At the start of 2016 I set out a goal to read/listen to 20 books over the course of the year. I completed this goal.
I've been continuing the trend ever since.
I'll update this page with books worth reading. For those interested in what I'm reading now, I use a Trello Board as my library.
Books are posted in order of completion.
Extensive notes for selected books are available here.
Deep Work by Cal Newport
Long periods of undistracted work are becoming increasingly rare.
Since reading this, I have started to treat my undistracted time as sacred.
Newport opened my eyes to the concept of Deep Work (long periods of uninterrupted concentration). Now this is the only method I use to get my most important works done.
05/10/2016 [AudioBook] Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin 10/10
1. You are completely responsible for all of your actions in life. No one else. Take extreme ownership of them.
2. Discipline equals freedom. Having discipline in one area of your life gives you freedom in other areas of your life.
23/09/2016 [PaperBack] Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges 10/10
1. You can do anything you set your mind to and focus completely on. Alan changed the world. He created what is effectively computer science today. Without his work, I may not be typing the words on this page.
2. Relationships with others are the most valuable thing in life. This was inspired by Alan's great love for those around him.
3. The answer is always to create something great. Even when the odds were completely against Alan Turing (growing up homosexual during a period of war), he still was able to find joy by creating something great.
This book inspired me to study computer science. I was already interested in it before the book but reading the book is nothing short of inspiring.
18/09/2016 [AudioBook] Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within by Chade-Meng Tan 9/10
You create joy with the power of one breath. Just be present for one breath and focus on the now. Everything is perfect within the now.
07/09/2016 [AudioBook] Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance 11/10
1. You can do anything you want. Truly.
2. Surround yourself with the smartest people in the room and ask lots of questions. You can learn what they know.
3. Always back yourself. Choose yourself first. Don't listen to anyone else before you listen to yourself.
This book ultimately resulted in me leaving my job at Apple to pursue building my own businesses.
15/08/2016 [AudioBook] Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
You can travel with less than what you think. This book ultimately inspired me to travel to Japan with only a backpack.
14/08/2016 [AudioBook] Mindset by Carol Dweck
1. Use the word 'yet' at the end of any sentence with the word 'can't' in it. E.g. "I can't bench press 100kg, yet."
09/08/2016 [AudioBook] Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs - By Dr Lisa Randall 8/10
This one took me a long time to get through. Don't take that as being a bad thing though. It is so packed with some incredible information about the universe that I had to take breaks between listening just to let my brain recover. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs discusses how an unknown material known only as dark matter has influence over everything in the known universe. This book goes into depth about how fascinating dark matter is but yet at the same time how little we know about it. If you're into science, space, dinosaurs, physics or just want to be wowed, read this book.
30/07/2016 [AudioBook] Lying - By Sam Harris 10/10
This book has changed my life. I listened to it twice over a period of two days. Harris explores the psychological and ethical burdens that you put yourself through when you lie are far worse than the benefits of always telling the truth. This is true even for white lies. This book will challenge your views on honesty, no matter what they may be.
Amazon: Lying by Sam Harris
29/07/2016 [AudioBook] The Code of the Extraordinary Mind - By Vishen Lakhiani 10/10
Vishen offers great insights into what creates an extraordinary mind. Since reading this I have implemented the word 'brules' into my vocabulary. Lakhiani defines brules as "bullshit rules - the rules which all of us are subject to as soon as we are born with no choice of our own". This book has also caused me to more deeply think about how the world operates relative to me. It's caused me to ask myself questions such as, "Do I need to be doing this?", "Who am I pleasing by doing this?", "How can I please myself?". This book challenges unconventional laws and provides a different perspective as to how to become the most extraordinary version of yourself.
10/07/2016 [AudioBook] Ego Is the Enemy - By Ryan Holiday 10/10
This book has actively changed my life in more aspects than one. It demonstrates how the ego manifests itself into our every day lives, altering how we think and changing how we react to certain situations, most often in a negative way. Learning this, I have been able to recognise where my ego is at play and the steps I can take to prevent it.
Definitely worth a re-listen in the future.
Amazon: Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
23/06/2016 The Book of Five Rings - By Miyamoto Musashi & translated by Thomas Cleary 9/10
At the start of this year I began learning two Eastern Asian languages (Mandarin and Japanese). Since then I've been looking deeper into Eastern Asian culture. I chose to read this book because anything that has stood the test of time deserves reading.
The Book of Five Rings was composed in 1643 as a way for Miyamoto Musashi, a legendary swordsman, to record his learnings and teachings of martial arts. It contains principles that are very much still relevant to today's world. It's an insight into how much focus and time was devoted to mastering their craft.
Key takeaway: You are the person you are in the ring and the person outside of the ring.
Full book notes are available here.
17/06/2016 Anything You Want - By Derek Sivers 10/10
Over the past year or so, Derek Sivers has been a very influential person in my life. Ever since listening to him speak on the Tim Ferriss podcast I’ve ingested many of his works. This book being the most recent. It ties in beautifully with Derek’s essentialism way of life. Concentrating on what makes him most happy first.
In Anything You Want, he has summed up over 10 years of business experience into an hours read. He has done just as he states on page 46, “Carefully eliminate everything unnecessary.”
I had this book sitting on my shelf for two weeks before I started to read it. I offered it to my friend to read it whilst I finished another book. He read it that day and urged me to read it immediately so we could talk about it. I’m glad I did. I will take the lessons I’ve learnt from this and apply them to my everyday life. Especially the “Hell yeah!” or “no.” principle on page 13.
Full book notes are available here.
Amazon: Anything You Want by Derek Sivers.
16/06/2016 [AudioBook] Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us - By Seth Godin 9/10
Even in the most connected world in all of history, why are people still feeling disconnected? The information age has meant there are an infinite amount of things competing for our attention. We are in need of leaders more than ever.
I've listened to this book twice. And I'll be listening to it again, and again. It helped light the fire in me to start following my truth and be a leader. To start putting my work out there for others to see. To start building an audience of people just like me. Hopefully it'll do the same for you.
2018 update: Listened again in February of 2018. Still more true than ever. The book delivers a powerful message of encouragement to stand up from the crowd and do your best work.
Amazon: Tribes by Seth Godin
06/06/2016 [AudioBook] I Will Teach You To Be Rich - By Ramit Sethi 10/10
Listening to this book took my personal finance knowledge from level 1 to level 10. It has clear and researched next steps to start putting into action. There's no "try this and it may work".
Since reading, I've managed to organise and automate my personal finances so that I no longer have to worry about, how much I'm spending versus how much I'm saving, it all works on it's own. Ramit focuses on the big wins rather than saving pennies on small decisions. Sethi believes that being rich is not just about having a large amount of money, he incorporates other important areas of life into the definition of rich.
2018 Update: I wrote a blog post detailing how I bought a $20,000 jet ski and used this book to help me pay it off.
03/06/2016 [eBook] How to make $10,000 while learning to code - By Rob Percival 10/10
At the time of posting this I'm currently in the process of completing Rob's Complete Web Development Course and his Complete iOS development course. This book will do exactly as the title says if you follow the step by step guide laid out beautifully by the author. The book comes free with the purchase of the Complete Web Development Course (non-affiliate link). If you're looking to learn to code and potentially earn some money whilst doing it, I'd follow the steps in this book. It pairs greatly with Rob's courses, but can also work as a great standalone resource.
All of Rob's Courses are available here.
28/5/2016 [AudioBook] The Tao of Seneca, Practical Letters from a Stoic Master (Volume 2) - By Seneca the Younger 10/10
I listened to this at a very crucial time in my life. My relationship was breaking down and finding Stoic philosophy dramatically helped me out of the depths of heartbreak.
Similar insights to the first volume. All of Stoic teaching traces back to accepting what you can't control and taking full responsibility for what you can. I couldn't control the inevitability of my relationship ending but I could control how I reacted to the situation.
Audible: The Tao of Seneca (Volume 2)
15/5/2016 [AudioBook] Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - By Greg McKeown 10/10
The first book I've listened to and immediately wanted to listen to again.
I listened to this at the perfect time in my life. I was nearing the end of my university degree and I had a million other things I wanted to be doing. I wanted to start a YouTube channel but thought nobody would watch, I wanted to start a blog but thought nobody would read it. I was trying to do too many things at once instead of focusing on less but better.
I'm still trying to adhere to those three words. They're even my theme for 2018.
If you've got a bunch of things you want to do in your life and aren't really performing well on any, I'd encourage you to give this book a read. If in doubt, remember, less is often more.
Amazon: Essentialism by Greg McKeown
6/4/2016 [AudioBook] Start With Why - By Simon Sinek 10/10
If you want others to join your mission, you better have a good reason why. If you're looking for a reason to do something, start with why. Don't bother going to the next question until you've answered why. Once you have your why, use it as fuel for yourself or to recruit others to help you.
Apple is a great example of a company who starts with why. They don't start by talking about how fast their computers are, they start by showing you how their devices can fit into and help improve the story of your life.
If you're looking to improve your leadership skills, you can start immediately by reading the title of the book and implementing it into your actions. Otherwise, give this book a read if you want to dive deeper into how great leaders inspire the action of others.
Amazon: Start With Why by Simon Sinek
1/4/2016 Thinking, Fast and Slow - By Daniel Kahneman 10/10
This is one of those books you could read 50 times and still get something out of it. It's PACKED with insights into how the mind works. I want to make sure I read it every couple of years.
The mind is far easier to trick than we think. We are subject to all kinds of cognitive biases. For example, one of the biggest is the sunk-cost fallacy. Ever started something you should've stopped far earlier than you did? You probably fell victim to the sunk-cost bias. We tend to want to complete things we start even they begin to become damaging.
The mind can be split into two systems, System 1 and System 2. System 1 is fast, automatic, frequent and unconscious. It deals with easy decisions and mental operations such as 2+2=?, reading the text on a billboard or driving on an empty road. System 2 is slow, effortful, logical and infrequent. System 2 takes a lot more mental energy to summon. It deals with tasks such as parking into a tight car park, walking at a faster than normal pace or digging into your memory to remember a sound or smell. Given the same input, each of these System's will arrive at a different conclusion. Kahneman digs into different experiments where the use of a particular System over the other has a dramatic effect on a real-life scenario, such as, a Judge making more guilty decisions in hours leading towards lunchtime.
For those interesting in trying to understand better how we think, I'd highly recommend this book. It was hard to read for me at times because of the sheer amount it was expanding my thought space.
22/3/2016 [AudioBook] The 48 Laws of Power - By Robert Greene 7/10
Kind of hard to listen to. Probably better as a physical book and reading chapter by chapter. My two favourite laws (among many) were:
Law 4 - Always Say Less Than Necessary and
Law 11 - Avoid the Unhappy and Unlucky.
These are fairly self-explanatory. For Law 4, if you can say it with less words, say it with less words. Actions are even better. For Law 11, always remember the people around you wear off on you. If you spend time around unhappy people, you're likely to become unhappy. Spend time around those who put you up.
3/3/2016 [AudioBook] The Tao of Seneca, Practical Letters from a Stoic Master (Volume 1) - By Seneca the Younger 10/10
Key takeaway: Accept the things you can't control and take advantage of the things you can.
29/2/2016 It's Not How Good You Are It's How Good You Want To Be - By Paul Arden 8/10
Most of the time we underestimate how good we are. Don't rely on other people's views of how good you are. Choose how good you want to be and be it.
28/2/2016 Gut - By Giulia Enders 9/10
As someone who has an academic degree in nutrition I felt I had an obligation to read this book. Giulia Enders is an M.D. turned author and she has done an incredible job. From theories about the gut being the bodies second brain to how stomach cancer may be caused this book goes right through the gastrointestinal tract. Giulia does a great job of explaining what many people, even most doctors don't completely understand.
Amazon: Gut By Giulia Enders