Books I’ve Read in 2016

My goal for books read in 2016 was 36. Last year I was able to get through 33. And I ended up just barely making it happen, with 37. I feel like three books a month is a good goal for me.

FYI: My general rule of thumb with books is to read fiction on the Kindle and listen to non-fiction / business books on Audible, while running or driving.

Read in 2016: 37 (rankings are * to *****, with 5 being the best)

**** John Quincy Adams by Harlow Giles Unger (Audible). Excellent book about a president I really knew nothing about. In many ways he paved the way for Lincoln, fighting for the abolishment of slavery in a time when almost no one in this country agreed with him. Remarkable individual.

**** Blood at the Root by Patrick Phillips (actual book). Unbelievable story of racism and bigotry, about 45 minutes north of where I live in Atlanta. Although I only read a little over half the book (once you get the gist, its a hard book to keep reading through,) it made a big impact on me.

**** End of Watch by Stephen King (Kindle). Third and final book in the Bill Hodges series. I really enjoyed this series, solid 4 star fiction.

***** Call Me Ted by Ted Turner (Audible). Fantastic story of Ted’s life, albeit told from his perspective. I think for Atlantans, this is a 5-star read.

**** Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Kindle). Second in the Bill Hodges series (first was Mr. Mercedes). Absolutely loving this series!

**** Mr. Mercedes: A Novel by Stephen King (Kindle). Crushed this book, read it in about a week. Fast-paced crime mystery. Excellent.

*** The Jekyll Island Chronicles: A Machine Age War (graphic novel). A friend Kickstarted this one. Enjoyed it, but probably not for everyone (which is why its 3 stars.)

*** The Wright Brothers by David McCullough (Audible) – Pretty solid bio on the Wright brothers. I only gave it three stars because it got fairly slow at different parts. But I enjoyed learning about their lives and how diligent and focused they were. Lots to learn from!

***** Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (Audible) – Possibly the best book I’ve read this year. LOVED it.

**** Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian (Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad Book 5) (Kindle). I really like this series.

**** The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian (Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad Book 4). Continue to enjoy this series. Solid 4 stars every time.

**** The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian (Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad Book 3) (Kindle). Very solid fiction book. I like this series, its fun and moves quickly.

***** Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler (Audible). I give this book 5 stars for a few reasons. Its extremely entertaining, its extremely motivating, its a great entrepreneurship story as well, its read by the author, and its only 5 hours long. I highly recommend it.

** Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower Book 6 (Kindle) – second to last book in the Dark Tower series. Admittedly, and sadly, I couldn’t get through it. I was about half way and just kept not reading it, so I bailed. I’m guessing I’ll never even get to book 7, which is a bummer because I enjoyed the first five!

** But Enough About Me: A Memoir by Burt Reynolds (Audible) – First, Burt reads the book. And he sounds like every other sentence will be his last. Its brutal. And some of it was interesting but then he goes on and on about actors and actresses from the past who frankly I don’t even know who they are…so I quit about halfway through.

** Being Nixon: A Man Divided (Audible) – Just too long and too slow to get through. I’d be interested in picking up another Nixon book to learn more about him, but this was too much. Only got halfway through.

*** The Black Country by Alex Grecian (Kindle). Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad Book 2. (Kindle) – Not as good as the first one in the series, The Yard, but good enough for me to read through to book #3, The Devil’s Workshop.

*** How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie (Audible) – I read this because a) I never had and its a classic business book, and b) Buffett said it changed his life. It was fine, but I think it could have just as easily been called “How not to act like an a$$hole all the time.” So much of it was common sense. Super advice, for sure, but it felt kind of basic and obvious a lot of the time. Sorry, Dale!

**** The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (Audible). I am on a huge biography kick and am picking some of the most successful people to read about. I’ve never had an interest in Buffett and knew very little about his life before I read this book. And I really, really enjoyed it.

** Wicked (Kindle) – When I saw the play Wicked in London with my wife a few years back, it was INCREDIBLE. So I eagerly wanted to read the book. It’s the story that leads up to The Wizard of Oz, focusing on the Wicked Witch of the West. While it was interesting at times, it wasn’t a well told story IMHO. It was kind of all over the place and jumped around, sometimes hard to follow. The early years of the Witch’s life was very interesting, but after that it kind of lagged.

**** Total Recall (Audible) – Arnold’s story. Really, really enjoyed this book. The back 1/3 that describes his time in politics was interesting, but less so than the first 2/3. But his story is incredibly inspiring; a must read for any entrepreneur.

** Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (Kindle) – I was on a real Michael Lewis kick when I grabbed this book, but I was only able to read about half of it before I started losing interest. I’m sure for people more interested in economics or finance it would be terrific, and of course the writing was top notch as always.

**** Orbiting the Giant Hairball (paperback) – Read mainly for inspiration for the book I’m writing. Plus many friends recommended it. I enjoyed it, solid book to help you think differently about everything in corporate America.

*** #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness (Audible). I like listening to Gary, have read several of his books and listened to his podcast. This just kind of kept going on and on too long, so I only made it through half. I enjoyed that half, but kept finding myself wanting to listen to others things so I bailed.

Mine’s Bigger (Kindle) – Story of legendary venture capitalist Tom Perkins. This book is about 30% the story of how Perkins and partners built the greatest venture capital firm in the world, and 70% about his yachts and boating, of which I care absolutely nothing. So I read with interest the 30% and skimmed the boat stuff. Unless you’re some kind of avid boating person, I don’t recommend it.

***** Shoe Dog by Phil Knight of Nike fame (Audible). Terrific. Recommend it to any current or would-be entrepreneurs.

** The Innovator’s Hypothesis (actual book) – This is a book I needed to read for research on the book I’m writing. It had some good points on corporate innovation, but I found it too dense. Most books of this type are just that: dense, with good ideas spattered through.

*** HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Innovation (actual book) – I also read this as research for the book I’m writing. Pretty solid for anyone interested in being a better innovator within a large corporation.

***** Moneyball (Audible) – After listening to The Big Short, I decided to “read” this one again. It’s an all-time favorite.

**** The Big Short by Michael Lewis (Audible) – I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Michael Lewis is one of my favorite authors and I can read books like this and love them, even though I understand maybe 60% of it. If I was smarter and thus, understood more, I probably would give this 5 stars. I actually stopped half way through and watched the movie to try to help me understand it (which helped.)

The War of Art (Kindle). I hesitated even rating this book, because it deserves more than one star. But for me personally, it was a one star. I have many friends who LOVE this book. In fact, when I asked for book recommendations, this was one that got a ton of votes. And a friend of mine even bought it for me as a gift! There are two reasons I didn’t care much for it. First, a huge part of its premise is something I so fully agree with that I titled my blog after it. “Begin the begin” means, “start!” That’s a big part of the creative process, according to this book. You have to start. So I totally agree with that, but reading a lot about it was like reading my own diary. The second, and real reason I didn’t love this book, is that it was too…touchy feely?…or Zen, or something, for me to get behind. I’m not someone that wants to know that, if I just meditate for ten minutes a day (that’s not in this book, btw,) then I’ll get more done. I want to know that if I do these tactical things, then I’ll be more successful. I’m an X’s and O’s guy when it comes to that stuff, vs. a “get your mind right first” kinda guy.

**** Wolves of the Calla: The Dark Tower Book 5. Continuing to enjoy this series…two books left!

*** All Dressed in White by Mary Higgins Clark (Audible). This normally never would have been something I read, but my wife and I were on a 9+ hour drive and decided to listen to a mystery, and she’d read a bunch of MHC before. It wasn’t bad!

** Extreme Ownership (Audible). Meh. The concepts are good and the Navy Seals stories are fun, but for me, these are all concepts I naturally embrace so I can’t say I learned much. I think if you’re a leader that struggles with taking ownership of all decisions (bearing the brunt of failure), or delegating, then this book will be great.

**** The Wind Through the Keyhole: The Dark Tower book 4.5 (Kindle). Continuing to enjoy this series. But they are LONG books…

**** Elon Musk: Telsa, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (Audible). Solid book. Definitely glad I listened to it as the author dives deep into many people’s backgrounds that personally weren’t super interesting. But the deep dive into Musk’s life was really interesting. I didn’t know much about him and came away very impressed by how ambitious he is. More ambitious by a great margin than the likes of Jobs and Bezos.

**** Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower Book 4 (Kindle). Probably my favorite of the Dark Tower series so far.

**** Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson (Audible). As a huge Michael Jordan / Chicago Bulls fan group up – let’s be real, who wasn’t? – I really enjoyed Phil’s story as he went through both his Bulls and his Lakers tenure. It’s a leadership book disguised as a sports book. I really wish Phil had read it himself, as the book is written in 1st person, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

**** The Waste Lands: Book 3 of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King (Kindle). Terrific series. Weird, but terrific.

*** Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Martin Dugard and Bil O’Reilly (Audible). Not as good as Killing Reagan, but still learned a lot about JFK’s life, which was the goal.