December 2014 Reading

I was able to spend time with a few good books this past December, so in this post I’m sharing some of my favorite recent reads. Perhaps you’ll be moved to add a few of these to your reading list for 2015.

1. Kesrith by C. J. Cherryh

Get Kesrith on Amazon

Kesrith  is the first book in C. J. Cherryh’s trilogy about 3 species figuring out how to work together.

The three species are: 1) the Regul, who are short, squat and not very mobile; 2) Humans (you know what we look like); and 3) the Mri, who are a bit taller and more slender than Humans.

In this story, the Regul employ Mri as mercenaries against Humans since Regul don’t fight. As the humans are about to land on Kesrith the Regul try to kill off all the Mri to please the humans that they are now in a treaty with. A treaty which violates the treaty with the Mri and Regul because the Regul are supposed to keep a planet where only Regul and Mri touch foot.

Just to keep things interesting, of course 2 Mri survive, along with a single Human who was captured before the genocide. This thrusting the three of them into a tough circumstance where they each come away changed.

In the end, the Mri are captured by Humans…and we don’t really know what’s going to happen to them next.

2. The Good Creative by Paul Jarvis

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This is a great and fast read by Paul Jarvis with 18 (plus a bonus 19th) tips on being a creative.

Some people may not consider themselves creatives. If that’s you, take a look at this excerpt from Paul’s introduction and reconsider whether you may actually be a creative.

You’re a creative if you: Make anything, anything at all. Transform your ideas into something tangible. Curate or edit. Lead or teach. Put what you know out into the world for others to watch, taste, read or hear. It’s a wide net right? – The Good Creative

I agree and do indeed believe developers like me are creatives.

So while this book is firmly targeted to more conventional artists, the book includes a healthy dose of awesome advice for anyone running a business, or working as a developer, or…living on Earth.

So that’s everyone.

I’d recommend this book as a very quotable short book with lots of great philosophical takeaways for your business.

3. Everything I Know by Paul Jarvis

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This is my second Paul Jarvis book of the month, but he actually wrote this one before The Good Creative, and after the book I read in November titled Be Awesome at Online Business.

Everything I Know most closely resembles the content of The Good Creative, and to me seems like the real first stab that Paul took at the content.

It’s not a bad read really, just very similar to his previous work, and less coherent. This book does still contain some great takeaways and awesome quotes, though, so you might find some value in it.

My favourite quote is:

Everyone I know who’s good at what they do isn’t good because they have magic fairy dust or shoot unicorns out their ass.

Do I recommend this book? Sort of. I’d recommend you read The Good Creative first, and if you want a bit more of the same content and enjoy Paul’s writing style, then rest assured you’ll enjoy this as well.

Just don’t expect it to offer a lot of new material or concepts, or cover a bunch of additional ground.

4. Zero to One by Peter Thiel

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I listened to the audio version of this book via Audible, and my first editorial comment about this book is that the narrator could use some lessons on making content exciting.

Overall I found the message of the book interesting enough that I will be purchasing the Kindle version so I can dig deeper into the material and take notes/highlight.

One part of the book I really enjoyed was the author’s examination of how we love to hate monopoly businesses, and how we can go about creating them. Or at least how we can have our best shot at creating one.

5. Good to Great by Jim Collins

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Good to Great was my second Audible book of the month, and the best book I read in December.

I give away a copy of the best book I read every month via my email list, so subscribe if you want a chance to win a copy.

Good to Great is all about how mediocre (“good”), or even terrible companies, turned themselves around and transformed into companies with lasting success (15 years or more).

This book is full of great takeaways for entrepreneurs of any level.

I wrote a longer review of the book if you want to dig deeper, but I think it’s absolutely worth your time.

6. 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller

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Looking for a new job, or need a resume? This book contains practical direction for navigating today’s job market, but is about much more than job searching.

More than just a reference on how to get a job, this book walks you through some great exercises on finding your own purpose. Should you be working for someone else, or would self-employment be a better fit for you? Maybe you need to change fields because you’d be happier in a different field, based on your gifts and the way you’re wired.

My only caveat is that the author is a Christian, so the book does contain scripture references, and references to the belief that Christians are called to use their gifts. If you would potentially find the Christian references a turn-off, then this may not be the book for you. But it is not implicitly a Christian book, and does contain a lot of useful, practical advice.

I’m not aware of a better book for a job hunt.

7. Shon’jir by C. J. Cherryh

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Shon’jir is the second book in C. J. Cherryh’s Faded Sun trilogy (Kesrith the first).

This book follows our Mri captives out of captivity, traveling on a ship with the only Human they feel they can trust. The Human has turned the ship over to the Mri (because Mri die as captives as a matter of choice), and makes the decision to become a Mri.

The ship passes over 120 dead worlds on the journey to the original Mri homeworld, which is something of a concern to the Humans and Regul who are following the same star charts to see where the Mri are headed.

To me, the most intriguing part of this story was watching the Mri bend just a bit to accommodate a Human, but the Human bend to the point of breaking to become a Mri. The struggle is full of food for thought.

8. The Front Nine by Mike Vardy

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Written by Mike Vardy of ProductivityistThe Front Nine is a guide on getting projects out the door and starting a ‘new year’ any time you want.

I’ve written a longer review already, so here, I’ll just say that Vardy made a lot of great points in this book, but the book seemed a little heavy on the golf analogy for business. I sometimes felt like the content was more about the golf than helping me be better at business.

Those are my reads for December 2014. I hope you found something that interests you. If you read a great book in December, feel free to share it in the comments.