My Top Five Favorite Non-Fiction Reads from 2017
None of these books were written in 2017. I’m barely getting around to reading them. But they were great – I recommend each of them to anyone who is interested in:
- Getting better at what you do
- Refocusing on the important things in life
- Coaching others as they find their way through a career or life in general
#1 – Deep Work (4 ½ stars)
Author: Cal Newport
There has been some reaction to Deep Work with people claiming that it’s only possible to do what Cal Newport discusses if you’re either single without kids or singularly focused on only your career in academia. I disagree. Many of the principles Newport discusses are attainable in most knowledge type jobs. I especially appreciated the concept of training your brain to focus and the importance being bored, instead of falling for the trap of mindless distraction. This is a must read for anyone striving to make a difference with their work that will benefit others.
#2 – Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (4 ½ stars)
Author: Greg McKeown
Greg McKeown has set a new bar for thoughts and research on how to not only be successful professionally, but also making a difference in the world. Essentialism’s theme is like Newport’s in Deep Work, but identifies additional practices as you strive to get to the bottom of what your purpose is, identify what is truly important, and where to spend your time. I changed my morning routine based on what I learned from this book (for example, I start the day early by reading great and important ideas instead of checking email or even exercising).
#3 – Outliers (4 stars)
Author: Malcom Gladwell
The Beatles were great, because they worked on their craft. Most people think they were overnight sensations, but they spent years playing small bars, seeing what was good and what wasn’t. Hard work pays off.
Additional note, Malcom Gladwell has a terrific podcast called Revisionist History where he brings his typical fresh view of the world, considering great ideas and people from a refreshingly insightful point of view.
#4 – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (4 ½ stars)
Author: Angela Duckworth
Grit, at its core, means that people understand that what we do matters to people other than ourselves. More than raw talent, the ability to see the bigger picture and worth of purpose drives people to true success. This is the book that I quote when I’m getting my teenage kids out of bed (and Shia LaBeouf’s Just Do It video).
#5 – Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (4 stars)
Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
I’m a fan of Dr. Tyson. He’s an example of someone who stands up for science and isn’t afraid to appear excited and amazed by the universe and admit that there’s still a lot that we don’t understand. And he has a great way of bringing physics down to earth, like what Stephen Hawking was able to do in A Brief History of Time. This book is short and a quick read but excites the mind and is a great change from the typical business book.