Here are the books I read in 2016 and 2015. My goal is to average three books a month. I usually read a fiction book on the Kindle (or occasionally an actual book,) listen to a business book or biography on Audible while driving, and listen to an inspirational book on Audible while running (usually a sports-related one.)
Read in 2017: 40 (rankings are * to *****, with 5 being the best)
**** Eat to Run by Scott Jurek (Audible). Fantastic book, really should be 4.5 stars (if I had a way to do that). The journey that Jurek goes on to be one of the world’s greatest runners is a terrific read, and the health lessons are immense.
***** The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Kindle). Had my entire leadership team read this one…here’s why. This book gets 5 stars because its a fast read and delivers such simple, yet powerful concepts for a leader.
**** Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (actual book). Very good book on Robert Kennedy, who the more I learn about him the more I admire and respect him. I do think Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon by Larry Tye was a bit better.
**** Burial for a King by Rebecca Burns (actual book). Excellent book outlining how the US, but mostly Atlanta, reacted to MLK’s death. Especially interesting to read as my church, Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta, was a big part of the story.
*** What Happened by Hillary Clinton (Audible). I was bummed not to like this book more. I really wanted to understand what Hillary was going through during the election and the aftermath, and I got that from the book, but also got a TON of additional information that I just wasn’t that interested in. If the book was slimmer and just focused on “what happened”, I definitely would have rated it higher.
*** Managing the Non-Profit Organization by Peter Drucker (actual book). Read half of this one and got the gist. As I look to start and help more nonprofits, it was interesting to see how Drucker lays out the strategic and management side of that industry. The second half of the book seems to be lots of examples and interviews, so I bailed at that point.
*** When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson (Audible). I only made it through half of this book. I wanted to like it more, and when I listened I did enjoy it, but I kept not going back to it over and over, and finally retired it.
***** Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon by Larry Tye (actual book). I don’t give 5 stars very easily, but this book will likely be my favorite of the year. I’m fascinated by the man that Bobby Kennedy was becoming before he was assassinated, and the man he would have been if he had lived to be President. I’m going to be on the lookout for more to read on this great man.
**** We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (actual tiny book). Really great read. Super short, but so powerful…
**** The Body / Stand By Me by Stephen King (Kindle) – in King’s book, Different Seasons. Like Misery, this is another great non-supernatural book by King. And like Misery, I had seen the movie, but still enjoyed the book. King’s range is astounding.
**** Misery by Stephen King (Kindle). I love King’s more….normal?…books. I’m not a huge fan of his tendency to write supernatural experiences in his books. He’s so good at the real thing! Even though like most of you I had seen the movie, the book still kept me in suspense throughout. Great read.
**** Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken (Audible). Really enjoyed this book, though given the news that has come out about Franken this year, I’m very disappointed in him.
***** Rabbit: The Autobiography of Ms. Pat by Patricia Williams (paperback). Wow, what a story Ms. Pat tells in this book. Like Hillbilly Elegy, this book gives a rare view into a life that is hard for me to comprehend, even though she grew up ten minutes from me. I read this book in one day.
***** Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Absolutely fantastic book (paperback). I highly recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in how “hillbillies” (his word) live.
** The Story of Purpose by Joey Reiman (actual book). I only got through half of this one. Wasn’t a big fan, but it did have some nice examples in it of purpose-driven leaders and companies.
*** The Elements of Style by E.B. White (Kindle). Learning how to become a better writer. Got through about half, its pretty dense, and I’m sure I’d be a better writer if I consumed it all, but…that’s why we have editors, right?
***** Start with Why by Simon Sinek (actual book). Admittedly this book hit me right at the perfect time. I’ve been working hard to nail Dragon Army’s purpose, so reading this book was like a lightening rod. Loved it cover to cover.
*** My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (digital graphic novel). This book (actually its a graphic novel) is wacky. It’s written by a guy who was friends with Jeffrey Dahmer in high school. I was fascinated by it and I commend the guy on putting it together, but its kinda gruesome – surprise! – and super dark.
**** The Sensational Salesman by Duane Cummings (actual book). Excellent parable style business book, tons of great lessons for aspiring leaders.
** The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah by Stephen King (Audible) and (Kindle). Couldn’t get through the first half. Just too boring/weird, sadly.
*** The Shining by Stephen King (Kindle). I want to give this book more stars, but sometimes King just goes too…weird?…for me. This story could have done without all the supernatural stuff, and just focused on the terrific characters and plot. Jack Torrence is a brilliantly developed character and the setting – a massive winter hotel that he, his wife, and son have all to themselves for months on end, where he slowly goes crazy – is brilliant. Without the crazy, out-of-this-worldness, I think it could have been five stars.
**** City on the Verge: Atlanta and the Fight for America’s Urban Future by Mark Pendergrast (actual book). Excellent book about the Atlanta BeltLine and Atlanta’s neighborhoods.
***** Golden Prey by John Sandford (Kindle). An excellent Prey book. These books just fly. Pure crime fiction fun.
***** Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (Kindle). First book with the Dragon Army book club ;) I’ve obviously read this before – it’s what my company is named after – and it’s a terrific book. Even for non-fantasy folks.
*** Distraction Pieces by Scroobius Pip (actual book). Honestly there were parts of this book that were five stars, but it’s a series of interviews and enough of it was so far off topics that interest me, that I couldn’t rate it too high. But that’s just me.
*** Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby (Audible). It was fine, and perhaps my rating is influenced because I’ve read several Jordan books and just found this one to be so-so.
**** Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King (kindle). Shawshank is actually a short novel (or novella if you prefer) in the book, Different Seasons. Its a great story, but since I knew it from the movie, I wasn’t as excited about it as I might have been otherwise, hence the 4 stars.
***** 11.22.63 by Stephen King (kindle). Another fantastic King book. As always, his characters are so real and well-defined – mostly through dialogue, which is the best way to do it – that you end up feeling regret when the book is over.
**** My Life Behind the Spiral by Steve Young (Audible). Nice book about Steve Young’s life. I learned a lot about anxiety, which he dealt with his entire life, and was inspired by his work ethic and desire to succeed.
***** On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King (kindle). GREAT book on writing. Only one I’ve read, if I’m being honest, but man was it great.
***** Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Audible). Freaking awesome, one of the best books I’ve read listened to in years.
** The Road to Sparta by Dean Karnazes (Audible). Only made it through about half, was kinda boring to me :(
**** Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (kindle). Terrific King book. Close to five stars for sure.
** Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (Audible) – listened to most of this with my wife on our drive to the beach. Autobiography of Mindy Kaling. Not great.
**** Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni (Audible). Another great Lencioni book. I really think any entrepreneur or CEO must read all of his books.
**** Beyond Entrepreneurship by James Collins and William Lazier (actual book). The first half of this book is phenomenal. One of my mentors recommended it and I can see why, it goes into the importance of culture and purpose, and explains how to construct those things for your business. Similar to my VTV platform. The first half of the book is 5 stars for sure. The second half went into things less interesting to me (though still important,) such as going public.
**** Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni (Audible). Another great Lencioni book!
**** Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama (Audible). After the election of #45, I decided one of the best things I could do was learn more about Barack. This book is essentially a deep dive into who he is and where he came from. It doesn’t even mention him becoming President, but rather focuses on his heritage and his search for answers. He also personally reads the book, which I loved.
***** The Stand by Stephen King (Kindle). My favorite King book to date. Long read for sure, but the characters are amazing and the book pulls you along at a fast, intense pace.
***** Running Man by Charlie Engle (Audible). Amazing story, easily one of the best books I’ve read in years. I would recommend listening to the audible version because Charlie reads it himself. You won’t believe this guy’s life, truly incredible.
***** The New New Thing by Michael Lewis (Audible). One of my favorite books, this was the second time reading it. Actually I listened to it this time around, and the guy that reads it is phenomenal.
**** Taking Flight! by Merrick Rosenberg (paperback). Solid fable-style business book.