Outside of the typical fitness questions I receive, it seems like people are always asking about books that I recommend.
No, seriously, it’s ridiculous the amount of you who want to know what book I’m burying my head in at any given moment. And I love that, because I love reading, and I love people who also love to read.
I once heard that the world’s most successful people have these two characteristics:
- A solid morning routine, and
- They read regularly.
Being the over-achiever that I am, I decided to weld these two into one – part of my daily morning routine includes reading. I have a daily goal of reading a minimum of 30 minutes per day, and a monthly goal of reading at least one book per month. That “one book” can be anything – fiction, scientific, “motivational”/self-help-y (though I hate those descriptors), anything!
There are few greater simple pleasures in this world than cracking open a book at the dawn of a new day with a warm cup of coffee in my hand (decaf though, I’m still pretty low caffeine these days. This is my favorite decaf and I buy it in bulk on Amazon. I use it up at a not-bought-in-bulk rate though… aka… reeeeeeally fast… like, probably fast enough that it counts as caffeinated at that point). I physically and emotionally can’t do Kindles. I’m sorry, billion dollar e-book industry, when it comes to reading, I really need to be able to feel the pages turning in my hands, smell the paper, and highlight/scribble all over as I see fit. I also really don’t want to be spending any more time in front of a screen (like I am writing this blog post right now… oh, the irony).
So, let’s jump into some books you have to read in 2018.
- Grit by Angela Duckworth – Yoooo. This book. Angela Duckworth holds a PhD in psychology; is a psychology professor; has advised everyone from people in the White House, the NBA, and Fortune 500 CEOS; and is a researcher in the topic of “grit.” No, really, she actually does scientific research on what makes gritty people that way, and how to cultivate some grit for yourself. You all know me, I’m a lover of science. I’m also a lover of personal growth. You wanna throw me some science behind how that personal growth actually develops and manifests? SIGN ME UP. I love that Grit not only dives into the scientific side of things, but Duckworth actually interviewed/offer the insight of real-world people (none of us are actually perfect little science experiments – not even science experiments are), and she presents all of these findings and this insight in such a practical, palatable way. One of my favorite quotes from the book (which are phrases that I underline or highlight in my favorite books – you know a book is a good one if it’s all marked up) came from Chapter 9, “The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with getting up again.” If you’re into getting better, becoming smarter, working harder, and developing a grittier mindset, this one’s for you. 100%.
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – If you couldn’t tell by the fact that he earned TWO SPOTS in the top six, Ryan Holiday has quickly become one of my favorite authors. Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way has hints of Stoic philosophy, which is basically like practical philosophy. In this book, Holiday delves into the concept of human ego, and as the book’s title would imply, why it sucks. I think this is huge for present day culture – the rise of social media and fame and money and, quite frankly, a hugely materialistic culture, ego tends to be at the forefront… until it causes you to crash and burn. I think this book is perfect for anyone, whether you’re an athlete, an influencer, a CEO, or simply someone who tends to stand in their own way (chances are, it’s your ego). One of my favorite quotes from the book reads, “According to Seneca, the Greek word euthymia is one we should think of often: it is the sense of our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it… It’s about being what you are, and being as good as possible at it, without succumbing to all the things that draw you away from it.” Ego is distracting. Success can be distracting if handled the wrong way. Ego will always lead you to handle things the wrong way. If you’re ready to humble yourself and cast your ego aside for sake of accomplishing what you were truly put on this earth to do, this is your book.
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday – “The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph.” Mannnn if I didn’t need second helpings of that these past six months (it’s been rough, y’all). Bottom line? We all go through tough stuff. I fully believe what sets the weak apart from the strong is the difference in reactions to said adversities. The weak stay there, cozied up to their struggles, braiding each other’s hair and splitting a box of macarons together (please don’t take this as a knock on macarons – I’ve had a hankering for Ladurée and all other things Paris lately). The strong “rise from the ashes” as the proverbial and metaphoric phoenixes that they are. But the upper echelon of the strong? They take those obstacles and turn them into opportunities – and that’s what this book is all about: reframing your obstacles and turning them into something good. You know, making lemons out of lemonade where the lemonade turns into a multi-billion dollar lemonade company. Or something like that. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.”
- Relentless by Tim Grover – Mannnnn. This book was one of the first I read this year (which honestly seems like forever ago and I feel like I’m getting old… do I need to start buying wrinkle cream or should I just age naturally/gracefull?), and let. Me. Tell. You. This truly postured me for my year in terms of mindset. Grover has been a coach to some of the greatest modern day athletes – Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade – and he helps make them even greater. He helps make them, well, relentless. Unstoppable. He talks about three different “types” of people: Coolers, Closers, and Cleaners. If you’re looking for a swift kick in the ass, whether it’s in sport or in life, definitely give this a read. One of my favorite quotes from this book: “I don’t care how good you think you are, or how great others think you are—you can improve, and you will. Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more. You must do more. The minute your mind thinks, “Done,” your instincts say, “Next.”
- The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle – Just like Grit did, The Talent Code satisfied my love of welding research and practical application, particularly the practical application of psychology and skill development. The Talent Code is, to put it lightly, a fascinating look into the deepest parts of the human brain called myelin. Coyle stumbled upon this due to his curiosity surrounding talent “hotbeds.” He wanted to know why certain (usually small) towns/cities/areas produced world-class talent in given areas, whether that be tennis, piano, singing, soccer, or any other array of talents. What made them different? He found that it was through this little component in your brain called myelin, which is developed through not just conventional “practice,” but a particular kind of practice (I’ll leave it to you to read the book and learn more on that one). This book challenges the age-old notion that talented people are just “born that way,” and says that while yes, some people are truly born genetically gifted in some fashion for some sport or activity, there is also a huge potential for skill development that isn’t innate. It’s grown. The best part? Coyle provides practical application for everyone, from athletes to coaches to parents. One of my favorite quotes from this one: “There is, biologically speaking, no substitute for attentive repetition.”
So there you have it! My top 5 reads of 2017. I did do a considerable amount of reading, so I want to include some honorable mentions of other books I’ve loved as well:
“American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.” – Nancy Jo Sales
“Crush It.” – Gary Vaynerchuck
“Rising Strong.” -Brené Brown
I really encourage you guys to make reading or listening to audiobooks a part of your daily routine in 2018. Or heck, start right now. There truly is so much to be said with filling your mind with meaningful content. I promise you, reading will help you expand your mind and open new mental doors you didn’t even know were there to be opened. Happy reading, my friends!