Want to know what I read this year? In this video, I rank most of the books I read in 2021 and provide a summary of their key points. From fantastic reads that you shouldn't miss to books that I really should have passed on. Let's take a look back and add a new book to your reading list!
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I've read an awful lot of productivity, business and psychology books over the past year. So in this video, I want to rank 12 of those books so you might find further insight, maybe find the next great book for you to read. I'm also going to highlight maybe one or two that I think you should skip all together. So let's dive in. I'm going to be ranking all of these books on a scale from must read all the way down to skip. Now, of course, this is based on my own personal preference, but I'll give you a bit of a summary and what I learned from each book along the way. And we're going to go through this exercise in chronological order Meaning from the first book I read in 2021 all the way to some of the latest books that I've just finished reading in the last few weeks. Now, I have read a lot more books than just these 12, but I wanted to focus on these 12 for this particular video. So let's get things started off with "The Practice" by Seth Godin. Now I've been a fan of Seth Godin for a number of years. I've read several of his books in the past, and this was actually a really, really good book to start off the year because it really gets you motivated about your work and maybe thinking about doing your work in a few different ways. So I'm going to start off with really a great one. I was debating between good or great, but I'm going to put this in the great category. Some of Seth Godin's books are a lot more blog format style. This isn't that much different. They're very short synopsis, very short words of inspiration and things in which you can do. But even if you don't think you're in a creative industry or a creative role, I would highly recommend this book because really, if you're not innovating, if you're not thinking of new ways of doing things, this is precisely the type of book for you. "The practice" in at great. Next up, we have the book, "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do" by Amy Morin. Now I was looking forward to this book because it has a very catchy title. However, just a few chapters into this book. I was actually relatively disappointed because I didn't think there was an awful lot of meat here. There wasn't an awful lot of things that I hadn't read or learned before and on top of that each and every chapter seemed very much like a formula. It started off with a nice sort of three paragraph story. Then there was some bullet points and then the summary, I mean, it just seemed like each and every chapter felt very much the same, even though the topics adjusted slightly over the course of it. So I'm actually going to put this right in the skip pile. This was not a great way to start off the year. I would say you could pass on "13 Things." Next we have the book, "The Champions Mind" by Jim Afremow. Now this one may be geared a little bit more towards those who are looking for athletic excellence, but I find that you can learn an awful lot from the sporting world. And as a sports fan I've learned some very valuable business lessons from books such as Phil Jackson's books over the years, the championship coach of both the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. I had pretty high expectations for this book as well, hoping that I could apply some things both to my business but also to some of my athletic pursuits but I was a little disappointed as well. I felt that things were sort of glossed over, there wasn't as much specifics and I hate advice that is just simply saying, hey, just, just do it. You know, just get up and say to yourself, you're going to do it because it's important today. And I found that this was full of that type of advice. Now you may think a little bit differently but there's no way I'm putting this book any higher than okay. Next on my list is a book which was somewhat of a surprising entry to my reading list. Titled, "Maybe You Should Talk To Someone" by Lori Gottlieb. Now this particular book I had seen on bestseller lists for the past year or two. And finally, after I read the summary, I said, you know what, let's give it a shot. Let's see what this book is all about. Lori is a trained professional and the story sort of falls her real life experiences including some of the traumas and the circumstances that she was engaged in over a several year period, but also you get to know her patients. It's a fascinating look at the world of psychiatry and psychology and how the human mind works and how we need to heal ourselves and how we can heal ourselves in a variety of ways. This was really a surpriser on my list. I'm going to put it in the good category. I didn't absolutely love it. It was very, very entertaining, almost felt a little bit like a fiction book, even though it's completely nonfiction, but a very good read for me in 2021. Another book that I read this year was titled "Thinking In Bets" authored by Annie Duke. Now Annie Duke is a former poker champion. So she knows an awful lot when it comes to statistics and numbers and odds, and of course betting. And this book is not all about card games and poker or gambling, but just thinking about how we can reanalyze ourselves when it comes to numbers, when it comes to pricing, when it comes to negotiating of any sort. Now, as someone who is very analytical in nature I found this book quite fascinating. It may not be the most entertaining read for some of you, but I found that it really helped me look at numbers in a slightly different way. So I'm going to put this one in the good category. Again, depending on your interests, you might like it more or less, but something that has some really tangible and solid information. Next up is a book titled "Limitless" by the author and very well-known speaker Jim Quick. Now you've probably speaker Jim Quick in a variety of YouTube videos. He's a excellent guest, he's an excellent speaker and you know, he runs his own YouTube channel and a variety of other offerings online as well. Jim is all about maximizing the use of our minds, including how to focus more intently on the things that we want to. This was an interesting book for me because it had some very good and tangible pieces of advice. But then there were other chapters that I felt that I just wanted to gloss over. You know, the other thing is that I felt that Jim maybe wasn't giving as much as he could have in this book in terms of that advice that we can start to apply immediately. As I got past sort of the halfway mark, I felt like, you know what? This is really maybe just a sell for some of his more expensive courses or other programs online. Now there's nothing against that. You're probably going to get an awful lot more out of his training if you take a several hour or a four week course but I really dislike it when a book feels like it's somewhat more of an infomercial or it's only giving you a taste of the goods. So I was a little let down by "Limitless." So I'm going to put this one in the okay category. Now, if you are curious about how I find what I want to read next, and sometimes I don't even read the entire book because I just want the good stuff, I use Shortform. Shortform, in my opinion is the best place to get the best book summaries that you can not only read, but you can choose to listen to as well. Here we are within my Shortform account. These are some of the books that I've been reviewing or just taking a look at their particular summary. What I love about Shortform is that it summarizes not just what the book is about, but it actually gives you the key points, things that you can start to apply right away. So if you either don't have time to read the entire book, or maybe you just want to see if it's worth reading the entire book, you can come here and get these fantastic summaries. Each of the summaries start with a one-page summary which is going to give you that clean overview. But as you can see down below, it's actually giving us the actionable items as well. Don't have time to read the summary? Well, you can also listen to any of these summaries as well. So Shortform has you covered regardless how you want to consume your information. If you'd like to get a five day free trial of Shortform, just go to shortform.com/simpletivity, or use the link in the description below. Now about halfway through the year I had the opportunity to read Jordan Peterson's latest book and follow up to his best seller, "The 12 Rules For Life." This one titled "Beyond Order; 12 More Rules For Life." Now I recognize that Mr. Peterson is a bit of a controversial figure, one of those individuals that you seem to either love or hate and I wouldn't put myself on either of those extremes. I do find him a fascinating individual and I really do enjoy watching him go through the thought process of actually formulating his arguments and responding to questions. This was certainly not an easy book to get through, and I don't mean about the topic but just really the way that Mr. Peterson writes. It's something that you can't just sit back on the beach and read casually. You sort of need to dive in and really digest the content here. Overall, I found it an enjoyable read. While I don't certainly agree with all of his viewpoints it certainly made me think and I think that's what most books should do is aim to make you think and maybe even question some of your own biases. So in this case, I'm going to put this as a solid good rating. Not great, certainly not one that I was going to skip, but something that I did enjoy and really had to work at over a few different weeks. Next on my list was one of my favorite authors, Cal Newport. And I'll admit, my expectations were quite high for his latest book here in 2021, "A World Without Email." But I was a little concerned with that title, that the whole book was going to be about email. Well, here's the good news. It's not really just about email. It's about digital communication as a whole. And I think Cal has perhaps written another classic or in my case a must read. So this is going to be the first book that I give it a must read rating. In my opinion, this is exactly the type of book that we need now more than ever. If you're wanting to work at your productive best and get some concrete models and a concrete framework in how to do so, Cal Newport's "A World Without Email" certainly fits that bill. So if you haven't read Cal Newport before, you might want to check out something like "Digital Minimalism," or maybe "Deep Work" for example, but you don't have to read either of those books to dive in and get valuable information from "A World Without Email." Next on our list was another author that I really enjoyed his first book which was "Essentialism," and we're talking about Greg McKeown. Now his follow-up took several years to write but it came out earlier this year titled "Effortless." And again, I would say that this is a winner. Greg really has this amazing way to weave stories and real-world examples and show us that, listen, we don't have to be caught up in the rat race and live up and be disappointed by all of these expectations. He's continually asking ourselves when is enough enough, and when do you get to fully enjoy your work and really enjoy your life. So "Effortless," I'm not going to put quite as high as a must read but I'm definitely going to put it in the great category as another fantastic book, whether you're focused on improving your productivity or just your wellbeing as a whole. I next started reading, "Think Like A Monk" by Jay Shetty. Now, I actually hadn't heard of Jay Shetty before. Although I quickly discovered he has a massive online presence. And if you happen to follow him on Instagram, as I started to do, you'll see just how much content he's producing at a very, very rapid rate. This was a very interesting book as someone who grew up in a pretty standard, a pretty standard home sort of middle-class home. But then instead of going on to study business and sort of take the traditional route, decided to become a monk, despite the lack of encouragement from both friends and family. This was an interesting book because you not only follow his journey, but Jay really makes you think of some questions within your own life. I might say that reading this book immediately after "Effortless" was probably a good selection because they both have some similar themes in terms of, you know, what is really valuable to you and where are you going to be putting your focus? It also talks a lot about personal relationships, whether that's your family relationships or just working with others within the world itself and making you think about our relationships in a slightly different light. As far as its final ranking, I'm probably going to put it sort of middle of the row. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I just don't feel right giving it a great ranking or the same level of the other two books that we have listed here. Now, nearing the end of '21 I found a neighbor of mine who happened to recommend the following book online. "Range" by David Epstein. And I really didn't know much about this book or this author at all. But very quickly within the first few chapters, I became fascinated with the subject material but also what David Epstein had to say about specializing versus generalizing when it comes to our careers. Basically David Epstein puts forward the argument that we should not super specialize in any particular topic. In fact, that that often brings with it a number of blinders and may not make us open for other more innovative or creative or financially beneficial ideas as well. This book I would have to put in my must read category. It's the type of book that is not necessarily just timely for 2021. You could probably read this book anytime in the next decade or maybe anytime in the future and you're going to get a lot of great benefit behind it. The key message here with "Range" is don't feel left behind. Don't feel if you haven't done something or accomplished something by a particular time that you're a failure or that you're not going to make it to those end goals. A very uplifting book without sounding overly motivational. So I would certainly put "Range" in my must read category for 2021. Last but not least, the most recent book in which I've read is "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. Now this particular book is almost looks like a flip book. It's perfectly square and you can read it in basically under an hour if you want to. He gets straight and to the point and gives us 10 different things to think about when it comes to showing our work rather than just being salesy and having people encourage us to buy, buy, buy. Now, Austin Kleon is an artist himself So this is very much geared towards creative types and creative people, but you can find a lot of great benefit from this one as well. In my case, I'm probably going to put this sort of middle of the road as well. You know, it's one of those books that you might want to pick up for some short or brief pieces of inspiration but it's certainly not going to change anything in your world. Now, I would absolutely love to hear what were some of the books that you read in the past year and what would you put on your must read list? Be sure to let me know in the comments down below. Remember being productive does not need to be difficult. In fact, it's very simple.
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