I read around 40 books a year. Ok fine I skim around 40 books a year. Here are the ones I liked most this year. In no particular order.
  1. Bully pulpit: Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft and the golden age of journalism
    Really interesting parallels between That era and our own. Rich getting richer. A corrupt political system. The masses waking up to the flawed system thanks to the new form of affordable, highly opinionated mass media. Also you’ll gain a huge appreciation for Teddy Roosevelt. He was so multi-talented. So energetic. So adventurous.
  2. Walden
    Walden influenced me more than any book I read during my 20s. So much that I copied Thoreau and spent 2 years living “in the woods so I could live deliberately”. Thoreau lived in a cabin at Walden Pond. And I lived in the back of my compact pickup truck in Yosemite. Now that I’m in my 40s I re-read Walden and was reminded of the power of Thoreau's message: Simplify, simplify, simplify.
  3. Salt, sugar, fat: How the food giants hooked us.
    This book is ostensibly investigative journalism about mega-corporations, but it ended up having more influence over my diet than any health and food book I’d ever read. Learning how the food industry addicted us to a deadly diet really ticked me off. That anger was more effective at getting me to stop eating their processed crap than any health book written by a doctor ever has been.
  4. Man's search for meaning
    Happiness and meaning can be found anywhere. The author even found meaning, love, and generosity in a Nazi concentration camp.
  5. Hooked: How to build habit forming products.
    This is a how-to guide about how to build apps that addict users. I and other tech industry folks have found the book quite useful. If you are staring at shiny screen now you may have noticed that it’s awfully hard to ignore these wonderful devices. Yes, it’s basically the same sort of addiction which enraged me when I read “Salt, Sugar, Fat.” Fortunately I’m a content hypocrite. Read this book if you are building a consumer app.
  6. One more thing
    The funniest short story collection I’ve read since Woody Allen’s series of books in the 70s and 80s. Get the audiobook version since the voice performances are hilarious. Not just putting this book here because I think @bjnovak might read this. 😎
  7. Good to great to gone: the 60 year rise and fall of circuit city
    It's the rare CEO book that eloquently describes a massive failure.
  8. What I learned losing a million dollars.
    Again I love honest accounts of failure. Best investment book I read this year.
  9. Anything you want. 40 lessons for a new kind of entrepreneur
    I love Siver’s vision for ignoring what the world thinks a business “should be” and focusing on making your company a Utopia of your own choosing. I read lots of entrepreneurship books and this one is particularly fresh and unique. You can also finish it in under an hour. There’s no fluff here.
  10. Stress test
    How close we came to the zombie apocalypse during the financial crisis. A surprisingly engaging read.
  11. Manna
    A novella about two different societies that form after the robots take all the jobs. The main reason to read the book is for the provocative utopia / dystopia visions.