Top Book Recommendations for 2017

Top Book Recommendations for 2017

2016 was the year that I finally got to read as much as I’ve always wanted to. How? The answer lies in audiobooks. Commute time and boring chores, when paired with audiobooks, became opportunities to find wisdom or hear a great story. The apps Audible ($15/month subscription) and Hoopla (free) allowed me to enjoy more than two books a month. Of my favorites, here are some selections I’d recommend you check out in 2017:

If you want to set strategic goals . . .

Right Away & All At Once: 5 Steps to Transform Your Business and Enrich Your Life by Greg Brenneman (Amazon)

My favorite book of the year was written by a turnaround CEO who’s helped businesses like Continental Airlines and Burger King go from failure to success. His five principles are straightforward and provide a great framework for refocusing on your own business.

My biggest takeaway was his “Go Forward Plan,” an outline for creating a useful strategic plan. I’ve seen too many notebook-sized strategic plans that no one remembers after they’re announced. Brenneman’s model puts a strategic plan onto one page to keep the plan front and center for the year.

He also applies the same five steps to the reader’s personal life, making the book as much about self-improvement as much as it’s about business.

If you want to streamline your life and focus on what matters most . . .

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (Amazon)

The paradox of success is that the more accomplished one becomes, the more responsibilities one collects. Most successful individuals eventually get stretched so thin that they begin to break from the strain. Greg McKeown’s book on decluttering your life is an essential read for anyone who feels the pressure to “do everything.” His “way of the essentialist” is a helpful guide to focusing on the most important priorities, with practical and realistic tips for saying “no” when you need to.

If you want to be more intentional about your charitable giving . . .

The Eternity Portfolio, Illuminated: A Practical Guide to Investing Your Money for Ultimate Results by Alan Gotthardt (Amazon)

The “ultimate results” that Alan Gotthardt pursues in Eternity Portfolio aren’t tangible, but eternal. This expanded edition is a helpful guide for those who want to wisely give away wealth from a historical, Christian perspective. He tackles questions like:

  • How much is enough?
  • How should entrepreneurs allocate capital between kingdom enterprises?
  • When it comes to selecting recipients, how do I give wisely?
  • How do I help without hurting?
  • How do I teach my children about generosity?

What made this book helpful was the numerous examples of how families might specifically allocate their charitable dollars, based on their incomes and unique net worths.

If you want to learn from history and gain insight from the past . . .

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill (Amazon)

I picked up a used copy of this book while visiting Galway, Ireland, this summer without a clue of how much I’d enjoy it. It has nothing to do with finance or productivity — it’s a journey through the Middle Ages following the lives of several historical figures. But Cahill’s fascinating explanations of the cultural shifts throughout Europe shed new light for me on my worldview.

If you want to review the principles of Investing 101 . . .

The Little Book of Behavioral Investing: How not to be your own worst enemy by James Montier (Amazon)

I’m often asked for book recommendations for those wanting a foundational understanding of investing. This is a topic that’s been written about so much, and yet it’s hard to find truly good — and helpful — authors. The Little Book of Behavioral Investing is a great start, with straightforward explanations of central investment principles. The author is not focused on what and when to buy/sell investments; he’s more interested in the decision making process for wise investors. The book is enjoyable because of his numerous examples of the pitfalls inherent in normal human behavior.

Is there a book that made your must-read list last year? Let me know about it! Email me or reach out on Twitter at @jnthnhrrsn.

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