Books Read in 2014

books-read-2014-covers

My reading suffered a little this year, due to relentless listening of podcasts, and subscribing to way too many magazines. I also started quite a few books which I never finished. But luckily I did finish a handful of really good books, some of which are below. 3 works of fiction, none of which were outstanding, and 9 works of business literature, four of which were excellent.

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

The plot sounded interesting, plus it a was the début novel of journalist and screenwriter Hayes, who worked on Mad Max, From Hell, and Payback, among many others. The book started off well, but ultimately it faded about half way in, and it was far, far too long. I minor waste of time. Although it’s now been optioned for a movie by MGM, which might prove to be more interesting than the book. 2/5

The Social Media MBA: Your Competitive Edge in Social Media Strategy Development and Delivery by Christer Holloman

Sometimes I think these social media books will tell me something startling and new, but I’m coming to the conclusion that they never will. Social media is simply not that complicated, and it just means engaging more on the different channels, and providing more value to clients and prospects. This book was readable and nice, but not worth the time. 2/5

A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

This began as a blog, looking for insights on how questions drive breakthrough discoveries. The book is solid enough, and reminds us that corporation innovation requires brave people to ask tough questions, and relentless look for new ways to see things. Enjoyable. 3/5

Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore

A fresh and updated version of the absolute classic on marketing new technology. A fantastic read from start to finish, will no doubt come back to again and again. And the new edition is worth the money, with relevant contemporary updates. 5/5

The Pursuit of Wow! by Tom Peters

I’d like to read everything by Tom Peters one day. He is prescient and timeless. His style irritates some people, but not me. I can’t say it’s one of his best, as I haven’t read everything by him, but Seth Godin recommends this one highly. 5/5

Think Like a Freak: How to Think Smarter about Almost Everything by Steven Levitt, Stephen Dubner

From the guys that wrote Freakonomics – which was a good book. However this one just feels like them cashing in on their brand for as long as they can. It’s just not that revelatory, insightful, or good. 2/5

Getting Things Done: How to achieve stress-free productivity by Dave Allen

If you’re in need of a tidy-up on your productivity habits, then this is a very good place to start. Allen goes deep, covering everything from how to handle your email, to filing methods for your paperwork. It’s packed with great advice and tips that anybody will benefit from, and the central idea of freeing the mind so you can focus on one thing at a time, is timeless advice. (See my full review – and podcast discussion – here) 4/5

Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The 00 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross

Ross used to work for SalesForce.com in the early days, and helped to set up an inside sales team which generated over $100m revenue. He went on to use the same methods for his consulting company, helping other firms to establish the same process. If you’re in sales or marketing, you might find this useful – I am, and I did. 4/5

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

I read Slaughterhouse 5 many years ago – and finally picked up another Vonnegut book this year. Supposedly his second best. I don’t care much for his stories, but I do like his style. Cat’s Cradle is not a brilliant book, but it’s enjoyable mainly for the Vonnegutness of it all. 3/5

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Not great. Maybe this worked well in the 80’s, but today it feels a little laboured and dull. One funny scene in the bathroom, but the rest was self-indulgent, and tedious. 2/5

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt

A really interesting look behind the scenes at Google, from the former CEO Eric Schmit, and executive Jonathan Rosenberg. Many people will say this is just more self-promoting of the famous Google culture, but I won’t be so cynical – it’s a fun read, and there’s a lot of good advice other companies can use in here. Recommended. (See my full review here) 5/5

Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

I’m glad I finished the year on a high – this was a terrific read. Peter Thiel doesn’t mess about, he’s straight to the point, and his theme is nothing less than improving the way society works, through the vehicle of startups. Excellent stuff. 5/5

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