View my 2020 Reading challenge on Goodreads here.
Here are my top 5 books that I read this year (in no particular order):
- High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard
- The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger
- Range by David Epstein
- The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
- The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
A Year of Books
This year was an incredible year. For the first time in my life, I managed to get through 52 books in a single year. On average, one book per week.
I have learnt so much through this process. It’s been amazing to hear from so many amazing people and gain insight from so many different perspectives.
Below is a complete list of each book I read or listened to this year.
The vast majority of these books were listened to either while I was in the car or on walks. Most books go for about 8-10 hours. If you listen on 2x speed that doesn’t affect your comprehension and means you can listen to a book in 4-5 hours. If you commute to work for 20-30 minutes a day. You can listen to a book every week just during your commute.
Even though this might not be the most optimal way to take in the information from a book, it’s still much better to listen to a book than to be listening to music or some other meaningless activity.
Next year I’m going to step it up a notch. The goal is to get through 60 books in 2021! Hopefully more Digital and Physical books than I read this year.
If you’re interested in staying up to date, drop your email in the subscription box at the bottom of this post.
This wouldn’t be a complete list without listing those books that I want to read next year. Here are some of the books that I am most keen to read!
- The Practice: Shipping Creative Work
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life
- Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure
- The Immortality Key: Uncovering the Secret History of the Religion with No Name
- Reality Transurfing Steps I-V
2020 Book List
So now onto the books. The books I most recently read are at the top, descending down to the books I read at the beginning of the year.
The brackets () indicate how the book was read. (Audio) means I listened to it, (Physical) means I read a physical copy of the book and (Digital) means I read a digital version of the book.
Of the 52 books, 41 were (Audio), 3 (Physical) and 8 were (Digital).
December 2020 - 6 Books
Raise Your Game by Alan Stein Jr. (Audio)
A book about the stuff needed to operate at a high level. A lot of interesting concepts about what it takes to lead in a team.
Turn your “have to’s” into “get to’s”
Meltdown by Thomas E. Woods Jr. (Audio)
A book about the 2008 financial crisis in America. The author argues from an Austrian economics view that the federal reserve is negatively impacting the free markets and that it’s intervention in these kinds of crises generally makes this worse and not better.
Although we can’t really change what government does, it’s cool to see how things work and here perspectives on why things aren’t operating as optimally as they could be.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey (Audio)
A wonderful autobiography by the man himself, this book gave me a great insight into the rise from popular schoolboy to Oscar-Winner. I didn’t know much about Matthew but hearing him on podcasts talking about his book got me really interested. He is a great example of always pushing the boundaries and sticking to your guns.
“We all step in shit from time to time. We hit roadblocks, we fuck up, we get fucked, we get sick, we don’t get what we want, we cross thousands of “could have done better”s and “wish that wouldn’t have happened”s in life. Stepping in shit is inevitable, so let’s either see it as good luck, or figure out how to do it less often.” ― Matthew McConaughey, Greenlights
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Physical)
A cute little book about a Little Prince. Many small lessons in here but the main one for me was appreciating what we have. Choosing to love those things that are all around us even when there are better options.
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger (Audio)
Magnificent book about the life of the CEO of Disney. Iger transformed Disney and has successfully lead them to success in the digital age. He is a great example of leadership and making things happen.
“Optimism. One of the most important qualities of a good leader is optimism, a pragmatic enthusiasm for what can be achieved. Even in the face of difficult choices and less than ideal outcomes, an optimistic leader does not yield to pessimism. Simply put, people are not motivated or energized by pessimists.” ― Robert Iger, The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
That Will Never Work by Marc Randolph (Audio)
A great story of the founding of Netflix. The founders had setback after setback and still continued. Netflix is now an immensely successful company. A story about perserverence and overcoming challenges, as well as self-belief.
“As you get older, if you’re at all self-aware, you learn two important things about yourself: what you like, and what you’re good at. Anyone who gets to spend his day doing both of those things is a lucky man.” ― Marc Randolph, That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea
November 2020 - 4 Books
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (Audio)
This was a book about aged care, and about how the way we deal with the dying in the western world isn’t necessarily optimal.
When someone is old and going to die soon, what do you do? Do you give them treatment to extend their life by a few months, or let them die peacefully?
This book is all about coming to terms with death and how medicine can improve that process.
“In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. A story has a sense of a whole, and its arc is determined by the significant moments, the ones where something happens. Measurements of people’s minute-by-minute levels of pleasure and pain miss this fundamental aspect of human existence. A seemingly happy life maybe empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves.” ― Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End****
Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers (Digital)
This was a book that is a compilation of blog posts. There are some excellent short ones in here. One of my favourite ideas was that everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them. There are things that I know that seem obvious that others would love to learn how to do.
Many great bits in this book.
“People often ask me what they can do to be moresuccessful. I say disconnect. Even if just for a few hours. Unplug. Turn off your phone and Wi-Fi. Focus. Write. Practice. Create. That’s what’s rare and valuable these days.
You get no competitive edge from consuming the same stuff everyone else is consuming.” ― Derek Sivers, Hell Yeah or No: what’s worth doing
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen (Digital)
This was a great book about how to measure success in your life. Is financial success worth the negative impacts it may have on your family life? These are topics well worth considering and are discussed at length in the book.
“It’s easier to hold your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold them 98 percent of the time.” ― Clayton M. Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson (Audio)
An excellent book about how to conduct yourself in high pressure conversations and situations. I learnt that it’s always better to put your ideas forward into the ‘pool of knowledge’ rather than leave them in your head.
“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool–even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs. Now, obviously they don’t agree with every idea; they simply do their best to ensure that all ideas find their way into the open.” ― Kerry Patterson, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
October 2020 - 4 Books
The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton (Audio)
A book about modern monetary theory and how the government running a deficit is not a problem at all. Governments that create their own currency face not actual limit on how much currency they can produce. The only real limit is the inflation of the currency.
With this in mind, the author suggests creating a jobs guarantee. This means that everyone without work can have a job working for the government in some community role. Since this just means the economy would be operating at capacity the wages for these people should not create inflation.
A very interesting book about some economics that is increasingly being spoken about in policy discussions.
The Innovators by Walter Isaacson (Audio)
Innovations come from all kinds of places. This book was all about the progression of computers from simple calculators in the 19th century up until modern day smartphones that we have today. I found it really cool to hear how various innovations occurred and how things really came to be as they are in the world of computing.
One thing that struck me in this book is the amount of collaboration that has gone on in computing. There are many parts of computing, like the internet for example, that there is no single ‘inventor’. A group of people, each who contributed their own small part eventually led to the creation of many of the technologies we have today.
“But the main lesson to draw from the birth of computers is that innovation is usually a group effort, involving collaboration between visionaries and engineers, and that creativity comes from drawing on many sources. Only in storybooks do inventions come like a thunderbolt, or a lightbulb popping out of the head of a lone individual in a basement or garret or garage.” ― Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Audio)
Imagine firefighters except their job is to burn all the books in the world. This is what this book is about. It contains many lessons about knowledge protection and about how history must be learnt from and not destroyed.
“Why is it,” he said, one time, at the subway entrance, “I feel I’ve known you so many years?” “Because I like you,” she said, “and I don’t want anything from you.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Audio)
Most of the risks we face in life and markets are not those we consider, but those that come from out of the blue. This entire book is about how you can’t be prepared for every scenario, a black swan event could be right around the corner.
“Missing a train is only painful if you run after it! Likewise, not matching the idea of success others expect from you is only painful if that’s what you are seeking.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
September 2020 - 3 Books
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (Physical)
The story of Nike and how it came to be. Like some of the other books I have read, the story details Knight’s journey of stuggle and near bankruptcy. An excellent read of how to create a wonderful company and enjoy the ride along the way.
“Life is growth. You grow or you die.” ― Phil Knight, Shoe Dog
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck (Audio)
A short book about understanding yourself and how to manage your emotions.
“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” ― M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis (Audio)
Felix seems like a wonderful character and this came across in his book. He details his stories of his various magazine companies and how these principles can be applies to other business ventures.
“Having a great idea is simply not enough. The eventual goal is vastly more important than any idea. It is how ideas are implemented that counts in the long run” ― Felix Dennis, How to Get Rich
August 2020 - 7 Books
Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink (Audio)
Another short book by the great and powerful Jocko Willink. This book is all about managing discipline in the mess of life.
“Don’t expect to be motivated every day to get out there and make things happen. You won’t be. Don’t count on motivation. Count on Discipline.” ― Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual
Scrum by Jeff Sutherland (Audio)
Scrum details what has become the agile methodology of project management. This process means teams work in short sprints of getting things done rather than draw out projects. This style of working has meant that teams are significantly more productive and the people in those teams are much happier.
“No Heroics. If you need a hero to get things done, you have a problem. Heroic effort should be viewed as a failure of planning.” ― Jeff Sutherland, Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
Iron John by Robert Bly (Audio)
This is a book all about masculinity and the way society has suppressed it in recent times. The themes are told through a story about a wild man which makes it an interesting read.
Most American men today do not have enough awakened or living warriors inside to defend their soul houses. And most people, men or women, do not know what genuine outward or inward warriors would look like, or feel like.” ― Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
The Tactical Guide to Women by Shawn T. Smith (Audio)
The landscape of relationships is a complicated one. With divorce rates at very high levels, it’s more important than ever to understand how to mitigate risks in relationships. This book outlines the main ways in which men can reduce their risks in life and with women.
Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins (Digital)
This book claims that everyone is operating at a certain energy level, and that everything around us is also operating with a certain frequency. I learnt that a thought of love is immensely more powerful than a negative one, and now I seek to reduce negative thought patterns as much as possible. I seek to replace them with ‘higher energy’ thoughts.
“We change the world not by what we say or do but as a consequence of what we have become.” ― David R. Hawkins, Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior, author’s Official Revised Edition
Breath by James Nestor (Audio)
Ever thought about your breathing? It turns out that breathing through your mouth is incredibly bad for you, and breathing through your nose is much better. This book outlines the authors journey to discover better breathing techniques.
“the greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.” ― James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Audio)
Another one of Taleb’s books on how randomness can fool us. An important idea is that we need to be able to distinguish between what is lucky and what is skillful, it is not always obvious.
“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.” ― Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets
July 2020 - 2 Books
Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone (Audio)
I haven’t had to do much selling in my life but this book was an excellent guide on how to do that. Cardone is fanatic about making deals and this book is an excellent guide on how to sell more.
“Become so sold, so convinced, so committed to your company, product, and service that you believe it would be a terrible thing for the buyer to do business anywhere else with any other product.” ― Grant Cardone, Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Audio)
An excellent story about a young man uncovering his personal legend. There are so many lessons in this book, I will definitely come back to read this in the future.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
June 2020 - 4 Books
The Third Door by Alex Banayan (Audio)
I couldn’t stop listening to this book. Alex has an amazing story of meeting people and finding a way to get what he wants, against the odds. The main idea of this book is that lots of successful people didn’t take the conventional route, they didn’t go through the main entrance or even the VIP entrance. They found the third door.
“Maybe the hardest part about taking a risk isn’t whether to take it, it’s when to take it. It’s never clear how much momentum is enough to justify leaving school. It’s never clear when it’s the right time to quit your job. Big decisions are rarely clear when you’re making them—they’re only clear looking back. The best you can do is take one careful step at a time.” ― Alex Banayan, The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers
Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus (Digital)
The Grameen bank was started to provide micro-lending services to the poor. Now it is an extremely successful bank providing services all around the world. This book was the story of how it was created and grown.
“People.. were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.” ― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy (Audio)
A typical self-help book. This book contains so many useful nuggets of wisdom. In particular I really liked the power of positive thinking.
“Positive expectations are the mark of the superior personality.” ― Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement: Strategies and Skills that Will Unlock Your Hidden Powers to Succeed
On Power by Gene Simmons (Audio)
The lead singer of KISS writing a book! One thing I really got out of this book was that your work and the rest of your life are not seperate, they are the same. There is no point trying to seperate your life in these ways. Another point the author makes is that the best way to provide for your family isn’t to be there for them and lot’s of time with them, the best way to provide for your family is to produce.
“So much of our popular mythology focuses on the negative aspects of power that we forget that gaining power is, perhaps, the only way to enable ourselves to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.” ― Gene Simmons, On Power: My Journey Through the Corridors of Power and How You Can Get More Power
May 2020 - 3 Books
Range by David Epstein (Audio)
Roger Federer played many sports before finally choosing tennis at age 16. Tiger Woods became a golfer when he was about 5. Which path is better? Epstein argues that getting a range of experiences and becoming a generalist is the way to go for a more successful life. He says that although early specialisation can put you ahead of the pack, it’s often a variety of experiences that leads to new discoveries.
“Modern work demands knowledge transfer: the ability to apply knowledge to new situations and different domains. Our most fundamental thought processes have changed to accommodate increasing complexity and the need to derive new patterns rather than rely only on familiar ones. Our conceptual classification schemes provide a scaffolding for connecting knowledge, making it accessible and flexible.” ― David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
If You’re Not First, You’re Last by Grant Cardone (Audio)
Grant discusses how to dominate your market and your career.
“Problems are opportunities, and conquered opportunities equal money earned.” ― Grant Cardone, If You’re Not First, You’re Last: Sales Strategies to Dominate Your Market and Beat Your Competition
How to Become CEO by Jeffrey J. Fox (Digital)
Many useful tips in here like how to manage office politics and to move up in your organisation.
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances. —Thomas Jefferson” ― Jeffrey J. Fox, How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization
April 2020 - 3 Books
E-Myth Revisited by by Michael E. Gerber (Audio)
A book about how people wanting to start a business can end up just doing their job for themselves rather than running the business. Doing your job and running a business are distinct skills and it’s important to realise this before striking out on your own.
“The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is living fully and just existing.” ― Gerber Michael E., The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It
Subliminal by Leonard Mlodinow (Audio)
Filled with many wonderful examples of how our subconscious mind runs our decisions.
“We believe that when we choose anything, judge a stranger and even fall in love, we understand the principal factors that influenced us. Very often nothing could be further from the truth. As a result, many of our most basic assumptions about ourselves, and society, are false.” ― Leonard Mlodinow
Efficiency by Wall Street Playboys (Digital)
I found out about this book on twitter. It’s all about how to make your life as efficient as possible for money, girls and fun.
March 2020 - 8 Books
Design Your Best Year Ever by Darren Hardy (Digital)
A book that I will probably read again at the beginning of 2021. Filled with excellent advice about goal setting and acheiving the things that you want.
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (Audio)
A really cool book about creating a social circle and connecting with those people that are interesting and can help you.
“Success in any field, but especially in business is about working with people, not against them.” ― Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz (Audio)
This was an outstanding book on the power of belief. Similar to the growth mindset, believing you can do a thing dramatically changes how you look at scenario or opportunity.
“Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution.” ― David J. Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big
The Dip by Seth Godin (Digital)
A great book on knowing when to quit. Using the 80⁄20 principle we know that people at the top get way more rewards than those in the middle. It’s important, then, to consider which things we can make it to the top and discard the rest.
“Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” ― Seth Godin, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit
The Winner Effect by Ian H. Robertson (Audio)
Winning makes you win more! This was a super interesting insight into what makes winners and how winning has such a profound effect on your ability to win again in the future.
Hard Times Create Strong Men by Stefan Aarnio (Audio)
Stefan is a great example of masculinity and getting what you want in life. He outlines how society is getting weaker due to the presence of weak men, and how this will open the door for strong men to take back control.
“The power of fasting to rebalance a man is usually combined with prayer and was used by powerful men such as Aristotle, Socrates, Jesus, Mohammad, Ghandi, Moses, Marcus Aurelius, and many others. These men would fast for up to 40 days on just water, and this was a major source of their spiritual power, clarity, and reasoning.” ― Stefan Aarnio, Hard Times Create Strong Men: Why the World Craves Leadership and How You Can Step Up to Fill the Need
Ultralearning by Scott H. Young (Audio)
A really interesting insight into what makes a fast learner. Scott managed to go through an entire 4 year MIT degree in just one year, using the principles outlined in the book.
“By taking notes as questions instead of answers, you generate the material to practice retrieval on later.” ― Scott H. Young, Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career
The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman (Audio)
An insane book about Alter Ego’s. Many people use alter-egos like Elton John and Beyonce. These allow people to step into character and break through performance and creative barriers.
“Cary Grant once said, “I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally, I became that person. Or he became me.” ― Todd Herman, The Alter Ego Effect: The Power of Secret Identities to Transform Your Life
February 2020 - 5 Books
The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker (Audio)
“It is more productive to convert an opportunity into results than to solve a problem - which only restores the equilibrium of yesterday.” ― Peter F. Drucker, The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done
Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey (Audio)
A very interesting book about the benefits of complete focus, as well as the benefits of scattered focus time.
“how important it is to choose what you consume and pay attention to: just as you are what you eat, when it comes to the information you consume, you are what you choose to focus on. Consuming valuable material in general makes scatterfocus sessions even more productive.” ― Chris Bailey, Hyperfocus: The New Science of Attention, Productivity, and Creativity
Letting Go by David R. Hawkins (Physical)
An amazing book about energy levels and how letting go of your attachment to things can help you to transcend them.
“The other person merely mirrors back what we are projecting onto them.” ― David R. Hawkins, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (Audio)
A classic book. My favourite habit is the ‘seek win-win’. When I am coming to an agreement with people I know how important it is to work with them and create a winning scenario for both parties.
“to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.” ― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
Factfulness by Hans Rosling (Audio)
Contrary to popular opinion, the human race is in the best place it has ever been. We are all safer and more connected than ever before. This book outlines all the ways that we are living the best human lives ever.
“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.” ― Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
January 2020 - 3 Books
The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (Audio)
Ever wondered how on Earth the next soccer World Cup is being held in Qatar? This is clearly the result of corruption, and this book outlines exactly why that is the case. This book contains great insight into how politics and money actually work, and what the incentives are for people to stay in power. Things like foreign aid were super interesting to me.
“This is the essential lesson of politics: in the end ruling is the objective, not ruling well.” ― Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics
Indistractable by Nir Eyal (Audio)
Distractions are all around us. In particular things like phone usage can really destroy your productive working time. This book outlines how to become ‘Indistractable’.
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” ― Nir Eyal, Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life
High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard (Audio)
This book was incredible. There were so many insights that I gleamed from this book, the most important one was about being intentional with your actions. So many times we go to work or go out with friends with no aim for what we want to get out of the evening or the event. We just kind of go along with everything. Setting a clear intention with what you want to get out of things before you enter a situation will set you up much better for getting what you want.
“Be more intentional about who you want to become. Have vision beyond your current circumstances. Imagine your best future self, and start acting like that person today.” ― Brendon Burchard, High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way
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