I am an avid reader and this blog post is devoted to sharing eleven of my most favorite books of 2014. You will see I like to read a variety of books. If you have a favorite book you’ve recently read I would like to hear from you.
#11 – Eisenhower: The President by Stephen Ambrose
Most of us have a fairly good understanding of Dwight Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe in WWII (think D-Day). But how many of us know about Eisenhower the President? This book fills in this gap. One of the most interesting aspects in the book was how often his military advisors and politicians of both parties wanted Eisenhower to nuke our enemies. He was a lone voice of reason when others lost theirs.
#10 – Talk Like TED: 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
The author gives those of us who have a fear of public speaking the secrets of giving a TED-worthy presentation. Giving an excellent presentation is not rocket science but so few of us (including myself) have spent the time needed to learn the skills that engage the audience, persuade them of our point of view and do so in a memorable way. I disagree with one point about the book: the secrets of public speaking are not secrets. Far from it. They are mostly just common sense. I doubt if any of those ﾓsecretsﾔ will surprise you. That said, it’s still a worthy book to read.
#9 – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis
Flash Boys is about a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, postﾖfinancial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks. Michael Lewis does an incredibly good job explaining in layman’s terms the intricacies of the stock market so that we can understand how we are getting ripped off.
I have read several books in recent years about content marketing and I believe this book by Joe Pulizzi is the best of this genre. Content marketing is about creating interesting information your customers are passionate about so they actually pay attention to you. Consumers no longer buy our products or services; they buy into our approach to solving their problems. Mr. Pulizzi explains in detail how to get customers for life.
#7 – Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
This is the third book I’ve read by Malcolm Gladwell. He has a unique writing style, a story teller that conveys anecdotal stories that reveal unforeseen truths. In this book he asks the question: What makes high-achievers different? Surprisingly, the answers to this question have more to do with their upbringing or random, uncontrollable factors and much less to do with intelligence or natural abilities. It is a fascinating book of human insight.
#6 – All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
This is one of two historical fiction novels that are on my top 11 list. Ironically both books have Europe during World War II as the background for the story. This book is about a blind French teenage girl and her family trying to survive in occupied France. Interwoven with her story is the story of an orphaned German teenage boy conscripted into the German army. Their paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.
#5 – How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hoghead
The back of the book says it best: ﾓYou already know how you see the world. But do you know how the world sees you? How is your personality most likely to impress and influence the person sitting on the other side of the desk or boardroom? Once you know what makes you valuable to others, you’re more authentic and confident, and more able to make a positive impression. It all begins with understanding how the world sees you ﾖ at your best.
This is the true story of the 1936 University of Washington varsity crew that succeeds at overcoming tremendous odds to win Olympic gold in Hitler’s Germany. The author describes in great detail the sport of rowing and does so in such a way that leaves the reader impressed with all the nuances of the sport. He does an equally good job of developing the main characters of the book. At a time when most rowing clubs were for the wealthy and the elite, the University of Washington crew members were sons of loggers, fishermen and other blue collar backgrounds.
#3 – God is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg
A fascinating read for the Christian who wants a more intimate walk with God. As the back cover of the book says, ﾓIntimacy with God can happen right now if you want it. A closeness you can feel, a goodness you can taste, a reality you can experience for yourself… Connecting with him isn’t just for monks and ascetics. It’s for business people, high school students, busy moms, single men, single women… and most importantly, it’s for YOU.
#2 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is the other historical fiction novel that is in my top 11 list. Both books use World War II Europe as the background but in this case the main character is an orphaned girl living in a poor neighborhood outside of Munich, Germany. The narrator throughout the story is Death. Liesel encounters something she cannot resist ﾖ books. She learns to read and shares her stolen books with neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
#1 – Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
This book is the true story of Louie Zamperini, a track star of the 1930s who participated in the Berlin Olympics, whose Air Force plane was shot down over the Pacific during World War II, who was captured and brutally tortured by the Japanese. It is a truly inspirational story, a page turner, a book that was hard to put down and without hesitation it was the best book I read in 2014. If you only have time to read one book in the coming months, this is the one.