The best books I read in 2017

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@paulbarsPaul Bars

I somehow managed to read 30 books in 2017. A far cry from the 250+ that author Ryan Holiday reads every year, but a level I’d like to reach soon. Some books were inspirational, others not so much. Here are the eight that I enjoyed and highly recommend (in no particular order):

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

I first heard of Marie Kondo through her podcast interview with Tim Ferriss. I’ve always found myself cleaning up my living space on a weekly or monthly basis, but after reading her book, I’ve been able to apply her life-changing KonMari method (to a certain extent). Next time you need to declutter, pick up each item and answer a simple question: “Does this bring me joy?” If not, and it’s also not a necessity, it’s time to find a new home for it. Don’t fall into the trap of saying “I might need this one day” after not touching or looking at the item for months.

2. Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed by Alexis Ohanian

I met Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, in person a few years back while he was doing his book tour. This was my second read of Without Their Permission and I wanted to have another look at his early beginnings at Y Combinator with Paul Graham, and his followup venture; Hipmunk.

3. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial by Tony Robbins

You have most likely seen or heard of the Netflix documentary I am Not Your Guru of one of Tony Robbins’ events. I was always skeptical of self-help gurus. But Tony is the real deal. His grandeur and energy have helped people be more self-aware of their lives.

The one main takeaway from this book that has become my daily mantra: “Focus on the pain of inaction”.

4. The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday

One of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read. It is suggested to read a page of this book daily, but I found myself reading a bit more at a time, and skipping a few days. Stoicism has allowed me to examine my emotions on a deeper level. It’s a tool that we can use to become better entrepreneurs, better friends, and better people.

As an entrepreneur you can see how practicing misfortune makes you stronger in the face of adversity; how flipping an obstacle upside down turns problems into opportunities; and how remembering how small you are keeps your ego manageable and in perspective.

Ultimately, that’s what Stoicism is about. It’s not some systematic discussion of why or how the world exists. It is a series of reminders, tips and aids for living a good life.

5. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

I picked up this book and Life 3.0 because Avinash Kaushik recommended them on his blog. Artificial Intelligence will be reshaping our lives in the near future. We need to take this topic serious and be aware of the implications it may have on us personally and professionally. Homo Deus tackles humans and the possibilities for humans. Hence both books had a profound impact on my thinking about humanity’s future.

6. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

With the prevalence of A.I. fear mongering clickbait articles, written by fake journalists whose sole job purpose is to make pennies for your clicks, I found this great book that gives a great basic understanding of the tech we have, and where it might take us. So instead of clicking the next article you see on LinkedIn titled You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot — and Sooner Than You Think, please read this book.

7. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

I began reading this book on my flight to Dubai last January, but never got to finishing it. Last November, I picked it back up and read it cover to cover within a week. Bourdain gives a raw and comical look into the culinary world. A well written and entertaining book that I highly recommend for anyone that is thinking of entering the restaurant business or those simply curious of that industry. His follow up book Medium Raw is up next on my 2018 reading list.

8. Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo

This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about world poverty. While most of us live in our safe spaces and bubbles, there are millions of others struggling to attain basic physiological needs on a daily basis. What Poor Economics wants us to do is rethink the way we approach aid to those in need, but more importantly understand how the poor make questionable decisions that feed, not fight, poverty.

Here are the other books I read last year. Although many of them were great, they did not make the cut for the top 8.

  • Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation by Blake J. Harris
  • Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow
  • Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
  • The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick
  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
  • Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
  • The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  • Free Prize Inside: The Next Big Marketing Idea by Seth Godin
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz
  • The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
  • Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton M. Christensen
  • TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
  • Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini
  • Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  • Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
  • How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

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