I mark the success of any year by how many books I read. Well, that and how close I get to achieving world domination. What I read in 2016 shows that I’m better at reading than global takeover.
This year I realised I needed to focus on how much I got out of what I read rather than the quantity. So I started this website and started marking up books as I went. Taking notes, highlighting passages and trying to suck more from the bones of the tomes.
I didn’t keep track of everything I read this year. I read fiction at night before sleep and much of that has slipped through the cracks of memory.
My Reading for 2016
Halfway through the year I started making an effort to get more out of what I read. That lead to this website and reviewing books as a tool to gain more from them.
Many of the books I write about are re-reads. If I’ve already read them, I know they are worth writing about.
I also only write about books that are worthwhile. I don’t review books I don’t like as I usually put them aside after a few pages. The world is so full of great books that there is no time to waste on reading the bad ones.
Books I Reviewed
Meditations on Violence was a re-read for me and I gained more out of it this time. Violence was a theme in my reading in 2016. I also re-read A Fighter’s Heart and enjoyed it more than ever. Then my favourite book of the year, The Professor in the Cage looked at it from yet another angle.
It’s been a bumper year for Ryan Holiday fans with two quite different books. Ego is the Enemy was an worthy follow up to The Obstacle is the Way and the Daily Stoic has become a staple of my morning routine.
Never Let Go by Dan John. The book to read to inspire you to lift weights and keep lifting them. I’m so glad I started lifting and look forward to many decades under the bar.
What I talk About When I Talk About Running. Murukami and running. This helped get me to add a run into my week whenever possible. The meditative side is something I have long missed.
Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. Michael Lewis proving that he’s the best writer in town while sleepless and raising kids. The only parenting book that’s made me laugh out loud.
I also studied Mastering Jujitsu in my never-ending quest to suck less at BJJ.
The Nasty Bits. Anthony Bourdain is my spirit animal. He writes about the world in which I work and does it better than anyone else. Then he started jiu-jitsu in his 50’s and obsesses over it. Boss.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson. Get it, read it and start saving your fucks for things that matter. A confirmation that the way I began to think after Jess’s diagnosis was the right way to go.
Spin Selling. Sales is hard. This book helps.
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World. I’m still unsure how to spell Genghis but this book was exceptional. Shout-out to the Ryan Holiday Reading List for this and many other powerful suggestions.
Legacy. The best sports book about the greatest team in the history of everything, the Mighty All Blacks. Astounding.
Anything you Want by Derek Sivers. A short and punchy guide to getting what you are after.
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. I never really stop reading this book as it’s a constant reference to improve my flexibility and performance in Jiu-Jitsu.
Books I Read Without Reviewing
The fact I haven’t reviewed these books says more about me than them. Some of them I thought were too tough to review in the time I have each week. Others I wanted to set aside and re-read in the future.
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly. An excellent book that looks at what will change in the next few decades and what will push those changes.
Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. A look into our minds and an explanation of why we get so much wrong while trying to be happy. Funny and insightful and worth reviewing in the future.
Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson. As a lifelong citizen of the bones of the British Empire I found this history of it fascinating. The accidental nature of the largest Empire the world ever saw and the way that it was governed by so few. Much of what they did was terrible but I cannot help but have a soft-spot for the British.
The 33 Strategies of War was outstanding. I’m wary of the manipulative nature of some of Robert Greene’s work but I am always impressed when I read any. Such a dense, well researched look at strategy and how to apply it.
Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. All Michael Lewis books are worth reading. His ability to explain complex topics is amazing and inspiring. This one is about high speed financial trading and how few people understand it.
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Management Navy Seal style. Take responsibility. For everything.
Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen. A look at the new economy and how to survive and thrive in it. Tyler is an economist who has an exceptional blog called Marginal Revolution. I’ll be reading more of his work.
What’s ahead for 2017?
What I read in 2016 must have come to over 50 books. I reviewed fifteen books and read at least thirty others. The goal for the ’17 is to at least double that and take note of all of them. I am going to keep track of everything I read and start to review some of the fiction.
My reading for the year ahead is already well under way. I’ve spent the holidays digging into William Manchesters magnificent, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, 1874 – 1965. It’s a three volume biography of Winston Churchill, as each book is near a thousand pages so it might take awhile to finish.
I’m also loving another biograpy, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War. Boyd was a maverick in the American Air Force who changed the world through insight and stubbornness.
But the first book I will write about for new year is one of my cornerstones. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I’ve read it twice already and taken plenty of notes but I need to dig into it again.