Like my best books of 2009 post, this is not about books that were released in 2010, but about the ones I actually read during this year. Last year there were ten books worth mentioning, but this time the number is smaller.
Almost exactly a year ago I started dating a girl (who’s sitting opposite to me in a coffee shop as I am writing this), spent the spring balancing between school and work, and since August we have been living and studying together in Seoul, South Korea. With so much things to do and see and a new language to learn, there simply hasn’t been that much time to focus on reading.
Nevertheless, here is my TOP 5 of 2010:
Good Calories, Bad Calories
by Gary Taubes
It took me a long time to finish this book, and after reading so much about nutrition already I had a hard time immersing myself into “just another diet book”. However, Good Calories Bad Calories caught me completely by surprise. This is not a diet book. It is a book about science in nutrition research, obesity, and disease prevention by dietary means. And not just any book, but the most extensively researched and scientifically backed book that I have ever read in my life.
If you have read my original post about weight loss, the consequent three posts about where caloric balance hypothesis goes wrong, what actually causes us to accumulate fat, and what we should do in practice to get fit, and you still have doubts about the whole thing, then read this book!
The War of Art
by Steven Pressfield
I finished this small book last night at 2am, just a few days after getting it. For over a year now I have thought about starting my own business without actually getting anywhere closer to it, besides scribbling a few business ideas on my notebook in the middle of the night when my brain is on overdrive and I can’t get any sleep. I just thought that I’d figure it out after my studies in South Korea are finished and I have two months of holiday to work on it before returning to Finland.
However, earlier this month partly by luck, whim, and coincidence I ended up getting a small role in a Korean TV show called Athena, and it had much more profound effect on me than I had dared to imagine. I loved the feeling of everyone in the set putting their hearts and minds into making the show as good as they can – even though it meant spending the whole night in the shoot.
I want to part of something like that, and therefore once again I got stuck with the problem of what I actually want to do “when I grow up.” I am halfway through getting a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship, yet I am thinking about throwing myself into movies. More precisely writing and directing. Storytelling.
The War of Art is about an inner force that Pressfied has named ‘Resistance’. It is what keeps us from realizing our potential and pursuing our dreams. It is what stops writers from writing and entrepreneurs from starting companies. It makes the songwriter watch TV, surf the Internet and play video games when she should be writing and composing instead.
Not only does Pressfield’s elegant prose describe and help you recognize the enemy, but within this book one can find a way to beat it.
Where the Good Calories, Bad Calories is the most important book of the year with the potential to even change public policy, The War of Art has been personally the most significant book I have read.
The Power of Full Engagement
by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
This book looks into what separates the very best athletes in the world from those who are by all means great, but never seem to reach the top of the mountain. It then applies these principles into business world. It is a productivity book that does not focus on methods, techniques and systems, but on how to feel being at your optimal level of focus, concentration, and productivity.
I started applying the Full Engagement principles in my own life already before reading the book and even wrote an article about them for Lateral Action blog. These principles emphasize rest and recovery for superiorsustained performance, and the amount of energy we have depends on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength. These aspects need to be in balance and they need to be nurtured in order to achieve both high productivity and satisfaction in one’s life.
by Neil Rackham
If you are at all interested in selling and sales techniques, this is the book to read. It carries way more weight than most of the books written by sales ‘gurus’ because there is actual scientific evidence to show why and how the SPIN method works.
The book makes a difference between small one-time sales and large corporate selling, and shows through actual research why methods that work for small scale sales are causing the other type of sale to fail. It provides a clear method on what to do in different phases of the sale in order to succeed.
by Ken Robinson
PS. I just realized couple days ago, that I forgot to mention arguably the most beautifully written book I read the whole year. That book is The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. It is basically about being a man, and what it means in the modern age. I can easily recommend it to any guy for its content, and to anyone interested in books simply because of the writing style:
“Closing down in the midst of pain is a denial of a man’s true nature. A superior man is free in feeling and action, even amidst great pain and hurt. If necessary, a man should live with a hurting heart rather than a closed one. He should learn to stay in the wound of pain and act with spontaneous skill and love even from that place.”