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14 Books You Must Read (Or Listen To) In The New Year

November 29, 2017

If you know me, you know that I love to read.

Although I only scored a 400 on my reading section of the SAT (decades ago), I’ve learned to enjoy – and even crave – the knowledge, relaxation, and comfort that books deliver. I love to listen to someone else’s view of the world, or of their life, and learn from it. Any day of the week, any time of day, if I’m looking to unwind, a good book (or article, or podcast) is the first thing I’m reaching for.

In fact, I have read a book a week for nearly twenty years (my wife often jokes that books are my favorite friends). What I’ve noticed, beyond expanding my views, is that I’ve developed an accurate knack for predicting whether or not a book will be a best seller or cult classic just by looking at the title and cover.

This list of books doesn’t represent commercial success, but instead is my attempt to deliver to you my top recent reads that I believe will inspire you to inspire others, drive you to have deeper impact, and motivate you to expand your thinking.

Not a big reader or feel pressed for time? I love Readitfor.me.  It’s a service that takes the world’s best business and personal development books, and turns them into engaging workshops leaders can run with their teams in less than an hour a month. You can check out a free trial here.

Here the books – in no particular order – that I believe will fill your soul:

#1 Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky

By far the best book I have read on stress, the human condition, and our inability to work it out. The highly digestible and scientific gist: the stress we suppress and ignore is causing more damage than what meets the eye, but our stress response hasn’t exactly realized that yet. Don’t worry, it’s not as heavy as it sounds – good humor and actionable advice makes this an easy and insanely insightful read.

#2 Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman

Mother Nature, Moore’s Law, and the Market are reviewed, dissected, and connected in this masterpiece on pattern convergence versus recognition. Friedman nails a model for us to consider moving forward in terms of values and culture for the future.

#3 The Epigenetics Revolution, Nessa Carey

This book blew my mind. My biggest takeaway: our genes can change or respond to the environment they are in. It will get you thinking about nature versus nurture and everything you expose your body to. If you’re a parent, this will make you want to put your child in a bubble.

#4 Hit Refresh, Satya Nadella

I was hesitant to pick this one up. Microsoft isn’t necessarily the most talked about, innovative company but the new CEO, Satya, is about to change that. My reaction: he gets culture at every major level. If you do or want to do business with Microsoft, this is a must read.

#5 Principles, Ray Dalio

Ray Dalio shares the principles and guiding ideas that have led his fascinating career. It’s something I was able to connect with on a personal and professional level, and made me take a deeper look at my own principles.

#6 Understanding, Understanding, Richard Saul Wurman

The most interesting man does it again. This beautiful book maps the most fundamental element of life: understanding. Candidly, I have not read the entire book but that’s primarily because it’s meant to be enjoyed over time.

#7 Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil deGrasse Tyson

This is an incredible overview of what we are learning from the Cosmos and reminded me of just how small we are in the grand scheme of things.

#8 Head Strong, Dave Asprey

This is the one book on the list that could literally save your life.As a believer of the bulletproof diet,  this book does an amazing job of exploring our energy source: our mitochondria. It’s a super important part of our health and one that’s rarely discussed.

#9 When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

We are all going to die. We know this. But of all the books written about experience the final days of life, this true story moved me to tears. You will not be able to put this book down.

#10 Option B, Sheryl Sandberg

This is a great read on the perspective of a human being who has experienced a great deal of trauma. I love the vulnerability and humanity in this story. And for all the haters, remember, she doesn’t need the money. Her motivation for writing, in my humble opinion, is to be genuine.

#11 The Rise and Fall of Nations, Ruchir Sharma

When I was preparing for my  trip to Israel, I listened to this over the Atlantic. Fascinating book on the history of Israel and the turn of events that have lead to it’s rank as the  second most innovative place in the world. It’s a great read for anyone in tech (or who wants to be).

#12 The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt

If you often consider yourself right and think you are mostly self-aware… this book is for you. It will make you think twice about your intuitions (and views) about right versus wrong on a number of controversial subjects.

#13 The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander

Even if you are a social justice warrior who “gets it” this will help you get it even more.  That’s all.

#14 Broken Open, Elizabeth Lesser

This book will rip you down your core, make you deeply explore your true feelings, and drive you to take action. If you’re struggling with a life-changing decision or event, read with caution.… Broken Open is a powerful book about the Phoenix Process of burning yourself down to build yourself back up.

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