Best Read in 2017

I’m excited for this! It’s never occurred to me before to do any sort of retrospective on the books that I read in a year beyond posting my list of books read to the website, so I’ve definitely enjoyed sitting down and really reflecting on everything that I read last year. Without further ado, here it is:

10. Mind over Medicine by Lissa Rankin

This one was a very pleasant read, but a little less dense than I like my books to be, that’s why this one is towards the bottom of the list. She has a lot of good anecdotes to relate, and a lot of helpful tips and suggestions, so it’s certainly worth a look.

Gotta mention 11 — The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Like Rankin’s book, this one was a very pleasant read, but a little bit light when it came down to it. Similarly there were a lot of good anecdotes and a lot of good recommendations, it just lost to Mind over Medicine because in the end Rankin’s subject compelled me a little more.

9. A Woman of Independent Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

I read this one for my book group, and while it’s not one I would have picked up on my own — I usually don’t enjoy epistolary novels — I really enjoyed this one. It follows the life of a woman through the Great Depression and the world wars, from her first letter to her last in her old age. Lots of interesting reflections.

8. French Beauty Solution by Mathilde Thomas

While not really a topic I read much about, this book really packed a punch. I was impressed with just how many useful insights and helpful reflections she shared in this little book. I took action on several of her suggestions, and they’ve all proven quite effective.

7. The Best Buddhist Writing 2010 ed. by Melvin McLeod

While I’m not Buddhist, I find a lot to be inspired by in the faith, and this volume certainly did not disappoint. It was dense with inspiration and reflection, and the format of a series of essays by different authors meant that there was a rich variety of voices and topics.

6. The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

If you want a hefty volume that gives a broad overview of much of the sweep of history, you could do worse than picking up this one. Like any history book, it had its own biases, but I think this one gave a pretty fair accounting. Oh, and it went right up to the present day, which surprised me, but it was all informative.

5. Be Unstoppable by Alden M. Mills

This breezy little book was incredibly inspiring. I always had a hard time putting it down, and it really had a great message that was well put together. The story arc was pretty cute, and the real-life asides brought it a little more down to earth.

4. The Art of Happiness, 10th anniversary ed. by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

This was just a genuinely inspiring read. I always set this book down feeling a little lighter than I had when I picked it up, and it prompted a lot of introspection as well, which I appreciated. The format of the book made it pretty easy to digest, too; a series of conversations interspersed with some reflections.

3. Cracking the Coding Interview by Gayle Laakmann McDowell

I am pretty comfortable saying I would not have my current job if I hadn’t read this book. There is no way I would have done nearly as well in the coding portion of my interview if I hadn’t. While it’s a pretty intimidating volume, and it isn’t exactly light reading, it is dense with incredibly informative prose and questions.

2. Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

This one is towards the top partly just because I adore works on human interest like this, but it was very well written. It had a lot of interesting insights into life in North Korea. I was really drawn into a lot of the stories, and I appreciated the way she interwove the stories of a number of defectors all together.

1. Mastery by Robert Greene

Hands down my favorite book this year. I got so much out of it, both just by learning all these interesting details about the lives of people who achieved mastery in their chosen field, and by the insights that Greene distills from there. This is really one that I would recommend to almost anyone who enjoys reading.

And, that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed my reflections as much as I enjoyed putting them together. Happy New Year!

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