My reading list for 2013 wasn’t quite as long as in “the year of the bookworm” of 2012, but I still covered some excellent books and learned so much. There were so many good ones in fact that I must begin to re-read previous year’s books more regularly (a new year’s resolution I think).
The full list is below, but here are my favourites:
- Genghis Khan by Jack Weatherford (amazon link). This is probably one of the best history books I have ever read. Perhaps partly because I was never taught about Genghis Khan and the Mongol empire in school found the whole subject mind-blowing and fascinating; but this is also a very well-written book and reads more like a novel than a history lesson. After reading it, I watched an excellent film called Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan which I think was enhanced by the book (as the film is subtitled). Anyway, this is a great book.
- Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick (amazon link). This book also reads more like a novel than the autobiographical account of one of the America’s most notorious hackers. There have been a number of movies based on his story, but this book is straight from the source and contradicts much of what was previously known about him. It was also a nostalgic read when it comes to the technology and corporations of the 1980’s (modems?).
- Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter (amazon link). The more I read about gluten and it’s effects on the body, the more I wonder how it escapes regulatory scrutiny. This book is written by a respected neurologist and describes the inflammatory effects that gluten has on our bodies and the brain in particular. He also describes the benefits of cholesterol to the brain in how it aids brain function and pretty much trashes the dietary advice being given by every governmental agency on the planet (except for Sweden who recently changed their view to support a high-fat, low carb diet). Although it gets pretty heavy into the organic chemistry at times, this is an excellent book and will change the way you think – especially if Alzheimers runs in your family as it does in mine.
And let me squeeze an extra one in (couldn’t decide where it placed – non-fiction or business.. but will add it in between):
- Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton (amazon link). I’ve written a review of this book already but if you are in technology, use Twitter or have been alive for the past ten years then you should really read this book. It is pretty unbelievable and will probably cause you to loose respect for most of the founders of Twitter. I highly recommend it in any event.
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger (amazon link). This is a great book for better understanding why things “go viral” on the internet. You can reverse-engineer most of what has happened in the past and understand the why, but you still can’t use it to predict what will happen – merely that if you get the guiding principles defined by the author in place, you will have a better chance than without. This is definitely a must-read for every one in digital marketing.
- The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (amazon link). This one is a classic and is probably on the reading list for every MBA programme around the world (or at least should be). Personally, I believe that this is book is essential for anyone involved with “big data” as the author describes how we use history too much and make the data fit our story (“narrative fallacy”). He is also concerned that we are all blind to randomness – perhaps the systems we develop for “Big Data” can help eliminate this blindness with time with effective correlation analysis. My only beef with this book is that the author lashes out at his critics a bit too much, it feels awkward at times – that people don’t understand his genius. But overall, this should be on your reading list too.
- Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta (amazon link). I love business strategy and Michael Porter is one of the leading experts on the subject anywhere. This book is an excellent analysis of his ideas and principles. The author distills decades of work into clear and concise guidelines. I will be re-reading this book a few times to make sure that I fully “get it” over the coming years.
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (amazon link). This is a book about ’Nam. And many think it is the best book about Vietnam ever written and it won the Pulitzer Prize and many other awards for being so awesome. It is not entirely fiction as the author relies on his own Vietnam experience so heavily, but he applies enough of a filter and embellishes enough in the right areas to make it so. It is a collection of essays more than a single story broken into chapters but they are bound by a consistent timeline and of course a primary topic – war. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend you give it a chance.
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (amazon link). I want to revisit some classics every year and this and The Great Gatsby were my choices for 2013. There are so many things to love about this book – Mark Twain spins a great tale of course. But it’s not easy reading – the dialects are tough to get into at first and then the use of language that is no longer politically correct was a bit of a shock to the system. Huck Finn is a great story and it definitely deserves to be on those “top 100 books to read before you die” lists but I also felt like it was a window on a time and place in history – how people lived, how they thought and certainly how they spoke – that made it compelling too.
- Killing Floor by Lee Child (amazon link). After reading so much non-fiction, I need some chewing gum from time to time and these Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child are awesome. This was the first in the Jack Reacher series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will be weaving these into my reading list for the coming years for sure. And there is no way Tom Cruise should have been playing Jack Reacher in the movie – Jack Reacher is 6’5“ and 220.. and Tom is what, like 5’6”?.. I can see how fans of the book were outraged by the casting.
2013 Reading List
- Genghis Khan (Jack Weatherford)
- To Sell is Human (Daniel H. Pink)
- Ghost in the Wires (Kevin Mitnick)
- The Antidote (Oliver Burkeman)
- Life Code (Dr Phil McGraw)
- The Making of Modern Britain (Andrew Marr)
- In the Plex (Steven Levy)
- Just One Thing (Rick Hanson)
- The Black Swan (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
- The Great Gatsby (F Scott Fitzgerald)
- The Icarus Deception (Seth Godin)
- Millionaire Upgrade (Richard Parkes Cordock)
- Crush it! (Gary Vaynerchuk)
- The Starfish and the Spider (Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom)
- Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times (Stephen Covey)
- The Lewis Man (Peter May)
- Predictable Revenue (Aaron Ross, Marylou Tyler)
- Markets Never Forget (But People Do) (Ken Fisher)
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (David Sedaris)
- The 8 Hour Diet (David Zinczenko)
- Contagious (Jonah Berger)
- The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking (Edward B. Burger, Michael Starbird)
- Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World (Christopher Steiner)
- The Pumpkin Plan (Mike Michalowicz)
- Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success (Ken Segall)
- The New Digital Age (Eric Schmidt, Jared Cohen)
- The Fast Diet (Dr Michael Mosley, Mimi Spencer)
- Ctrl Alt Delete (Mitch Joel)
- Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (David Sedaris)
- Merry Christmas, Alex Cross (James Patterson)
- The Black Box (Michael Connelly)
- Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think (Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier)
- Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator (Ryan Holiday)
- Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work That Matters (Jon Acuff)
- Think Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)
- When you are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris)
- Manage Your Day-to-Day (Jocelyn K. Glei)
- Alex Cross, Run (James Patterson)
- Killing Floor (Lee Child)
- The Racketeer (John Grisham)
- David & Goliath (Malcolm Gladwell)
- Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
- Grain Brain (David Perlmutter)
- The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)
- Understanding Michael Porter (Joan Magretta)
- Hatching Twitter (Nick Bilton)
- Quiet (Susan Cain)
- Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (A.G. Lafley, Roger L. Martin)
- Clarity (Jamie Smart)
- Die Trying (Lee Child)