2015: A year in books

Reading is a hobby of mine that has become a big part of my life in recent years. I could write a whole separate post about why it matters to me but for now I’ll just say that I really believe in the power of pursuing knowledge. There is something so powerful in letting others share their incredible insights with you through the written word. I really like this article from Brain Pickings about C.S. Lewis explaining why we read.

In 2015 I managed to read 29 books. That’s more than I have read any other year. I’m pretty particular about what I read and often will only pick something up if it’s well recommended so I found most of these to be thoroughly insightful. I use Goodreads to keep track of everything I read and I’ll always write a short review / summary after I finish a book. In fact, check out this great My Year in Books for 2015 that Goodreads automatically generated for me.

The books I read in 2015

Let me also give you a quick snapshot of the things I learned from all the books I read last year:

  1. The IKEA Story taught me how IKEA grew into the enormous business it is today and what values the founder instilled in the business.
  2. Cool Tools showed me a bunch of useful products and reminded me of the enormous number of possible uses of one's time.
  3. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko taught me six principles for a successful career.
  4. The Monocle Guide to Good Business showed me that there are many different aspects to doing business well.
  5. Just Ride taught me that bike riding can stop being fun when you take it too seriously.
  6. Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips taught me plenty of useful tips about bike riding that I didn’t know already.
  7. Sketching User Experiences taught me about the design approach to solving problems.
  8. Voss taught me about the perils and possible rewards of doing something extraordinary.
  9. The Bulletproof Diet taught me how the food we eat affects us and has made me more careful about what I eat.
  10. Rework taught me that inspiration is precious and that if you get some you should act on it immediately.
  11. The Education of A Coach taught me about the incredible amount of focus and work required to be a successful NFL head coach.
  12. So Good They Can’t Ignore You taught me that developing valuable skills is more important than passion for finding work you love.
  13. Flatland taught me that higher dimensions can exist in our universe even if it’s impossible to understand them.
  14. Atlas Shrugged taught me that man is self-serving and society functions best when we obtain things based on a fair exchange of value.
  15. How An Economy Grows and Why It Crashes taught me the dangers of using a currency with no intrinsic value.
  16. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing taught me that marketing is a battle of perceptions.
  17. Antifragile taught me to seek opportunities where this is a small limited downside but an unlimited upside.
  18. The Martian taught me that some men will do whatever is necessary to survive, despite the odds.
  19. The Crossroads of Should and Must taught me to act on that voice in my head who knows what I really should be doing with my life.
  20. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up taught me that the only possessions worth keeping are the ones that bring you joy.
  21. Remote taught me how to stop the line blurring between work and play when I work from home.
  22. The Defining Decade taught me that the 20s are the most important time of your life and should be used for developing your career, your relationships and your mind.
  23. The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes showed me the many different things that make a dwelling a home.
  24. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big taught me many important things about the mechanics of success.
  25. From 0 To 130 Properties In 3.5 Years taught me what’s involved with real estate investing in Australia.
  26. The Art of Learning taught me some of the principles that allow world-class performers to reach the top of their field.
  27. God's Debris taught me that there might be yet another explanation about the origins of humanity.
  28. Do Purpose taught me the importance of building a company with a purpose and the power of self-imposed almost impossible deadlines.
  29. The Everything Store taught me that Jeff Bezos is a visionary with a temper and that Amazon has an interesting company history.

My favourite book overall in 2015 was How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. Scott Adams is very a fascinating guy. His claim to fame is as the creator of the successful Dilbert comic but he also happens to be a trained hypnotist. Although I had heard of the Dilbert comic and his name before I only chose to buy this book after hearing him interviewed on the Tim Ferriss podcast. It is incredible how much useful and practical life advice this book contains. He covers persuasion, routines, skills, happiness, diet and many other useful topics that can help you find success in life. By far this was the best book I read in 2015. Do yourself a favor and read it right now. In fact, I thoroughly recommend that anyone who considers themselves ambitious should read this book.

My favourite fiction book in 2015 was The Martian by Andy Weir. I only read 5 fiction books in 2015 but this one was easily the most enjoyable to read. It’s an inspiring story of how an astronaut survives alone on Mars after he is left for dead. The story is gripping but the book also has a light-hearted comedic tone. Even though I think Matt Damon did a good job acting out the part of Mark Watney, the film just didn’t do the book justice. Do yourself a favor and give this a read if you’re looking for a book to help you get excited about reading again.

In 2016 I’m aiming to read 36 books. That’s roughly 25% more than I read in 2015. Seems reasonably achievable to hit 3 books a month as long as I’m reading everyday. This recent article from Farnam Street has inspired me to aim for at least 25 pages a day. Consistent effort is the means by which all big goals are achieved. We’re three weeks into January and I’ve already read two books. So far so good. You can also follow my 2016 reading challenge. How many books will you read this year?

If you enjoyed this or have book recommendations then please tweet me.