Favorite Books of 2017

Favorite Books of 2017

Compound interest grows exponentially, so why not read, to compound your knowledge? 🙂

I like to read books in the behavioral economics, finance, and personal growth department, so my books will mainly reflect that. They’re listed below unranked — just 15 of my favorite out of the 52 books I read last year.

1. Guns Germs and Steel: Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered why Europe was building multi-level stone buildings, while developed Asian countries at the time were mostly only one story? Why does technology expand to some regions and not others? The title is a playful hint at the innovations that catapulted societies into their next age. Essentially, Jared Diamond produces a theory of why nations developed the way they did. Though written in 1997, this book is still incredibly relevant and ranks as the top 10 books someone in international relations, or just curious about why history went the way it did, should read.

 

2. The Power of Habit: Charles Duhigg

As humans we’re more likely to shift to bad decisions at the end of the day. It’s why Gilt decided to release their sales at 9PM and why infomercials are on so late at night — because your willpower muscle is more likely to be all used up. Shifting focus onto creating habits is easier than strengthening your willpower muscle. His tricks to shift your brain into cue->routine->reward, will have you making the right choice automatically. Here, I go into detail about how I use his tricks to help save. I think of the same thoughts each time, making it simple to decide to save. But you can use it for anything!

 

3. Moonwalking With Einstein: Joshua Foer

Foer first covered the US Memory Olympics in 2005, then went back a year later to win it. In the first 30 minutes of reading, I managed to memorize my entire grocery list without writing it down. I still remember the items in it today, and I read this book 6 months ago! Through usage of devices such as memory palaces, memorizing a deck of playing cards ($10,000 challenge by Tim Ferris), memorizing poetry (how many classes have you had to go to where you needed to memorize a presentation or piece of writing?), and more, it’s a worthwhile read. The tale is gripping and funny, with you realizing that in order to get to the top, you need mentors and a system.

 

4. Designing your Life: Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

In Financial Independence circles, you’re often told to design the life you want to live first, then save for it. Sure, you can read a 4 page blog article and try to figure out you want, but this highly detailed, actionable book has changed me for the better (and it will change you too!). Written by 2 Stanford Design School professors, this book is well-thought out and useful in personal growth. Figure out what you want from life and then apply the 4 % SWR rule to it.

 

5. Made to Stick: Chip Health

Made to Stick is a book about communicating your ideas in a way that “sticks” to someone else’s mind. When your boss does a yearend review, which presentation and skills does he remember of yours? Want to convince someone else to do an activity? What are the psychological tricks companies use to trick you into spending and not saving? Learn how to make your ideas and thoughts stickier so others will remember and how to avoid psychological traps.

 

 

6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Marie Kondo

The average American house has nearly tripled in size since 1950 and the fastest growing real estate market in America is self-storage. Why do we need so much stuff? Read this book so you can finally declutter you life. Retire 3 years earlier by cutting down your clothing consumption. Go through your entire house and sell off things that don’t bring you joy. At the end of it, you’ll be less cluttered and your wallet will be much happier.

 

 

7. The Signal and the Noise: Nate Silver

Nate Silver rose to fame when he predicted 49 of 50 state’s outcomes in the presidential election of 2008. His website uses statistics to delve into politics, economics, and science. Throughout the book, he visits the most successful forecasters — particularly interesting to FI’ers is the chapter on the stock market. The most successful ones aren’t always right, but they have enough information to use probability to get a correct answer a higher percentage of times greater than their competition.

 

 

8. Zero To One: Peter Thiel

This isn’t a FI related book, as the book advocates ideas that entirely new to the present, but I think it’s a great mentality of thinking for people. A lot of society seems to think that you can’t really create anything new — leading to a defeatist mentality of not being able to get ahead. Stop that, and believe you can. If you’re one of the FI’ers who want to create a startup or work on innovative projects after you’ve become financially independent, then you should really read this book on that mentality.

 

 

9. The Secret Gratitude Book

This one is a book about feeling grateful for everyday life. Your attitude determines your happiness, and if you’re miserable and feeling unhappy because someone else has a nicer life, you’re going to be unhappy. Instead, focus on what you have and how lucky you are! You’ll find you’re much more productive with a change in attitude.

 

 

10. Naked Statistics: Charles Wheelan

Wheelan does a great job of making stats interesting. His stories will train you to spot inconsistencies regarding real life, without having to actually take a stats class or run a regression. At times, he will focus on not what something has in common, but what sets it apart — a kind of thinking that school does not teach you regarding math. Wheelan introduces the different stats concepts through a Sherlock Holmes-esque story. Ever realize you’ve gone through life and still don’t understand the Monty Hall problem? Wheelan explains that in laymans terms really well.

 

11. The Slight Edge: Jeff Olson

The boring way to achieve FI is by implementing a system that siphons small wins into the snowball effect of compound interest. Oftentimes, people themselves forget this, or when they try and prove this to someone else, they lack the sufficient words to convince someone else. The Slight Edge presents the concept of small, repetitive, boring tasks turning into a giant win. The FI journey is long, so a small reminder to keep on going is always a great book.

 

 

12. Incerto: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

This is made up of 4 books (Fooled by RandomnessThe Black SwanAntifragileThe Bed of Procrustes). The titles are ranking in order of favorites, so if you don’t want to read them all, take a shot at the first book to see if you’d like him. I love Taleb for his focus on statistics and probability — the data for the stock market has only been around for a little longer than a century, so when you say the 2008 crash was a 10 standard deviation event, it assumes a lot. The books also focus on behavioral finance and how human psychology is a big factor in what happens in the market. Overall a thrilling read for those who rail against the status quo.

 

13. Misbehaving: Richard Thaler 

Thaler is a Nobel laureate, who is actually quite funny. His studies delve into behavioral economics, before it was even called that. Conventional economics assumes rational parties, who always behave to their best interests. In the real world, this isn’t the case. Have you ever gotten so competitive in a game you made a decision to wound someone as payback even though another decision would’ve been better? Bought in bulk for a cheaper price even though you won’t ever use it all? Bought clothes on sale even though you probably won’t wear them? Or basically any other form of irrational behavior. Discover your irrationality and be cognizant of it, so next time you react better.

 

14. Smarter Faster Better: Charles Duhigg

I love Duhigg. Can you tell because he’s ended up on my 2017 list twice? This book continues on from The Power of Habit, his first book, and focuses on 8 more productivity concepts. His first book teaches you how to create habits, and this continuation teaches the 8 habits he believes are most useful in every day life. From teaching you how to set goals via the SMART method to biasing yourself towards action-based reactions and all the way to figuring out how a group reacts is more important than who is in the group, the book will enhance your productivity in your personal and professional life.

 

 

15. Elon Musk

Musk is the most revolutionary person in the tech/engineering sector. I was elated to find an autobiography about him. He went through a tough childhood and though he’s successful now, there were times where he had to sell his car in order to keep Tesla going. Critics say he’s never delivered anything on time, but he eventually delivers — hey, landing the refuse of a rocket on a tiny little barge in the middle of the ocean is hard, ok? His newest venture, the boring company might one day in the very, very, very distant future help our traffic problems. Seriously, driving underground would reduce traffic by more than half. Don’t forget the Hyperloop!

 

If you’re interested in listening to any of the books above instead of reading them (I get dizzy reading during my commute), then you can get 2 free books with an Audible trial. Cancel anytime before 30 days and you still get to keep them.

My favorite audiobook is Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. What’s better than listening to a book by one of my favorite comedians, that he ACTUALLY reads?! It’s not meant to be a funny book though, it’s his perspective on modern dating.

So, what are your favorite books from 2017? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2018?

 

8 thoughts on “Favorite Books of 2017

  1. I thought I read a lot – Not 52 in a year, though. It is mostly 2-3 books a month. I wish I had more time.

    Thanks for that list – I have read just two of them. Will hunt down the rest and read them.

  2. Numbers 1, 6 and 15 I read (6 and 15 this year, 1 before) – did you know Jared Diamond has another book about the fall of civilizations? It’s super dense but a FASCINATING read. I just finished the fall of the Easter Island natives and the Vikings in the US, crazy how it happened. Totally logical when you look at it from today though :-/

    The best book I read this year was Dorie Clark’s Entrepreneurial You! It’s been so helpful for my entrepreneur career. I’ll have to check out some of those other books you recommend – I’ve heard interesting things about the Thiel book 🙂

    1. I didn’t know that! I’ll have to put it on my reading list. History is always 20/20! Just like investment returns, haha.

      Just picked up the 48 laws of power (kinda sinister feeling reading a book on power, but it’s on a lot of fav lists, so figured why not). I’ll be sure to check out the Entrepreneurial You!

  3. Nice list – I will look at it again! I’ve also read hundreds of books this past year….but…they were mainly for the age groups 3-5, lol. Someday I’ll get back into some adult higher level reading books! I do have the Secret on my bookshelf. I’ve also read Happiness by Mathieu Ricard a couple times over last few years. It’s my go-to for keeping up mental strength/happiness. I bet you’ve already read it tho!

    1. For a second I was like, OMG this person is definitely retired. So many books!

      I haven’t read that actually, I’ll put it on my (very long) list! Seems most people who are striving for FI are striving for happiness — myself included haha.

  4. Some favorites of mine on here too! I loved the Power of Habit and Zero to One. I’ll have to check out Guns Germs and Steel.

    One book you might like I recently read was “How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens”. It was interesting, and has already impacted some of how I approach writing about topics.

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