biannual Books Roundup 2016

My bookshelf at home started stacking up more and more books that I hadn’t read. Something always came up, but at the same time I had a lot of time while driving or just lazing around town. I drive around 1.5 hours on average a day.  I used that as a trigger to read books. And it’s been working so far.

I’ve read 17 books in six months which isn’t bad, that’s 4 more books than the first 6 months. The books I’ve enjoyed the most have been about human behavior, economics and psychology. It’s just fascinating when someone dissects the world by numbers or explains that little quirk of yours from an evolutionary perspective, gets me everytime.

So here’s the list with one line reviews and a link to a full review on goodreads.

Psychology / Philosophy

Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner – 320 pages ★★★★★

Highly engaging, entertaining, one of the best I’ve read in 2016. This book won’t change your life but it will leave you with perhaps a cynical but more real perspective about the world. A world driven by numbers.
Read Full Review of Freakonomics

The Art of War – Sun Tzu – 273 pages ★★★★☆

It’s such a wonderful book, minimalist at its best. Every word is in it’s right place and you cannot take a single word away without losing its meaning.

It’s stripped off any frills and tells the philosophy as it is and you keep nodding your head yes master, true master.
Read full review of Art of War 

Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell – 309 pages ★★★★★

This is must read for us Pakistanis with a Jew conspiracy theory of success. We who clicks on a Rags to Riches story on a click bait website. Us who in our past time either talk about corrupt politicians or Property Dealers and how much they make.
Read full review of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Biography

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson – 656 pages ★★★★☆

The biography for me was a battle to understand was job’s a good guy or not. I think we have to ignore that. He was a selfish guy, who did not often care for people or things, he wasn’t a humanitarian, a philanthropist nor did he want to fix the world.

What he wanted to do was to make great usable products and leave his mark on the world, in which he succeeded. And he succeeded in a way other companies never can.
Read full review of Steve Jobs Biography 

 

Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance – 392 pages ★★★★☆

Wonderful book about a super interesting man. The good thing is it’s not just about Musk it’s a lot more than that, it’s about entrepreneurship, futurology and the craziness that is silicon valley.

What elon musk is and what he’s not is a separate debate than the book. It feels like he’s portrait honestly but at times the writer does seem just a tad biased about what elon created.

Fascinating book, about a fascinating man. There is so much to learn from this not just about Einstein but his work, philosophy and political views. The Einstein’s perspective.

Business

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – Seth Godin –  151 pages ★★★★☆

Tribes talks about some wonderful things which are very relevant not only to giant businesses but the little guy, trying to find his right footing. Some great advice in it, I like that seth never feeds you some mantras that you can repeat and be successful. He always just tells you a direction and let’s it go.Read full review of Tribes by Seth Godin

Cracking the Tech Career – Gayle Laakmann McDowell – 275 pages ★★★★☆

Wonderful for anyone who is serious about his career. its just not about tech job but any jobs in the modern world. Great detailed analysis with research from resume to interviews.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown – 260 pages ★★★☆☆

The books which focus on look what he did wrong and what happens feel like a chain letter. More than good examples it often focuses on things that went wrong. Personally I enjoy more how can you implement the concepts with examples.

Self Help

Mastery – Robert Greene – 318 pages ★★★★☆

I’m not sure what genre to put this book in, it’s part biography, part self help and a whole lot of great research on human behaviour to take in. But it’s a great read lets you have an in depth look at old and contemporary masters, their journey and their lessons.
Read full review of Mastery

The Millionaire Fastlane – M.J. DeMarco – 322 pages ★★★★☆

The only thing terrible about the book is it’s title. It’s a horrible one, if all self help gurus combined their power to create the cheesiest sloppiest title for a book this would be it.Read full review of Millionaire Fastlane

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie – 288 pages ★★★★★

The writer explains the simple rules and takes incidents from history of people applying them and the results that follow. These stories come from Roosevelt trying to win an election to house wife’s trying to raise their kids right. And work for both and everything in between.These are such simple rules which were true in 1939 (when it was written) and still hold true today.

Read full review of How to make friends and Influence People

Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson – 96 pages ★★★★☆

This book is just right, short enough that you can read it in a sitting. Comprehensive and entertaining so you fully grasp the concept and enjoy it. A must read for everyone, because we all deal with changes all the time.

Science Fiction

2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke – 297 pages ★★★★★

A classic for a reason, it’s not everyday there’s a novel written just for the purpose of making a film on it. From Space Travel, AI to intelligent life forms it’s got it all one of the best sci fi I’ve read. The only regret I have is why didn’t I do it earlier.

The book on which blade runner is based. If you’re looking for a bleaker more complicated blade runner this is it.
Hyperion – Dan Simmons – 482 pages ★★★★☆
Hyperion. A story that goes beyond, religions, space and time with the right amount of wit, mystery and science.The stories expand to hundreds of years (because of inter galactic frozen space travel of course) which include aliens, androids, space portals, time travel, mysticism, poetry and so on. There’s a lot to each story and to each character and every single one is enjoyable.

The only science about the book is the fact that the man is from mars, everything is pretty much fiction. It’s an interesting take on human behavior but I’d want it in a smaller package.


Do check out Zaki’s year in books round up some great books in there. And if you’d like to read more of my ramblings, consider signing up for the email alert.

And if you’ve got any recommendations please send them over, I’m always looking for good books.

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What did you read this year? This is my list from 2016

Reading time: 3 min
Summary: One line reviews of 13 books divided in philosophy, sci-fi, self help and business.

The stockpile of unread books in my room had been increasing with time. When  I did get some time my energy level was so low from reading for work all day that I did not want to read anymore. With the number of books my anxieties grew. Finally I got a solution this year, audiobooks for the win. It’s not only helped me get through books I’ve wanted to read for a while, but it has also helped me pick up physical books again.

The target was 3 books a month, which hasn’t been achieved yet. But will be inshallah but the end of the year. But hey 13 books more than last six months.

Psychology / Philosophy

Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse – 152 pages (read again) ★★★★★
Siddhartha is super short & there is a lot packed in it. It’s mystical without being a book of tips. It’s a life changer.

Road less travelled – M.S Pegg 316 pages (read again) ★★★★★
Road less travel if anything makes you understand yourself better. It’s a collection of cases from a psychologist office.

Working with Emotional Intelligence  – Daniel Colman  – 400 pages ★★★☆☆
I would recommend reading E.I the first book over working with E.I this is more of a implementation book of it.

Business

The innovators – Walter Isaacson  – 528 pages ★★★★★
Where did all this tech revolution start, the book follows the innovations to innovators from the first electronic device to Gates & Jobs. Teaches you a whole lot not only about who did it, but how & what internal & external factors make an innovation work.

Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell301 pages ★★★★★
It’s a collection of wonderful case studies & experiences from Hush Puppies, control of crime rate in new york to how sesame street is as addictive as much as it is. It’s a recipe for what makes anything tip and become a phenomenon.

Free Prize Inside – Seth Gordon – 256 pages ★★★★★
Marketing isn’t what it used to be 20 years ago. The book follows a wonderful philosophy of making products that market themselves. It’s gives a lot of marketing perspective about which Gladwell talks in the tipping point.

The hard things about hard things – Ben Horowitz – 304 pages ★★★★☆
If you’re in a decision maker which influences business & the lives that it involves, it’s a great read. It gets too specific at times, if you’re not a CEO with a VC backing it becomes a little unrelatable in some chapters. (for me personally)

Self Help

Getting things done – David Allen – 267 pages ★★★★★
If I’ve been able to do something in the last couple of months it’s because of Getting things done. A super short book a wonderful toolkit on getting things on track & getting rid of the I need to do that anxiety.

Monk who sold his Ferrari – Robin Sharma – 200 pages ★★★★☆
Some great tips in Sharma’s book a must read but too self helpy at times. Either way some great tips in there to help you in everyday life and focus on what’s important.

The 4 hour workweek – Timothy Ferriss – 308 pages ★★☆☆☆
The issue with 4 hour work week is that it sells a very modern, a very particular dream & it sells it in a tele sales borderline unethical at times illegal way. But if you want to build a lifestyle business that pays it’s a great toolkit. Has some great business tips nonetheless.

Fiction

Neuromancer – William Gibson – 271 pages  ★★★★★
Neuromancer, the original cyber punk. If you like Ghost in a shell, the matrix  it’s a must read. There’s a lot happening all the time, you might need to reread it to enjoy it fully, I did.

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson – 470 pages ★★★★☆
Snow Crash is prediction of the future in parts, the book who introduced the concept of avatars & virtual worlds. All packed in cyber punk world. Great read.

The Mote in God’s Eye – Niven & Pournelle  – 596 pages ★★★★☆
It’s interspace travel, war and discovery. The thing that makes it tick is it makes you think about how different an alien civilization can be & still make sense and work. Really opens your horizon to a very different form of social structure and thinking.

The next target is to down 25% more books in the next 6 months, Inshallah.

Here’s my Good Reads Profile, give me a shout if you have any recommendations. I’d love to fill my list.

Thank you Zaki for introducing me to introducing me to audiobooks & the gifts. Thanks Ather Bhai for the recommendations & GTD. Thanks Izza for letting me borrow all the books.