In 2016, for the first time ever, I kept track of every book I read for the entire year. Twenty-six in all, or an average of one every two weeks. Which used to seem like a lot to me until I compared myself to prolific readers like, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ryan Holiday. But not to compare myself is something that was reinforced for me this year from the one person in that list that you may have never heard of before. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We hear all the time that quality is more important than quantity (though I would certainly argue that when it comes to reading the latter inherently helps with the former), and by that measure 2016 was the most impactful year of reading for my life in more than a decade.
I read many great books this year (Winners Never Cheat, Mind Hacking, Elon Musk to name a few), but one of them stood far above the rest. So much so that since I finished the book (October 2nd), I have already purchased and given away three copies as gifts. It has become my “go-to” gift for all graduates – high school or college (along with a copy of The Richest Man In Babylon).
Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is The Enemy was a revelation for me. I have tagged and highlighted many passages, but it’s a bit moot as there was something on every single page that smacked me between the eyes. It’s not as popular as his 2014 release The Obstacle Is the Way, which I also read in 2016, but it brings to mind one of the things I learned from Ego Is the Enemy – so what. That’s no way to measure the value of things. There will always be someone who sells more and someone who sells less. Even if that person is yourself.
On the surface it’s a book about personal philosophy, but that tag is too generic and does the book a disservice. Mainly because the first thought that pops to mind when you think about a philosophy book is…. well, for me, sleep. Boredom. “Unfinished”. But Holiday’s book is 100% rooted in the pragmatic. In other words – shit you can actually use. Ideas that are relevant when you have deadlines looming, bosses breathing down your neck, and a Time Viper standing in your doorway insisting that his weekend hunting trip is more important than whatever you were working on when he started talking.
Both my wife and the two owners of the company I work for both mentioned how much of a change for the better they noticed with me during the last quarter of 2016. Naturally I took all of the credit. Hopefully Ryan won’t mind. All the same, maybe I need to re-read Ego Is the Enemy again in 2017.
Speaking of 2017, the picture above is my “on-deck circle” for books I plan to read in 2017. This miniature book shelf built into the wall right by my bedside table was my birthday present last year from my bride. Before this, my on-deck circle was in various piles all around the house. It’s one of the best, most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received. She rocks that way.
To start 2017 I’m reading the expanded and updated version of Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Work-Week as well as Ready Player One. For those with sharp eyes you’ll notice another Ryan Holiday book on the shelf. It’s a time-honored Texas tradition to get the most out of a well that’s a top producer.
Whether you read 2 books, 20 books, or 200 books – what was the most impactful book you read in 2016? Leave it in the comments and sell me on why it should be added to my on-deck circle. I’ll post an updated picture around the middle of the year for the curious.