2017 Books + My Thoughts on Them

(Work in Progress)

A goal I gave myself for 2017 was: read 12 books! No min/max on pages for the book. Fiction. Nonfiction. Whatever felt right. It was time to dust off the old Kindle, and hook Amazon up with some money.

I was excited for all of 5 minutes when setting this goal…as my sister challenged me to read FOURTY. In a year.

I laughed…

and took on the challenge.

What I’ve done here is list out the books in order of completion. Below the title & author, I will give my 0–5 Star rating, and a brief note sharing my thoughts on the book.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Stars: 5*****

Fascinating. Interesting. Thought-Provoking. An all-around amazing book, informing the reader how the Homo Sapien rose above the rest and grew like wild-fire across the globe. Through evolving the mind and utilizing both physical tools as well as mental guidelines, Homo Sapiens rule the planet, and have destroyed much of it, all within a few thousand years.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Stars: 3.5***’

Classic. Didn’t realize it was going to be as much of a children’s book as it was. With that being said, great message. Plus it made me think of Gene Wilder as Wonka which was cool.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Stars: 5*****

I LOVED this book. Was told by several people that it’s fantastic, and their suggestion did not dissapoint. I was so excited after finishing this fascinating tale of el Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara, that I think I’ve had chia seeds every weekday at the office for breakfast in my smoothie. I actually ran in just socks on a treadmill at midnight in London after an 8 hour flight…just cause I felt like I had to. Must read for all runners (and even if not).

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Stars: 3.5 ***’

Powerful. Emotional. Moving. Insightful. One of those ‘everyone should read’ books. Did leave me wanting more though. Not sure what it was (reading in spurts? mental state of mind?), but I thought I’d put down the book eager to read more of Frankl’s work. Not this time…but maybe I’ll give it another go.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Stars: 4.5****’

When’s this movie coming out? Spielberg better nail it. Assuming it’s half as good as the book, we will all be happy. Fun, fast-paced, great read. Play some 80’s music, fire up the Super Nintendo, and get started.

Hyena by Jude Angelini

Stars: 1.5*’

Was not a fan. Wanted to try something a bit different that appeared to get great reviews. Was way to vulgar for my taste.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Stars: 3***

The teachings of Buddhism interest me. Siddhartha was a taste of it all, but much like Man’s Search for Meaning, I was never ‘hooked’ by the novel. If anyone has another book related to Buddhism, let me know as I’d like to take another crack in my search for Enlightenment.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Stars: 4.5 ****’

Maybe the longest book I’ve ever read. And it took awhile. It was also my first Stephen King novel. I loved it. I had been craving historical fiction, and figured I’d beat out the Hulu series. I was way off…this book was long.

But the fascinating detail, character building, and pretty incredible foresight makes this a must read for history buffs.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Stars: 4.5 ****’

I cried 15–20 pages into this short classic. It’s so important to appreciate life. Morrie, thank you for sharing your story. Everyone should read this at some point in their life (and maybe more than once). Really hits home the message ‘Be Present’.

A Life Well Played by Arnold Palmer

Stars: 3.5 ***’

My buddies from home love golf. I enjoy drinking Arnold Palmers. This book made sense (plus the Masters were fast approaching).

It’s interesting to read an autobiography, in that I’d assume one would come off as arrogant when explaining all that they’ve done in their life. I didn’t know much about Arnold aside from him being a legend on the links, and is face being on Arizona Iced Tea cans *which you can find at a 7–11 near you!*. The man was a legend. Confident, yet not arrogant. Talented and hard working. But most important to me personally, it seemed he didn’t take himself insanely seriously while always handling himself with class. You hear of sports legends like Michael Jordan taking competition to an uncomfortable extreme, as well as athletes who are tools such as Namath. It seems Arnold nailed both. *In his words ;) *

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Stars: 3.5 ***’

My first audiobook, and after starting my second…maybe only audiobook, I definitely picked the right one. I’ve enjoyed some of Murakami’s other work, and will read more of it. What I Talk About gave great context on why and how Haruki became a novelist, as well as the discipline needed to become great at what one does.

I really enjoyed Haruki’s use of running as a secondary means by which to show how hard work, age, and dedication all tie together in one’s search to be successful.

This dude also ran an average of 6 miles a day on the reg. Then ramped it up as he aimed to run the NYC Marathon in less than 4 hours… which I too hope to do (granted on a frame that’s a foot bigger and 100 pounds heavier…but as the Tarahumara taught us, eat some chia seeds + drink some tequila here and there, and I’ll be golden).

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Stars: 5 *****

This should be mandatory reading for students in high school and college. It’s funny, engaging, sad, and RELEVANT. I am recommending this book to anyone who asks the age old ‘What book should I read?’ question. With my sister studying Young Adult literature as she gets her PhD, I wanted to read my first YALit book in some time, and this one set a high bar. The election + #BlackLivesMatter movement increase the emotion in which you may read this book. No matter what side you sit on when it comes to the political party line though, The Hate U Give delivers a message we all need to hear.

We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Stars: 3.5 ***’

Full of truth. Chimamanda discusses social norms and how we must break them. Just wish the book was a little longer. The brevity makes it easy to read more than once, but I feel Chimamanda could’ve gone on a bit more with examples and insights into what it truly means to be a Feminist.

String Theory by David Foster

Stars: 4 ****

I bought this book per Bill Gates’ recommendation, and I loved it. Even bought it for two friends. I do not know how much a non-tennis fan would appreciate the writing, but for those that watch the US Open, Wimbledon, and Roland Garros, this is a must. Speaks to so many different aspects of the tennis world, and most importantly, this guy.

Customer Centricity by Peter Fader

Stars: 2 **

Read this short book as part of a Twitter Wharton program. Some interesting notes, but feel there are other options which can dive deeper on the matter.

Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Stars: 3 ***

Omnivore’s took me awhile to get through, even though I had heard so much about it from so many. I followed up reading OD by watching ‘Cooked’ on Netflix, which complimented the book well. Solid to read, but many of the learnings/discussion pieces within the book, have already become widely talked about opinions on what we eat, and what we eat … eats.

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

Stars: 4.5 ****’

A book that gained steam after the election that rocked our country, Hillbilly Elegy is a must read for anyone getting into the political debate (which seems likes its everyone nowadays). Opens your eyes a bit more to parts of ‘middle America’ and the differences, as well as similarities, to this part of the country that you may see at home no matter where your family is from.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Stars: 3 ***

I probably should’ve just watched the Hulu Series. If you read the book, you should watch the trailer halfway through so you can have a better idea of what’s going on. I will say this: ‘Handmaid’s takes you to a terrifying dystopia…’

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Stars: 4 ****

Recommended to me by a coworker, Homegoing was an intense, moving novel that takes you through the experiences and sorrows tied to slavery and racism of Ghanians taken to America. The style in which it is written, following individuals across generations, makes for a unique flow…filled with pain and emotion.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Stars: 4 ****

Only a matter of time until Jeremy Renner or Brad Pitt plays Jason Dessen. I don’t want to give anything away, but what a fun, science-filled ride. With a dash of ‘Interstellar’ like ideas, this novel that takes place in Chicago will quickly grab your attention, and make you think a bit when it’s all said and done.

The General vs. The President by HW Brands

Stars: 3.5***’

A buddy of mine lent me The General vs. The President after my sharing with him I wanted to learn more about the relations between South Korea, North Korea, and the US. For history buffs, a very detailed look into the tensions throughout Asia, and the global impact felt when those dynamics are tied to a threat of nuclear war. (Sound familiar?)

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Stars: 4.5 ****’

Loved it. Fascinating to hear how a company/brand I wear so often came to be. A must read if you’re a fan of wearing the Nike check. There was one paragraph in the book that stuck to me.

‘Mr Hayami nodded. “See those bamboo trees up there? he asked.

“Yes.”

“Next year … when you come … they will be one foot higher.”

I stared. I understood.’

Just do it.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Stars: 3 ***

I’ll chalk it up to reading Hitchiker’s on an uncomfortable flight. I didn’t really get it. There were some spurts of intrigue, but overall, wouldn’t recommend it. I couldn't follow parts that I’m sure build to the story. While I got the overall idea, and it’s funky, I just was left feeling… meh.

Insomniac City by Billy Hayes (in progress)

Stars:

Decoded by Jay-Z (in progress)

Stars:

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