What I’ve Been Reading: 8 Books That I Recommend Checking Out

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“Take a look, it is in a book”

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, I bet you are now singing the Reading Rainbow theme song in your head. You’re welcome.  :-D

The point of this blog post isn’t to get you to reminisce about how awesome the PBS show, Reading Rainbow was, although it was an awesome show. The real reason is that song lyric still rings true today.

One of the best ways to turbocharge your knowledge is to read. And, to read a lot.

This is something that is easy to forget in our always-on, social media obsessed society. It is so easy to just consume social media updates, news stories and maybe a few blogs. We can forget about the immense value that lies in picking up a book and reading.

In fact, whenever I am struggling with a problem or not sure what to write on this blog, it is almost always because I haven’t been reading that much. Or, the stuff that I have been reading is mainly easy-to-read, shorter blog posts. (Side note: That’s my not-so-secret tip for writing – read more books.)

Here’s some of my favorite books that I’ve read over the last year.

1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari
I resisted reading this book for over a year thinking it would be dry and read too much like a history textbook. While it is long, this book is a relatively easy read and provides an excellent mix of insights across history, philosophy, anthropology, psychology and sociology. If you work with people, which is pretty much everyone, you should read this book.

2. The War of Art- Steven Pressfield
This should be required reading for any creative professional. End of story.

3. Ego is the Enemy - Ryan Holiday
There’s such a fine line between humility, confidence and ego. This book is heavily based on Stoic philosophy and does a great job exploring that balance. It is another must read for creatives.

4. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves and Patrick Lencioni
The older I get, the more I realize once you reach a certain level of competence, your reputation and relationships matter way more than talent. There’s a lot of talented people who get in their own way. One of the things I’ve been borderline obsessed with over the last year or so is learning more about EQ and “soft skills.” This book is a great intro for anyone who is curious about EQ.

5. Captivate- Vanessa Van Williams
I was expecting to hate this book thinking it was going to be too fluffy and full of simplistic generalizations. I was pleasantly surprised by how much science and actionable takeaways were in here.

6. Good to Great – Jim Collins
I wish I would have read this book 5 years ago. It is a must read for anyone who wants to be a better leader and manager.

7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck – Mark Manson
Mark has been one of my favorite writers on the Internet for more than 3 years. I’ve quoted many of his articles in posts on this site. So when I found out he was writing a book, of course I was going to read it. I read it the first time in one sitting. Yeah, it was that compelling and well-written. I’ve since reread it one more time and reference notes from that book at least once a month.

8. Hello, My Name is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names that Stick –  Alexandra Watkins
This is another book that I read in one day. I didn’t even know who Alexandra was, and can say with 100% certainty I would have never read this book had I not heard her on this recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts. I found this book super interesting, compelling and entertaining despite the fact that I have no real need or burning desire to get into naming stuff. She makes the information accessible and at times even cracks jokes that are actually LOL funny.

Some quotes I can’t stop thinking about from these books

  • Yuval Noah Harari – “Money is accordingly a system of mutual trust, and not just any system of mutual trust: money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.”
  • Yuval Noah Harari – One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people get used to a certain luxury, they take it for granted. Then they begin to count on it. Finally they reach a point where they can’t live without it.
  • Yuval Noah Harari- If happiness is determined by expectations, then two pillars of our society – mass media and the advertising industry – may unwittingly be depleting the globe’s reservoirs of contentment.
  • Ryan Holiday – Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function. The critical work that you want to do will require your deliberation and consideration. Not passion. Not naïveté.
  • Vanessa Van Edwards – Leadership is not about doing or overseeing everything in a project. It is about getting involved in the right things and letting the right people handle the rest.
  • Mark Manson – The Internet has not just open-sourced information; it has also open-sourced insecurity, self-doubt, and shame.
  • Mark Manson – People declare themselves experts, entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, mavericks, and coaches without any real-life experience. And they do this not because they actually think they are greater than everybody else; they do it because they feel that they need to be great to be accepted in a world that broadcasts only the extraordinary

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Now, it’s your turn. What’s the most impactful book that you’ve read recently? Let me know by tweeting me or sending me a quick email.

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