Hey there, Dean here. I write and publish articles on productivity, self-education, psychology, health, finance, entrepreneurship, philosophy, and more. You can read more about me here or join my free 10x Performance email course here.

Books I Read in 2016

When I started this blog at the end of 2015 and decided to publish an article weekly, I started another routine that I want to make it a habit for for a long time.


The first book I read around 12 months ago was Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins. I believe there is no better book for me to read at that moment. Awaken the Giant Within fires me up to continue my writing (when my writing was awful) and make me stick to reading.

I’m not a fan of speed reading. I’m not reading so I could tell someone else how many books I had read and how smart I am. I read to pick the brain of these amazing authors, to travel through time by learning to view the world from their eyes, to live a life that is beyond the limitation of my current environment and die many times before I eventually die one day.

Then I take notes and summarized these books into a list of easily digestible lines. To remind myself the wisdom and insights I once tap into. At the same time, share these notes to everyone who asks for it.

NOTE: Before you read any further, I want to let you know about a book I’ve written for my readers. It shows you how to break bad habits and build good habits that last. Click here to download it for free.

20 Books I Read and Summarized in 2016

I didn’t read much like some of my friends who completed 170+ books in 2016, I did 20 books this year. In case any book here sparks your interests, click the book title to read the full summary.

#1 – Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

This is a self-help book packed with many big ideas. Even some claim that the concepts in the book are not backed by science and research, but it’s undoubtedly a must-read book for anyone who likes to master their inner self and change their destiny.

#2 – The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer

The Fast Diet is the first intermittent fasting book I read in my life after a few months of me experimenting with intermittent fasting. It covered the benefits of intermittent fasting backed by research and case studies, shows you how to do it with the 5:2 method. And finally comes with a huge list of recipes and case studies by people who practice the same type of intermittent fasting.

#3 – 59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman

One of my favorite self-help books because it uncovers many hot self-help myths with science. Almost everything in it is backed by fascinating research; it also offers a bite-size action you can take to live happier, perform better, procrastinate less, improve your relationships and reduce your stress level. Frankly speaking, I found it a little dull to read this book at first but it got much interesting during my second read.

#4 – Obliquity by John Kay

A book that’s wise and pleasant to read. It packed with many true stories from historical events, politics, businesses and the author’s personal experiences. As John Kay pointed out, we can only learn about our objectives and how to achieve them through a gradual process of risk taking and discovery – what he calls obliquity.

#5 – The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

A must-read book for anymore who is interested in starting a micro-business. It lay out the possibility of starting and running a successful business with a ridiculously small team (1 to 5 members) with many real life case studies. Besides, there are great insights on how you can start and run your own small business to live in your own term – from positioning yourself, finding your audience and prospects, creating your products or services, marketing, scaling and leveraging.

#6 – The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

The Power of Habit is by far one of the most recommended books (by me), I believe everyone should read it if they want to take control over their life. It explains perfectly how our habits work backed by science, research, and real-life stories. Besides, the book has provided practical strategies and techniques to apply the changes on the individual, organizational and society level.

#7 – The Champion’s Mind by Jim Afremow

The Champion’s Mind is one very useful book for every young athlete. Although I’m not an athlete, I found it extremely helpful when to implement the lessons and techniques in the book to my regular training. Besides, it also covered how to set up the correct mindset to thrive as an athlete.Again, these don’t just benefit people who are participating in sports, but applicable to anyone who is trying to elevate the standard in any area of their life. What I love the most is the inspiring stories about many successful athletes Jim Afremow covered in the book.

Again, these don’t just benefit people who are participating in sports, but applicable to anyone who is trying to elevate the standard in any area of their life. What I love the most is the inspiring stories about many successful athletes Jim Afremow covered in the book.

#8 – How We Learn by Benedict Carey

A book packed with research and findings on the topic of how our brain functions in term of gaining memories and then use them. It’s not easy to read, but it comes with many solid techniques that aid your learning in real time. The mechanism of learning is so much more amazing, far beyond plain self-discipline.

#9 – Good Products Bad Products by James L. Adams

Good Products Bad Products is a very detailed book on how to improving the quality of products not just in terms of performance and profits, but also in terms of human-fit, aesthetic, craftsmanship, and eco-friendliness. Although this book is written in the context of the industrial products, it is still extremely useful for anyone who involved in any kind of product design and creation regardless your role as the investor, operator, engineer, designer, or user. It makes you give the term “quality” a few thoughts from multiple angles and perspectives the book is provided.

#10 – Launch by Jeff Walker

Launch provides many great success stories of business owners taking their venture to the next level, by using what the author Jeff Walker called the Product Launch Formula. It’s obvious that the content in this book is set up in a way to promote his higher level digital product online. But it still covers many great points that are extremely useful to anyone who is new to internet business model. Besides, it also delivers tips and inspirations in the context of entrepreneurship.

#11 – The Monk who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

I have read many self-help books before this. Yet, I kept hearing reviews and praises about this book from my circle, and so I decided to grab one of them from a book fair. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is truly the book you need to read if you’re striving to achieve a happier life.

The story translates the insights very well. The lessons in it are simple, but yet most people find it hard to put them into practice on a daily basis. For me, it’s like a revision of those life lessons I learned in the past, but in another perspective with an interesting story line.

#12 – Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment is a book of how to influence people and create movement in both individual and organizational level. To reduce the content is this book, the key to leave an impact on others is by having a great cause, understanding the audience, and delivering values for the long run. It covers many practical action steps in delivering a presentation, using online channels and mastering real face-to-face communication. Although some of the tips – especially techniques to use online platforms – are outdated, Guy Kawasaki still did a great job in delivering the principle of becoming a great enchanter.

#13 – Influence by Jenny Nabben

An excellent toolkit for influencing skills and effective professional communication. It covers many ideas, sciences, and techniques of speaking persuasively and compellingly. Besides, the three biggest takeaways I love the most from this book are – how to effectively influence any personality you encounter; how to properly listen, understand, and ask the right questions; finally, how to expertly handle high-pressure situations and challenging people.

#14 – David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Before I read this book, I thought it’s about how David, as an underdog, uses his willpower and resilience to win over the battle with Goliath, his strong opponent. However, I was wrong. It’s more than that.

This book changes the perspective we see strengths and weaknesses, advantages and disadvantages, blessing and misfortune. In many cases in life and work, what we think as a misfortune is the best thing that can happen to us, and what we think as an advantage can lead to the worst outcome. I strongly suggest you read the full copy of this book in order get a grip of the full essence of it. It’s packed with real-life stories to deliver a few simple but crucial ideas and messages.

#15 – The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The Impact Equation is not a tactical social media guidebook but more than that. Chris Brogan and Julien Smith developed an equation and formula for anyone who wants to make an impact online. I personally like the ideas because they are not those get-famous-quick hacks but long-term principles and fundamentals to create a true impact online. And by “online” today, I mean the world.

#16 – Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is the father of all modern self-help book. The title itself may sound skeptical, but it’s one of the must-read books in your lifetime. The author, Napoleon Hill spent 20 years of his lifetime on researching and analyzing hundreds of well-known men during his time to come up with this masterpiece.

#17 – The Virgin Way by Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson has always been one of my role models in life and business. The Virgin Way covers a huge part of Richard’s real life experiences in both life and businesses. These lessons might seem as ridiculous during the era when Richard Branson started and growing his own companies, but I can see there is a growing trend on these leadership approaches and how it positively impacts companies, communities, economy, and the planet.

#18 – Linchpin by Seth Godin

In books such as Purple Cow and Tribes, Seth Godin taught readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. But Linchpin is different. It’s about you – your choices, your future, and you potential to make a huge difference in whatever field you choose.

I think the best sentence to summarize the essence of this book is a line by Seth Godin himself – “The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.”

#19 – The Narrow Road by Felix Dennis

A straight-forward (occasionally rude) guide of money-making that every entrepreneur needs to know. I don’t entirely agree on all the points wit the author, but who am I to judge. It’s going to help you skip through tons of time in figuring out the way with the universal rules and principles on how we should approach business, startup, and life.

#20 – The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates

John Coates perfectly combined the financial market with our biology. However, I don’t think the financial market is the core focus for what he had pointed out here. By understanding the insights in The Hour between Dog and Wolf, you will be able to look at your body and brain differently, and then, navigate yourself in the modern world more effectively.

Final Thoughts

These books are arranged accordingly to my reading timeline, which basically means I read the first book first and the last book in this list last. You may find the summaries for the first few books are shorter. That’s because I’m still learning the craft in note-taking.

Reading daily is one of the best habits I have built after working out regularly and writing weekly. It expands my worldview and reality so much, at the same time, shaped my beliefs and characters indirectly.

The me a year ago and the me now are two completely different persons.


  1. I was inspired by Derek Sivers and James Clear to do these book summaries. You can check out their book summaries here and here.
  2. I like to clarify that these summaries are partly my personal beliefs and worldview. Due to confirmation bias, we usually only pay attention to what we believe in. This basically means you should get the complete book if you are interested in exploring more about some specific books in the list. I’m sure you will see something I missed in them.
  3. Reading makes this blog possible. First, many ideas of my articles come directly from these books. Seconds, I check every vocabulary I didn’t know in these books, this drastically expands my writing skills. Finally, I fully acknowledge the power of speech (podcast, public speaking) and videos, to prepare myself for these, I usually read every word out loud in different speed and tone to practice my speech.
  4. My reading goal for next year is 30 books.

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