books 2014

My 2014 Reading List

I finally got my site moved to a new host which removed any excuse not to start writing again… and so here is my first post for 2015 – my reading list from 2014.

I read so many great non-fiction books every year and I started to become concerned that I was forgetting some of what I learned as time marched on. This year, I tried something new – every 10th book was a re-read (marked these with a “[R]” in my full list below). I would select a book from previous years that I remember liking but couldn’t recall all of the information. This has worked really well for me and I will definitely be continuing with this approach in 2015.

The full list for 2014 is listed at the end of this post, but here are some highlights:

Business

  1. Different by Youngme Moon (amazon link). This is the single best book on differentiation that I have read to date. Youngme Moon is a senior professor at Harvard Business School. I cannot recommend this book more highly for anyone involved in marketing – it really is excellent. Of particular note is that this book introduced me to the phrase – “a herdlike regression toward the mean” which describes how any new differentiation will eventually be followed by everyone (the herd) completely eliminating its advantage.
  2. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (amazon link). This is the best book for CEO’s, Managing Directors, and any senior business manager ever written – bar none. Ben Horowitz built and sold his company – Opsware – to HP for $1.6B and has since been one of the most successful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. In this book he discusses the challenges facing founders and CEOs in running a business.
  3. How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins (amazon link). Jim Collins has written some great books like Good to Great and Built to Last. These books are all thoroughly researched and the findings presented with great insight. This book is no exception as it looks not at what businesses who have become great do to achieve success, but what great companies did to cause their demise. He identifies and explains the five stages of failure that could be used as an early warning system for any business.

Cognitive Biases

I first learned about Cognitive Biases and Behavioural Economics in 2013 and since then have tried to learn as much as I can. This past year I read a few really good ones on the topic.

  1. You’re Not So Smart by David McRaney (amazon link). Excellent and entertaining book that explains the various heuristics and cognitive biases that exist with all of us.
  2. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (amazon link). Another great book with some excellent examples and written in a very witty and interesting way.
  3. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli (amazon link). This is probably the best of the three books and a great place to start with learning about cognitive biases. Each chapter is short and self-contained which makes it easy to pick up and read through the day or week for even the busiest of people.

Non-fiction

  1. 1776 by David McCullough (amazon link). An excellent history book that written in an honest and entertaining way. It unintentionally exposes a lot of the mythology around the American Revolution without being “un-American”. Highly recommend it to anyone who studied American history in school.
  2. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (amazon link). Viktor Frankl was a Jewish doctor/psychiatrist who was sent to a Nazi concentration camp during world war II. The first part of the book describes life in the concentration camp and psychological struggle that any human being would be put through under those conditions. The second part of the book is his life after and the development of a school of psychology called “logotherapy”. The main take away from this book is that anyone can suffer anything if they believe that their life has a purpose- “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”.
  3. American Sniper by Chris Kyle (amazon link). There have been a number of books written about Chris Kyle, but this is his autobiography and it is a fantastic read. Chris Kyle is a US Navy Seal sniper who during his tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq became the deadliest sniper in American history. The is an honest book that has no agenda, is not politically correct and is very, very humble. It has recently been made into a film and so read the book before watching the movie (as always).

Fiction

I seemed to read a lot of “filler” fiction this past year – Jack Reacher and others that I would call “holiday reading”. But this one book stands out for me.

  1. The Circle by Dave Eggers (amazon link). This book is about a girl (Mae Holland) who goes to work for The Circle – the largest social media, tech company in the world – think Facebook merged with Google. The Circle invented some technology that eliminated anonymity online and in doing so eliminated trolling, fraud, identity theft etc. They are completely committed to the concept of transparency so that all that you are and do is available to anyone, anywhere. The book is fascinating to read from technology / social media platform perspective as it explores a world where some popular concepts are taken to the extreme and so it is a parody of the modern world in this respect. The story isn’t all that great and I so can’t see it making a decent movie (but when did that stop someone). I recommend this book for anyone who uses social media or has an interest in tech – some of the concepts are really not that crazy.

2014 Reading List

  1. Nudge (Richard H Thaler, Cass R Sunstein)
  2. 1776 (David McCullough)
  3. Tripwire (Lee Child)
  4. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business (Gino Wickman)
  5. You’re Not So Smart (David Mcraney)
  6. The Moral Molecule (Paul Zak)
  7. Different (Youngme Moon)
  8. The 100 (Jorge Cruz)
  9. The Circle (Dave Eggers)
  10. The Future of Management (Gary Hamel) [R]
  11. Folks, This Ain’t Normal (Joel Salatin)
  12. The Hard Thing About Hard Things (Ben Horowitz)
  13. Be the Best at What Matters Most (Joe Calloway)
  14. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
  15. Made to Stick (Dan Heath, Chip Heath)
  16. Me Talk Pretty One Day (David Sedaris)
  17. The Obstacle Is the Way (Ryan Holiday)
  18. The Visitor (Lee Child)
  19. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (Barry Schwartz)
  20. Drive (Daniel H. Pink) [R]
  21. Twelve Years a Slave (Solomon Northup)
  22. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Stieg Larsson)
  23. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Patrick M. Lencioni)
  24. Entreleadership (Dave Ramsey)
  25. Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl)
  26. The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
  27. Hooked (Nir Eyal)
  28. The Second Machine Age (Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew Mcafee)
  29. SNAP Selling (Jill Konrath)
  30. Blue Ocean Strategy (W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne) [R]
  31. Predictably Irrational (Dan Ariely)
  32. Lying (Sam Harris)
  33. Pitch Anything (Oren Klaff)
  34. The Plateau Effect (aka Getting Unstuck) (Bob Sullivan, Hugh Thompson)
  35. Die Empty (Todd Henry)
  36. Gulp (Mary Roach)
  37. The Art of Thinking Clearly (Rolf Dobelli)
  38. The Nerdist Way (Chris Hardwick)
  39. The Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt)
  40. Predictable Revenue (Aaron Ross) ]R]
  41. Echo Burning (Lee Child)
  42. The Pixar Touch (David A. Price)
  43. American Sniper (Chris Kyle)
  44. Worm: The First Digital World War (Mark Bowden)
  45. One Summer: America 1927 (Bill Bryson)
  46. How the Mighty Fall (Jim Collins)
  47. Peak (Chip Conley)
  48. Scrum (Jeff Sutherland)
  49. The Happiness of Pursuit (Chris Guillebeau)
  50. Understanding Michael Porter (Joan Magretta) [R]
  51. 10% Happier (Dan Harris)
  52. The Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen)
  53. The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle)

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