From 2007 to 2012, I read 263+ books. Here’s my lessons learned and short review of each.
This post covers books read in 2011. You can also read from,
Nothing like a good huge Russian novel. Well-meaning princes can just never win over conniving Russian women.
Bill Bryson looks at America with fresh eyes. It’s hilarious. Americans really are quite bizarre.
The Internet is supposed to encourage creativity, individualism, and commerce – not kill off all three…which Internet culture all too often does. Stop building other people’s stuff and start building your own (I’m looking at you Facebook…). Must read if you are curious, a writer, a programmer, or really anybody who is online.
In theory I have every reason to love this book – interesting and unique setting (1830s America)…but I just could not get into it. I finished it, but don’t recommend it (or have any lessons from it).
Your environment has everything to do with why two people “click.” It has to do with proximity, similarity, vulnerability, resonance, and shared experience. Great book on interpersonal skills, and friendship.
The food chain from the perspective of plants. Not as good as Omnivore’s Dilemma, but interesting nonetheless.
Not a huge fan of this book. Lesson – politics is politics regardless of who is in it. And American politics have always been vicious and divided – even at war, and even under our most famous President.
This book will change your life. A behavioral scientist with actual data and formulas as to why we procrastinate – AND what you can do about it. Simple, easy to understand, and very applicable (instead of another rah rah inspirational opinion book).
Travel writer writing the book he’s always wanted to write (instead of an all smiles travel magazine piece). Refreshing and original.
Goes to all the places that you are not supposed to go to – and has a good time. Fun travel book.
Another weirdly interesting story from Douglas Coupland.
One of Bill Bryson’s first travel books. A bit ragged on the edges, but fun nonetheless as he travels through small town America in 1989. It’s amazing to read how much has changed and how much is still the same.
Bill Bryson retracing his earlier trip to Europe. Fun but sparse.
Novel about the Philippines. Hyped in the New York Times – but I didn’t like its style or characters. Not much to report.
Odd how advertising really hasn’t changed much since mass consumption began in the 1920s. Great intro.
Good, short reference book.
This book made me start running again. Really amazing tale and argument.
Did not care for the style or characters. Interesting tidbits about a dystopia, though.
The more I learn about the financial crisis the more I’m amazed at how financiers can be so un-self-aware, and to misunderstand the conception of the free market at such a basic level.
Sensationalist cover. The content is rock-solid and helped me get restarted on my career. The main message is to have actual goals of what you actually want; focus on doing what you doing what you do best as efficiently as possible; don’t work for work’s sake.
Too many lessons learned. This book is a near-daily reference for training and diet.
I remember that it was a useful book that I need to come back to…but ironically I can’t remember the ideas in the book.
How to change habits. Again, I remember it as a useful book, but I can’t remember any particulars.
Hilarious travel book / memoir about living in the middle of the South Pacific (hint: it’s not paradise…)
A sequel to Sex Lives in which the author goes to live in Vanuatu and Fiji.
Wow – very practical book. I picked this up after I did quite horribly selling my car. So much basic info that you can apply right away (like always turn down the first offer).
Ok – I’m from the American South, and I’ve heard it all – even toyed with a faux New South/Lost Case identity…I had no idea. A compelling history of Southern identity, what it means, and what to do about it. It’s not a guilt trip at all…just an honest look at what the South was – and the truth sometimes is not pretty.
I don’t know where he comes up with these stories, but he’s a master. And this story is not for the feint of heart – though it is a powerful exploration of identity and relationships.
The title says it all – and it lives up to it. Short – and a constant reference.
Fun novel set in Atlanta.
A memoir by the Talking Heads frontman. My favorite part – he bikes around my old hometown of Laoag City, Philippines!
Yet another masterpiece by Bill Bryson. Looking at the history of the 1950s through his memories. Wonderful, entertaining read.
French philosopher visits America. He tries to do Alexis de Tocqueville and doesn’t quite pull it off in my opinion.
The story of Zappos – a great business biography with very practical lessons (start small, focus on customer service, etc).
This guy is really something else. There are people who know “everybody” and then there’s this guy – he’s the real deal when it comes to building relationships (not networking). It was especially helpful as an introvert. It’s all about people.
China is really beyond comprehension. I can’t wait to visit. Until then, it was fun to be mystified by Maarten Troost (of Sex Lives With Cannibals fame). Great piece of travel writing.
The world is not as connected as you think. Despite the huge potential of globalization…most people stay in there own little circles – and that should matter to individuals and policymakers. Just think – right now you can have a Skype conversation with nearly anyone in the world. Have you? Point proven.
This adventure really piqued my interest. A guy becomes a railroad hobo for 1 year. Apparently East Coast railroads are the ones with infamous “bulls” (ie, security guards). The life of hobos still exists out West.
Just try the idea. Throw it out there. Another great book by Seth Godin.
Chuck Palahniuk is a learned taste. He’s one weird writer in my opinion. I didn’t really like this book – but I couldn’t put it down.
Lesson – we are in a new era of business where customers cannot be treated horribly in one big mass. Companies who do not use social media to provide amazing service for each and every customer will be left behind. Oh, and this author has more energy and drive than anyone else I’ve ever seen.
Fascinating look at the cities we live in.
Horrible beach-read literature. Taken by the setting – but thoroughly disappointed.
We think we see patterns where there are none. Also humans are horrible at judging risk.
Fun take on Sherlock Holmes. Highly recommended.
Fascinating and well written story of a guy who goes to China right at the dawn of its opening to “conquer the market.” First of many to be thoroughly flummoxed by the China Dream.
Classic bit of practical philosophy.
Jo Nesbo can write fiction. Wow. Up there with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Not for the feint of heart, though.
There is no such thing as “in-born” talent. There is such a thing as thousands and thousands of hours of deliberate practice. If you see greatness at any activity – you should know that that person worked to get there.
Sweeping history of Europe from 1945 to present. He avoids the dichotomy of the Iron Curtain and views Europe as a whole. Excellent book to truly understand what is going on over there. And what’s up with Germany.
I have this thing about Siberia. I really want to go there for some reason. This book is the perfect armchair travel version. I had no idea just how diverse, varied, awful, majestic Siberia is. Really, really good read.
Imaginative novel about a domestic terrorist group. Great read.
This history covers what I think is the most ignored section of American history – from 1815 to 1848. 30 years of crazy, wrenching change that made America what it is today. Inventions, industrialization, immigration, and so many other i’s.
Inspiring read about running. I wrote a full review also here.
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