolutely free.
  • Automation. This books talks a lot about which banks to use, which credit cards to apply for, and how to best tackle student loans. But my favorite element to all of this is that the author highly endorses the idea of automating everything that you do. All of your bills, your investing, and your savings, when ideally handled, should happen month-by-month without you doing anything. This can all be managed through your financial institutions, but only if you take the initiative (and the time) to set things up right.

2. The 4-Hour Workweek — Tim Ferriss

I have to be honest. I think the title of this book is sort of stupid. It really is misleading in terms of the reality that most people can expect after they read the book. But it’s changed me nonetheless.

This guy basically managed to negotiate with his boss in order for him to work remotely, and then he outsourced all of his tasks to a personal assistant in India for half the cost of his salary (he calls it GeoArbitrage) — so with very few hours per week, he is able to collect his salary by only managing the workflow of his personal assistant.

Smart? Hell yes. Realistic for most of us? Maybe not. But here’s why I loved this book so much.

Key takeaway:

  • If you let it, this book opens up your mind, and allows you to think about yourself, your career, and your life as being malleable, and customizable. You don’t have to fit into the typical mold of getting just any old desk job, saving your money for retirement, and desperately anticipating your annual 2-week paid holiday. It’s so easy to simply fall into the box that society is interested in putting us in. This book instead urges you to ask yourself the question “How do I want to design my life?”. Your schedule, your income, your daily routine, your work, and your surroundings are customizable — and with modern technology, a person can design their life in more ways than ever before. It’s important to simply recognize the possibilities, and be willing to question the status quo.

3. Trust Me, I’m Lying — Ryan Holiday

There’s no question about it, this book is one of the few books that I’ve read that could easily be categorized as “nonfiction”, as well as “thriller”. This guy exposes some of the darker tricks that the media uses to gain your attention. It’s an industry full of lies, trickery, and irresponsible reporting that is leading our society into a place he calls “unreality” via the construction of “pseudo events”.

Key Takeaway:

  • When the basic motivators of the media are viewers and traffic (because this leads to advertisement revenue), it’s inevitable that we will start to see the quality of content being substituted for content which only drives traffic (i.e. Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Elitedaily, etc.).

Title examples could include:

“This Person Resisted Clickbait For 30 Days. You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next”.

When you view media online, just know that you’re a target by these companies — and that you should therefore choose your information carefully, and always think critically about it.

Here’s a little quote from the book that I’ll never forget:

“You sit down to your computer to work. Five minutes later you’re on your fifth Youtube video of talking babies. What happened? Do you just not have any self control?
Sorry, but self control has got nothing to do with it. Not when the clip was deliberately made more attractive by subliminally embedded images, guaranteed to catch your attention. Not when the length of the video is calibrated to be precisely as long as average viewers are statistically most likely to watch.
Would you also be surprised to hear that the content of the video was designed around popular search terms, and that the title went through multiple iterations to see which got the most clicks? And what if the video you watch after that one has been recommended and optimized by Youtube with the deliberate intention of making online video take up as much time in your life as television does? No wonder you can’t get any work done. They won’t let you.”

4. David and Goliath — Malcolm Gladwell

This book has a magical way of explaining what it means to be an underdog — and the interesting patterns that we can see when we observe how it is that underdogs win in this world.

He first describes how the typical story of David and Goliath, as we know it, is missing quite a bit of information and historical context. Summed up shortly, David was ridiculously trained at slinging rocks, and it was very possible that Goliath had some serious health conditions that caused him to be so large — conditions that caused him to have more bark than bite. Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talk discussing the details can be found here, and I’d highly encourage you to watch it. But put simply, David won because he faced the situation in an unconventional way.

The same is true for one of the chairmen of Goldman Sachs, getting his job at the firm early in his career by strategically and intentionally sharing a cab with one of the firm’s executives as he left the building, and then lying to him about his ability to trade options. He got the job (without knowing a thing about financial markets), and rose in the ranks to become one of the most prominent leaders on Wall Street.

The same is true for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who ended up bending the rules of grassroots campaign development by utilizing trickster public relations techniques rather than going about things the hard way and gaining supporters from the ground up.

He also talks about the bombings of London in World War II, which were intended to not only kill citizens, but to instill fear in the survivors. Turns out however, that by natural phenomenon, people who are afraid of being bombed, but are well-distanced from the actual blast zone, can become subjects of euphoria. As Gladwell describes — people aren’t afraid of dying. They’re afraid of being afraid of dying. And when individuals end up still standing after a series of bombings, they often feel happier than ever before. This resulted in a significant portion of London inhabitants to not be negatively affected by the bombings, but rather, feel as though they were almost invincible — which obviously had an effect on the outcome of the war in the region.

Life is full of battles — battles that are sometimes uphill. But the good news is that there is always hope for the underdog. It’s simply important to recognize that unconventional tactics and strategies are the underdog’s best friend, and sometimes all it takes is a little bit of trickery.

Below are the rest of the books that I read since September. I’d highly encourage you to check them out yourself.

  • “Vagabonding” by Rolf Potts
  • “Naked Statistics” by Charles Wheelan
  • “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday
  • “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill
  • “Misbehaving — the Making of Behavioral Economics” by Richard Thaler
  • “Linchpin” by Seth Godin

As usual, if you found this post helpful, or useful in anyway, be sure to like/recommend/share it so that your friends can take a look as well. If the article leads to just one person starting their investing, quitting their dead end job, thinking twice about clickbait when they see it, or fighting an uphill battle against a “giant”, then my work is done here.

Also, I would love to hear from any of you (especially with your book recommendations). Feel free to reach me at patrickmdennis1@gmail.com.

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