I’m still in the very early stages of reading. As for writing, I’m still in the process of finding and refining my voice to deliver the messages I want to get across. For reading, I’m in the process of learning how to read—how to pick a better book to read and how to capture the essence of what I’ve read.
People are busy. Many people want to read but can’t find time for it, and that’s okay. Instead of looking for shortcuts to read, I suggest you put more effort into selecting the best books and only read those. Reading less is fine. Reading mindlessly is not.
Last year, I made a list of all the books I read. This year (and probably in the coming years), I’m going to focus only on the best books I’ve read. I do this because I don’t want to waste your time. If you really want to know what I’ve read over the year, you can go here. There, I summarize every book I read.
1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
I learned about Malcolm Gladwell from a friend of mine. And since I read David & Goliath, I have become addicted to his work. His books are not an easy read and I often don’t agree with Malcolm but his works did challenge my perspectives and beliefs productively.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that success follows a predictable course. He illustrates the point further with stories, research, and histories. It is not the brightest who succeed. Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf.
It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.
2. 10-Minute Toughness by Jason Selk
10-Minute Toughness is the second book I have read that is meant for professional athletes.There are three things I love about this book: (1) the topic—mental toughness, (2) it provides a clear action plan which you can implement immediately, and (3) the techniques are backed up by true stories of athletes and studies in sports psychology.
10-Minute Toughness is more than just a book; it is a mental training program that every athlete should add to their daily routine. At the same time, it is incredibly helpful for entrepreneurs and creative people who need mental toughness to thrive in a competitive environment.
3. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The topic of Blink captured my interest right away. The book covers ideas, research, and stories about our unconscious mind and snap judgments.
Snap judgments are undervalued by the majority of us because they are invisible, frugal, and out of our conscious. But they are highly valuable—or destructive—because there are times when we have to make decisions under fast-moving, high-pressure situations. Just like our conscious mind, these can be trained with practices and can be framed by manipulating our environment.
4. The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
The Accidental Creative is a book that every creative should read. At the core, the author wants to make it clear that producing exceptional work is not a destination but a process.
The book then covers the five main elements to help structure a creative process: Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli, and Hours.
5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a book that I have read more than once. I first read it when I was 16 because it was the go-to self-development book that everyone was recommending.
I believe revisiting this for the second time—almost 10 years later—is one of the best things I’ve done this year. I gained a lot more reading this book again after years of real-time experience in navigating myself in this somewhat strange world.
These seven habits are not just small daily routines. They are the core principles that everyone can implement in their life to achieve greatness. Three of them are about developing yourself and three of them are about improving your relationships with others. And the last habit is about opting for never-ending improvement in all areas of life.
6. Maximize Your Potential by 99U
Maximize Your Potential is a book packed with wisdom and insights that every creative and entrepreneur should know. The only way to realize our potential is to take full responsibility and control of our personal and career growth.
Instead of being good, focus on getting better every single day. And the one key insight I like the most is this: “Success, has far less to do with figuring out exactly what the right next move is and far more to do with serendipity and randomness.”
7. Unshakeable by Tony Robbins
Unshakeable is a shorter version of another book by Tony Robbins, Money: Master the Game. It isn’t a technical investing book for the pros. Instead, it focuses more on principles and rules of investing and creating true wealth for average people like you and me.
To achieve true financial freedom, we should invest in the long-term, minimize fees and taxes, and diversify intelligently. However, money does not equal true wealth. While working hard to achieve financial success, don’t forget to keep growing and contributing to being truly fulfilled.
8. The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
If you love reading about psychology and human behavior, The Art of Thinking Clearly is the book you don’t want to miss. There is a paragraph in it that best sums up the book:
“Thinking is in itself not pure but prone to error. This affects everyone. Even highly intelligent people fall into the same cognitive traps. Likewise, errors are not randomly distributed. We systematically err in the same direction. That makes our mistakes predictable, and this fixable to a degree—but only to a degree, never completely.”
9. The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
The 4-Hour Work Week introduces a new way of living that Tim Ferriss calls the New Rich. Instead of having millions sitting in the bank, all you need to be truly rich are (1) Cash flow and (2) Mobility.
The process of becoming a member of the New Rich is what is known as DEAL:
- D for Definition turns misguided common sense upside down and introduces the rules and objectives of the new game.
- E for Elimination kills the obsolete notion of time management once and for all.
- A for Automation puts cash flow on autopilot using geographic arbitrage, outsourcing, and rules of non-decision.
- L for Liberation is the mobile manifesto for the globally inclined.
I heard about this book a few years ago. I then bought a Mandarin version of it two years back, lent it to a friend (before I even read it) and never had it returned. (whatever, too many uses of the word “back”) . The 4-Hour Work Week is indeed a great read that exposed me to the idea of setting my own rules in life instead of compromising and following the status quo which doesn’t work well anymore.
10. Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday
I loved Ryan Holiday’s work even before reading any of his books. He has done an excellent job in positioning and branding himself as a writer and marketer. Perennial Seller is the first of his books I have read and I can’t wait to visit his other texts which are sitting on my shelves right now.
Instead of the usual step-by-step process in detail, Perennial Seller covers the fundamental principles of creating great work that lasts. I believe it’s true that we can’t use tactics that will probably expire sooner than we think when our aim is to create something that lasts for decades to come. Here is the line that resonates with me the most:
“When it comes to making your art—whether it’s music or writing or building a great company—you either really want it or you don’t. There is no easy way in, or out.”
Reading (Learning) is a Lifelong Process
I consider these as the best books I’ve read in 2017. They may not be the right books for you, but I believe they act as a useful reference when deciding what to read.
I’m sure that I’ll see these books in a different light a few years down the road as I read more and develop different ways of reviewing a book. But that won’t be matter by that time since reading—learning in overall—is always a process.