2013 was the year that I rediscovered my joy of reading. A lot of it is due to Apple – first the iPad and now the iPhone encouraged me to to try and buy a tonne of books to read through the iBooks app. Just being able to walk around with 10-20 books in my back pocket or my laptop back has meant I’ve been, relatively speaking, a voracious reader in a way that I just haven’t been able to for a few years.
Here are some of the best books I read this year, and a few thoughts on each:
Wonder – RJ Palacio
As a father, this one had me holding back the tears from the first page. The book focuses on a boy with Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare craniofacial deformality, and his emotional and educational development – as well as the development of those around him. Well worth reading and learning from.
Eleven Rings – Phil Jackson
I’m a big sports fan but wouldn’t usually have read this if it hadn’t have been in the Tribal library. Besides reading about the pursuit of excellence and domination in any field, I enjoyed learning about the art of zen meditation and the overall zen philosophy: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. Don’t let the highs get you too high or the lows too low. Something we can all learn in an industry with so many highs and lows.
How to fail at almost everything and still win big – Scott Adams
The book warns you not to take advice from cartoonists but the sort of stuff that Scott (the creator of Dilbert) recommends is common sense – add as many skills to your repertoire as possible. Focus on your personal energy through diet and physical activity. Keep positive. Hard to not agree with any of that stuff. What I love about this is how simple it is – like Scott’s own thoughts on finance.
The Circle – David Eggers
I crushed this book over a weekend. Originally I had suspected that it would be a dense, heavy read but it was so engrossing and so close to the bone that I literally couldn’t keep it down, stealing a few minutes at a time to get through another couple of pages. Set against a fictional back drop of a young lady starting work at a social network, it looks at the value of information (and privacy), the brain-washing effects of cult-membership and our overwhelming desire to fit in and to aspire to a grander goal.
Is it unfair to lump these two together? Both were fascinating looks at two companies that are almost impossible to separate from their founders. I probably enjoyed the Amazon/Jeff Bezos book more because it brought to the fore of my mind the inner workings of a company I haven’t really thought too much about.
Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy – Helen Fielding
When I saw that there was a new Bridget Jones book out, I wondered “why”. I remember reading the original book back in my GAP year half a life time ago (1998/9). It was a surprisingly tender read while retaining some of the laugh-out-loud qualities of the first books.
Both hilarious books that reveal the wonderfully destructive hedonism behind the investment firm that has spawned two movies – Boiler Room and the upcoming The Wolf of Wall Street (starring Leonardo Dicaprio).
All in all, a good year of reading and that’s without the Jack Reacher, Dan Brown and Rick Riordan books I devoured. But I’m hungry for more. Let me know your best reads in the comments.