2018 has been the best year of my life in terms of how much I’ve read thanks to one really smart, simple hack. Audible — and giving up taking public transport when I can walk.
Because of this one simple change in my life, I’ve got through almost a book a week all year (read 40 — not bad going when I spent May getting married and July shutting down my business), and I’ve consumed some incredible content that I’m delighted to share with the world, in the hopes you listen. So let’s get to it…
I genuinely feel guilty admitting this is number 10 — it was just so gripping, and so completely shocking.
You’ve probably heard the story of the youngest ever self-made billionaire — Elizabeth Holmes, who trailblazed a path like no other with her startup Theranos. What you won’t have heard of is the grotesque, inhumane but sadly very human story of the toxic culture, lies, and lives ruined by one of the biggest cover-up Silicon Valley unicorns with no technology, product or integrity. Expect lies, litigation and literary brilliance from the excellent Carreyrou.
Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff
I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this, and whilst I don’t love physical books (I’m a slow reader), I couldn’t put this one down.
Sam tells the stories of pirates, just not as you know it.
Sure, as he explains, they did all the heinous horrible things you sort of know them for, but they introduced the world to all sorts of innovations like free trade, equality, and much, much more.
The real pioneers of their time and Sam’s call to arms is an exciting one as he encourages us to bear up our arms, be bold, and challenge society’s norms that are failing us with the true spirit of the pirate; innovation & a little chaos.
How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger
Fortunately for me, I was already deep into my diet change by the time this was recommended to me by an unlikely candidate, Nick Wheeler, the founder of Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts. Already 90% plant-based, I decided to give it a go.
The astonishing thing about this book is the level of detail and dedication of a life’s work Dr. Greger has put into this and his accompanying website nutritionfacts.org
You learn an insane amount about nutrition, healthy eating, and less about what not to eat, and more about what to eat more of — which is a totally positive message no matter what your current diet.
TL;DR — eat your greens.
Fear, (Trump in the White House) by Bob Woodward
It’s really hard to explain how this wasn’t, in fact, a satire made for the BBC by Armando Iannucci. By the end of the first chapter, you are spitting out your food in sheer astonishment at the complete and utter shenanigans, high jinx, dysfunctional behaviour and complete absurdity of what is going on behind closed doors of the Oval Office.
If you think his tweets are bad — the accounts of people working for the man beggar belief.
I just never wanted it to end, every single chapter was brilliantly told, from the moment he decides to run, all the way up to the North Korea standoff — this account of Trump and those unlucky enough to serve him is far stranger than fiction. A must read. For the lols but also to understand that there’s still some sane people left in the government.
I’d seen this book recommended by people so many times, I knew I’d get round to it eventually.
It really lived up to the hype and I came away from it, incredibly disappointed at myself for not having read it earlier in my life.
Fortunately, as an entrepreneur, there are many aspects, that simply by default, I already do.
However, the way it’s written and explained, with a deep understanding, as he has, for both types of circumstances (as he calls it a ‘rich dad’ and a ‘poor dad’ — and by poor he means middle class), is just totally superb.
If you want to take control of your financial freedom, you MUST read this.
I may not be a parent but I learned plenty about how I’d want to raise my kids by reading Duckworth’s excellent take on what makes us resilient.
A psychologist who studied under the ‘father of positive psychology’, the great Martin Seligman, she travels the world to understand how and why we succeed or fail, and indeed — what it is that can determine how far we will go in life.
In the end, she has such comprehensive data that the most elite forces in the army use her methods to determine within a week who is going to make it, and who isn’t with astounding accuracy. I’d tell you what the answer is but that would be defeating the point, you need to show your own grit!
Given to me by my business partner, who naturally knows me well — I absolutely loved this book. It’s pretty much the sum of everything I’m so curious and interested in — telling the story of how humans seek to improve their mindset, alter their state of mind, and break through what is previously considered their ‘human potential’.
Find out how the Navy Seals find their flow and what the founders of Google get up to push their boundaries now they have time.
Full of amazing interviews, moments from history you never knew happened and glimpses of our future — it’s just brilliant.
I’m starting this off by saying if you’ve seen Peterson online, or read commentary about him, ignore it, and read this anyway.
Getting into top 3 territory, it’s hard to pick, Peterson’s book really struck a chord with me, a self-identifying leftie. His brand of right-wing thought, however, is so well put, his language so precise, his examples and comparisons so clear and his research so undeniably detailed — it’s impossible to do anything but admire everything about it.
He may be a tougher, coarser messenger than usual but it’s clear he wants a better society for all of us & it’s nothing short of a philosophical and psychological masterpiece that will at the very least, educate you.
Principles, By Ray Dalio
If you told me at the start of the year that a book by a hedge fund guy would be one of the best I’d ever read, I’d roll my eyes. But Dalio is no ordinary guy, and this is no ordinary book.
Think of it as both memoir and bible. You don’t become one of the richest men on earth without a lot of mistakes and humility, and the detail he goes into every principle of how he runs his life is written down like a playbook for you to copy, should you wish to. So good, I bought the physical book after finishing it on audible as I was taking too many notes. Every page blew my mind. Buy it.
I only heard about this book 2 weeks ago at a dinner party and impulsively bought it, having no idea how incredible I’d find it.
It’s an absolute masterpiece that could totally change society and the way we think.
Suffering from depression all his life, he travels the world uncovering stories from fellow sufferers and the key scientists who have shaped the modern world of antidepressants to blow that story wide open, making room for a new, improved one.
If you read one book in 2019 .- make it this, honestly.
Plus these 4 honorable mentions that were very good but didn’t make it in;
11. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight — Obviously the story of how one of the world’s greatest companies was started should be of interest to anyone in business — it’s a pretty honest account from a determined and enigmatic leader who built an empire in spite of, and sometimes simply to spite — his doubters. So many lessons for those running businesses today on the ups, downs, creativity, hustle and downright stupidity that can lead to success, given enough focus and time. An all-time great.
12. Other Minds by Peter Godfrey Smith — which details how Octopuses and cephalopods are the closest organisms to aliens we’re likely to ever meet due to how they’ve evolved and how their brain works, and they are right here on earth with us.
13. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius— someone recommended this to me after shutting down my company, and it helped put everything into perspective. This father of ‘stoicism’ truly is a king among men, and his memoir is as fresh today as it must have been then.
14. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century — Noah Yuval Harari— Whilst there’s plenty in this book to love, the main problem is, once you’ve written Sapiens, (in my opinion one of the most important books ever written), where on earth do you go from there? You’ll never top your masterpiece, and sadly this is the case with 21 lessons, but it’s still thought-provoking and provocative in general.