Now that 2014 has come and gone, it’s time again to share the books that I’ve been reading in the last few months. I had the opportunity to read a lot of good books during the fourth quarter. The amount of day-to-day work that my business required has slowed down as I’ve brought on a new team member. Consequently, I had a lot more free time to read and listen to audiobooks.
I read a total of 24 books between October, November and December. I’ve decided against listing all of them, because frankly some of them just weren’t that good or memorable. So here are some of the better books that I read during the fourth quarter of 2014:
- Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Maries – This book goes through more than a dozen different ways that companies can get customers for their business. It provides a brief overview of different customer acquisition methods, who they’re likely to work for and who they aren’t. This is a must read for any entrepreneur.
- The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey. Having taught Dave’s class for the last five years, I figured there would be very little I hadn’t already heard him talk about in this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of new and original content about building a family legacy, estate planning and how Christians should view money.
- The 7-Day Start-Up by Dan Norris. This book provides some much needed motivation to “wantrapreneurs” that want to start a business, but haven’t found the ambition to do so yet. After several failed businesses, Dan shares the story of how he launched his latest company in 7 days—which now generates 6 figures in monthly revenue.
- Upgrade Unlocked by Stepahnie Zito and Chris Guillebeau. I read quite a few travel hacking books recently and this was one of the best. The authors teach how to rack up airline miles and other frequently flier points, show you how to get the best value using them and show some exotic locations you might redeem them on. Did you know that if you sign up for the right two credit cards with sign-up bonuses, you could fly to Southeast Asia in first-class for free? Read the book to learn how.
- Money: Master The Game by Anthony Robbins. – I’ve generally been skeptical of motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins and figured this book would be a lot of motivational hype and stuff you’ve already heard from a dozen other financial authors. This book is anything but that. Anthony Robbins really did his homework in this book and gives a very fresh perspective about personal finance and investing. The “all weather” portfolio he advocates in the book has certainly been turning some heads as well.
- How to Pay Zero Taxes 2015 by Jeff Schnepper. This is a book that detail-oriented people and accountants will love. It methodically goes through just about every possible way to reduce your tax burden. If you have a huge tax burden, this is a great resource to skim through. At 800 pages, it’s not for the faint of heart though.
- The Charlatan by Jim Munroe. Jim Munroe is a magician-evangelist that frequently tours with Cru (Campus Crusade). I had the opportunity to hear him speak in Sioux Falls and picked up his book after the event. This biographical book tells the story of how he has become uniquely prepared to share the Gospel through his “The Maze” event.
- Zero to One by Peter Thiel. If you’ve ever thought that the Silicon Valley economy makes no sense ($10 Billion Valuation for Snapchat, really?), this book is worth reading. Thiel discusses how world-changing companies get founded and provides some valuable insight into how Silicon Valley really works.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie – This book is the definitive guide on how to treat other people well and not be a jerk. Don’t let the title throw you off. The book isn’t the used car salesman’s guide to unethical persuasion, it’s really about how to be a nice person. If I were dictator, I would make reading this book and writing a report about the principles a requirement to graduate high-school. Everyone should read this book at some point in their lives. If you haven’t read it, read it now.
- Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habbits of Wealthy Individuals – This is a short book about the daily habits that rich people do. If it didn’t include several short stories about people that weren’t practicing the rich habits, it could easily be a 75 page book. If you want to read this book, I’d skip to part two where the author actually talks about what the rich habits are.
- Scaling Up by Verne Harnish – This is a follow-up to Harnish’s best seller The Rockefeller Habbits. It contains some good advice, but I found that a lot of the tactical “how to” content really only applies to bigger companies with large teams.
- Scrum by Jeff Sutherland – This book provides a modern history of project management and tells the story of how the world has migrated from using a traditional waterfall approach (that doesn’t work) to more agile methodologies. This is a good book for anyone managing big projects to read.
- The Lost Fleet: The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell – This was my token fiction book for the quarter. I was hoping to read more fiction, but never got around to it. It’s the latest in the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. If you’re new to the series, start here.
- Growth Engines by Sean Ellis – This book tells the story of how a number of well-known companies like Uber, LinkedIn and Yelp used unconventional marketing strategies to become the large companies they are. This book doesn’t provide a ton of practical advice, but it was very interesting to hear how the featured companies got their earliest customers.
I’ve been reading consistently for about six years now. I’ve read about 350 books since early 2009 and frankly, I’m running out of good business and investing books to read (until some new stuff comes out). My plan for the beginning of 2015 is to go back and re-read some of the best books I’ve read during the 6-7 years and branch out into some new genres of literature. I’m also hoping to finally get into some fiction in the first quarter. I plan to read at least three fiction books, so we’ll see if I accomplish that goal or not.
What was the most interesting book that you read in 2014? Please tell me in the comments below!