Ever year I have a goal of a certain number of books to read and to accompany each book with a small review to help me make sure I’m not reading for reading’s sake, but to make sure I’m learning something from everything I read.
I only read 8 books this year. The main reason being that I started masters school this fall and spent time focusing on the reading associated there. I read several memoirs this year that has me itching to read more.
- Rescuing Ambition :: Dave Harvey — Rescuing Ambition seeks to address something I believe a lot of Christians deal with: what do I do with my dreams, goals and ambitions as a Christian? Dave focuses on taking selfish ambition, the kind in Philippians 2:3–4, and transforming it to ambition that prizes the glory of God. While there wasn’t a lot of new ideas in this book for me, I think the core takeaway is that God doesn’t want us to simply suppress our ideas or desires to become great or to strive after something — which is what ambition is; He really wants to re-direct those desires to be about His glory and His church.
- The Enigma :: Andrew Hodges — The effective de-facto standard biography on the great Alan Turing (who is one of the fathers of computer science). This biography is dense, thick, full of hard to grasp concepts and one of the best books I’ve read in years. I have a deeper appreciation for the mind of Turing than I did before as well as learned new pieces of war, computer, and mathematical history. It was also said to learn the details of how Turing’s life ended with a silly incident and a hidden passion leading to a great mind taking his own life. Anyone interested in the history of computers, cryptography, and mathematics or the mind that invented the ideas that allow you to run multiple programs from the single machine should read this book.
- Endurance :: Scott Kelly — Spending a year in space sounds intense to anyone who isn’t an astronaut. What is more is that it sounds even more intense to someone who is. Scott Kelly unpacks just how difficult it is to become an astronaut, staring back to his discovery of The Right Stuff and traveling through adventures on the Space Shuttle and the I.S.S. I also learned how incredibly isolating being an astronaut can be, not only while in space but also while on earth. Scott Kelly’s memoir will spark a new interest in the world of space travel and exploration for years to come.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad :: Robert T. Kiyosaki — Rich Dad, Poor Dad is an eye-opening book (at least for me) about the world of money and how to make more of it. While certain ideas seem bold and scary, as Robert points out, that is exactly why those who do them become rich. The number one takeaway for me was learning that most people buy liabilities that seem like assets — large houses, boats, etc; but what you need to by acquiring is revenue producing assets. He also burst the bubble that conservative saving isn’t always the best way to go, which is how I was raised. I’m likely not going to be implementing all of his suggestions tomorrow, but I will be learning more and more about a few specific ways to build wealth besides conservative saving.
- The Captain Class :: Sam Walker — What makes a team great? For many sports fans, a great coach, an all-star player, or great team chemistry would top the list. In The Captain Class, sports writer Sam Walker takes on a statistical and anecdotal journey that shows, in fact, its none of these. The common denominator of great teams is a great captain. This is a hard pill to swallow, especially in a world where captains aren’t seen as important or even real in many leagues. What The Captain Class helped me realize is that the all-star and the captain are almost always different. The leadership of a captain is more of consistency, tenacity, encouragement, and steadiness. As someone wanting to grow my career, it’s important to remember what real leadership on a team looks like and do my best to learn these character traits.
- Into Thin Air :: John Krakauer — Everyone knows climbing Mt. Everest is difficult and potentially deadly. But when John is offered the chance to climb the mountain himself while on a journalism assignment to capture the process, emotions, and state of climbing the mountain, he can’t say no. Into Thin Air is the tragic personal account John during the 1996 climbing season in which several members of his expedition — and others — lost their lives amidst the intense emotion, physical, and mental toll of climbing the world’s tallest mountain. While sobering and hard to read at times, John’s account will have you gripped the whole way and will expose just how easily a few bad decisions can lead to disaster. I learned that there are many things we can set our minds too, but they often are not worth the risk and, unfortunately, we often can’t think logically in the midst of crisis situations.
- Children of the Mind :: Orson Scott Card — Ender Wiggin, is starting to fade as the Starways Congress fleet heads to destroy Lusitania in fear of the deadly descolada. Jane is dying as ansible’s throughout the 100 Worlds are being turned off. The conclusion to the Ender Quartet is yet another seemingly intractable moral problem that faces Ender and his friends as they fight to protect the right of life across three different species. While not the conclusion I would have hoped for and bleeding a little too much into fantasy than science fiction, Children of the Mind, doesn’t disappoint in forcing its readers to think long and hard about morality and the decisions we make throughout our lives. This book taught me that people often confuse their needs with others’ needs and that letting go is always harder than it should be.
- Principles: Life and Work :: Ray Dialo — Ray Dialo is the leader of arguably the world’s most successful hedge fund. While that is impressive, the way he built it is the real story here. Ray has created a set of Principles that he uses to guide his life and his work decision-making processes and behaviors in a way that is polarizing, to say the least. While several things were helpful, I personally found this list of Principles to be too much to keep track of, but I did find their theme to be resonant deeply: radical transparency and honest + iterative approaches to one's goals. While there are pages full of individual principles that go beyond these two themes, they each have their foundation in them. I wouldn’t recommend this book generally though, as I found the Principles to generally be repetitive and verbose, but maybe that is why I’m not a CEO :)