Normally, I am lucky if I read more than three or four books a year. There just never seems to be enough time. But last year, I read more books that ever! Mostly in the self-improvement genre. I figured that it would be good to write a blog post on all the books I read. I was inspired to write this post by reading a similar one that John Sonmez writes each year on all the books he read . I have always been impressed by the sheer number of books he can get through in a year!
The reason that I was able to “read” so many books is Audible. I discovered this tool at the start of the year and it has completely changed my approach to learning and consuming from books. I have always known that I should be reading more books. Hell, we all know that, right? But of course its always hard to find the time to sit down and read consistently. That changed for me completely when I found Audible. Now that I can listen to books whilst driving in the car, walking along the road, or lifting weights in the gym. I am getting through so much more than ever before – and some of the stuff I learn is actually sticking!
It’s not just that either. The ability to listen on x2 and x3 speed means that you can consume a book far more quickly. Yes it takes a bit of getting used to, listening at speed. But you soon learn how to do it, by increasing in small and steady increments. I listen to all books on at least x2 speed now, and depending on the narrator and the content, sometimes x3.
Finding Audible was massive for me last year, so I highly recommend you check it out!
Without further ado, this is the list of books I read / listened to last year.

[amazon text=The Millionaire Fastlane&asin=0984358102]

This is the first book I read at the start of the year, and it completely changed my mindset towards money and business. The book basically puts people into 3 distinct categories for how they approach their finances – the sidewalk, the slow lane and the fast lane. It made me realise how entrenched I currently am in the Slow lane (and occasionally walking on the side walk as well!), and how I would never be able to make it “big” by working a 9 – 5 and saving for a retirement at about 70. This book alone gave me the inspiration to start my own business.

[amazon text=Superhuman Social Skills&asin=1515179877]

Quiet a short book, but it has some interesting points. I am very keen to improve my social and networking skills, so will read any books I can get hold of in this area. I found the story of the author quiet inspiring, in that he started out as being incredibly shy and introverted. He has since become one of the most “social” and well-connected individuals in the world. My key takeaway from the book was that being social is a skill. Like any skill it can be learned and grown over time if you dedicate effort to working at it.

[amazon text=Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking&asin=0141029196]
As a massive introvert, I loved this book. It helped me to understand and appreciate that being an introvert is not a bad thing at all, but to actually embrace it. There is actually no such thing as a perfect “introvert” or “extrovert”, everything is on a spectrum. I particularly enjoyed the chapter where the author describes their experience at a Tony Robbins seminar. I think I would feel very similar (i.e. totally overwhelmed! – that being said, I would still love to experience one of his seminars!).
It was interesting to learn that, not very long ago (and still today to an extent) being identified as an introvert at a US school had a huge negative stigma and children were almost considered to have something wrong with them if they weren’t extroverts. Compare that with Chinese students who are (generally) more introverted, yet are shown to be on average far more studious. This is a really interesting read wherever you are on the introvert / extrovert spectrum.

[amazon text=As a Man Thinketh&asin=1514698692]

This is a really short book. I can listen to it in a single car journey. It is incredibly inspring though and is full of great quotes and snippets of advice. Despite being quiet an old book (first published in 1902!) the advice in it is really timeless and if anything is more true today. The book is geared towards understanding our self and our fellow man. There are also quite a few spiritual references that I personally like but you may not, based on your views and beliefs in this area. Either way, this book is a true self help classic.

[amazon text=The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People&asin=0684858398]

Another classic self help book that I had heard of time and again, but never got round to reading. I found the advice in this book to be profound, but in more ways than I was expecting. For instance there is some great parenting advice in the book. The author describes how he empowered his son with the responsbility of looking after the yard at home from an early age, and the impact that had on his development. As a new parent myself, I found this particularly insightful. The habits described in the book are fairly simple and obvious, yet we typically forget to apply most of them in our day to day lives. Just being reminded of them had an impact for me.

[amazon text=Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less&asin=0753555166]

Honestly I didn’t take a huge amount away from this read and didn’t find it particularly memorable. I probably need to re-read it. The message that this book conveys is that we can be busy but not productive. No doubt we have all experienced that at one time or another. It encourages us to apply a more selective approach to what we work on (what we identify as “essential”). One of the most important things is to learn when to say NO, something that I still struggle with today. I can’t remember what tips are given for implementing these ideas though!

[amazon text=Psycho-Cybernetics&asin=0399176136]

This is a real marmite book, you will either love it or think its nonsense. For me personally I found it great, and actually listened to it twice back to back. The original book was written by a former plastic surgeon who found that many of the patients he was treating were coming to him for plastic surgery when they actually needed a psychiatrist. People would blame their problems on some physical impairment when actually the problem was with their own beliefs and views of themselves.  In this book you will learn internal techniques to almost rewire your mind that will help you in achieving your goals and ambitions. This is a book that I like to reread every so often to be reminded of the techniques and learnings.

[amazon text=The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results&asin=1848549253]

I suppose you could say this is a similar book to Essentialism, but I actually preferred this book between the too. The basic premise of the book is to define the one goal that you really want to achieve in say 10 years, and then keep working back from that to get to the one goal that you need to do today to move towards that. So you identify your 10 year goal, then the goal you need to achieve this year to contribute towards that, then the goal this month, then this week, then today etc. It always comes down to ONE thing you can be doing now, and once you have identied that, you pursue it relentlessly and singled mindedly so that you are focussing towards your goal. I found this a really enjoyable read.

[amazon text=The Charisma Myth: Master the Art of Personal Magnetism&asin=0670922870]

I was expecting a lot of this book (I wanted it to make me “Charismatic!”) but I don’t feel that I learnt a great deal from it. I do need to give it another read at some point. But the book talks about how Charisma is just like any other skill and can be learnt and improved. The key though, according to the book, to being and becoming more Charismatic is to be comfortable with your view of yourself. If you are at peace with yourself then Charisma will naturally follow. There is also decent discussion on different types of Charisma, such as the dominant / powerful charisma of say a leader as opposed to the compassionate charisma of a nurse.

[amazon text=Life Leverage: How to Get More Done in Less Time, Outsource Everything %26 Create Your Ideal Mobile Lifestyle&asin=1473640288]

This book was one of my wife and I’s favourite books of the year. It is a massive eye opener. The basic message of the book is that you should outsource everything in your life that is routine and that isn’t an IGT (Income Generating Task). By outsourcing everything, you leave more time to focus on your IGTs – the things that you do to make money. You don’t outsource everything just to sit around and play games, you have to be pursuing IGTs, else you can’t justify the expense of outsourcing the tasks. The book goes into a lot of depth about this, but is also a really entertaining, motivating and funny read. Highly recommended, a book I will read again regularly.

[amazon text=The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be&asin=0062364286]

I heard about this book whilst reading other user comments for Pyscho Cybernetics. Some were suggesting this book was better. I really enjoyed Pyscho Cybernetics, but this book is on another level. One of the most insightful, helpful and inspirational books I have ever read. The author does an amazing job of outlining the Success Principles in this book. Honestly if you could only buy one self-help book this is probably the one you should get. The key takeaway is that none of the ideas in the book are “new” and most of the advice taken in isolation is fairly obvious, but the key to success is actually applying these principles in your day to day life.

[amazon text=The Richest Man in Babylon&asin=0451205367]

An old book that first emerged around 1926. This book is a classic on how to grow your personal wealth. It uses an entertaining parable format to tell a story about how some friends were able to grow their wealth in the ancient city of Babylon. The message of the book is that for all money you earn, you must keep and re-invest a percentage. It is so important to pay “yourself”, rather than just your bills and other outgoings. By keeping and reinvesting a percentage, as early as possible, you eventually grow a greater and greater personal wealth by compounding.

[amazon text=Key Person of Influence (Revised Edition): The Five-Step Method to become one of the most highly valued and highly paid people in your industry&asin=178133109X]

This is an inspiring read that encouraged me to produce more content on this blog and at work in general. It describes how important it is to become and be seen as a key person of influence in your chosen field or profession. Once you become seen as that person, people will pay more attention to what you say (whether you are correct or not) as you will be seen as an authority in your area, and many new doors will be opened to you. Lots of practical tips and steps are outlined in this book to help you become that person of influence.

[amazon text=Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!&asin=1612680011]

I had heard this classic book referenced in many other similar books, so I was eager to read it.  The author tells his story of growing up with two “Dad’s” – one his real dad and one a friend’s dad who he was very close with. One Dad was very keen on getting the best education, getting a good well paying job, working hard and keeping the bills paid on time. The other Dad is an entrepreneur who did not have much of a format education, who delegated a lot of tasks and worked less and less as he got older. The later Dad was rich, whilst the former Dad died comparatively poor and quiet bitter. I don’t agree with everything in this book, the author seems absolutely obsessed with money and there really is more to life than that. But its a good and thought provoking read.

[amazon text=The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work&asin=0753539470]

I honestly didn’t enjoy this book much or take away much from it, but I’m not sure why. I may have been a bit preoccupied when I read it, so I should give it another chance. I had this book recommended to me by numerous sources so my expectations were very high, perhaps that did not help. I just found this book hard to get into and not very memorable. The author Shawn Achor has a great reputation as a young and upcoming psychologist who has given a TED talk recently. I think I need to give this book another chance.

[amazon text=The Ultimate Zig Ziglar Library&asin=B01ENX4TII]

I heard Zig Ziglar mentioned in a pod cast I was listening to, and when searching for his books this came up. This book is a collection of a number of his different talks and seminars on motivation and self-improvement. The advice in the book is solid, and Zig has a very unique presentation style which you may or may not enjoy. By the time I listened to this book, I had heard similar advice from many of the other books in the genre I had already read, so I didn’t take a great deal away from it. You may not like the format of the book either, as it is very “American” and Zig even has a backing band that sing songs about the various points he has just been talking about. I didn’t find that particularly effective, but you might. A worthwhile read if you are only just starting to read self improvement books, but otherwise I would skip to others.

[amazon text=Social: Why our brains are wired to connect&asin=0198743815]

This book was different to most of the others I read this year, but I enjoyed it immensely. I actually thought this book was going to teach me how to be more “Social”, but its something completely different. It is a fascinating insight into how, and why, we as humans are so connected on an emotional and psychological level. And how that connection impacts our well-being, both positively and negatively. I found some amazing insights in this book. For example, when we help others, this triggers a positive reaction in ourselves. Someone completely dedicated to helping others is actually helping themselves as much (if not more), by getting the internal psychological boost and rewards from doing good deeds.

[amazon text=When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man&asin=0446548162]

This is a very entertaining read of short stories from the life of Jerry Weintraub. Jerry was a big player in the entertainment industry, with a larger and life personality. It talks about his experiences building a music management company with stars like Elvis and Sinatra. Whilst I didn’t take a great amount away from this book from a personal development perspective, it was interesting and insightful to read about a man who has pretty much the opposite personality to mine (i.e. Jerry is a loud and outgoing extrovert) . It is a fantastic story of an amazing life.

[amazon text=Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done – Today!&asin=1444765426]

Another classic that I have heard referenced in many other books. This short book does not disappoint.  Brian Tracy is one of the most influential self-help and improvement gurus. The basic premise of the book is to identify the biggest, ugliest and scariest “Frog” (task) that you have in your life, and get started eating it (doing it) right away. Focus single mindedly on completing that task until its done. Once the hardest task is out of the way, everything else you have to do will be easier and you will be more motivated to do it. Whilst that sounds simple, few people including me actually do this. We tend to start on easy tasks and hope to build some momentum that way. I have been trying this at work really, and although it takes some practice and dedication, it honestly works amazingly well.


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