Read Time: 4 minutes
If you know me, you would know that I am an avid reader. At the end of each year, I reflect on all that I have read in the past year (see the full list of books here). Each year there a few standout books that take me in new directions, books that I rely on heavily for my own thinking.
If you only have time to pick up a few books over the holiday’s or if you are planning out your reading for the next year, I beg you to consider picking some of these up. If they had been all that I had read over the last twelve months, I’d have considered 2016 a successful year of reading.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – by Phil Knight
As a general rule, most new memoirs are mediocre and most business memoirs are even worse. Additionally, I don’t care for books about brands, nor am I an avid fan of Nike. Despite all of these presumed biases, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is an exception every way and as a result, was one of my favourite books of the year and favourite books ever. On the surface it is to be the memoir of the founder of Nike, but dive deeper and it’s really the story of a lost kid trying to find meaning in his life and it ends with him creating a multi-billion dollar company that changed sports forever. Phil Knight shares the inside story of the company’s early days as start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. I, and many others, found a lot of connection to his humble beginnings – twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s great questions on a quest for purpose. If you too wrestle with similar thoughts, make this a must read.
God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment – By Scott Adams
God’s Debris is a brilliant thought experiment that will make you reconsider a lot of your basic assumptions on humanity. The thought experiment is: “Imagine that you meet a very old man who you eventually realize knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life: quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light psychic phenomenon, and probability in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything?” God’s Debris might provide the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. Though I did not agree with it all, the fact that it got me thinking about and questioning previously assumed ‘facts’ or ‘unknowns’ makes it well worth a read.
Ego Is the Enemy – by Ryan Holliday
This is a book that teaches you the importance of being humble and how combat the greatest enemy you will ever face: your ego. At every stage, ego holds us back. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. In an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion, the battle against ego must be fought on many occasions. In the book, you will read of fascinating examples from Jackie Robinson to Eleanor Roosevelt and how they combated ego to build a legacy. As Holiday writes, “Armed with the lessons in this book, you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.”
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – by Yuval Noah Harari
If you are someone who thinks you dislike or don’t care about history, this book will change your perceptions. It is a brilliant span on the whole of human history – from the first Homo Sapiens to walk the earth to our present day breakthroughs in cognition, agriculture, and science. The book takes you through how we have come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism, and questions whether we have become happier as a result. It teaches how all this has shaped our human societies, the animal and plants around us, and even our personalities. Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power, and our future.