I missed my goal by four and read 56 books in 2013. Some I had to struggle through for a month (Iâ€™m looking at you Advertising Media Planning) and others left me speechless at their brilliance. Iâ€™ve put an asterisk next to the books I particularly recommend and given short notes about those and a selection of the other books on this list. (Disclosure: after being berated by my wife for not doing so last year, the Amazon links here are affiliate ones, do with that what you will)
Biography and History
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
*The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
*General of the Army by Ed Cray
The Washington and Franklin biographies were both enjoyable reads, though I left with a poorer impression of Washington and a better impression of Franklin. However, the two biographies I enjoyed most were Morrisâ€™ biography of the early career of Theodore Roosevelt which indelibly shows you that you could be doing more in any given day than you are and Ed Crayâ€™s biography of General George Marshall, which was truly excellent. Marshall is probably the greatest leader and manager of the 20th century and I took hundreds of notes.
AntiFragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
*The Essential Drucker by Peter Drucker
Advertising Media Planning by Roger Baron
*The Feiner Points of Leadership by Michael Feiner
Competition Demystified by Bruce Greenwald
The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
*Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert Sutton
If you want to get the core of pretty much every subsequent business book ever written, read Drucker. Everyone else is just repeating him. With that caveat, the Feiner and Sutton books were interesting guides to becoming better at being a manager (something I sorely need), while the Power of Full Engagement (yes a blech title) essentially told me to eat and sleep better. Taleb once again scared me away from investing in the stock market and Greenwald had me spellbound with his book on strategy up until he started saying Steve Jobâ€™s attempt to reinvent Apple was doomed.
Fiction & essaysÂ
The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders
Tenth of December by George Saunders
*Winterâ€™s Tale by Mark Helprin
The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
Phules Company & Phules Paradise by Robert Asprin
*The War of Don Emmanuelâ€™s Nether Parts by Louis De Bernieres
*SeÃ±or Vivo and the Coca Lord by Louis de Bernieres
*The Troublesome OffSpring of Cardinal Guzman by Louis de Bernieres
The Magicians & The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
*The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
All the Kingâ€™s Men by Robert Penn Warren
Even Cowgirls get the Blues by Tom Robbins
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins
Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
*The Wicked Wallflower and Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
Indecent Exposure by Tom Sharpe
If you havenâ€™t read de Berniereâ€™s South American trilogy, stop what you are doing and do so immediately. They are funny, sexy and magical. The Art of Fielding made me give a shit about Baseball for the first time and Winterâ€™s Tale was one of those books that makes you realize you will never be as good a writer as Helprin (hereâ€™s hoping they donâ€™t screw up the movie). Maya Rodale (ahem, the missus) captivated with wonderful romances in a brand new series too.
*The Inner Citadel: the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius by Pierre Hadot
*Philosophy as a Way of Life by Pierre Hadot
The Bed of Procrustes by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Musonius Rufus on How to Live edited by Ben White
*Dialogues and Essays by Seneca
Epicureanism at the Origins of Modernity by Catherine Wilson
If you are at all interested in Marcus Aurelius, Hadotâ€™s book is a tour de force. In fact, just read everything Hadot has ever written. Seneca is always good value too.
Science, Psychology and Sociology
The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
*The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Disappearing Spoon was a wonderful tour through my weakest area of science: chemistry. It made a subject Iâ€™d always avoided come alive.
*The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker
How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman
*The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallway
Books tome is a beast but it puts forward one heck of a framework for understanding the common threads through English literature. I only care about tennis for two weeks of the year, so thankfully the Inner Game of Tennis was much more about performance and mental composure than anything else, itâ€™s well worth a read even if you hate tennis.
One response to “My Books of 2013”
I’m basically convinced that posting what you read online is a better reflection of someone’s character or personality than facebook or instagram. At least for people my age. Great list. I’m halfway through Braindead Microphone. Thanks for the Louis De Bernieres recommendation!