Here’s a list of the top books I read in 2017. In favorite order 10 to 1
10. In Search Of Excellence - Tom Peters (1982)
Where May, Watts, and Frankl lay philosophical foundations for your mind, Tom Peters sets the stage for the organization.
At a time when IBM, General Motors and other dinosaur power houses reigned the scene, Peters goes deep into the underpinnings of assembling a massive collection of people working together. Keep in mind that research for this book started in 1977 and the principles still hold true today.
Who should read this book? The business nerds and students of organizational philosophy. I know that’s all of you right?
“Many of the innovative companies got their best product ideas from customers. That comes from listening, intently and regularly.”
9. Hardball - Chris Matthews (1988)
This was standard reading in highschool, but of course I didn’t appreciate it enough. With a couple years of work and exposure to corporate politics under my belt, the 2nd reading of Hardball was a lot more gripping.
Chris Matthews goes into details of political maneuvers he’s seen over the course of his career. Better yet, he backs each one up with real world examples.
Who should read this book? Anyone gearing up for corporate politics or a life in the public view.
“I’ve lived across the street from you for 18 years…I shoveled your walk in the winter. I cut your grass in the summer…I didn’t think I had to ask you for your vote. He never forgot her response. ‘Tom, I want you to know something: people like to be asked.’”
8. The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey (1989)
Stephen starts off 7 Habits with a section on “paradigms.” Simply, how do you look at the world? Through what lense do you evaluate your experience?
He goes on to explore foundational traits of people who get things done while bringing it home to each persons personal mission.
Who should read this book? Anyone who wants a strategic view, rather than tactical, for finding your life’s “Northstar” metric.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
7. Tools of Titans - Tim Ferris (2016)
“Wow that was great advice”…pretty much what I thought every page of this book. It’s long (700+ pages) account of 100+ people who’ve done amazing things and experienced extraordinary growth. Tim distills the most juicy nuggets of information from years of podcasts and interviews into this books three sections: Health, Wealth, and Wisdom.
No matter who you are, you’re going to find a new role model somewhere in these pages.
Spoiler alert: The common thread behind every successful person I’ve ever read about comes down to two words: energy & action
Who should read this book? Anyone who wants to hear about the least common denominator of success through various endeavors.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” —Pierre-Marc-Gaston”
“Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life… . There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it, because if you develop more skill, more ability, more insight, more capacity, that’s what’s going to really provide economic freedom… . It’s those skill sets that really make that happen.”
6. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life - Walter Isaacson (2003)
Ben Frank, where do you begin? The guy left behind a legacy filled with adventure, discovery and a firm grasp of life.
I enjoyed that while learning about BF, you got a great view into what life was like in the 1700s as well as an alternative view of the American Revolution.
Who should read this book? The history buff.
“Knowledge, he realized, was obtained rather by the use of the ear than of the tongue.”
5. Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig (1989)
A long and difficult book that I couldn’t put down. The topics were as high up in the alpine meadows of philosophy as the metaphors laid throughout the story. Many people told me this book was about “quality” but it was so much more than that.
Phaedrus simply had his mind turn inside out. A circle that inverts, a hand that grasped itself, a mind that broke through consciousness.
“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.”
“Is it hard?’ Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.”
4. 100-Year-Old-Man - Jonas Jonasson (2012)
Cute fictional read about an old man goes on an adventure and decides not to return home. This one reads like Forrest Gump, a likable oblivious main character traveling the world while playing cameos in major historical events.
Who should read this book? Someone looking for an easy break from their slew of business non-fiction reads.
“Never try to out-drink a Swede, unless you happen to be a Finn or at least a Russian.”
“…you’ll see that things will turn out like they do, because that is what usually happens - almost always, in fact”
3. Zen In The Art Of Archery - Eugene Herrigel (1948)
After a bunch of Alan Watts and Zen/Motorcycle, Zen In The Art Of Archery was a natural next step. A german professor goes to Japan to learn the ways of Zen from a master.
This book blew my mind with the language of a feeling that happens when a person connects with the oneness of the world. A feeling that goes beyond words.
Don’t go into it dry, warm yourself up with other philosophy reading beforehand. It’s hard to connect with this book cold turkey.
Who should read this book? Anyone on the tail end of an eastern philosophy phase.
“Don’t think of what you have to do, don’t consider how to carry it out!“ he exclaimed. "The shot will only go smoothly when it takes the archer himself by surprise.”
2. American Kingpin - Nick Bilton (2017)
Real life racketeering, drugs, murder, Bitcoin, cybercrime and…San Francisco. What else could be better than that for someone in the Bay Area? This book will leave your on the edge of your seat as you watch Ross create a business from his bedroom that ended up doing $1B+ in sales of illegal items.
Bilton does a great job keeping the reader engaged through movie-like scene transitions and build ups. I’ll be surprised if this story doesn’t become a movie in the next 5 years. I hope Christopher Nolan or Scorsese gets it.
Who should read this book? Anyone remotely interested in cryptocurrency or rag-to-riches crime stories.
Extra: Here are two internet breadcrumbs that got Ross caught. 1. His first promotion of the site in Jan ‘11 2. Him asking a coding question on stackover flow about Tor/php
1. The Autobiography of Malcom X - Malcom X (1965)
Absolutely amazing book that shows how Malcom X came to be through his own words. While you can’t take everything he says for truth, this book is an amazing perspective that connects many dots throughout the civil rights movement.
Malcom X was ~90% done with this book before he was assassinated in New York. The amount of passion that flows through his words tell a tale of energy that always found an outlet, either through crime, development, or civil rights.
Who should read this book? Anyone ready for a heavy read on the transformational story of a civil rights leader.
“The main thing you got to remember is that everything in the world is a hustle.”
“So early in my life, I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise.”
“The ability to read awoke inside of me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”