Read all the books!

It was one of those New Years Resolutions that I probably wasn’t going to keep (like all the others made at the beginning of this year). Still, by the end of June, I finished my 50th book of the year. I recently completed my 51st book and one book over six weeks shows how slowly I go through books when I’m not listening to audiobooks (the 51st was only the 2nd physical book of the year). To consume so many books, I just switched to audiobooks and sped them up (shout-out to the Omaha Public Library’s Overdrive subscription!).

I enjoyed most of the books and some authors stood out – most for good reasons, and just a few for not-so-good reasons. I summarize why I liked (or didn’t) these authors below.

Clean all the things meme but with read all the books written and books instead of a broom

Business and Productivity

Laura Vanderkam – She writes with a pretty specific audience in mind – people (and particularly women) who have children and work in demanding jobs. I’m not this audience at all, but I still liked I Know How She Does It so much I quickly followed it up with 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Vanderkam is a master of showing you how to better use your time and she’s well worth a read.

Angela DuckworthGrit is the hot idea in education right now, but it’s useful to know about for life in general. Duckworth balances talking about important academic research with stuff that interests and applies to regular people nicely.

Chip and Dan Heath – These brothers produced a trilogy worth reading for making yourself better at work (or home). Decisive studies decision-making and how to improve it. Made to Stick looks at presentations and making yourself more memorable. Switch dives into habits and how to change them.

Charles Duhigg – Speaking of habits, this is your man if you want to understand them: read Smarter, Faster, Better and The Power of Habit.

Liz Wiseman – I loved Multipliers. Great for managers to see how they can improve. Great for people who are managed to recognize how their boss works and what that might mean for you and your career.

Jack ShaferThe Like Switch has fantastic, practical advice from an FBI agent on how to get people to like you quickly. Good examples, useful tips, and interesting backstories on how and why it all works.

Daniel Kahneman – Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow is an approachable summary of leading research on decision-making and behavioral economics. He’s one of the people who literally invented the field so he’s a pretty good source. Another great read is The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis, which tells the story of Kahnerman and Amos Tversky, their research, and their relationship as they pioneer the study of decision making and its impact on economics.

The Like Switch has good examples, useful tips, and interesting backstories on how and why it all works. Click To Tweet

Don’t bother: Who Moved My Cheese and I Moved Your Cheese are short, heavy-handed allegories that are better off left unread. I also stopped 48 Days to the Work You Love and One Big Thing because they were making bad arguments from the beginning and I didn’t want to waste time on them. I don’t want to write off Amy Wilkinson entirely but The Creator’s Code had issues – one of her main examples is Theranos, the medical tech company that ran into a lot of trouble for its claims and methods, so it’s an outdated read and I found it tough to get past that.

Memoir and Memoir Adjacent

Shonda Rhimes – I think Rhimes’s shows are a good guilty pleasure watch, but I thought the whole Year of Yes thing would be a little hokey. In reality, the book is excellent and inspiring.

Hannah Hart  I knew Hart from My Drunk Kitchen, but I didn’t know anything else about her. Turns out – she is amazing and her life is interesting and intense and her book, Buffering, is a compelling read.

Issa Rae– I didn’t know who Issa Rae was before The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl , but I still enjoyed it. I also read Shrill by Lindy West  on a whim (though it turns out, I had read some of her articles). It’s also worth a read.

 Phil KnightShoe Dog only focuses on the early days of starting Nike so it conveniently skips all the child-labor and sweatshops parts, but it is a close up look at a unusually very successful (though not always at first) business. Lots to learn but keep a skeptical eye when going through.

I thought the whole Year of Yes thing would be a little hokey. In reality, the book is excellent and inspiring. Click To Tweet

Don’t bother: Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass is book that espouses a secular prosperity gospel and not all that useful. #GIRLBOSS is a close up look at a modern startup but, halfway through it, my wife reminded me that Sophia Amoruso’s company had already failed in spectacular fashion, which colored her advice.

General Nonfiction that doesn’t fit anywhere else and other books

Nancy Jo SalesAmerican Girls is full of powerful stories of girls using social media that back up solid research and its findings. It terrified me a bit to hear about the impact social media has on kids, but it’s important to know.

Mark Kurlansky – So the history of frozen food doesn’t lend itself to a sexy pitch but its history and the life of the man who invented it make for a good read in Birdseye.

Jon Krakaeur – Read all his books. He tells a great story and picks topics that get at the heart of important issues. Like American Girls, Missoula is terrifying as it reveals the fucked up world that is the criminal justice system’s treatment of rape and other sexual violence, but it’s very important, particularly for college students and educators.

Missoula is terrifying as it reveals the fucked up world that is the criminal justice system’s treatment of rape Click To Tweet

Don’t bother: America’s Bank by Roger Lowenstein should have been my jam. Gilded Age / Progressive Era history about the founding of the federal reserve. The story has some really compelling parts too – I just struggled to pay attention. I don’t know if it was too long or too bland but listening to it was just a drag at times.

The history of frozen food doesn’t lend itself to a sexy pitch but it does make for a good read in Birdseye Click To Tweet

The List

  1. The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – Audiobook
  2. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo – Audiobook
  3. Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Audiobook
  4. Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakaeur – Audiobook
  5. Bossypants by Tina Fey – Audiobook
  6. The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu – Audiobook
  7. Missoula by Jon Krakaeur – Audiobook
  8. Feminist Fight Club by Jessica Bennett – Audiobook
  9. The Story Teller’s Seceret by Carmine Gallo – Audiobook
  10. Joy on Demand by Chade-Meng Tan – Audiobook
  11. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – Audiobook
  12. The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis – Audiobook
  13. Grit by Andela Duckworth – Audiobook
  14. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – Audiobook
  15. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff – Physical Book
  16. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – Audiobook
  17. Birdseye: The Adventures of A Curious Man by Mark Kurlansky – Audiobook
  18. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg – Audiobook
  19. I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – Audiobook
  20. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau – Audiobook
  21. 168 Hours: You have more time than you think by Laura Vanderkam – Audiobook
  22. The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae – Audiobook
  23. American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales – Audiobook
  24. I Heart My Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert – Audiobook
  25. America’s Bank by Roger Lowenstein – Audiobook
  26. Buffering by Hannah Hart – Audiobook
  27. Shrill by Lindy West – Audiobook
  28. You are a Badass by Jen Sincero – Audiobook
  29. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg – Audiobook
  30. Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath – Audiobook
  31. Multipliers by Liz Wiseman – Audiobook
  32. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso – Audiobook
  33. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin – Audiobook
  34. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – Audiobook
  35. Linchpin by Seth Godin – Audiobook
  36. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Audiobook
  37. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath – Audiobook
  38. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – Audiobook
  39. Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss – Audiobook
  40. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daneil Kahnerman – Audiobook
  41. The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson – Audiobook
  42. Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port – Audiobook
  43. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath – Audiobook
  44. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson – Audiobook
  45. I Moved Your Cheese by Deepak Malhotra – Audiobook
  46. The Like Switch by Jack Schafter – Audiobook
  47. The One Minute Entrepreneur by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson, and Ethan Willis – Audiobook
  48. Make Your Idea Matter by Bernadette Jiwa – Audiobook
  49. Fascinate by Sally Hogshead – Audiobook
  50. Pitch Perfect by Bill McGowan – Audiobook
  51. Augsburg Confession – Physical Book