The Top 10 Books I Read in 2018

I’m a little late on this post, but to some extent it’s useful to see which books stuck with me, particularly those I read near the end of 2018.

Most of these weren’t published last year, but they are the ones which impacted me the most.

Enjoy!

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

Often ranked among the most meaningful books by many, the account of Frankl’s time in a concentration camp is both horrific and impossible to stop reading.

His resulting work in developing logo-therapy is interesting. Perhaps the most useful learning is flipping “finding life’s purpose” to recognizing that “each man is questioned by life”.

The book offers a prescription for finding one’s meaning in life, from someone who has seen the worst of it.  A short, worthwhile read.

How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

A fascinating overview of the use and study of psychedelics.  Pollan starts by examining the LSD boom and research in the 50s and 60s. He then intersperses accounts of his own experiences with the neuroscience and current studies of the drugs.

The writing itself is Pollan’s usual high standard, and the subject is fascinating.  It’s no secret that use of psychedelics has become more prominent in areas like tech and personal performance (specifically micro-dosing).

For more information, check out some of the Tim Ferriss Podcast episodes with people like Peter Attia, Stan Grof, Paul Stamets and Hamilton Morris.  You can also check out the TV show Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia.

The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib

I was initially skeptical about this book (mostly due to the title), but ended up pleasantly surprised.

This book is a concise, clear, actionable handbook for everyone from small-business owners to high-growth startup founders.  It provides a blueprint for positioning a company, creating marketing systems to sustain growth, and ultimately build a company that can run by itself.  

It’s not as in-depth as some marketing books, but provides a great overview.

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Fantastic book.  Everything a good book should be: concise, clear, and actionable.

This is the best book on habit formation I’ve ever read. James does an excellent job of providing all the required planning resources to go along with the book.

Recommend for everyone who is trying to change and build new habits (ie. pretty much everyone).

Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger

A book that has had a large impact on how I approach problems.  Formatted after Ben Franklin’s yearly publication of advice, Munger gives advice on a range of topics. They include clear investing principles, mental models and thinking with interdisciplinary tools.

Particularly relevant for those interested in business and finance, but, as he makes clear, it should be relevant for all, from lawyers to economists.

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  It’s an easy read, a mix of psychology research and anecdotal experience, and touches on all the key points of how to live in your twenties.  Many of my own thought patterns matched those described in her examples.

Recommended for anyone in their late teens or twenties, or parents with kids around those ages, as it will be invaluable for both.  I’ll be gifting it to many friends.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

An overview of some of the most common psychological principles that rule our decision-making and lead us to poor results.  

This book has been cited by many, and forms the basis of many of the “mental models” frequently used by people such as Charlie Munger.

A valuable read for those wishing to improve their objectivity and thinking.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

Pink’s latest book is all about the science of timing, and what scientific studies have shown in terms of how to time our days, and our lives.  It’s concise, and relevant to all.

One of the best parts about this book is how actionable the content is. He presents the science, and then provides a “Time Hacker’s Handbook” for each chapter, with resources on how to apply the lessons to your own life.

I immediately made changes to my own life using the content I learned here.

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink starts by showing that a surprisingly large portion of the workforce is engaged in “moving others” (aka selling) in some form, and that we all do this in our lives.  The rest of the book discusses how we can improve this skill, which, given how much we use it, is extremely important.

I haven’t yet had the chance to go through all the suggested exercises, but I enjoyed the book and found it useful.  It breaks down several myths about selling that cause most of us (myself included) to view “sales” as something negative.

I picked the book up originally to improve my professional life, and it did, but almost the entire book can be applied to improving our own personal interactions.

Antifragile / Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile focuses primarily on the concepts of fragility and antifragility, and how they appear in our lives. It is a core concept of Taleb’s teachings, and worth understanding.

Skin in the Game is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s (NNT) fifth book in what he calls the Incerto, and it’s the most digestible I’ve read thus far (having read all but Fooled by Randomness).  

Skin in the Game focuses on asymmetry in everyday life, particularly on the matters of career, ethics, and life in general.

What does that mean? Rules for how to detect if something is pseudo-science (scientism), how you should endeavour to conduct yourself in your career, and mental models for thinking about risk in life.

Having now read most of his books, part of the reason this was digestible was that I’m familiar with his major concepts. I would recommend reading his other books first.

If you’d like to see my full list of book notes, you can read them here.

If you’d like to know more about my strategy when reading books, and selecting books to read, you can read about that here.