Instead of publishing a book club review this month, I've decided to wrap up the year with quick and dirty reviews for each book I read this year (including the top four books I refer to my clients). I won't be fully explaining what each is about — you can click the hyperlinks to find that out for yourself — instead, I'm giving you with my biggest takeaways.
Top Referred Books of 2017
These four books came up time and time again with my clients this past year, and I highly recommend reading each of them:
1. Steering by Starlight: The Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny, Martha Beck - I really really liked this book — it was easily my most-recommended book of this year. Martha Beck is such an entertaining writer, and she really helps calm your logical mind (with her Harvard education and anthropology background) to be able to speak to your spiritual mind. She's funny, a lil' nerdy, relatable ('cause I'm a nerd, apparently), and super insightful. Most memorable takeaway: her dream interpretation exercise.
2. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero - Also one of the books I have recommended the most. Jen Sincero makes you feel like she has tried it all (including writing a love letter to her vagina), and she wraps all her life lessons and self-help research into a modern, relevant, and hilarious book. This book really helped me to jump start my 2017 mindset and to accomplish many of my goals for this year.
3. Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill - Aka, the self-help bible for money mindset. This is probably one of the most referenced books in the entrepreneurial industry. It's from 1937, so you need to take some of the things he talks about (like sexuality) with a grain of salt. But, overall, it's shocking how contemporary it reads. This is a really important read if money is something you generally struggle with.
4. Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, Mike Michalowicz - Mike is a bit goony... but, if you can get past it, he offers some really great nuggets of insight into the financial health and logistics of your business. I recommend this to my clients who aren't making the profit they should be, and/or if their expenses are higher then they should be (typically no more than 30 percent).
And all the other books
I've more or less listed the rest of the books I read in 2017 in order of most liked to least liked (top to bottom). You're obviously welcome to read through each one, OR you can go to the top of the post, look at the book covers, and ⌘F the titles you're interested in reading my quick thoughts on.
Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl - This is a classic that I hadn't read yet. Big takeaway: perspective is everything. I loved his insight into human nature — very beautiful and moving. Read it.
As a Man Thinketh, James Allen - Super important book on the power of our thoughts! READ IT if you haven't yet. It's really really short and empowering.
Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, Tara Mohr - I love Tara. This is a great book for female entrepreneurs and corporate climbers. Biggest takeaway: I still do the future self visualization exercise she references in her book and have my clients do it before they meet with me!
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear, Gay Hendricks - This was great, though I don't remember much from it. Marie Forleo said it was one of her most influential books, so I thought I'd give it a try. My big takeaway: we all hit a threshold of greatness, and we can decide if we want to continue on to the next great thing, or not. (Continue on to the next great thing.)
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth, Jen Sinero - Also by Jen Sincero - I liked this too, but I found myself just wanting to read the books that she referenced instead (like Think and Grow Rich).
The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles - Published in 1910; major inspiration for The Secret. Talk about bibles — this book is basically a bible for money's law of attraction. I like these money mindset books, to a point. To be honest, I'm still processing all my feelings on money mindset in general.
I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, Laura Vanderkam - Don't love the title, but I do love her intense research. She takes a practical look at women's weeks and breaks them down into 30-minute increments. I broke down a week for myself and included it in my April 2017 newsletter (which you should probably subscribe to, just sayin'). Biggest takeaway: we all have more time than we think we do, including personal and family time.
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand - I never read this in high school. I liked it. I love authors that have amazing insight into human nature, like East of Eden. The power dynamics, the greed, the egos, the class systems, the meaning of life, politics, religion, fame... she covers a lot here. Biggest takeaway: who cares what the mainstream is doing? Create what you think is important.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport - See my full review here. Biggest takeaway: make time in your life for uninterrupted depth of work. You won't regret it.
Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans - Written by design professors from Stanford. I thought it was fine. Seems to be geared more towards the soon-to-be post-undergrad crowd, but I ultimately think it's a great resource to really break down your days/weeks/months/years to figure out how you're spending your time. Are you spending it in the way that feeds you the most?
The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires, Brian Tracy - Biggest takeaways: learn every detail of the business you're in before you delegate it to someone else (so you know how to delegate), and take excellent care of your physical health — something I need lots of reminders of!
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, Gary Vaynerchuk - I'm not into his energy at all. He comes off like such a know-it-all, and it's off-putting. He seems like a real dude's dude. All of that aside, my biggest takeaway (that I always tell my clients): ADD VALUE. The three "jabs" stand for giving online content away for free and adding value to the online world, and the "right hook" stands for some kind of call to action (CTA) or "ask." I've started calling this "three gives and an ask." It's the exact same thing with a little less douche.
Thank & Grow Rich: A 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy, Pam Grout - I read this because I heard so many people reference it. I think it's so crucial to be grateful for what you have, or else you'll just continue to search for more and more (even when you achieve what you wanted). However, I did get a little bored with it. Biggest takeaway: for about six months, I wrote down three specific things I was grateful for that day - a practice I'm wanting to pick up again.
Truth in Comedy: The Manual of Improvisation, Charna Halpern, Del Close, and Kim "Howard" Johnson - I took an improv class at iO Theater in Chicago (I highly recommend doing it), and they give you this book to read. Biggest takeaway: "yes, and..." - when someone say something, anything, anywhere in life - say "yes! And...." I promise it will make your life 100% better.
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less, Kim Brooking-Payne and Lisa M. Ross - My kid's Waldorf teacher recommended it. I liked it. It's helpful to remember to slow things down, but in general I don't really love parenting books. They just make me feel guilty that I'm not doing all of the things. The best parenting book I've read is Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year (maybe because it's not a parenting book). Conclusion: I don't like parenting books.
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams, Deepak Chopra - I really like Deepak. I mean, Oprah loves him, so I have to (I did their 21 day meditation challenge, which was real good). With that said, I do not remember anything from this book. Overall, reading books like this helps me feel more zen and centered.
Yes Please, Amy Poehler - I love Amy. This made me laugh. I'm not going to lie, though - I wanted a little more from her.
Too Much and Not the Mood: Essays, Durga Chew-Bose - Love her thoughts on being a daughter of immigrant parents in Canada, body image issues, and being a woman. Biggest takeaway: it felt like reading really long Instagram posts.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo - As you can see, I read very little fiction! This made me really sad, but it offered a really enlightening insight into the poverty in India.
The Seat of the Soul, Gary Zukav - Oprah said this was one of the most influential books she read in the 90s. How many times can I mention Oprah in one post? Not gonna lie, it was hard for me to finish. I think all of the principles are relevant, but it reads a little dated.
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Michael Lewis - I love Michael Lewis and was obsessed with his The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine book in 2011. But this left me wanting more, and I didn't feel like it had as much "heart" as his other books.
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, Michael Lewis - Same as above ^^^
The Pumpkin Plan: A Simple Strategy to Grow a Remarkable Business in Any Field, Mike Michalowicz - Like I mentioned above, Mike leans on the goon side, but he offers some good insight. This one wasn't as helpful as Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, but I still think it's great if you're just starting out. However, I don't think I'd recommend it to any of my clients - his voice/jokes get a little old after a while.
The Complete Stories, Flannery O'Connor - I try (I really do), but fiction isn't for me. Flannery is obviously an incredible author, but I just can't.
Boundaries & Protection, Pixie Lighthorse - This was fine. I feel like I'm pretty good with boundaries, so it didn't really feel like I needed it. I'd recommend using it more as a reference book than reading it front to back. Biggest takeaway: have boundaries.
Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!, Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter - Speaking of mindsets, I feel like this was one of the first go-to books for entrepreneurs, but I don't recommend it. Kiyosaki’s energy is a little gimmicky and hard to read. Biggest takeaway: you can have one dad that can teach you money is bad and another dad that teaches you it's good. Got it.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini - Semi-insightful. A tad bit manipulative and off-putting. Biggest takeaway: people equate high prices with quality (it's too bad, really). Everlane is a perfect example of trying to buck against this stigma by offering radical transparency on their pricing.
A Course in Miracles, Helen Schucman - Oy oy oy. Have you heard about this one? I got it, read some of it, and just had to stop. The author wants to be anonymous, and it kinda feels like the bible, but it says it's not affiliated with religion...? There's a huge following around it, though, so I'm obviously in the minority. Gabrielle Bernstein quotes it a lot (like, in every chapter) in The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith. (I'm still reading Bernstein's book, hence why it's not on the list.) Biggest takeaway: I don't even know — it felt like a bunch of gibberish.
What are some of your most recommended books of 2017? I'd love to know which books you have on your must-read list for 2018!