Several years ago I found I wasn’t reading enough. Sure, I was trying to keep up with the technical stuff and even the news. But I wasn’t reading beyond what I had to read because of an immediate need. So I tried to get myself to become a reader by starting a process where each month I would write a book review on our blog.
Well, that lasted about a year. The reading part of it actually went pretty well. But writing reviews? Not so much. So what I did the next couple of years was this. At the end of the year I would write a blog article including the highlights of the best books that I read through 2019.
Btw, I couldn't resist but using my 1st edition (not-so-mint) of Edgar Rice Burroughs "The Gods of Mars" the "subject" of the pictures for this blog. Boy, I loved the John Carter series when I was a kid. And if you were wondering, I thought the movie was pretty good as well.
You’ll notice there’s no IT books here. It’s not that I don’t read that stuff, it’s that I have to read that stuff. These are books that I choose to read. Although as a business owner you could make the point that I have to read this stuff as well.
Full disclosure: When I say “read”, I usually mean “listened to”. I’m a big fan of Audible.com, and usually am listening to books in the car (sometimes I’ll listen to NPR for news) instead of music.
So, here’s my listing, in primarily chronological order. I’ve put an asterisk by the titles I think are particularly useful (at least to me).
*“This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See” by Seth Godin. This book is a great high-level definition of marketing that really makes the argument that good marketing for good companies isn’t seedy or creepy or distasteful. It’s actually a process of engagement and sharing values. Good read.
“A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution” by Jennifer A. Doudna and Samuel H. Sternberg. It you’ve been wondering about the whole CRISPR revolution that is making genetic manipulation a reality, this is a great history and introduction to both the technology and challenges it brings.
“Power Moves: Lessons from Davos” by Adam Grant. Not bad introduction to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos and the power plays and brokering that goes on here. Educational about the event and process, but not a personal game changer.
*“The Laws of Human Nature” by Robert Green. The older I get the more I realize how homo sapiens (a group to which my mother insisted I am a member of) are driven by forces they cannot control, and how some forces in society are taking advantage of it. Good (if loooong) read on that topic.
“Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine” by Mike Michalowicz. Ok, I recently heard Mike speak publicly on this topic. It’s actually a relatively interesting take on how to change the accounting in your company to improve profitability. As a side-note, I’ve never heard an audio book that goes off-script so frequently
“George Carlin Reads to You: An Audio Collection Including Grammy Winners 'Braindroppings' and 'Napalm & Silly Putty'” by George Carlin. It’s George-freakin-Carlin. ‘Nuff said.
*“Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. This was recommended by Simplex-IT’s first employee Sam Hayes. Great read if you’re looking to change yourself.
“The 3-Day Effect” by Florence Williams. An interesting listen (only an audio book) that talks about how getting out in nature for 3 days has a profound effect on people. Ok read, but nothing earth shattering.
“Alien III: An Audible Original Drama” by William Gibson. Yup, it’s fiction. But for those who enjoy the Alien movies, this is great stuff. Most folks don’t realize that William Gibson (who created the cyberpunk style of science fiction) was hired to write the original screenplay/story for Alien III. His version wasn’t used…until now. This audio play is actually really good.
“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek. As the years roll by, I realize more and more that the real question in life is “Why?” And it’s often the toughest question to answer. And the easiest to ignore. But it makes it much easier to prioritize resources and create strategies (for business and life) when you know what’s really driving you. I wonder why that is?
“Who: The A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. A formal program/guide/process to hiring people. It’s aimed at high level (management and executive) hires but includes ideas and guidelines that can be used for every hire. Some good information.
*“Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson. This is a follow up to his book from 2016 “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”. Despite the obvious shock value of the title (and believe me, the audio book contains the same language in spades), it’s actually a pretty good book. It’s a good perspective about how bad the world truly is (hint: It’s not), and how a lot of the issues is a case of view and how we decide to deal with that pesky thing we call reality.
“The Home Front: Life in America During World War II” by Dan Gediman, Martha C. Little. This audio book (narrated by Martin Sheen) gives a great oversight into the home life of folks during World War II.
“The Road Less Stupid” by Keith J. Cunningham. Boy, this is a long puppy. And I’ll be honest, it took a while to get used to Keith’s voice (he narrated it himself). But it’s worth it. We’re talking a loooong insight into running a business, but with a lot of common sense-based approach. Especially his concept of “thinking time”. I like it and have sort of been doing it for some time, but I’m more formalized about it.
*“The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. Apparently, my last book of 2019. I first read the concept of “Infinite Games” many years ago (20? 25?). Can’t remember the book specifically, but I was struck by the simple concept. Most games have ending points. 9 innings. 4 quarters. 10 frames. 18 holes. Most things in life don’t. And yet we often “play” as if it does. Finite Games didn’t work in Viet Nam, and has trouble against “wars” on terror, drugs, poverty. And yet it’s the way we approach almost everything we do.
So there ya go. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't include my "A CEO's Survival Guide to Information Technology" or "The MSP's Survival Guide to Co-Managed IT services". And next year I'll include my next book "I Don't Want Your Job".