Obligatory “Best Books I Read in 2016” Post
I know, I know…everyone writes a “best books” post like this near year’s end. It’s as if there is an unwritten rule everyone feels obligated to follow or maybe some vast conspiracy with the book industry to boost sales.
Or maybe the end of the year is simply a good time to look back on highlights that are worth sharing.
Most of the books that I choose to read I do so because of the recommendation of someone I know or trust. Many have come from reading posts like this one. So I hope this will expose you to a book or an author that you might want to read in the coming year.
I am always keeping my eyes open for reading material (as well as blogs, podcasts, etc.) as I like to be actively reading one or two books at a time and have at least one in my queue. So…if you have any suggestions, leave a comment on this post.
My Book Recommendations
The following are the books I read this year that I would recommend. The books with an asterisk (*) are the ones that are what I consider “must read.” If you only buy a few books, please consider these. The other recommendations are second-tier recommendations. These are still great books, but from my perspective not as “life changing” (to be a bit cliche) as the others. There are other books that I read that, of course, did not make the list. I’ll refrain from even mentioning them.
Best Books for Personal Development
- *The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – Keller and Papasan [read my review]
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – Seth Godin
The ONE Thing is fantastic! I recommend that you read this book along with Essentialism and Getting Things Done. The ONE Thing and Essentialism help you learn how to focus your efforts on the important things, and Getting Things Done helps you set up a trusted system to actually achieve your desired focus. Keller does an excellent job of helping you see the value of finding your “ONE thing” and gives practical direction on how to achieve that “ONE thing.”
I love Seth Godin’s writing as well. His daily blog, while brief, is always filled with thoughts that will challenge your perception of many aspects of life. Tribes and Linchpin are worthy reads that have helped shape the thinking of millions. Both books touch on how you can become indispensable and lead no matter where you find yourself in work and life. Both are easy reads, but in my opinion Tribes flows better.
Best Books for Challenging Your Perspective
- *The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell
- Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell
As you can see, I read several books by author Malcolm Gladwell. I had heard about his books through various avenues (podcasts, blog posts, etc.) but had never read any of his work until this year. Gladwell does an excellent job of relating research based facts with real life stories.
While all of these are worth reading, I found Tipping Point to be my favorite. It explores the difficult to fathom world of trends and what makes something “tip.” Why does something go “viral” while another fades out of view? If your work involves spreading ideas or marketing at any level, this book is worth your time.
Blink is about decision making, especially the role of the sub-conscious mind. It is amazing how factors of which we aren’t even consciously aware shape our decisions…sometime for the better and sometimes for the worse.
Outliers is about stories of success and the factors that shape them. Gladwell looks at several success stories and the many factors, many that we wouldn’t normally consider, that contribute. Sometimes timing and luck have more to do with success than talent and hard work.
David and Goliath is, as the subtitle suggests, about being the underdog…and succeeding. This book reminds us that “Davids” often think outside the bounds of what others believe to be the standard conventions.
- Reagan: The Life (800+ pages) – H.W. Brands
- The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt (900+ pages) – Edmund Morris
I will admit that I haven’t read very many biographies. This year I decided I would change that and looked into my local library’s digital catalog for what might be available in ebook or audio format. I found a couple that interested me and checked them out. I have not finished either as they are very lengthy books. Fortunately biographies are easy to set aside when I must and easy to pick up right where I left off since they are narrative by nature. I should finish both of these over the coming holiday season.
I won’t bother describing either of these as it should be self explanatory. However, I would recommend diving into the lives of well known and respected leaders. You’ll find it inspiring and interesting, and you might even pick up a new habit after learning about the practices that helped shape those who have gone before.
-Question: What about you? What books did you read this year that you would recommend?