In 2018, I was fortunate to read a number of great books, 38 to be exact (the vast majority were physical books, but some were ebooks or audiobooks). I beat my 2017 record of 35 books (you can find my favorite books from 2017 here). However, a small number of these books really stood out from the crowd.
These books either changed the way I looked at the world or taught me something that I will remember for the rest of my life.
The 10 books listed below deserve extra recognition for being so awesome, so without further delay, here they are (in no particular order):
10) “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy
There’s a reason this book is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller, it’s because it is incredibly insightful and helpful to readers. Darren Hardy does an excellent job of teaching readers the importance of the Compound Effect (how little actions overtime can lead to radical results) and provides several analogies that really stick in the reader’s head.
The shocking part is that this book is only about 160 pages. There is no fluff or guff. It’s pure gold. I would recommend reading this book at least twice and make sure to highlight important passages, jot down notes and write down steps on how you can start changing your life for the better.
9) "TOTAL RECALL" BY ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
“Total Recall” (2013) is an incredible story about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life that covers both the struggles and triumphs he faced in bodybuilding, acting and politics. It’s a great American-dream story that shows the true path to becoming successful and what is needed to get there.
A lot can be learned about his drive and desire to achieve from reading this book. Readers will learn several important lessons such as why you should write down your goals, practice often, be self-disciplined, and train both the mind and body.
Arnold doesn’t hide anything and talks about both the ups and downs during his life journey. He also includes a chapter that highlights his rules for success. And even though he isn’t perfect and had an affair, he is an awesome human being and readers will learn a lot by reading his book.
Now go read this book. Hasta la vista, baby.
8) "Discipline Equals Freedom" by Jocko Willink
This book doesn’t have any secrets to life, but that’s the point. THERE ARE NO SECRETS or SHORTCUTS. It’s just hard work, day-in and day-out.
People already know a lot of lessons in this book, such as work out often and don’t eat sugar, but when it comes from Jocko (a retired Navy SEAL of 20 years), there’s a much higher chance of it sticking in your mind. I think part of it is the amount of respect people have for him. This guy wakes up a 4:30 AM every day–even on Christmas and New Years– and works out, and posts a picture on social media as proof for everyone to see.
In the end, readers will have learned at least two valuable lessons from this book. The need to build self-discipline and the need to take action. Don’t just read this book, but go and do. Do the work, do what needs to be done even if you don’t feel like doing it, do what will make you a smarter, stronger and a better person in life. Now, go and GET AFTER IT!
7) “The ONE Thing” by Keller & Papasan
The title of this book sounds like clickbait, do this one thing to be successful, but this book is actually filled with an immense amount of valuable information.
The book provides advice backed by scientific studies, on how to be more productive and effective. It will teach you how to prioritize tasks, manage time, build good habits, use willpower properly, set goals and more. The book also debunks popular myths such as multitasking being great–which it is not–and that being busy is good–also not true.
The authors also provide readers with additional tools and information at their website here. I highly recommend reading this book if you want to be more productive and efficient in both your professional and personal life.
6) “The Third Door” by Alex Banayan
This book is filled with a lot of great business advice, but it’s also an amazing story. As a college student, the author hacked The Price Is Right and used the prize money to fund his quest to learn from the world's most successful people.
The author takes readers on a journey of how he chased Larry King in a grocery store, waited in a bathroom to talk to Tim Ferriss, used his network to meet with Bill Gates, and dozens more of the world's most successful people.
There’s also a lot of great advice from icons such as how Tim Ferriss cold-emails people, how Jessica Alba stays focused on her business, and how Pitbull believes people should always stay an intern. Highly recommend it to college students, entrepreneurs, and people interested in business.
5) "A Billion Wicked Thoughts” by Ogas & Gaddam
They say men are from Mars and women are from Venus, and in a way, that is true. “A Billion Wicked Thoughts” shines light on the ways men and women are wired and how even though they are part of the same species, heterosexual guys and girls desire and are attracted to vastly different traits.
Although the authors are scientists and probably love big data, they do a surprisingly fantastic job of explaining what they found from the data and combine it with evolutionary psychology to create clear and easy to understand lessons that readers can apply to their daily lives.
I’d highly recommend reading this book to both men and women because it helps people better understand the opposite sex through a scientific lens instead of simply saying “Guys are stupid” or “Girls are weird.”
4) “Atomic Habits” by James Clear
I’d put this book in the top 3 best productivity books I’ve ever read, it’s that good.
James Clear did an excellent job with this book. It’s an easy and entertaining book to read filled with personal stories as well as scientific studies. There’s a lot of information to absorb, but each chapter ends with a summary and important lessons are repeated throughout the book.
If you’re looking for an easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones (which is everyone), this book is for you. Read it, highlight it, take notes, and start applying the lessons to your life and achieve success that lasts.
3) “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
After reading this book, I recommended it to several people and every one of them has told me that the book was incredible.
The author retells his life at Auschwitz and several other concentration camps and talks about the horrible conditions he and other prisoners had to endure to survive. From working 10+ hours a day of physical labor in freezing temperatures to constantly walking past dead bodies. It was hell, but amazingly, Frankl survived.
This book is a story of one man’s will to live and throughout the book, Frankl teaches readers several important lessons about how humans can be evil, but also incredibly kind. The best part is that Frankl was a psychiatrist so he could really analyze both the prisoners and the guards and get to the center of what makes humans ticks and why they do what they do. From his experience, Frankl discovered life lessons that would have been nearly impossible to find anywhere else.
2) “Extreme Ownership” by Willink & Babin
“Extreme Ownership” was initially released as a leadership and management guide to help corporate leaders, but this book is so much more than that. The lessons learned from this book can be applied to almost every aspect of life.
For example, the title of the book refers to a trait that Willink and Babin believe all great leaders possess–the ability to go above and beyond by taking extreme ownership and responsibility of the situation (also if you’re interested in leadership, management, and lessons from war, check out Jocko’s podcast here).
People that take extreme ownership don’t go around blaming others for negative outcomes, they ask themselves what they could have done to prevent things from going bad or think about what they’ll do from now on to prevent the same negative event from happening in the future.
These are books that I’d highly recommend reading when you have some free time. Although they didn’t make it into the top ten, these books are still spectacular and you can learn a lot from reading them:
Webb, a Navy SEAL, pilot and media CEO, teaches readers how to overcome fear in business and life.
Bailey spent a year experimenting and researching different habits and activities, to find out how people can maximize their productivity.
The author spent 10 YEARS in a North Korean concentration camp (yes, these still exist), managed to escape and shares stories of corruption and the truth about life in the hermit kingdom.
1) “12 Rules for Life” by Jordan Peterson
Every now and then you read a book that literally changes your life, for me, this is that book.
It’s hard to start talking about “12 Rules for Life” because so many aspects of this book are incredible. The book pulls interesting lessons from psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. It also talks about how religion, literature, and Disney movies have similar life lessons and how each one can teach people about the proper way to live a good life.
Peterson teaches readers how to stand up for themselves, how to take care of themselves and others, and several other lessons that teach people how to be a better person overall. If you want to change your life for the better, read this book.