I read, a lot. But, that wasn’t always the case. A few years ago I realized I was reading less and less, and decided that was a problem I’d like to do something about. At that point, with a new business, a young child and plenty of ‘stuff to do’, I was averaging five or less books a year.
Last year, I read 46. “Read” is a relative term, since I consume less and less physical books each year and more e-books and audio books. As a result, I feel like my brain is being exercised and stimulated and the ideas and enjoyment I’ve gleaned from reading has made a big difference in my quality of life (and the way I do business).
Here are five of my favorite reads from last year (2017). All of these books held my interest from start to finish, of course, but more importantly they stayed with me long after I put them down.
Never Split the Difference: Negotiate As If Your Life Depended Upon It, Chris Voss
Former FBI Chris Voss takes you inside actual hostage negotiations and then explains the psychology behind his tactics. Then he uses real-world examples of negotiation that are a little more useful for the rest of us: negotiating a pay raise, a good price on a car, or dealing with contracts and estimates. I love books that change your perspective in fundamental ways, and this book definitely did that.
Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
If you are a closet nerd and/or are fascinated by 80s-era geek references, this book is for you (If you liked Stranger Things at all, you’ll love this book). I’m not going to spoil the story here, but I would highly recommend that you listen to the audio book version. It’s narrated by Will Wheaton, of Star Trek: Next Generation fame, and brilliantly so.
The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday
I read anything I can from Ryan Holiday, all the while regarding his intellect with a bit of envy. This book is an introduction of sorts to the philosophy of the Stoicisim, repackaged for consumtion by modern audiences. The amazing thing is that, due to the nature of stoicism, it doesn’t need much cleaning up to resonate. Worth a read or a listen (I did, four times).
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, Oliver Burkeman
If you’ve listened to gurus like Tony Robbins or even charismatic positive preachers like Joel Osteen, you know what positive thinking is all about. I’m not against positive thinking at all—I’m a fan in general of positive thinking but always felt that there was something missing. Sure, the “Secret” makes you feel good, but….how the hell does visualizing success and saying positive affirmations actually make you happy? This book explores what Burkeman calls the ‘negative path to happiness’, in which the negative thoughts in one’s head and the negative realities of life aren’t sugarcoated or ignored, but recognized and confronted. Great read.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg
There are so many books out there on forming positive habits and breaking destructive ones, but this one—written by NY Times investigative reporter Charles Duhigg—breaks down the research behind habit formation and gives science-based tools to start forming better habits–today. It helped me to stop getting overwhelmed and to start taking action on great habits that I’ve managed to keep, now many months later.