What I read in 2017

I surprised myself this year and took on reading with a vengeance. The first book was so good it re-energized my thirst for knowledge, a few books later I started reading a book a week and I managed to continue that through the end of the year. I’ve never seen myself read with this much consistency, but it has become a habit I hope I don’t quit. This list is in the order that I read them.

1. Stealing Fire

by Steven Kolter and Jamie Wheal

This book magically showed up to my office one day as it was sent to me by an old co-worker with no notice. It ended up being my favorite book of the year and completely changed the way I approach personal development. The book provides an in depth definition of “ecstasy” (that feelings when you are “in the zone” or “experiencing the divine” or on drugs), what happens in the brain during it and and it can be used to learn faster and grow wiser. I believe if you own a brain, you should learn how it works and this is one of those books that can help. (Amazon)

2. The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari

by Robin Sharma

This is a classic fable about how to reduce stress and achieve your hopes and dreams by using only your mind. I’ve not sure I’ve ever read a book like this before now (ridiculous, I know) but I really appreciated reading this as the timing was right in life. If you are looking for a positive, inward looking read, look no further. (Amazon)

3. The Rise of Superman

by Steven Kolter

This is a predecessor to “Stealing Fire”, but focused on “flow” and mostly in the field of extreme sports. The best part has got to be the in-depth stories of the insane feats athletes accomplished under impossible circumstances (like jumping over the Great Wall of China with a broken ankle on a skateboard). (Amazon)

4. Stealing Fire (again)

This was so good I had to read it again, but this time with a highlighter. I really wanted to get a deeper understanding of ecstasy and how to hack it naturally (because don’t we all want to live in ecstasy!?!??!)

5. Bold

by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kolter

Continuing back in Kolter’s anthology is “Bold” which is about using exponential technologies to change the world. It contains a great template and mindset for entrepreneurs looking to do something big. (Amazon)

6. The Planet Remade (couldn’t finish)

by Oliver Morton

Sadly this is probably my least favorite book of the year. I was looking for a good book on geo-engineering — this has the “geo” but lacks the “good”. I didn’t like it because he waxes poetic about environmental processes which are complicated enough as it is. Get to the point. Next. (Amazon)

7. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

by Marie Kondo

Gifted to me after moving to a new spot, this is great for anybody who has a hard time keeping tidy around the house or getting rid of the past. Before you read this, know that I also think she’s a bit OCD so you aren’t alone. She’s still got a great mindset and great tips. (Amazon)

8. Zero To One

by Peter Theil

This is a must read for ANYBODY who wants to know ANYTHING about business. Its simple, straightforward and breaks business down to its most basic concepts. (Amazon)

This is where I started to ramp up my reading on starting a business — I realized if I am going to be starting a business myself, then I should take advice from those who did it before me.

9. Hooked

by Nir Eyal

About how to design habit forming products, focused on software / apps. Useful book if you are making an app with a great framework for thinking about the users journey, nothing too groundbreaking otherwise. (Amazon)

10. Growth Hacker Marketing

by Ryan Holiday

Short read on leveraging todays tools to get noticed online. Nothing groundbreaking but it never hurts to cover the basics. (Amazon)

11. Lean Startup (again)

by Eric Reis

Must read for anybody creating a technology startup. It’s principles seem to be baked into all startup discussions by now but it’s always good to re-read where it all began. (Amazon)

12. The Hard Thing About Hard Things

by Ben Horowitz

Should be retitled, “How to be a badass in the board room”. For some reason I’ve always know of Marc Andreessen from Andreessen Horowitz but never knew much about Ben. His writing is great, anecdotes are badass and gets extra points for starting each chapter with a rap quote. Easily one of my favorites of the year. (Amazon)

13. The Everything Store (Jeff Bezos)

by Brad Stone

Super interesting biography on Jeff Bezos and the rise of Amazon as they have been at the heart of the technology boom since the beginning (can you believe they were founded 20+ years ago!?). Very informative, nothing particularly magical in the writing, and I can’t necessarily say I respect Bezos more after reading it. (Amazon)

14. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The most memorable part of this book is the opening quote: “The Universe is in no way obligated to make sense to you”, the book then proceeds to get very confusing and explains how the universe began and works in just 224 pages. Don’t ask me details. (Amazon)

15. Elon Musk

by Ashlee Vance

A biography on anybody who views their purpose as saving the planet and turning humans into an interplanetary species is going to be interesting even if they have only achieved some of their goal so far. He may be odd but I found Musk more admirable than Bezos. (Amazon)

16. Abundance

by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kolter

I had to finish out all of Kolter’s books, right? This is a great high level perspective on human progress and how even though sometimes the world looks bleak, we are the most educated, healthy, fed, and on a better path to universal wealth and abundance than ever before (as a species). This provides the numbers to back that up and makes positive projections into the future. (Amazon)

17. Ready Player One (again)

by Ernest Cline

As a treat to myself for the Thanksgiving week I decided to re-read one of the most fun books I’ve read. This is a great sci-fi novel about a climate ravished world where all the humans spend their time in a wacky, fun VR universe packed with references to 80’s video game culture. You will want to have read it before you see Spielberg’s rendition in theaters next year. (Amazon)

19. Memos from the Chairman

by Alan (Ace) Greenberg

A compilation of memo’s from Alan Greenberg’s time as the head of Bear Sterns, this is non-stop (sometimes comical) common sense business advice that originates from his (fictional) mentor Haimchinkel Malintz Anaynikal and his (fictional) peers. This was much different and much better than I expected. (Amazon)

18. Buffetology (part 1)

by Mary Buffett

Great overview of how Warren Buffett looks at business, but I was a bit off-put that this was written by his ex-daughter in law, after they were family. It’s full of classic buffet common sense business advice, but is getting a bit dated now that technology has taken over the world and at the time of writing Buffet’s position was to “stay away” from technology because it is too new.

(Amazon)

20. Into the Magic Shop

by James R. Doty MD

Keeping with the healthy diet of positive inward looking books, this is a neuroscientists journey to happiness. I like how he goes back and forth between science and spirituality to define how to find happiness. One of the favorite facts I learned is that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart (then stating that compassion ACTUALLY comes from the heart). (Amazon)

21. Incognito

by David Eagleman

Finally back to some BRAINY books! Another must read how-to guide for brain owners by a neuroscientist. We all know that the conscious mind is just a small piece of how our brain / body works, and this book provides insight into how the rest of the body feeds the brain with thoughts, feelings and ideas. It provides a great framework for how we think, goes into how we can argue with ourselves and if we even have free-will from ourselves. (Amazon)

22. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

by Douglas Adams

This was gifted to me for Christmas and I decided to read it before the New Year instead of the meaty brainy books I like to chew on. I started reading and was a bit bogged down by the late-70’s British comedic writing but ended up enjoying this thoroughly (and laughing frequently). (Amazon)

Books I’m excited to read in 2018 (my goal is 50 in total!):

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