One of my regrets from both high school and college has been skating by (with good grades, but still), but doing the minimum reading possible. It wasn’t until I got into my junior year of college, when I took Economics of Law with Professor Schap that I realized… reading is fun? I’ve always loved reading for pleasure, but I have demonstrated a pretty poor retention of what I read in college. In my last 3 semesters of college, I actually started keeping some of my textbooks, as I realized that the $20 of beer money would go a lot less far than being able to reference the books in the future.
Since I graduated, I have started reading for self-improvement, education, and pleasure. A lot of reading has been rowing or sports related, and I think I’ve always enjoyed biographies the most, or at the least, first person accounts of events/races. I’ve compiled a list of books that I really truly enjoyed, and sorted them out a bit. I’ve added brief notes to each as to why you have to read it. Go buy them on Amazon, or on your iPad or Kindle or whatever e-book reader you have, or if libraries still exist, go check them out.
How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie: Probably the most important book you can ever read about being a functional, contributing person in society. Doesn’t matter how long ago it was written, this book is crucial reading for anyone trying to figure out how to get through life, and get to where he/she wants to be.
I Will Teach You to Be Rich – Ramit Sethi: Great reading for young college graduates. Rather than providing vague recommendations about how to save money and be rich, gives practical steps, and each chapter, in fact, has a timeline provided for how long it will take to accomplish everything in the chapter.
The No Asshole Rule – Robert Sutton: Found this great to read when working for an asshole last year. Is sort of a new-fangled version of How To Win Friends… except the opposite. Provides solutions for avoiding, confronting, ignoring, tolerating, and not becoming the asshole in a work place.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Al Ries and Jack Trout: A great counter-balance for someone like myself who is drawn to quantifiable data… i.e. “our numbers X are better than theirs, but why are they getting more sales??” The answer is because the human mind is not always rational and economical, and instead tends to focus on perception, a LOT. This book brings to light a lot of ideas that, after reading, will make you say, “duh,” but you might not ever explicitly think about otherwise.
The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch: I read this a long time ago, so I am a bit hazy on it (there’s that poor retention, again), but the original lecture was called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” It’s worth watching the video as much as its worth reading the book, but its again another look at how to live a meaningful, productive life by your own standards, by your family’s standards, and by society’s standards.
The World is Flat – Thomas Friedman: I remember that Coach Sullivan told us to read this book, and damnit, it was long, and at the time that I read it, boring, but if Sull told us to do it, I would. Its the story of globalization. It seems fairly obvious now, but when it was originally published, it was pretty crazy stuff to think about.
The 4-Hour Work-Week and The 4-Hour Body – Timothy Ferris: The first because he is a model of the a-typical, but growing population of people that have made a very successful career out of, essentially, applying LifeHacker to, literally, their entire lives. Like Ramit Sethi, he provides step by step directions, along with suggestions for actual companies, websites, etc to work with, in order to take advantage of globalization and the world we live in so as to be able to do what you love (i.e. achiving your childhood dreams), while having the income to support yourself. The 4HB is a spinoff of it, and basically uses the same mindsets to creating a healthier lifestyle, body, etc for one to have.
Moneyball – Michael Lewis (Baseball): Bringing “hardcore” statistical analytics to the game of baseball. Shows how outside the box analytics can be applied to a sport that we thought we had figured out decades ago.
The Shell Game – Stephen Kiesling (Rowing): The Harvard – Yale boatrace. That’s about that. For the rowing enthusiasts.
Assault on Lake Casitas – Brad Alan Lewis (Rowing): The lead-up to the 1984 Olympics. A must-read for anyone that considers themselves a rower, I still have a couple of quotes from him that I carry around in my rowing jacket and keep in my locker at the boathouse.
The Book of Basketball – Bill Simmons (Basketball): The exhaustive recap of the history of basketball. Takes a long time, but Simmons does a good job keeping it entertaining.
Blood Over Water – David & James Livingston (Rowing): As great as Assault is, I think this book does the best job of eloquently capturing my feelings towards the sport of rowing. In short, this is the story of two brothers competing against each other in the Oxford – Cambridge Boat Race, and how it plays out in their lives amongst their family, each other, their friends, and most importantly, themselves. I told my best friends after I read it that I felt it summarized our love/hate relationship with the sport and each other (but mostly love) very very well.
A Life Without Limits – Chrissie Wellington (Triathlon): She is a total fucking badass, and she smiles all the damn time. Has raced in 13 races that the Ironman Distance, and has won 13 times. Including 3 times in Kona. WOWZERS. A quick, easy read.
Books Everyone Has Probably Read Anyway, but Still Worth Reading (and as such, no reviews necessary)
Blink – Malcom Gladwell
The Tipping Point – Malcom Gladwell
Outliers – Malcom Gladwell
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
Freakanomics – Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner
Won’t Change Your Life, but Worth the Time
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell – Tucker Max: Hysterical.
Assholes Finish First – Tucker Max: Hilarious.
Hilarity Ensues – Tucker Max: LOL.
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card: A total change of pace for me, as I’m not big on sci-fi, but it held my attention.