The Best Books I Read in 2016

One of the best decisions I made in 2016 was to stop listening to talk radio. I have a decent commute and as a result a good chunk of time in the car. Around March of last year I decide to start listing to books during my commute. To be honest it was not easy to go from mindless talk radio to having to focus a little more on a good book but I am so glad that I did.

I started by subscribing to Amazon’s Audible and I loved the selection and the fact that for $14 a month I can get any audio book I want. But I wanted to listen to a lot more than one book a month so I looked around and discovered Hoopla. Hoopla is a service offered through my library that allows me to borrow and download 5 audio books a month to their app for free. While the selection is not as extensive as Audible I now have over 100 books in queue that I want to listen to through hoopla. That should keep me busy for a while.

I will admit that I love putting together lists of books that I want to read (In addition to the 100 books in queue on Hoopla, I have over 200 on my list at Amazon) but have a hard time deciding what book to read now. I devised a simple plan to help me. I break my books into 4 categories and rotate though the 4 categories before reading 2 books of the same. The 4 categories are:

1.       Business and Personal Development

2.       Spirituality and Parenting

3.       History and Biographies

4.       The Classics (On a quest to read/reread the 100 greatest classics of all time)

Over-simplistic for sure but at least it helps me!

Now on to the books that I read (well actually listed to almost all of them) in 2016:

1.       Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis

A wonderful and simple synopsis of what it means to be Christian. It can serve as an introduction to Christianity as much a reminder of who we are called to be. I could see myself going back to this book many times in my life.

Good Quote: “Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

2.       The Thank You Economy, Gary Vanerchuck

Gary Vaynerchuck is a “new media” mogul specializing in helping companies to develop marketing strategies that have an impact in a social world. I find that he has great perspective on social media, marketing and business. The Thank You Economy is his marketing philosophy, deliver value, deliver value, deliver value and then ask for the business.

Good Quote: “In the end, no matter what obstacles a company faces in the Thank You Economy, the solution will always be the same. Competitors are bigger? Outcare them. They’re cheaper? Outcare them. They’ve got celebrity status and you don’t? Outcare them. Social media gives you the tools to touch your consumer and create an emotion where before there might not have been one.

 

3.       The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Brad Stone

Probably the best business bio I have ever read. It is the story of Jeff Bezos and Amazon. Fascinating and scary.

Good Quotes: “It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it.” 

4.       Elon Musk: Inventing the Future, Ashlee Vance

The complicated story of Elon Musk and the empire he is building around Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX. 

Good Quote: “What Musk has developed that so many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley lack is a meaningful worldview. He’s the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted. He’s less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to . . . well . . . save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation.” 

 

5.       Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl

I had the opportunity to travel to Poland this year and visit the site of one of, if not the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a way of preparing me for the trip I wanted to read a firsthand account of a survivor that in some way came to find meaning through the suffering and senseless brutality.

 

Good Quote: “Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it”  

6.       A Guide To Wine, Julian Curry

I have always wanted to learn a little more about wine so I decided to pick up a book this year. I enjoyed learning the basic types of grapes and regions and the lingo that goes a long with it. I look forward to writing more about my new found hobby on the blog.

7.       Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE, Phil Knight

A truly great read for anyone but even more so for a recovering runner.  It is as much a book about business as it is about life. The final chapter trumps anything I read this year in terms of putting work and life in perspective. Highly recommend this book.

Good Quote: “When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is—you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman. Maybe it will grow on me. THERE” 

 

8.       Live and Let Die, Ian Fleming

I have always struggled to read fiction so over the summer I picked up two James Bond Novels to see if I could get into them. I did enjoy them but not to the extent that I enjoy reading history and business books.

 

9.       Casino Royal, Ian Fleming

 

10.   City of Saints: A Pilgrimage to JP II’s Krakow, George Weigel

My trip to Poland this year brought me to the city of Karol Wojtyla, better known as John Paul II. The books told the history of the majestic city through the lens of JP II. A wonderful read and preparation for my visit to Krakow.

 

11.   The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Chris Guillebeau

A quick but interesting read about people all over the world starting their own companies. Some as hobbies and others as full time work.

Good Quote: “Value means helping people. If you’re trying to build a microbusiness and you begin your efforts by helping people, you’re on the right track. When you get stuck, ask yourself: How can I give more value? Or more simply: How can I help my customers more?” 

12.   Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

Yes- I have two very passionate, very energeticchildren. I would have them no other way but I also know what a great responsibility it is to raise children. Since they don’t come with instructions I have read two books this year to help me become a better parent.

 

13.   The New Strong Willed Child, James C. Dobson

When I made the list was surprised (and little disappointed) that I read only 13. I thought for sure that I had read more. I do a lot of reading each morning for work (Several Newspapers and scan many blogs) so maybe that gave me the impression that I read more.

Well 2016 is in the books and I have set big goals for 2017. I plan to read (rather listen to) 50 books in 2017. It is definitely a big goal but one that I really want to accomplish. Some of the people that I admire the most are ardent readers.  It will basically be to commit myself to reading 1 book a week which is doable.

What are you reading?