One of the questions I like to ask smart people is: "What books do you recommend and why?".
Of the books I read (and heard) in 2016, these are the ones that moved me most memorably.
If you're looking for books to read in 2017, consider these. Note: not all books were written in 2016.
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
In a gist: Awareness of the true enemy to success is the first key to achieving that success. Forget yourself and focus on the work. Be humble and persistent. Value discipline and results, not passion and confidence. Be lesser, do more. Don't take credit. Yup, major notes to self. Ryan Holiday is only 29. Don't let his lack of birthday candles fool you though. He's not your average.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
In a gist: A good friend recommended this and...it blew me away. A novel structured in how-to form in the second person with a nameless protagonist who moves from a village to an unnamed city in rising Asia? Chapter one is titled "Move to the City". Chapter Two is "Get an Education". Chapter Three, "Don't Fall in Love". Hilarious and scary at the same time. I hate you, Mohsin Hamid.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
In a gist: When Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recorded private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy, he never intended the writings to be published. Thousands of years later, his writings remind us that each day we will encounter people who suck (for lack of a better term), that we must be mindful of the mundane, and that happiness depends on the quality of our thoughts. "Why do we love ourselves best, but so often value the opinion of others over our own?". In short, certified #classic.
Levels of the Game by John McPhee
In a gist: If I could punch John McPhee in the face for writing so damn well, I wouldn't. A pioneer of creative nonfiction, McPhee writes about a single game of tennis played by Arthur Ashe, the first great black tennis player (we see you, Serena), and Clark Graebner, a white tennis player who was Ashe's rival for many years. Many consider this the best tennis book of all time. But there's so many levels to this, I'm not sure it's about sports at all. Sooooo good! I hate you, John McPhee.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
In a gist: Are you a leader struggling to create a long-term vision for your organization or cause? This book can provide the inspiration you need to get started in the right direction. Figuring out WHY your organization exists and WHY that should be meaningful to customers and others in society is one of the most important things you can do as a leader. It's hard, but once the answer to this is clear, the rest of the decisions about WHAT to sell and HOW to do it become easier.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
In a gist: This is one of the better autobiographies I've read (disclosure: haven't read many). A you-have-to-get-it for anyone who performs, writes, creates or is involved in the arts in any way (basically EVERYONE in 2017). I knew Steve Martin was talented, but had no idea HOW talented. Just because he makes everything look easy, doesn't mean it is or was though. His honest writing is evidence that real, long-lasting success comes only through hard work, persistence, and only then, a little luck. Maybe.
I look to make 2017 a great year for reading.
Don't nobody got time to obsess about what's on the TV or the News Feed. Let's not get caught up with the headline actions of the mediocre leaders of today.
There's never been a better time to study the great men and women of history. The access to great content is unparalleled. It's up to us to make that choice.