By John Sonmez January 1, 2016

All The Books I Read in 2015

It’s time again for my annual review of all the books I read in the past year.

I decided to start doing this every year so that I could share some of the best books I read and also to remind myself about the ideas they discussed. Writing out a list like this can serve as a nice reference if I ever wanted to go back and see what I was learning and how it was affecting my life.

You can check out all the books I read last year, in 2014, here.

In 2015, I read a total of 57 books!

I was pretty shocked when I added them all up. I knew I read a lot of books last year, but I didn’t realize it was that many–especially since there were some sizable books in that list.

If you're reading to quickly learn concepts and skills, do take a look at my course: 10 Steps to Learn Anything Quickly.

How Do I Read so Many Books?

business man in black sweater with shirt and pants lifting red dBefore I get into the list, you may be wondering how I manage to read so many books each year and if I actually read those books or not.

Well, I definitely read them. I don’t skim books, unless I’m doing it for research purposes.

My biggest secret is utilizing Audible to read audio version of the books.

I am almost always listening to an audio book whenever I am:

  • Driving
  • Running
  • Lifting Weights
  • Traveling

I also listen to the books on 3x speed. (It takes some time to get used to, but I actually would like an even faster speed now.)

I usually walk on the treadmill every evening for about 30 minutes, during which time I read a book on my Kindle.

I also try to use downtime when I am waiting in line or unable to do something else to read books using the Kindle app on my phone.

How I Pick My Books

It is also worth mentioning how I pick the books I read.

In making your selections, it’s pretty important to not just read any books, but to read good books, so I am pretty careful about choosing what I read.

Almost every book I read has been recommended by at least one or more people, usually the latter rather than the former.

Every chance I get to talk to someone rich, successful, famous, or who I think has a large amount of wisdom, I ask them about what books they can recommend.

I keep a wishlist of books in Amazon, so whenever I am looking for my next book to read, I have plenty to choose from. This prevents me from running out of good books and either stalling or reading a lower quality book.

The List, in No Particular Order

Without further ado, let’s dig into my 2015 book list:

The Millionaire Fastlane

Book CoverThis is one of those books that I may buy a few copies of to hand out, because it is just that good. Don’t let the title fool you on this one; it’s not fluff.

The author talks about how most people are what he calls “sidewalkers” who spend money with no plan for the future.

Then, he introduces the “slow-laners,” where I was for most of my life. He talks about how the slow-laners are better than the sidewalkers, but by the time they get “rich” and can retire, they’ll be old and not able to enjoy it.

Finally, he introduces the idea of becoming a “fast-laner,” mostly by becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business. He doesn’t stop there, though; he goes on to tell you about the kinds of businesses that make the most sense and gives you some real, practical advice on how you can build a very successful and scalable business to take you right into the fastlane.

I know this advice works, because it is exactly what I discovered on my own after repeatedly banging my head against the wall.

This is easily going to be one of the top books that I recommend everyone read.

Fight Club

I had never read this classic book—and I enjoyed the movie—so I decided to give it a try.

The book was pretty good, but not phenomenal. Quite a bit different than the movie in many areas.

It’s definitely one of those books that gets you thinking, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the writing. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I hadn’t seen the movie first.

Lower Your Taxes – BIG TIME!

I saw this one in a bookstore and flipped through it. I decided to buy it since it looked pretty good and I could always use some advice on lowering my taxes.

After reading it, I didn’t really end up with anything revolutionary. I was pretty much already doing most of the tips in the book, although there were a few things around sales or property that I’ll probably go back to and look at when the time comes.

One idea that really struck me, though, is that everyone should have some kind of side-business, at least for tax purposes.

So if you pay a lot of taxes from your salary, but you don’t have a side-business, you’ll probably get a lot of value out of this book.

With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God

I don’t read a lot of religious books, but a reader of this blog—and someone whose opinion I value—gifted me this book and recommended I read it.

After reading it, I can see why. I got a lot of value out of the book, as I discovered some viewpoints I was holding that didn’t make much sense.

I feel like after reading this book, I can relate to God in my life in a much more sincere, less demanding way.

Definitely a book I’d recommend.

The Science of Getting Rich

Book CoverThis book is a classic (isn’t it an interesting title?)

I heard many other books mention it, and this is one of the first real success books that has ever been published.

This book is essentially about the law of attraction. It has influenced many of the later authors of other popular books based on that concept.

I found the advice in the book to be very practical and still relevant today. The author encourages you to overcome your misconceptions about money and wealth, and learn how to go after your goals in a way that doesn’t diminish others.

Honestly, despite the misleading title, this is actually a really good book with plenty of practical advice.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

I’m pretty big on the Stoic philosophy, so when someone recommended this book, I was pretty excited to read it.

It’s a decent book, but I have to admit I am a bit disappointed.

If you’ve never read anything about Stoic philosophy, this book is a gentle introduction, but the author seems to want to reinterpret Stoic philosophy and create his own half-assed brand of it, which ultimately defeats the whole purpose.

It also seems to miss some of the core attributes of Stoicism by trying to take a too-analytical approach to it.

Not a horrible book, but just read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, or better yet, Seneca’s letters to Lucius for a better understanding of real Stoic philosophy. I’d also highly recommend Ryan Holiday's The Obstacle Is the Way for a modern interpretation.

Software++: Must-Have Skills for Software Engineers

One day, I got an email from Cory Berg, the author of this book, telling me that I had essentially beat him to the punch when I wrote Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual. In the same email, he introduced me to his own book.

So I was naturally interested to see how much we really did have in common.

A lot, as it turns out. I really liked the storytelling approach of the writing and the practical application of soft skills, based around dealing with people at your job.

Definitely a book that I’d highly recommend to software developers—especially if you liked my book.

Book CoverOS X Yosemite: The Missing Manual

I picked up this book when I decided I was going to go all Mac.

I wanted to learn the ins and outs of OS X, like I did with Windows.

While the book is long and very detailed, it wasn’t very interesting and didn’t go as in-depth as I would have liked.

The book really is more of a reference book, so it was difficult to learn from.

I think I would have much rather read an OS X book that took you through all the different tasks you might want to do and showed you all the little tricks for getting them done better.

Anyway, it’s a good book for what it is but it’s not exactly a life-changing one.

The Checklist Manifesto

Now, here is an interesting book that will convince you just how important and valuable checklists can be.

I really liked how the author told an intriguing story as he demonstrated the real value of using checklists.

I was pretty shocked how impactful a simple checklist was—even for doctors doing what should be a pretty simple and straightforward procedure.

This book absolutely made me a believer in checklists, and it was also quite entertaining. I’d highly recommend it.

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Another one of those books that I wish I had read years ago.

I found the advice here to be great, but it was mostly what I was already doing to grow the Simple Programmer brand and this site.

Still, it was a worthwhile read, because I did pick up a few tips, and it is always good to get reinforcement on what you are already doing right.

If you are thinking about starting your own online business based on a blog or other online presence, this book will definitely be valuable and can get you going much faster than you could probably do discovering all this stuff on your own from multiple sources.

Awaken the Giant Within

Book CoverThis was one of my first real introductions to Tony Robbin’s personal development teachings.

It really is a great book. My wife actually read it first, and sent me to a Tony Robbins seminar in response—which turned out to be an amazing experience in itself.

This book is all about understanding what makes you tick, figuring out what is really important to you in life, and then implementing a practical plan to make it a reality.

There are so many exercises and practical advice that you’ll probably need to read it several times to get the most out of it.

This is another book that applies to just about everyone and that I’d highly recommend reading. It could drastically change your life. I know it has changed mine.

Fear of Life

This is a pretty long book, and I almost quit reading it several times due to the author’s emphasis on everyone in the world having an Oedipus complex, but I decided to stick it out through the end.

I’m still a bit torn. I picked up a decent understanding of traditional psychology, but I’m not sure I agree with a large portion of the book.

That said, reading books that you don’t necessarily agree with or which make you feel slightly uncomfortable are often good reads, because they can grow and expand your perspective.

I do tend to agree that emotional patterns can be trapped in our physiology, which is something I would not have considered before reading this book. Definitely an odd text.

The Essential Writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book CoverI’m still reading this book, and it is perhaps the most difficult read I’ve encountered.

I’ll be 100% honest with you here. I feel like I’m only grasping about 50% of the book—if that much.

This is a pretty large collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings, which were written in the 19th century, so the language is difficult. Emerson also constructs very complex sentences which are a bit difficult to digest.

I’m actually really liking what I am understanding, and as I read more and get more used to the language, I’m understanding more of it.

I’m learning a great deal about transcendentalism—which is a fascinating idea that has a huge connection to many of the self-help, self-development books, like Think and Grow Rich, of that era.

Definitely worth reading, but be prepared to struggle.

Superhuman Social Skills

This book is a fairly short book from Tynan, who is an internet personality and blogger that I tend to have a ridiculously large amount in common with in terms of how we think and our general philosophies about life.

I found the book to be pretty good, but perhaps not as good as his book, Superhuman by Habit.

I would have liked this book more if I hadn’t already been doing a lot of what Tynan recommends.

Tynan has a vast social network, so his advice—although at times it seems like common sense—is definitely worth heeding. There is a great collection of tips on how to interact with people and build quality friendships.

Book CoverUltimate Cuts: 7 Secrets to Burn Fat Fast as Hell

My friend Brandon Carter wrote this book, so I decided to check it out. Considering the low price on Amazon, I was surprised by the value of the content.

It’s a fairly short read, but it has some real solid advice about burning fat from someone who has a proven track record of doing it.

I learned a few tricks that I’ll definitely be applying in my dieting and workouts.

Brandon is also an awesome guy and an avid reader. I spent some time with him sharing and comparing our book lists from our Audible apps on our phones.

Maximum Achievement

I actually got this recommendation from Brandon Carter, as it is one of his top books.

Like so many others, I wish I had read this much earlier in life. The author, Brian Tracy, adds a practical aspect to the concepts in books like Think and Grow Rich by giving you detailed explanations about the specific natural laws involved in really being successful in life.

This book is basically a guidebook for success. It contains very detailed instructions about how to effectively set goals and achieve whatever you want in life.

I was a big fan of Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog book, but this one is even better.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I read it again this year and I will probably continue to read it again every year, because it is just that good and I always get something new out of it.

This book is a life-changer, particularly in the way you think about the interactions you have with people, which can potentially open up many opportunities in your life and career.

I highly recommend everyone read this book more than once.

Growth Hacker Marketing

Another excellent book from one of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday.

I got to speak with Ryan on the phone about marketing my own book, Soft Skills, and I have to say that Ryan really knows his stuff.

There were quite a few concepts from this book that I have applied to help grow my business, and I found Ryan’s unique perspective to be very valuable.

Plenty of great advice for launching a book, start-up, or even a blog. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Money: Master the Game

Book CoverI was a bit skeptical because of the amount of hype around this book. What could Tony Robbins teach me about finance and investing that I haven’t learned elsewhere, and how could this book have value to novices and experts alike?

It turns out Tony interviewed some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry and then condensed their knowledge into a very digestible and actionable—although quite long—format.

This is a book that everyone should read, so that they have a basic knowledge of the financial industry and can learn how financial investing and markets really work.

This is a book that will slap you right in the face if you are relying on a company-provided 401k that is invested in mutual funds.

I didn’t get as much out of this book, simply because I invest in real estate instead of the stock market or other asset classes, but I’ll most likely be rereading some parts in the future when I diversify a bit and re-enter the stock and bond markets.

A lot of people have complained about this book, but it has some extremely valuable advice.

One idea I personally got out of the book involved practically thinking about how much money you actually need to reach your goals in life.

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

I read two books called Traction this year, and this was the one I found the more valuable with TONS of great advice.

I’ll definitely be rereading parts of this book as I start expanding Simple Programmer in the next year.

This author covers just about every single technique you can use to gain more customers for your business and to grow, grow, grow.

It’s basically a complete playbook for internet marketing techniques.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has any kind of business.

Smartcuts

I have to be honest, I don’t remember a lot about this book.

I remember I liked it and that it had some really good stories about how you could skip rungs on the ladder by thinking outside of the box and thinking big.

The writing proved very interesting to read because of the story-driven approach.

I need to make a resolution next year to start taking more detailed notes on books, so that I can remember what I learned from them better.

An Unwelcome Quest

This book was the third installment in the Magic 2.0 series which I really liked.

I was pretty excited to read this book, and it didn’t disappoint. I really want more books in this series, because I find the concept to be so interesting, and the stories are very well written.

The characters are three dimensional, and the plot is entertaining and keeps you hooked.

The only thing I didn’t like is that it started to get a bit preachy in a politically correct way.

But the fact that the author could introduce some politically correct and overly progressive dialogs and for me to still give it five stars attests to the quality of the story and the characters.

Book CoverThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I decided to reread this book since I hadn’t read it in quite a few years, and I’m glad I did.

I got a lot more out of the book this time than I ever did before—perhaps because I am finally starting to apply some of the concepts in my life.

I’d add this book to the must-read list for anyone who wants to be successful in life.

There is a ton of great advice about how to be productive, deal with people, and prioritize your life.

If you’ve never read this book, read it. If you’ve already read it a long time ago, consider reading it again.

Essentialism

This book got me all fired up about reducing the complexity in my life and narrowing my focus.

I didn’t exactly achieve the level of essentialism I had originally aspired to, but this book definitely spurred some changes in my life that greatly increased its quality.

In fact, Simple Programmer might not exist today if I had not read this book, because it made me realize that I was doing too much and that I needed to start dropping some things and getting other people to do some of the work that I didn’t need to do anymore.

A highly impactful book that all overachievers should definitely read.

The E Myth Revisited

Book CoverThis is another book that likely had a part in saving Simple Programmer from being scrapped this year, as it taught me the value of having systems in place in order to allow other people to help me free myself from a large portion of my business.

This is a must-read business book for anyone who is running a business or thinking about running one.

The author, Michael Gerber, takes a story-driven approach to teaching and tells some fascinating stories that keep your interest and drive home the points.

I learned a lot about how important systems are in any business and how to build good ones that can automate a large portion of almost any company.

This book essentially allowed me to travel Europe for three-and-a-half months while still running Simple Programmer, just working on Fridays.

The One Thing

This book reminded me a lot of Essentialism, but the one thing that struck me was the idea of thinking about the one thing you could focus on in order to make a majority of the other things easier or not necessary.

In your daily life, the same concept can be applied in order to greatly simplify the concept of a to-do list, shrinking it down into one thing you need to accomplish each day.

It’s an extremely powerful concept when applied and one I’ve started to use to simplify my planning and reduce stress.

Influence

Several people recommended this book and I kept hearing about it as a classic in marketing, so I decided to finally give it a read. I’m glad I did.

Anyone involved in any kind of sales should definitely read this book. It contains some extremely effective techniques that you’ll find you’ve most likely already succumbed to as an unwitting consumer many times in the past.

This book examines at a very deep level the way we are influenced as human beings—especially with regards to sales and selling techniques.

It also contains practical techniques and advice that you can use as either a defense against selling techniques or to your advantage when you are in the position of selling yourself.

What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

This book was an entertaining story and contained a very good lesson about how having some initial success can lead a person into thinking they know a lot more than what they actually do.

I’m not sure I 100% believe the story, but it has a very important lesson that I’ll never forget.

Was definitely worth the read.

Book CoverAntifragile

This was the first book I read by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and it was so good that I immediately purchased all of his other books.

Antifragile really got me thinking about what it means to be robust and how I could devise ways to make my life not only resistant to change, but also to actually benefit from it.

This book could have been called A Scientific Approach on How to Embrace Chaos and Benefit From It, but Antifragile sums it up nicely.

Nassim injects his full personality into this book and really makes you think and question some of your assumptions from a quasi-scientific / philosophical approach. I found it both an entertaining and thought-provoking read.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

I didn’t really like this book.

It might have been because my business wasn’t at the level where it could benefit from many of the concepts or ideas laid out here, but personally I also found it a bit “preachy” and felt that the tone was a little too impersonal for my taste.

I’m sure the advice is solid, but it just didn’t appeal to me, and as a small internet business owner, I didn’t really find it all that valuable.

Leap First

I feel like this would be a good book to convince you to take a risk and quit your job, but I didn’t get a lot of value out of it.

If I had read this book ten years ago, I would have probably found it more profound, but at this stage in my life, it was mostly redundant and didn’t provide me with any new insights.

Think and Grow Rich

I decided to reread this book, since so many people recommended that I should and I wanted to listen to the audio version.

This is one of those books that you will probably find on just about any highly successful person’s bookshelf.

It’s amazing the number of multi-millionaires that have not only recommended this book, but also have ascribed a large portion of their success to it.

I did get more out of the book this time around and plan on reading it again someday.

The Richest Man in Babylon

Wow. If you haven’t read this short book, go buy it and read it now.

Really, everyone should read this simple, yet profound book on personal finance.

The volume is composed of several stories that illustrate a complete financial strategy which is all but guaranteed to make you rich over the course of your life.

This is a book that should be required reading for every high school student before they embark on their adult lives.

If everyone read and followed the advice here, credit card debt and bankruptcy would be eliminated.

The thing I love the most about this book is how simple and timeless the concepts in it are.

Man’s Search for Meaning

This book will really slap you in the face and give you some perspective.

It is the story of a Nazi concentration camp survivor and how he dealt with one of the worst possible things a human being could experience, but still maintained a feeling of control and purpose in his life.

This story really got me reconsidering how I decided to interpret events in my own life and helped me realize how pointless and ineffective the victim mentality is.

If Victor Frankl can find joy and meaning in the midsts of his extreme suffering, surely we can find it in our comfortable lives, too.

Book CoverBigger Leaner Stronger

As a student of just about every diet and muscle building program in existence, I found this book to be a bit redundant, but I still think it is a valuable summary about how to build muscle and lose fat, with no bullshit.

I felt like this book did a great job of putting together all the essential, up-to-date information about muscle building and losing fat that could save someone years of struggle.

Bigger Leaner Stronger also does a great job of explaining the scientific terms and basic vocabulary of the fitness industry and providing good evidence for everything the book recommends.

As a Man Thinketh

How did I not read this earlier in my life?

I listened to the audio version of this book three times in a row, because it was so short yet so powerful.

I don’t think I know of a book that contains such a concise summary of all the most important and valuable lessons in life.

If you want to change your life and expand your perspectives, this book is a great place to start.

I found so many profound statements in this book that I will probably buy the Kindle version, just so I can highlight several passages and review them regularly.

Gates of Fire

I finally got around to reading this fictional account of the battle at the gates of Thermopylae.

What a story. I could not put this book down. Steven Pressfield was one of my favorite authors because of his book, The War of Art, but now I understand the true depth of his talent.

This book will show you what it is like to be a warrior who lives by a high code of honor. It will show you the depth of what it means to be a man and to go to war. It will make you weigh the price of a human life and to really feel the thoughts and emotions that any combatant in a life-or-death battle must face.

Forget the movie 300. This book is 1,000 times better.

David and Goliath

Okay, so this book presents a very interesting perspective on the possible benefits of being the underdog in a given situation and how you can use that position as a strategic advantage, but… I think it takes it a bit too far.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great book for expanding your viewpoint to realize that bigger and stronger is not always better, I just wasn’t 100% convinced that being disadvantaged is actually as much of an advantage as the book might lead you to believe.

Worth a read, but reserve judgement.

Book CoverFooled By Randomness and The Black Swan

I’m including both of these books here since I read them so close together, and they touch on such similar subjects that I honestly can’t remember which book talked about what.

What I do remember is that both were excellent books, just like Taleb’s Antifragile.

Taleb really hits home the point that we don’t have a good grasp on statistics and that even professionals are mostly unable to intuitively understand the true randomness of events.

If you think you can beat the stock market, you should definitely read both of these books and think again.

I especially liked the philosophical approach pointing to the truth that there are very few things we can truly know.

Taleb is is one of my favorite authors, and his entertaining books will expand your mind and make you rethink some of what you’ve generally accepted or assumed all through your life.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Do

Not a bad book. Lots of great advice. I just found it to be a little basic, since I felt like I was already living most of the things mentioned here.

Still, if you feel like you need to be more mentally strong and able to withstand the ups and downs in your life—ok, mostly the downs—this is a practical, down-to-earth text to help you get a little bit more of that mental toughness and to understand why it’s so important.

The Motivation Manifesto

Although I agree with pretty much 100% of what is stated in this book, which has some excellent wisdom that could help a lot of people, I found myself embarrassed just listening to the audio version of the book.

Although I have immense respect for Brendon Burchard, I feel like he really overdoes it in this book.

He lays it on pretty thick and really brings out the flowery language instead of stating the wisdom in the book in a more plain fashion.

At times it is inspiring, but mostly it’s just overdone.

The Martian

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Fantastically interesting story, humorous, and with great characters, to boot.

It really is just a great read; I couldn’t put it down.

From the first moment I started reading, I was hooked and that was even after hearing all the hype about it.

If you’ve seen the movie and liked it, you’ll love the book.

If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a huge favor and definitely read the book first.

One of my top fiction books of all time.

The Impersonal Life

Not quite sure how I feel about this book.

It’s basically written as God telling you that you are just a cell in God’s body and that your very existence is just an illusion that you are refusing to let go of, but “hey, everything is going to be ok and don’t worry.”

On the one hand, this sounds great; on the other hand, it’s terrifying as hell.

I’m not sure I 100% buy in to the whole transcendental viewpoint, but this book definitely made me strongly consider it like I never had before.

Read this book if you are brave; otherwise, skip it.

Book CoverSoft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual

Yes, this is my book and I technically read it twice this year.

Once, because I had to record the audio version of the book, which I did in a week and you can get it here.

And a second time, because I had to listen to the audio version of the book after it was published to make sure it sounded good and there weren’t any major errors.

Strange as it sounds, I was actually taking some notes, because I forgot about some of the things I wrote about in the book and needed to re-apply them to my life today.

I won’t give you a review of my own book, but I obviously like it and recommend it.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Much better of a book than I expected.

I read this one because several people recommended it, and I thought it might be worth seeing if any of the ideas in the book add some more enjoyment to my own work.

I don’t entirely agree with the book, but it made sense and was an entertaining read. It didn’t convince me to commit towards the author’s viewpoint, but it did shift my opinions.

I can definitely see how skilled manual labor can be satisfying and rewarding work and how much of the work we do today lacks those qualities.

The Charisma Myth

I didn’t really like this book. I was looking for much more practical advice, and I felt like The Charisma Myth was another one of those books that used the same old, overused psychology studies you find in so many business books today.

There were certainly a few useful tidbits of advice, but I felt like the value of the book could have been stated in about 50 pages.

I’m perhaps a bit jaded because much of the book was not new to me, and I was looking for some brand new, practical advice that I could start applying today, so your mileage may vary.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Let me start off by saying that I can understand why so many people recommend this book and that I do think the advice and viewpoint within—for the most part—is really good and could help a lot of people find success in their lives.

With that said, I didn’t really like the book myself.

I tend to already have the kind of mindset that the author encourages. I’ve never felt like there was something I couldn’t accomplish. I tend to view obstacles and setbacks as challenges.

But if I didn’t or if I was pessimistic, I’d certainly have gotten value out of this book.

It also contained many of the psychology studies I had already been pretty familiar with.

Worth a read, unless you already have this mindset.

Book CoverBuilt to Sell

Another great book that just about anyone starting or running a business should read.

This book reminded me of The E-Myth Revisited and had a similar impact on my thoughts about business.

Built to Sell keeps you interested by taking you through the fictional story of a business owner who runs an advertising agency that he just wants to get rid of, but finds he can’t since it isn’t sellable.

A wise billionaire friend of his guides him through the painful process of specializing and removing himself from the critical operations of the business.

I definitely learned a lot from reading this book and highly recommend it.

Pitch Anything

I’m tempted to say this book isn’t really about pitching, since it’s so much more.

Pitch Anything is a guidebook for dealing with any kind of human interaction where you are trying to sell an idea, gain credibility, or influence someone—especially if they are more powerful than you.

There is some great psychology and tactics in this book that I haven’t seen anywhere else.

As a result, it’s definitely a book I’d recommend for just about anyone who has ever tried to pitch any kind of idea, whether it be for funding, best practices, or even where to go for dinner.

Outwitting the Devil

This is a very strange book. It comes from Napolean Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich.

It wasn’t released until pretty recently, even though it was written in the early 1900s. The reason was because Napolean’s wife didn’t want to be alive when it was released and his heir also had a problem with its release.

There is nothing super controversial in the book, but he does attack organized religion and education.

I found this book to contain an exceptional amount of wisdom in it. Not that I agree with everything, but the conversation with the devil is quite thought-provoking and has some great pearls in it.

Definitely get the audio version of the book, though, because the voice of the devil is perfect.

I realize not everyone will appreciate this book, but I felt like it had a huge amount of wisdom in a very digestible format.

Willpower

Book CoverA very scientific approach to the topic of willpower. Lots of psychological studies as evidence. Most of this stuff I had heard before in some form or another, but this book presents it all in one place.

Still, I didn’t really like it. I don’t think willpower can be boiled down to a set of external conditions, like how much glucose is in your blood or whether you just did some vexing math problems.

I also didn’t appreciate the attacks on self-development books. Although I consider myself to be highly skeptical and analytical, some of the most valuable things I have learned and applied in my life have been pretty far out there and unexplainable.

Still, I have to say that Willpower is worth reading and that you should know about all the studies that have shown what is likely to greatly influence your willpower.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

I don’t read many biographies, but I decided to read this one since it was recommended so often, and I really do like industrialists.

This is a very well written account of the life of one of the richest men in history—and the most philanthropic.

There are a ton of lessons to learn from John D’s life, both in business and in a personal nature. This book also provides an excellent lesson on the politics surrounding monopolies and capitalism.

I found the book to be educational for me in many areas and really filled in some gaps in my historical and economic knowledge.

It’s also pretty darn interesting. Definitely recommend it.

The Personal MBA

Wow. I wish I had found and read this book before I read the 50 other books that this book draws from and summarizes so nicely.

There is a shit-ton of valuable advice here, which the author drew from reading many of the books on this list and others.

This book is a really condensed way to pick up a ton of useful business and life knowledge fast.

And even if you already read most of the books that are referenced here, you’ll probably still find this book as an excellent review—I know I did.

I highly recommend this book for the beginner and the advanced. There is value in this book for just about anyone.

Tuesdays With Morrie

Lots of people recommended this book, and I liked it but I didn’t think it was great.

Don’t get me wrong. It was good, just not great.

It was interesting to hear the story of Morrie’s last days and how he died with dignity and love instead of wallowing in self-pity. I just didn’t find it as deep and as moving as some people did.

There were some good life lessons, but nothing that really made me have an “ah-ha” moment.

Just my opinion, though. Not a reflection of the man or the author.

Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable

Still reading this one, but I should be done by the time this post is published.

So far, so good. Very much a kick-you-in-the-ass book that makes you ask yourself why you are such a pansy.

Book CoverWhatever Happened to Penny Candy?

Really good, short, succinct, and understandable book on basic economics, especially with regards to monetary systems and inflation.

I learned why coins like quarters have grooves on the edges, and I got a bit of a better understanding of what actually causes inflation.

I definitely recommend this book to just about anyone, since the knowledge is critical to any kind of financial prosperity.

There is a slight political slant—ok, maybe more than that—but the author admits it upfront. Worth a read for sure.

Onto Next Year

Wow, I never expected this post to be so long.

I imagine I’ll probably read a similar number of books next year, so I need a better strategy.

I forgot a lot about some of the books I read, so some of them were hard to summarize here, and this also turned out to be a ton of work.

My plan for next year is to take better notes and do short write-ups immediately after finishing a book rather than writing it all at the end of the year.

No guarantees, but that is my plan for now.

Happy reading and let me know if you like this kind of write-up and what would make it more valuable for you.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."