Another year, another stack of books — or something like that…
For 2017, I did some envelope math: I started over 70 books, finished roughly 50, re-read less than 5, and placed about 15 on the shelf designated for good reads.
I compiled a list of my favorite books I read in 2017. Only one fiction book made the list (Ishmael – not pictured – thanks for the reco Mo!).
If you have any recommendations to start 2018, do share.
On to the books!
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
I’ve been re-reading this book for the past 5 years and experience something new each time. I’m fascinated as to how a man can turn such a grim future into a life full of meaning.
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
The book I have gifted most this year. It’s one of the few I couldn’t put down, finishing in a few short sittings. As Frankl’s idealogy stemed from his own gruesome experience, Paul, nearly complete with neurosurgery residency and being diagnosed with cancer, becomes the subject of his own moral questioning: given that all organisms die, what gives a life worth living?
Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Taleb
Taleb, a natural contrarian, explains how luck – and randomness – are far more impactful than we assume. The premise is easy to pick apart using anecdotal information as to why certain observations aren’t true for you, and that’s exactly his point. Human’s attribute skill far more than luck to success and failure, but as history shows, randomness causes the majority of outcomes for the majority of people i.e. few outcomes are the direct cause of an individuals input, rather they are the result of a collective input in which one has minimal control and the result is often un-calculable.
The Lessons of History – Will & Ariel Durant
A very short read on a selection of major events in history. Don’t expect to be blown away, but this single book could replace a History 101 class. It sheds much of the detail in the events, and reads as if someone had to chronicle World War II in 500 words.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams
Written before he became famous for his Trump prediction, Scott Adams accounts his life and how building a talent stack through failing repeadetly set himself up for a lifetime of success. His ideas are clear, concise and to the point. This book changed how I view my interests. It’s a book about achieving success for anyone not born with natural talent or still interested in too many things (me).
The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson
We live in a world of outrage — from being mad at who uses the bathroom, to protesting a free-speech* activist on a college campus. It’s nearly impossible to not be consumed by the constant arguments. In TSAONGAF, Mark Manson doesn’t advocate passiveness, he explains how if you want to be happier, healthier, and more successful, start prioritizing what you care about and ignore the rest. I don’t often debate with others — I already do that with myself enough — and this book helped reassure my stance on when to provoke feedback. Selfishness, in what Adam Smith advocated for in The Wealth of Nations, is an ideal way to live. By caring about what we care about — dedicating our time and energy — we can help ourselves and help others. Don’t get caught up trying to persuade society to live with your priorities, instead, focus on yourself.
Sapiens – Yuval Harari
My absolute favorite book of 2017 (and top 5 all time). What is possibly the greatest explanation of our existence: life as we know it is the result of stories we tell eachother. Leaving philosophy and religion for another time, Harari explains how Homo sapiens evolved to be the dominant species on earth.
I can not recommend this book enough, it will go down in history as one of the all-time greats.
Saban – Monte Burke
The most detailed account on the life of Nick Saban, one of the most beloved and controversial coaches in college football. I particularly enjoyed learning about The Process, Saban’s approach to leadership, coaching, and life. Books about expert performers always fascinate me. From the outside, viewers don’t see what goes into their success, we don’t see the non-stop grind, or the hundreds of individuals who contribute behind the shadows, what the audience see’s is the high-light reel, which couldn’t be further from reality.