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The 10 best books I read in 2015

01/05/16

This post is more than one year old. It might not reflect my current skills and convictions.

At the beginning of 2015, I decided to start reading books on a regular basis and it was one of the best decisions of my life. The amount of knowledge I was able to gain in such a short period of time is just amazing. I read approximately 50 books during the past year and many of them were absolutely brilliant. It’s been a very hard choice but here are my 10 favorites.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I discovered this book by reading an article on Joel Gascoigne’s blog about a year ago. Joel is the CEO of Buffer and I’m very interested in knowing what kind of books successful people like to read. It was his #1 pick and I definitely wanted to know how a simple book could have such an influence on his life and his business. It exactly had the same kind of impact on me when I read it and it changed for good the way I behave and interact with people.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull (2014)

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Ed Catmull is the co-founder of Pixar (with John Lasseter) and probably one of the most talented scientists in the world. He invented many algorithms and various technologies in the field of 3D (Z-buffering, for example) and he was among the first ones to use 3D computer graphics in films. Great technology is unfortunately not enough to create a great motion picture. You also need a great story, and this is why John Lasseter was the perfect partner to create this great company we all admire. This book explains how Pixar works from the inside and how they are able to deliver amazing movies with hundreds of people involved and tight deadlines. Spoiler: it’s way harder than it looks.

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan (2013)

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

An article by Noah Weiss, VP of Product Management at Foursquare, made me discover this book. It explains with well-chosen examples the most important concepts of statistics. I remember I didn’t like very much my statistics courses at the university but I think I would have loved them if I had Charles Wheelan as a professor back then. In 2016, I’ll try to read Naked Economics by the same author.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2012)

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk a few years ago and loved it so I decided to read the book as well. I’m myself an introvert and I always had a hard time to accept it because I thought it was something negative, especially in this modern world where talking louder than everyone else is seen as a great asset. Thanks to Susan Cain, I know that being an introvert is not a bad thing but can actually be a pretty good thing.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business by Clayton M. Christensen (1997)

The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business

A must read for all the entrepreneurs out there. In this book, Clayton M. Christensen explains that you should invest time and money in unready disruptive technologies soon enough if you don’t want your company to die prematurely. It means that you shouldn’t always listen to your customers as they will push you to use your resources to improve the existing, and not to create new things. Remember the quote by Henry Ford with the faster horses? Even if we are unsure Ford ever said it, this book is pretty much about that.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (2014)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

I choose this one as the best book I read in 2015. It’s the history of humankind explained in a few hundred pages. It will make you understand the world we live in, why things are how they are now and how simple events in the past could have changed everything. This book was extremely enlightening to me and I felt more complete after reading it.

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz (2014)

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

I already talked about this book in another blog article last year. As you probably noticed, I read many nutrition books in 2015 but if you only want to read one, go for this one. It’s actually much more than a nutrition book, it’s a very documented investigation that will make you understand why the nutrition world is such a mess and especially why fat has always been wrongly seen as the main enemy.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe (2014)

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

The funniest book I read last year. Randall Munroe is an ex-NASA engineer and the author of the famous comic xkcd. In “What If?”, he tries to answer absurd questions with real science, like “From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground?“, “How quickly would the ocean’s drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space was created at the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water is being drained?” or “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

Ubik by Philip K. Dick (1969)

Ubik

I don’t always read fiction, but when I do, it’s science fiction. If you liked Total Recall, Blade Runner and Minority Report, you will like Ubik as the work of Philip K. Dick has been the inspiration for all these movies. Ubik has not been adapted yet even if it’s a masterpiece in my opinion. I recommend it to anyone, not only sci-fi aficionados.

The Martian by Andy Weir (2011)

The Martian

I read the book a few weeks before the movie came out. It’s so intense and addictive I read it in only a few days. I truly recommend it to people who are into science and problem solving. It’s also a very good lesson for entrepreneurs: don’t stop fighting as long as you’re still alive (or your startup is still alive). If you don’t have time to read another book, go watch the movie while it’s not too late. It’s also very enjoyable.

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