It’s that time of year again! Just like last year at this time, it’s time to look over the best, most enjoyable, and exciting books from last year’s reading list.
If you want to enrich your life, read a book! If you want to know the books that enriched my life last year, read on!
A Good Year for Books
I read a lot of great books last year. There were books on positive thinking such as The Winning Attitude, Big Magic, and Get Smart. There were books on improving myself and my skills such as Drawing for the Absolute Beginner and Apple Motion 5 Cookbook, both great books if you want to learn drawing or visual effects for video. There were books just for fun like Scrappy Little Nobody and Furiously Happy. And there were books for my spiritual journey such as Evolving in Monkey Town and Present Over Perfect.
Although all these books were valuable to me (and I would recommend them all, depending on your tastes), there are a few books that really stood out to me. Perhaps one or two of them might be something you find insightful and fun.
The Most Fun Book on Finances
I know, I know: you hear finances and you think “BO-RING!” Not this one. Dollars and Sense by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler isn’t about money so much as it is human behavior. It’s not so much about “save money for retirement” as much as it is “here are the crazy things humans do that keep themselves from making good decisions like saving for retirement.”
For instance, did you know that given a choice between a dessert and a banana, most people would choose the dessert? At the same time, given the choice between what people would like in a month – a dessert or a banana – most people would choose the banana? It’s insights like that which help us plan and find better ways to trigger the right behaviors in our brain. In fact, I enjoyed that example so much, I used it in my last 90 Seconds to Amazing Presentation video.
I have read pretty much all of Dan Ariely’s books (including the next one in the list) and they are fantastic. I cannot recommend them enough. If you want to find out how you can short circuit the bad habits that keep you from having more money and encourage the good habits, read this book!
The Best Cliff Notes of Another Book
Last year I stumbled across a fantastic book called Mini Habits. It’s based on principles that changed my life and made me super productive – principles that I read about in One Small Step Can Change Your Life. Although I highly recommend both books (as you will see below), I often recommend Mini Habits to people that are not fond of reading because it’s less then half the length of One Small Step Can Change Your Life. It’s like the “Cliff Notes” version.
In that same vein, another of my most highly recommended books (it’s also below) is about human motivation. I find it to be not only a fascinating read, but helpful in really determining the best way to use my time.
Well, just a few weeks ago, I found the “Cliff Notes” version of the book. I still highly recommend the first book (a book I will highlight at the end of this post), but, if you want an engaging, yet shortened version of the book, then read Payoff by Dan Ariely. It highlights how we are motivated and how we can best make the most of our time and find value and meaning. I highly recommend it.
The Best Ninja Book
When I picked up The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane, I thought it would be a good book to find out how to have more influence and be more persuasive, by exuding a stronger sense of charisma. Although the book covers that, it’s major focus is in other areas… areas that help build that charisma.
A fair amount of the book helps you look at different areas of your life that may be holding you back. These are not necessarily areas that deal with other people. They might be areas of personal pain or self-perception that are keeping you from feeling whole. But in dealing with these areas, the changes you make may help you to have the confidence and strength to take on the facets of charisma highlighted in the book: presence, power, and warmth.
If you are looking to be more confident, persuasive, and influential, or if you just want to feel like you are living as who you really are, pick up this book.
The Best Continuation of Another Book
One of my most highly recommended books (as you will see below – I’m giving a lot of teasers here!) is The Power of Habit. It’s a fantastic book that highlights the best ways to understand how our habits are built and how we can rewire them.
Charles Duhigg, the Pulitzer Prize winning author who penned it, followed up with the book Smarter, Better, Faster. Although it covers new material and a new theme, it’s very much a deeper look into the types of things that either slow us down or .
I highly recommend this book. It is engaging, powerful, and can make an amazing impact in your life.
Best Book(s) That Only People Like Me Will Care About
If you are into writing, whether it’s script writing, authoring books, or anything else that focuses on storytelling and strong character development, then you are in luck! This category is actually two for the price of one!
If you read my recommended books of last year, you may remember that one fo the books that made the list was Save the Cat. It’s a fantastic book for planning the outline of your story to really be compelling and exciting.
Sadly, the author has passed away, but one of the two other books in the series, Save the Cat Strikes Back, made the list this year. If you are a writer you really should pick this up. I’ve already written a detailed review on my personal blog.
I also loved Creating Character Arcs by K.M. Weiland. It’s a fantastic book that shows you how to make compelling characters that deal with conflict, growth, and overcoming adversity in strong and engaging ways. If you write, pick it up!
Finally, I have one honorable mention. Mel Robbins wrote a great book dealing with her slump into drinking and empty living and the way she turned her life around to become wildly successful.
The 5-Second Rule has been a big help to me, helping me fight the desire to put things off and, instead, jumping in and moving forward. It’s valuable for anyone who wants to see their dreams come true. And as a bonus, if you buy the audiobook, when you hear her speak, I swear you’re listening to Jane Lynch. It’s a real mind trip.
My Most Recommended Books of all Time (A Quick Recap)
I’ve already provided this list last year, so I’m just providing a quick recap (and a couple of updates). If you would like more detail, check out last year’s book picks.
- One Small Step Can Change Your Life/Mini Habits: These books have changed my life, helping me write three books, nearly a thousand blog posts, create dozens of videos, and a lot more. If you want to find a way to get things done without dreading it (the part that is the real trick), check these books out. The first provides more insight; the second is a quicker read.
- The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: If you are going to present, whether professionally or otherwise, you must read this book. It will help you stand out and be understood and be appreciated.
- Drive (and now Payoff): We all want to enjoy what we do and want to motivate others. Why not have the handbook that explains what motivates us? Drive is that handbook. Additionally, I just finished Payoff by Dan Ariely (see above). It covers a lot of the same concepts but from a different angle and in about half the pages.
- The Power of Habit (and why not follow up with Smarter, Better, Faster): The Power of Habit is a must read for anyone. It’s enlightening, showing us why we do what we do (and how to do better). Following that same theme, the author has penned a new book: Smarter, Better, Faster (see above). If you want to better understand yourself and how you can build better habits and become more of what you want to be, check these out.
These books have helped make this last year for me more exciting, productive, and enjoyable. I hope you find some that strike a cord with you that make this year full of all kinds of new insight, thrills, and joy.