This blog post is devoted to sharing fourteen of my most favorite books I read in 2018. You’ll see that I like to read a variety of books. If you’re interested in learning more about a particular book, click on the book title and the link will take you to its Amazon page.

#14 – The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, Genre: Fantasy

If you enjoy reading well written novels in the fantasy genre this is the book for you.  Many of the other books in this booklist have the potential to educate, inspire and positively influence your thinking.  Not so this book.  This book is for those who enjoy a well-written tome for the sole purpose of being entertained.  This book slowly but surely turns into a real page turner that is hard to put down.  It was truly a fun read.

#13 – Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik, Genre: Biography

You’re likely thinking that I must be a progressive politically if I’m recommending a book about one of the most liberal justices on the Supreme Court.  Not so.  I read the book because I was curious why liberals today consider Ruth Bader Ginsburg a rock star of the women’s movement.  After reading the book, her rock star status is well deserved.  It gave me a greater appreciation of the injustices that were perpetrated against women during RBG’s formative years.  Justice Ginsburg is one of the most influential people over the last 50 years to transform our thinking about sexual equality.

The book also gives the reader interesting insights into the personalities of several  Supreme Court justices, both past and present.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

#12 – German Boy: A Refugee’s Story by Wolfgang W.E. Samuel, Genre: Biography

This is the true story of Wolfgang Samuel, a German nine year old boy, who in 1945 is fleeing the advancing Russian troops in the last days of World War II.  If you didn’t believe war is hell before reading this book, you will afterwards.  And if you mistakenly believed that Russian troops behave no differently than American or British forces, German refugees would beg to differ, especially the women.  It is the story of the many hardships suffered by Wolfgang’s family in order to survive and eventually start a new life in America.

#11 – Young Washington: How Wildnerness and War Forged America’s Founding Father by Peter Stark, Genre: Biography

Have you ever thought the virtuous persona that George Washington is portrayed as having was a bit over the top?  Me too.  So it is revealing to see how Washington’s character developed during his teen years through his twenties.  The author shows the maturation process that slowly changed Washington’s character from being temperamental and self-centered to the one he is known for during the Revolutionary War.  And if you would like a better understanding of the French and Indian War and the instrumental impact George Washington had in this conflict this book is for you.

#10 – The River Why by David James Duncan, Genre: Fiction

Since its publication in 1983 this novel has become a classic.  Gus Orviston is a young man who decides to leave civilization to follow his passion of fly fishing.  Gus buys a remote cabin that is situated in the northern Oregon Coast Range that has no plumbing or utilities.

It’s been a long time, decades perhaps, that I’ve laughed out loud reading a book.  But to suggest that this book is only funny would be to do it a disservice.  This book emotes many different feelings: it’s a love story of an awkward teenager falling in love with a beautiful young woman.  The author also displays an awesome respect for nature and for native Americans.  His haunting story of retrieving the corpse of a missing fisherman out of the river convinced me that the author was a master storyteller.

#9 – Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout and Thrive with the New Science of Success by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, Genre: Self-Help

The secret to sustainable success is a simple formula: Stress + Rest = Growth.  In this book, Peak Performance, the authors show in many ways how this equation holds true regardless of what you are trying to grow.  If you are really interested in improving your performance, you should incorporate the rhythm of stress and recovery into all aspects of your life.  Studies show that just-manageable challenges, those opportunities that make you feel a bit out of control, are the best for growth.  Actively seek out challenges that just barely exceed your ability.  If you want to learn the science of success this is the book for you.

If you would like to read a summary of this book, click this link.

#8 – James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney, Genre: Biography

I confess I knew very little about our fourth U.S. president before reading this book.  I came away with a new found respect for his considerable influence, arguably the most influential of all our founding fathers, regarding the making of the U.S. Constitution.

The book’s Amazon page summarizes his many accomplishments well: “Along with Thomas Jefferson, Madison would found the first political party in the country’s history—the Democratic Republicans. As Jefferson’s secretary of state, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence—and remain a republic still.”

#7 – 9 Things You Simply Must Do To Succeed in Love and Life by Dr. Henry Cloud, Genre: Self-Help

I’m a sucker for self-help books with titles like this one.  For whatever reason, I gravitate toward this book genre.  So it came as a pleasant surprise that Dr. Cloud could write content for a self-help book that I hadn’t heard before in some form or fashion.  He begins his book by introducing the reader to “déjà vu people.”  These are people who succeed in love and life because they have a pattern of behavior that they consistently follow that moves them forward.  They do not stay stuck repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  And as a result, they are getting what they have decided they want out of life, whether it be healthy relationships, a strong marriage, successful business pursuits, you name it.  Avoiding these principles can lead to disastrous consequences.  And unfortunately, over the years I’ve observed people who often ignore these principles.

If you would like to read a summary of the book, click this link.

#6 – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, Genre: Self-Help

My April 21st blog post was titled, “What do you when you get discouraged?”  I encourage you to read it if you haven’t already done so.  In this article I reference Angela Duckworth’s book.  This is a must-read book for anyone striving to succeed personally or professionally. For example, a high grit score for cadets entering West Point, is more important than any other factor in predicting whether a cadet will succeed in not dropping out during the first year at the military college. Grit is more important than intelligence, grade point average, athletic ability, leadership skills, etc.  As the author says on the inside cover of her book, “Grit is a book about what goes through your head when you fall down, and how that – not talent or luck – makes all the difference.”

If you would like to read my blog post on this book, click this link.

#5 – Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller, Genre: Social Media Marketing

Most of us are clueless on how to clarify our message so that even a caveman (the author’s attempt at humor) would understand what we do for a living.  There are seven elements of great storytelling.  Follow these steps in the storytelling process and you will attract customers who will want to do business with you.  One mistake we commonly make is believing that we are the hero in the story.  Most websites portray themselves as the hero because it’s their company that provides the product or service that comes to save the day.  Right?  WRONG!  The hero is the customer and we are the guide.  To use a Star Wars analogy, the customer is Luke Skywalker (the hero) and we are Yoda (the guide).  Get that concept wrong, and most do, and your message falls on deaf ears.  For most of us, it’s time to rewrite our website based on the concepts found in this book.

#4 – Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald, Genre: Christian Living

This book is a classic with over a million copies in print.  I first read this book in 1986.  Since my first reading, I’ve read it three more times.  This time around I read it with someone that I’m mentoring.  The life principles that the author shares can have a profound positive influence on those who read it and more importantly apply what is taught.  This book provides timeless, practical advice on how to bring order to your private world.  This a must read for anyone who is struggling with feeling overwhelmed by living the busy life but is getting little pleasure from it.

#3 – Everybody Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People by Bob Goff, Genre: Christian Living

Everyone should read this book.  It is the second New York Times bestseller by Bob Goff.  The author is an excellent storyteller with remarkable true stories to tell.  Whether he is telling of his encounter with witch doctors in Uganda or how his family befriended their next door neighbor with terminal cancer you will be uplifted and encouraged by how he approaches the people he comes in contact with.  It’s a book that I should read at the beginning of every new year to inspire me to live a life of selfless abandon.

#2 – Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide by Brandon Webb, Genre: Self-Help

In his book Mr. Webb begins with this premise: “Mastering fear is not about becoming physically stronger, or tougher, or more stoic. It’s about learning how to identify and change the conversation in your head. That ability to self-monitor and redirect your interior dialogue is what takes you from a victim mentality to a proactive mindset.”

Mastering fear is all about controlling the inner dialogue and using it to your advantage. We are not to deny our fear. Instead become aware of it and redirect it. Focus on positive action steps you can take instead of having a victim mentality. The goal is not to eliminate the fear. It is something to embrace. Harnessing fear can change the course of your destiny. The author explains that there are five legs to the journey from being fearful to using fear to accomplish our goals.

If you would like to read my blog post on this book, click this link.

#1 My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Drae & Laura Kamoie, Genre: Historical Fiction

Years ago I read the insightful biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway theater production of Hamilton when the tour came to Portland.  I highly recommend reading the book and seeing the play.  Both are excellent.

My Dear Hamilton is a fictional account of Alexander Hamilton through the eyes of his wife Eliza Hamilton.  The authors did an excellent job researching the historical background of the main characters of the book.  But what sets this book apart from others about Alexander Hamilton were the authors’ ability to add the human element to the motivations, aspirations and character flaws that are often left out of well-written biographies.

I felt like I got to know in a much deeper way the men and women of that era, not only Alexander and Eliza Hamilton, but George and Martha Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, James and Dolly Madison, the Marquis de Lafayette, and many others.  If you enjoy reading U.S. history I highly recommend this book.

Happy reading. Here’s my Christmas present to you. Click here to download for FREE the first two chapters to my newly released book, Mastering the Art of Commercial Real Estate Investing.  Have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

I’d like to hear from you. Tell me about the favorite books you’ve read this year.