Reading List – Summer 2014

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Awhile back, I made a commitment to read more books throughout the year. Many of the books I’ve read since making that commitment have formed the basis of articles that I’ve written. They are the prime source of inspiration for many ideas that I have on my list to write about right now.

I’ve always found reading lists helpful. I gather the majority of my book suggestions from podcasts or a collection of Farnam Street, Brain Pickings, or Ryan Holiday’s email blast. I thought it would be helpful to catalog what I read over this past summer in case I’ve read anything you want to pick up. If you’ve read something that was absolutely fantastic, please also let me know on Twitter.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This was my first audiobook, which I listed to as part of a piece for the Crew blog. I picked up the book after hearing several individuals recommend it including Nate Green. I’m a huge believer in how directed action towards essential tasks can save us all a world of headache and make us all more productive. Greg wrote the perfect guide to help you strip away all of the non-essentials in your life. If you’re constantly finding yourself stressed with too much on your plate, I would highly recommend picking this book up and giving it a read. Greg didn’t only write a high level book about why you should be an essentialist. He wrote a detailed, step-by-step guide to improving your life with specific recommendations. (Amazon Link)

The Obstacle is the Way

I’ve been a huge fan of Ryan Holiday’s work since I first stumbled across his blog. I thoroughly enjoyed his first book, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, and his short primer on Growth Hacker Marketing. I always appreciate his unusual aspect on various subjects. When Holiday announced that he was putting out a new book concerning overcoming obstacles and guidance from his favorite Stoic authors, I was intrigued. The Obstacle is the Way is a compilation of advice on solving problems from Stoic philosophers like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Holiday draws on historical examples and applies them to real-world scenarios. I didn’t think it was his best written book, but the content was still amazing. (Amazon Link)

Super Freakonomics

I’ve been a long time listener of the Freakonomics podcast. I’ve actually tried to read this book multiple times, but I always ended up getting interested in something else. This summer, I sat down to read it again from start to finish. The unique thinking and exploration behind ideas and commonly-held beliefs is what makes Freakonomics such an interesting book. Levitt and Dubner do a fantastic job of breaking down the what’s and why’s behind topics child seat belts and prostitution. The conclusions are likely not what you would expect. I particularly enjoyed their bit about global warming and how several low cost initiatives could potentially reverse the effects entirely. If you’re interested in thinking differently about a problem, give the Freakonomics collection a try. (Amazon Link)

Creativity, Inc.

I picked up this book as soon as I saw it was coming out. I’ve always loved Pixar films. They’re entertaining and extremely well made. I don’t know much about the animation business, but they always seem to be pushing the envelope and leading the industry. The book, written by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, details a bit of the history of Pixar as well as some overarching themes of their company that have helped them to produce so many box office hits. Ed lays out some foundational elements that he believes have shaped the company so far – particularly candor and honestly. I’d recommend also listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Ed as a nice pairing. (Amazon Link)

Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing

When I set out to read this book during May, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the book was about the benefits of shutting down the mind for longer periods of time during the day rather than adopting the traditional “working at all hours of the day” mindset. However, in many ways, the book surpassed my expectations. It changed my viewpoint on how busyness is detrimentally affecting our brains and our ability to be creative. I recommend this book all the time. I think everyone should give it a read to really see the value of taking time out of their busy schedule for daydreaming and non-planned activities. If you’re looking for a short primer on how doing nothing can impact your life, I wrote a piece about it here. (Amazon Link)


The actual book links above are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase the book from that link, I receive a small kickback.

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