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2014 Book Summary

January1

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Since 2010 I’ve been challenging myself to read 100 books a year and it has been a great habit to build. In 2014, I read 101 books and left mini reviews of them here. This was my lowest year since I started this challenge. Why was it so low? Because it has been one of the most crazy year of my life and I met someone who I enjoy spending time with even more than books :).

If you only read 3 books this year I recommend the following as my best of 2014:

1. Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time – This should be required reading for all Americans, and anyone in school. What do you want the minutes of your life to be? A rush through it, or something that feels deeply satisfying? This is an amazing book of one woman’s search for what has happened to our society and why we all feel so overwhelmed, rushed, and without any time for anything. Fantastic writing and backed by really interested research too.

2. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas – Lindsey recommended this one to me I think, it is a fantastic story of what social entrepreneurship can do for the world and for the people who go down this path. I wish people would read this one in schools and especially university. It was also one of the best business oriented books I’ve read this year.

3. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell – A true account by the famous author of what it is like to be poor and trying to live. Something everyone could remember for time to time and better understand why it isn’t as easy as getting a job or working harder sometimes. I really enjoyed reading this and found his entire experience fascinating.

One distant runner up was: Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits. It followed the lives of 8 new recruits to Wall Street over a 2 to 3 year period, and if you want to learn about the good and bad wall street brings, read this book.

Best Business Books Of The Year:

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t – This puts into words a lot of what I’ve felt for the last 10 years. I highly recommend this book and it really defines what great leadership is IMO.

Unlabel by Marc Ecko – A fantastic business book with real world advice by the famous artist/designer. He is very candid about his failures, problems, and where he fucked up. Great format too, and a lot more fun to read than most business books.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – An AMAZING person and an awesome read. It was very cool to learn how he built up his company, how he created the modern idea of the company, and the long challenges he faced down. It is mind blowing how many modern oil companies were spun off from his company…

Best Scifi / Fantasy
*This year this section is a bit longer as I found so many great ones, and I did so much more pleasure reading than normal due to stress this year brought into my life.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive) – This is book two of Brandon Sanderson’s new huge series and it is AMAZING!!! I have no words for how good this is. The man is a god :). The first book made last year’s mention I believe. If you like Wheel of Time, or any big series you will love this one (slow going and huge universe but amazing characters).

The last StormDancer: Lotus Wars Series – A fantastic book in a steampunk japanese universe, great characters and really unique. I’ve read the first two and I am waiting on the next one.

Starship Grifters (A Rex Nihilo Adventure) – An absolutely hilarious book about a space adventure, I was laughing out loud at this one as the main two characters are hilarious.

Nexus and Crux – A fantastic series of books about programmable nano bots that allow you to become human version 2.0. If you are interested in a future where you can change your biology I recommend this one. I read the first two and can’t wait for the 3rd.

Brilliance and A Better World – An amazing series of science fiction book about the near future when “Brilliants” start being born. They are human but have different talents that can cause problems, kinda like mutants. Great story and highly recommended.

Fallen Dragon by Sci Fi King Peter F. Hamilton – This guy can imagine huge universes but luckily this is a smaller one to start in. Just one book to get going, space adventure, time, and crazy crazy stuff. Great read.

Mindstar Rising and A Quantum Murder by Peter F. Hamilton – Amazing detective books set in this future dystopian world that comes about because of global warming.

The Promise of Blood and The Crimson Campaign – I think Brian McClellan is the best author I’ve found since Brandon Sanderson, these are amazing and gripping books about a napolean type era but with mages and mages who can work with gunpowder and the return of god’s.

Enjoy and good reading!

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Amazon & Publisher Dispute…

August9

Read this article entitled: “FUCK YOU AMAZON! FUCK YOU FOR BEING RIGHT! AGAIN!”.

Hilarious read and spot on from what I’ve seen :)

Yeah Amazon, fuck you! Fuck you for being right! Again! What have Amazon ever done for books eh? Pioneered a postal delivery market publishers ignored? Yes ok, but what else? Invested millions in an ebook infrastructure publishers deliberately ignored? Fine, but what else? Opened up publishing to thousands of independent authors of all kinds, many of whom are making entire careers in digital sales with 70% royalties? Well, damn yes that’s pretty good I guess, but what else? …. read more …

What is awesome too is that a lot of the existing publishers involved in all this with Amazon are the same group that disrupted the previous setup. And, in some cases as illegal as they are still doing with price fixing.

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OMG I am so excited! Kindle Unlimited?!?!?!?!

July16

This could save me so much money!!!!!!

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OMG if this is so true it would be amazing!!! Here is the leaked copy of the page!

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Goodbye All My Paper Books :(

April24

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The only thing I kept in storage while I traveled was my books. But I finally decided it was time to say goodbye :(. I donated them all to a Denver goodwill, hopefully someone else enjoys them and gives them a new home.

Goodbye 658 books!

I love my kindle, I can carry every book in the world with me it feels like :)

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Hemmingway Is Awesome!

January7

My brother got me on a bit of a Hemmingway kick, loving him :)

“They say the seeds of what we do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who makes jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.”

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2013 Book Summary

January5

With all my traveling 2013 was a fantastic year for reading :), I read 137 books this year which is 9 books shy of my 2012 record of 146. For a list of all of them plus mini reviews go here. Now onto the best of the year…

If you only read 3 books this year I recommend the following:

1. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism – An utterly amazing book written by a young autistic boy about his autism. Please please please read this!

2. Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture – As a kid who grew up playing wolf 3d and doom this is a must read for anyone who did. A very well written story about the johns and the industry at the time.

3. Vince Flynn’s CIA/Military theory series that stars Mitch Rapp (around 12 books). Such a great series of books and I can’t recommend it enough. Almost as good as Clancy and it dominated my January last year. I’m so sad that he passed away this year.

Best Business Books

1. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works – An amazing book and one I hope to read every few years to refresh. The best book I’ve read on business strategy. Both practical examples and big picture approaches.

2. Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches – A great podcast too and just full of nuggets for small business owners.

Best SciFi / Fantasy

1. Brandon Sanderson is a god, he is so good! This year I read Steelheart which is this kinda post apocalyptic future with super villians; and Rithmatist which is just so awesome I can’t explain it. Both are must reads!!

2. Joel recommended The Mote in God’s Eye and I loved it. Crazy sci fi with a twist.

3. Pandora’s Star and the Commonwealth Saga. A huge space epic that is weird but if you stick with it you will love it :). Think wormholes and crazyness.

Real Life Shit

1. Dark Pools: The Rise of the Machine Traders and the Rigging of the U.S. Stock Market – Super well written and a must read for anyone who wants to know why wall street and bankers are destroying your savings/future. We need more regulations on this area of finance!!

2. The Billionaire Who Wasn’t: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune – Amazing story about billionaire Chuck Feeney and how he grew the business, and then how he gave all the money away secretly :). Great read!

Special Topic Of The Year: Sailing Solo Around The World

I got really into sailing books, especially those around the world as it sounds really fun. So I have 3 books I’d recommend as being the best in this genre so far.

1. A Voyage For Madmen – “In 1968, nine sailors set off on the most daring race ever held: to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe nonstop. It was a feat that had never been accomplished and one that would forever change the face of sailing. Ten months later, only one of the nine men would cross the finish line and earn fame, wealth, and glory. For the others, the reward was madness, failure, and death.”

2. Maiden Voyage – “Tania Aebi was an unambitious eighteen-year-old, a bicycle messenger in New York City by day, a Lower East Side barfly at night. In short, she was going nowhere—until her father offered her a challenge: Tania could choose either a college education or a twenty-six-foot sloop. The only catch was that if she chose the sailboat, she’d have to sail around the world—alone.”

3. Across Islands and Oceans – “Across Islands and Oceans is the memoir of twenty-five year-old James Baldwin and his epic two-year, solo circumnavigation in Atom, his trusty but aging twenty-eight foot sailboat.”

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A Memory of Light – Last In WOT Series

March19

Memory-of-Light_WoT_Michael-WhelanThe Wheel Of Time series is an epic fantasy series that I highly recommend. The total series is 14 books, long books that are a total of 11,916 pages of amazing characters and stories. The creator of the series, Robert Jordan, died before the 12th book and Brandon Sanderson finished the last two from his detailed notes and drafts.

Memories of Light is the last book in the series and just came out last month, after rereading the previous 13 I finally finished this one and had to say goodbye to all the characters. It is so hard to say goodbye when you feel like you know them, and then have to watch them die, change, and then no matter what say goodbye because there are no more books about them. Sad but happy. Amazing series.

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Bali Trip In February!

March2

I’ve always wanted to go to Bali and I found an awesome house on AirBNB. I love the style of Bali/Thai houses where the walls open up on all sides. I stayed in Ubud the entire time.

It was a really nice vacation, and much needed after a trip to Vegas for a management meetup and all the jet lag that induces. I spent half my time catching up on big picture work projects and the other half reading. I made it about half way through the Wheel of Time series as I wait for the last one to make its way to ebook… If you haven’t read the wot series yet please do!

The best 3 parts of this trip?

#1 – The house included someone making breakfast each morning which was awesome. Nyomen was very nice and cooked a massive breakfast each morning with black rice pudding (delicious), local fruit salad, yogurt, and delicious bread from the local bakery. I had at least 4 fruits I’ve never had before, drank my way through 12+ coconuts, and one bottle of homemade rice wine (the pink drink). And delicious coffee each morning that was grown only a few miles away (pic below).

#2 – The quiet. Living in downtime Melbourne I forgot how nice it is to open your window and there is just silience and bug noises (like Arkansas). Plus at night the terrifying screams from the lizards sitting on the roof ease you into slumber (amazingly loud). It’s been a long time since I slept so soundly and woke up with the sun.

#3 – Rice hike. I went for a few hour hike with Nyomen all over the area which was fun. Bali is beautiful, especially when you stay out of the typical south-asian touristy towns.

2012 Book Summary

January5

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2012 was a fantastic year for reading! With all my travels I had a ton of time to read and set a new record! I read 146 books this year and you can read all the mini reviews here.

If you only read 3 books this year I recommend the following:
*All of these are incredibly well written and fascinating reads. Thanks to the Daily Show for helping me to find them!

1. The Quants – A must read for anyone who likes the modern financial system and doesn’t want to see it wrecked (esp after some of the crazy days we have had since 2008)… An investigative look into high speed stock/bond/etc trading, trading AI, and a lot more. This book and others on the same subject are a big reason I don’t trust the stock market any longer.

2. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. Cornelius is one of the most amazing people I’ve stumbled upon and a true American story of rags to riches. Just an amazing guy! Read the NY Times review here. At his death he possessed 1/9th of all American currency in circulation. Think about that, and he was also just a bad ass, even death couldn’t take him despite many horse racing accidents.

3. The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, The Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals. An amazing amazing guy who is responsible for so many of our modern financial rules after his huge collapse :). Read the NY Times review here.

Honorable Mention (Downgraded because it is INTENSE):
What It Is Like To Go To War. One of the most powerful books I’ve ever read, I literally had to sit and just think for a few hours at a time after I finished sections. And call a friend just to talk. Should be required reading for every single person in high school and discussed.

2 Best Business Books
1. Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck–Why Some Thrive Despite Them All – I love Jim Collins and all his work, this is yet again a great read on what makes a company great.

2. Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy. Why this book? Because I think over the next 20 years Robots are going to change the global work environment. And I’m not sure how this will affect the concept of “work” and income for so many people. Scary/Exciting stuff.

3 Best True Books
Mountains Beyond Mountains. The story of a doctor trying to make a difference, beautiful story, made me cry at a few points. Changing the world is hard.

Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. A brilliant book that me and my brother read and had a fantastic time discussing. A lot of women should read this book.

Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. A dense but great read if you want to understand the upcoming power dynamics in the world. Esp if you get tired of people claiming the sky is falling because the USA isn’t #1 in every category.

Best Travel Books
Weak year, have nothing I would recommend strongly :(.

Best Thrillers / Military
1. The last week of 2012 I found the best author I’ve found since Clancy. His name is Vince Flynn and I finished all his books within about a week. 12 amazing books about Mitch Rapp, an off the books CIA assassin. Fantastic, well written, awesome. Buy them all!

Best Sci Fi / Fantasy
A weak year for this category :(, the only stand out was the Repairman Jack series. Props to Laura/Karl for finding this one for me. A great read.

Best Bibliographies
Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. Just a well done biography about an amazing man who was also an uncompromising dick hole. Love it!

All In: The Education Of General David Petraeus. A fantastic book about an amazing man, flawed like all of us, but still amazing. A great read.

Best History
1. The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. One of the best books I’ve read and a close one for best book of the year. Highly recommended if you want to learn about innovation, the patent system, and more. Check out this great Lincoln Quote that really sums the book up.

2. The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. Just an amazing book about the epidemic and also the medical community at the time. Almost made the best books of the year category. Highly recommended if you want a better understanding of the medical community and the risk of these type of pandemics.

3. And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out) Wall Street, the IMF, and the Bankrupting of Argentina. I love Argentina, fantastic people, amazing wine, beautiful beautiful country. And they got F’ed in the A on this one, by their bad decisions, plus the international community. A good read if you want to learn how not to govern + how not to help a country. Still causing them so many problems and it frustrates me. I hope they get better leadership in the next decade, their people deserve it.

4. The Last Days of the Incas. Great read to understand this aspect of history. The most amazing part is how a mere 60 to 200 heavily armed calvary destroyed such a vast empire, makes you realize how military technology can really do some crazy things. Very well written.

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Abraham Lincoln Quote On Patent System

April27

Loving this quote I found in a book I was reading:

The patent system changed this, secured to the inventor for a limited time exclusive use of his inventions, and thereby added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius in the discovery and production of new and useful things.

From the book The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Read a review at the New York Times.

PS. Abraham Lincoln received Patent #6,469 for “A Device for Buoying Vessels Over Shoals” on May 22, 1849.

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Harper Brothers (Harper Collins Publishing) = Pirates

February13

I was reading a book today about the history of cities and one of the little tidbits I really enjoyed was that the Harper Brothers and many other publishers pirated books to sell locally. Which is funny considering their positions now.

Like many publishers of the 1800s, Harper Bros. took advantage of the lack of international copyright enforcement. The firm printed pirated copies of works by such British authors as Charles Dickens, William Make-peace Thackeray, and Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë. Harper Bros.’ best-selling pirated work by a British author was Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England from the Accession of James II. The book sold approximately 400,000 copies, a figure that would classify it as a nonfiction bestseller at the turn of the twentieth century. Because international copyright laws were not enforced, U.S. publishers did not pay royalties to either the British authors or their publishers. The American market had grown to be so significant that, in 1842, Dickens traveled to the United States in an effort to secure royalties from the sale of his works. He was unsuccessful at recouping this money, but the trip did give Dickens the material for his book American Notes for General Circulation, which Harper Bros. promptly pirated.

Read more info here on this and other in the early publishing industries.

Just makes you realize that once you are in power the way you got that power quickly becomes “illegal”. You see the same thing with online startups, they abuse all kinds of spam rules, or what they do with information and once they have grown they rewrite history to pretend they didn’t do x.

Year end book roundup for 2011!

January1

There is a great online challenge called the 100 book challenge with the goal being to read 100 or more books in a year. In 2011 I beat 2010’s record of 111 books with 131 books read. I think I read a lot more fun ones this year as when I got a pretty bad case of burn out I just read and ran a lot. Here is the big list of all the books I read and short little mini reviews!

And now for my big roundup, I try to feature the top 2 books in each category plus a runner up….

Best Business Books

1. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently – This was the most valuable book I read this year and I hope to read this every year. It basically explains what great managers do to keep their team happy and backs it up with as much data and examples as possible. And above all it makes the point I’ve come to believe that people don’t change. At best they can pivot 10% to 20% from where they are now, and it is more valuable to focus on their talents, and find ways to neutralize their weaknesses.

2. Good to Great: Why some companies make the leap… and others don’t. – Fantastic book by Jim Collins, this is a followup to his previous. This covers a lot of companies and what enabled them to become great companies.

Honorable mentions to The Six-Month Fix: Adventures in Rescuing Failing Companies, Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, and Business Model Generation.

Best True Books

1. Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie Chang -This book is a must read for those interested in China and how rapid industrialization is creating huge social changes for women. The story of the girls working in these factories is just amazing, an entire generation of hustlers who could become entrepreneurs is emerging. I can’t wait to see what they do next as more opportunities become available to them and what values they instill in their children.

2. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean. This was an awesome awesome book and one of the best so far this year. This is about how waves are generated, the guys that ride them, and even some quantum mechanics.

3. Born To Run – The book that started the barefoot running movement, and just makes me want to run more and more! Even for non runners its a great book about what humans are capable of and how we might have run down our game by outrunning them. All in a well written book about a hidden tribe of super runners and a race against them by some American ultra runners (very short summary).

Honorable mentions to Brazil on the Rise and Out of Mao’s Shadow.

Best Travel Books

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew – An awesome book about traveling around and living in France and going to all these different food festivals! I highly recommend it, covered things like eating truffles, cheeses, snails, a wine marathon, etc!

I read a lot of nice normal travel books too, but nothing that stood out as just amazing besides this one.

Best Thrillers

This was an easy choice this year, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the two sequels were mind glowingly awesome! It was if someone combined the best of Law and Order SVU with hacking and a great mystery. Just fantastic writing, great plot lines, and the best thrillers I’ve read in a really long time. Go buy them!

Best Science Fiction / Fantasy Books

1. Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered. Fun books I highly recommend! Basically imagine all the religions and gods of the world do exist, on multiple planes, with earth being a place they can all jump into. This follow a very cool 1000+ year old Druid character living in Arizona and having gods mess with him.

Just an ok year for finding new scifi/fantasy.

Best Books About History…

1. At Home: A Short History Of Private Life by Bill Bryson. This was an interesting funny book about how the modern house and all it’s parts came to be. Plus all the segways and humor that only Bryson can bring to the table.

2. The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope – What an amazing man with the luck of timing, this book was fantastic and I hope we get another FDR soon so we can rewrite the social contract a bit more.

Honorable mention to The Wall: Rome’s Greatest Frontier about Hadrian’s Wall which is a trip I want to do at some point.

Best Bibliographies

1. The Faraway Horses – The story of Buck Brannaman who is the “horse whisperer”, really amazing guy and great story about his life. Check out this documentary on him too, just an amazing person.

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Good Vacation In St. Maartin!

October30


I had a great vacation on St. Maartin, it was the first time in maybe 6 or 7 years I’ve gone a long period with no internet (10 days). It wasn’t hard at all which was surprising too.

I went snorkeling every day, swam for hours, and just read under a nice awning right on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen (mostly because I think the water is an amazing color). Plus enjoyed some rum, got a zillion new freckles, rented a jeep for a few days and drove all around the island to try other beaches, sampled a lot of french bakeries, ate a lot of fish, etc. And I read 21 books while on break, so I’ve hit my goal for this year with having read 124 books so far!

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I Still Love My Kindle!

May8

I still love love love my Kindle and I think it is the best product of this decade. In the past three years I’ve read barely any books on paper. Yesterday I started reading a paperback for the first time in 14 months and realized I was getting annoyed because I couldn’t read while eating since it required two hands part of the time in order to hold both flaps open (which is not a problem with the Kindle).

Base on my rough calculations from Amazon’s page I have bought 362 Kindle books or newspapers since I’ve had one. Plus you save money as most books are slightly cheaper!

I strongly recommend you go buy one! Here is my original Kindle review too! Batter life on the new ones is just amazing.

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Amazing Book: The Way Of Kings

January15

I finished reading The Way Of Kings a few days ago and it is hands down one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read! It was written by Brandon Sanderson and is the first book in a 10 part series which will slowly be written over the next ten years. Brandon is also the writer who is finishing the Wheel Of Time series.

The book is 1,300 pages and a little slow to start, but only because it has to build stories around the main characters who are in different locations, by mid way you are sucked in and feel like you know the characters incredibly well and are just hoping the next chapter keeps going with their story. Brandon is a genius at developing systems of “magic” or power in all his books and this one is no different. I won’t ruin it but it works well and I like it even more then the one he created in the Mistborn series. In addition the political intrigue is fantastic.

I can’t recommend this book enough!

“Life before Death. Strength before Weakness. Journey before Destination. – The Way of Kings

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This is bwb’s personal blog so he can share his thoughts with the world, however scary or silly they might be. Plus family and friends can track what I am up too, and where I am in the world.

I am pretty simple. I love Mangos. I love the ocean, although mostly at sunset as I’m a ginger. I love to travel, eat exotic food, read, and use my imagination. I love creating and developing ideas into businesses, understanding how all businesses work, and building cool stuff. I am a globalist and see the entire world as my responsibility and playground. And, I am married to an amazing woman who makes life even more fun :)! And, we are now the proud parents of Calico Jack :).


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