Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite (and 1 Least Favorite) Books of 2011

As of today, I've read 48 books for 2011. I might be able to squeeze in one or two more. I tend to read books in binges. I'll read between 2 and 5 in a short span of time, then slowly graze through a few books for a while, then blast through 5 more two months later. I'm reading all the time, but I do a lot of reading online. I notice I also tend to blog in binges.

I also tend to be in the middle of up to 8 books at a time. I do some reading in Kindle. Some books are pdf files in iBooks. Some are physical books. I have access to Safari Tech Books so I usually have one of those open at work for downtime reading.Then there's oftens that one book I start, but always feel like I need to be at my most alert to read properly, and never feel like I'm at that point. I put off finishing it for months, then plow through during a reading binge no matter what state of mind I'm in.

If you actually happen to care what books I'm reading, you can follow me on Shelfari. I need some friends.

I figured since other bloggers are doing similar things, maybe I'd do a quick "Best books of 2011" post. I'll also include what I consider my least favorite book. I'm not calling it my worst book. It wasn't the worst book, but it was my least favorite. This list isn't in any particular order.

I was going to do a list of 10 books, but I changed my mind. I also realized as I went though the list of books I'd read this year, few could actually be considered favorites. I read some specialized books for topics like ITIL and project management. I also read a book on Windows Server 2008. While I gained a lot of useful knowledge, none of them will go down as classics. I also read a couple of books that had been on my list for a while, and I just wanted to get through them.Some books, like "Today, We Are Rich" were good but not great enough for a favorites list.

I think a key lesson I've learned this year is not to read a book for the sake of reading a book. Reading a book takes time, and I need to get a little more discriminating in which books I spend time reading. I should also reread "How To Read A Book".

Here's the list:

Succeeding by John T. Reed

This is the best book I've read on the topic. I plan to review it separately There is no affiliate link, since it's self-published and self-distributed. I highly recommend it.

Courageous by Randy Alcorn

I read 5 Randy Alcorn books this year. All of them qualify for this list. My review is here.

Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War by Patrick Buchanan

Fascinating analysis of history. Buchanan's premise is that neither World War I, and by extension World War II needed to be fought. Both were the result of pride and bad decisions on all sides. (The German Kaiser was grandson of the British Queen and was a field marshal in the British Army). Additionally, Winston Churchill, during his 50 years of service in British government, presided over the death of the empire. When Churchill first entered service, the sun never set on the British Empire. When Churchill left service just 50 years later, it was all gone. Buchanan lays plenty of the blame on him. Churchill is somewhat of a "sacred cow" to many authors, so I found Buchanan's criticism of him refreshing.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

My review is here


John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace

I committed recently to reading more biographies. This is the one that kicked it off. John Newton was an amazing man. Once a slave ship captain, his life ultimately led to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

This was the most useful book I read this year. I actually bought it in 2008 when it first came out, but I didn't start reading it until early 2011. It is a no BS, no holds barred look at personal finance. It comes from a much different perspective than most personal finance authors. Ramit has no patience for "Just don't buy lattes" and use a single square of toilet paper finance advice. He gives you scripts and advice that work for getting your interest rates down, getting the best deal, automating your finances, investing for the long term, and other topics.

Least Favorite: Apocalypse Dawn by Mel Odom 

My review is here.

Didn't Impress Me:

Read This Before Our Next Meeting by Al Pittampalli. This book had a huge build up. Many of the leadership, business, and productivity blogs I follow pumped it up like a penny stock scam. I was let down, like what happens when you fall for a stock pump and dump. It's a quick read, and the Kindle edition is free for Amazon Prime members (that's how I got mine). I found it way too idealistic. It probably does work really well in Seth Godin's organization. Just try getting it to fly in organizations like those in which I often find myself. I doubt I could have gotten the real estate brokerage I was affiliated with last summer to buy into it. In a perfect world, it would work. But we don't live in a perfect world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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