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Book Suggestions for 2018

Every year I have a reading goal.  The actual books aren’t as big of a concern (as long as they’re not outrageously short or written for children).  In 2017 the goal was to read 12 books, that’s just one per month and easy for anyone to do.  By the end of the year I finished number 19.  This has inspired me to up that goal to 18 for the year 2018.

Statistically speaking higher earners read more (whether earning more causes more reading or more reading causes earning more is another topic).  Here are the books I read in 2017; perhaps you can choose 18 in ’18 and help grow your mind as well.

Thinking for a Change by John Maxwell – 257 Pages

John Maxwell is known for his great leadership books.   This one was my first foray into his training, and it was really good.  I recommend going through it twice, each time paying more attention to the wording, and paying attention to how you can apply it to your life.  There’s a ton of information, so taking small bite sized chunks and seeing how you can change the way you respond to the world will help keep it easy to digest.

John Maxwell  Leadership training in Billings

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof – 191 Pages

The idea behind the book is that we can’t do it all as a parent.  But that’s exactly what we try to do.  We try to do everything, lead, teach, guide, and disciple.  But that’s not what we are called to do.  Instead, we can parent beyond our capacity by understanding that our role is to point children toward God.  We can help them the most by showing them God’s love.  The book walks through multiple ways to build your relationship with your kids.  It was a little premature, since mine is just 5 years old (4 when I read the book), so I’ll have to read it again in a couple of years.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville – 615 Pages

We all know of the tale of Captain Ahab and his pursuit of the mighty white whale.  But have you read the book?  It’s long, and some parts are really, really boring.  But overall it’s an incredible tale.  If you’re not into the scientific aspect of whaling, then you might want to find an abridged version.  There are complete chapters describing the differences between types of whales.  It provides a great historical insight into how sperm whales were harvested for their oil.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy – 349 Pages

A number of years ago I read The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  It was tough to read, he has a very unique writing style.  I decided to brave his pages again with Blood Meridian.  If you’re looking for a story about the wild west, one filled with blood and depictions of some of the horrendous things Native Americans had to endure, then this book is for you.  It’s hard to get into, but once you’re into it, you won’t want to put it down!

Look me in the Eye by John Elder Robison – 282 Pages

This book has been in the house for a long time.  But I never gave it a second look since I though it “wasn’t my style.”  After my mother-in-law picked it up and was reading it, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.  It turns out it wasn’t just “not bad” but “really good.”  It’s a really good look into how the brains of those with Asperger’s Syndrome actually works.  And after you read it, you will be able to understand some of your “weird” friends a little better.

The EMyth Revisited by Michael Gerber – 265 Pages

After a couple of literature books I ventured back to business books.  This is one that every entrepreneur has to read before they start their business.  The basic idea is that you’re really good at your job, and you think “Why am I working for someone else?  I could do this on my own and earn all the profit instead of my meager salary.”  What people don’t realize is that running a business is a far cry from being a technician in one.  Before you start your own business, read this book and apply its principles.

Kennedy Ryan by Alicia Thomason – 214 Pages

Alicia is a local Billings writer.  Accompanied by her dad she approached me to get some advice on how she could market her first book.  I sat down with them over coffee and gave some ideas on how they could get the word out.  As payment for the advice Alicia gave me a download link for her book.  This is the only book I have ever read entirely on a device.  It was a fun story to read, contained a bit of excitement, and I recommend at least downloading it to show your support of a local author that is on her way to big things.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – 320 Pages

After reading Look Me in the Eye I wanted to read Running with Scissors written by Robison’s brother.  I remember seeing the movie many years ago and thought it was really weird.  The book is even weirder.  Augusten is 6 years younger than John.  He grew up in the home after their mother went crazy (literally) and their father plunged into alcoholism.  The result was the mom “giving” him away to her psychologist.  How much is embellished, and how much is true?  Who knows, but if you like off the wall weird (not just quirky, full on weird), then read this one.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – 337 Pages

After talking to a friend about Look Me in the Eye she mentioned I would like the book A Man Called Ove.  She was right.  Ove is a grumpy old man bent on ending his own life after his wife passed away.  But new neighbors that pour out their love keep preventing him from following through with his plans.  As the book goes on, and you learn about Ove, his past, and his circumstances, you learn why he’s grumpy, and compassion grows.  It’s also a movie if you want to go that route.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell – Audio Book

I normally read books choosing not to listen to them.  But sometimes I have long drives all by my lonesome.  Many people say that they would fall asleep listening to a leadership or business book.  I find it helps keep my mind moving coming up with ideas on how I can apply.  John Maxwell is regarded as one of the leaders in leadership.  He lays out 15 laws that you can easily put into practice in your own life, and ultimately see a lot of growth.  Now I just need to get the book and read it so I can retain more of the information.

Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz – Audio Book

I listened to the 15 laws on a drive to Utah, I listed to Word of Mouth Marketing on the way back.  If you run a business, you have to read this book!  The goal with marketing is to generate a buzz that causes people to talk about your business or product.  But most companies don’t do that because it’s impossible to quantify.  Instead they rely on measurable metrics and miss out on explosive growth by getting people talking.

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad – 220 Pages

I have a list hanging on the wall of the 100 books everyone must read before they die.  I have actually looked up this list online, and every site has a different list.  On the one I randomly printed was Joseph Conrad’s book The Secret Agent (he also wrote Heart of Darkness which you may have read in high school).  This book would make a wonderful modern movie adaptation.  It starts out with someone getting blown up in the cemetery, and pieces of them and their clothing found.  Warning: it’s archaic.  Published in 1907 it was the hardest book to read of the year (possibly harder than Moby Dick).


What the Bible Actually Says about Money by Ryan Mix – 152 Pages

Ryan Mix is another local author.  He and his wife Janine invited me to a presentation on how to use debt to your advantage.  Ryan had his book there, and I talked to him briefly about some of my concerns with the Bible and money.  His response was that he had the exact same questions and discusses them thoroughly in the book.  The bottom line: we have been taught to think that money is evil (a misinterpretation of a specific verse), but those ideas are hogwash.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck – 246 Pages

I love books that talk about how we act, react, and design our lives.  Dr. Dweck’s book is incredibly insightful into the way we think about ourselves, and the way we approach problems, setbacks, success, and the like.  The big take away was that your mindset determines your success.  If you see failure as a learning experience you go further than if you see failure permanent.  It has great insights on raising children so they don’t slip into the “wrong” mindset later in life.

A Passion for Life by Cliff Potts – 219 Pages

In April 2017 I wrote a story for Cliffside Neighbors Magazine on Cliff Potts.  Cliff is a local artist that contracted Polio when he was 15.  A series of physical setbacks resulted in being almost completely paralyzed.  When I interviewed him he told me that this book took 10 years to write.  His only mobility is slight movement in his right hand (and movement in his face), so he clicked every letter one at a time with the mouse on his computer.  It’s inspirational seeing how life tried to knock him down, but he persevered and discovered his passion for life.

The 100 Year Old Man by Jonas Jonasson – 384 Pages

I was ready for another good literature book, so I talked with a friend about what a good book similar to A Man Called Ove would be.  He pointed me to The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.  The book jumps back and forth to modern day (100 year old) Allan Karlsson, and when he was a young man growing up.  It’s quirky, funny, a mildly disturbing, but overall an easy and exciting read.  You get to go along for the ride with Allan and his somewhat unintentional crime spree, all while learning about his life adventures.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman – 370 Pages

Backman, the author of A Man Called Ove wrote a number of other books as well.  Google told me that My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was rated highly.  The story follows Elsa, a seven year old who lost her off-the-wall grandma to cancer.  Before her grandmother passed, she wrote a series of letters that directed Elsa to various tenants in the building where they lived.  It’s built on fairy tales, friendships, heartbreaks, and family.  It can be confusing at times, but it all comes together in the end.

Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell – 201 Pages

I’m part of a leadership group called Elevate.  We’re currently going through this same book, but the workbook version.  In the book John Maxwell gives some very clear guidelines on how you can become a better leader.  The idea is that leaders aren’t born; they’re made.  And you have to be aware and practice to ensure that you’re growing as a leader.

The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone – 204Pages

Just before the year ended I read a little extra each day so I could get this one on the list.  Anyone running a business should read it; anyone with decision making responsibilities in their job should read it.  The premise is this: we have been programmed to accept average.  Middle class, the American Dream, it’s what we are “supposed” to shoot for.  But one setback and your goal of average can’t be achieved, so now you are destined for just below average.  Instead, we should 10x our goals, and aim for greatness.  Only then will we be able to experience success.

Every year I have a goal of reading a lot.  After I do, I realize that I could have read even more.  These are my accomplishments for the year.  Even though we are over a month into 2018, you can still easily get through them all.  These books amount to 5,319 (including the audio books in written format).  Divide that by 365 and you get 14.5 pages per day.  Want to grow your mind?  It’s not even 15 pages per day to expand it.

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