My Top Ten Books for 2015

As ever for me the reading year began with the holidays. My family know I love reading, and am voracious, of both fiction (thriller, crime, adventure, fantasy and of course, sci-fi) and non-fiction (strategy, business, self-improvement, writing, video- & photography). So books feature high on the “affordable gift list” for Christmas.

Then there’s the time. On holiday I can lose myself in a book for hours. But even after the holidays, I make it a principle to read for at least 30 minutes every night.

Here then is my Top Ten Book List for 2015:

#1 The Martian – Andy Wier

Completed: January – Fiction: Hard Sci-Fi

Actually I first read this in 2014, but re-read it in January, then listened to the Audible Edition, then of course much later watched the movie.

All of which proved top experiences for each medium in 2015. If you haven’t had a chance to read or listen to the book, do so, you’ll be glad you did.

 

#2 Awaken the Giant Within – Tony Robbins

Completed: January – Non-Fiction: Self-Improvement

I started Tony Robbins’ latest work, Money (see below) in December 2014, then interrupted it to read from his earlier work. Essentially this is the first book of his I’ve read, and despite my cynicism, I was actually impressed.

Many of the principles exhibited in the book are timeless keys to success and fulfillment. Like any skill, they require you to actually do something (rather than just read or think about it) to achieve competence; and repeated practice (with feedback) for mastery. But do the exercises, and repeat the principles and you will make a significantly positive difference to your life. No matter what you think of Tony Robbins.

#3 The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

Completed: May – Fiction: British Crime

In 2014 a new British Crime Writer, Robert Galbraith, burst onto the scene with this brilliant debut novel. Only later did we learn that Robert Galbraith, using no previous credentials, is actually J. K. Rowling.

This is an amazing work, compelling, authentic, raw, and very clever. All the hallmarks of a great whodunnit (and whydunnit) from the British tradition.

You’ll love the 3-dimensional characters, not to mention the plot, and twist in the tail.

#4 A Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith

Completed: October – Fiction: British Crime
This is the third in the Cormoran Strike series, and quite possibly the best to date. Certainly better than the second (although that in itself is still a brilliant novel)

The subject is grisly, the suspects many, and the slow-burning sexual tension between Cormoran and the red-haired Robin handled brilliantly. Read it. In order for sure. But read it.

 

#5 The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

Completed: Still Reading – Non-Fiction: Writing Skills

I’m loving this book, and already it is making a real change. (This blog post is evidence enough) If you have to create something – words, images, sound – then you know something about Resistance. (procrastination, writer’s block, self-sabotage, evil)

This book will help you prioritise, behave professionally, engage with your muse, and create. I’m glad it’s in my Top 5, and definitely in the Top 2 non-fiction works I’ve read this year.

#6 How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck – Steve Stockman

Completed: December – Non-Fiction: Videography Skills

It does what it says on the can. This is a brilliant book. For someone who has been shooting, editing, & producing (mediocre) video for 15 years, I instantly improved with this book.

Steve is accomplished, funny as hell, and breaks down the mystical art of good video to actionable principles that are accessible by anyone. He covers everything from (basic) script writing and storyboarding, to shooting, casting, directing, editing, and publishing. There are even chapters for your holiday and music videos. His chapter on creating viral videos is particularly helpful.

If you shoot any video (and with today’s smartphones, who doesn’t) you should read this book.

#7 Moonwalking with Einstein – Joshua Foer

Completed: August – Non-Fiction: Immersive Journalism

I listen to The Becoming Superhuman Podcast, that interviews outliers and thought leaders in various fields. Nutrition, sleep, learning are all covered. That led me to this engaging, and funny work on memory optimisation.

Joshua takes you through his year of becoming the US Memory Champion, and in the narrative you learn the techniques to improve your own memory. A fantastic read for anyone that wants to excel in remembering anything.

#8 The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

Completed:  June – Fiction: British Crime
The 2nd Cormoran Strike novel, and whilst not as good as the 1st and 3rd, definitely in the top 10 books of 2015.

I think I didn’t relate to the characters (suspects) in this book quite as much as the other two. Perhaps because the world was not so far removed as Supermodels (book 1) or as familiar as veterans (book 3). Perhaps it was just the way that the murder was allegorised by the murderer.

Either way, you’ll enjoy the read and won’t be able to put the book down.

#9 Andromeda’s Fall – William C. Dietz

Completed: March – Fiction: Sci-Fi
I got into the Andromeda’s War series by William C. Dietz whilst walking. I enjoyed these 3 books that are set after the Legion of the Damned series that I began reading those too.

Great, fast read. Enjoyable sci-fi that serves to expand your mind about the very changes we’re seeing in technology today. Like wearable technology, AI, drones, autonomous vehicles, even 3D printing.

#10 Money – Tony Robbins

Completed: Still Reading – Non-Fiction: Self-Improvement, Finances
Like all of Tony Robbins’ work (well the two books I’ve read, and the videos I’ve seen) you can’t just read this and ponder it. To have any effect at all you need to do the exercises. Repeatedly.

My only criticism of the work is that it is US centric (like a lot of self-improvement works). Practically this means there are tax o bligations and company structures that are different from those you’re likely to comply to. Still this is the distillation of interviews of the top 50 richest people in the world. The principles work.

2015: A Great Year for Reading

All in all I’ve read (or will have read) some 38 books this year, and if you include audible, some 59!

Books that have challenged, thrilled, changed, and some that even bored me. There are a couple that vied with the last 3 spots on this list, and some authors that should be mentioned, including:

  • Neil Strauss
  • Joseph Campbell
  • James (& Claudia) Altucher
  • Lee Child (Although overall I was disappointed with his latest: “Make Me”)
  • Richard Philips
  • Marcus Sakey
  • Steven Levitt
  • Ben Horowitz
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Simon Sinek
  • Dan Ariely
  • Blake Masters and Peter Thiel
  • Ed Catmull
  • Mike Breen
  • Richard Bandler, and of course,
  • Johnny B Truant, David Wright & Sean Platt

As well as some friends & acquaintances who published books this year, such as:

  •  Ken Hudson
  • Catriona Pollard
  • Nick Abrahams

If you’re up for a good read, or even, a challenge to improve, dip in to my Top Ten and settle back.

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