My 2017 Reading List:
Looking back on what was a hell of way to start my 20s with a bang studying, living, and working abroad in China throughout 2016, I’ve fully dived into the world of books and podcasts to pass the time on trains, planes, and more importantly to avoid awkward eye contact with K-pop enthusiasts in hotpot restaurants while I down noodles by the boatload.
Below are just a couple of digs I’ve recently enjoyed this year and drawn enough inspiration from to want to pass on to you via cliche blog post. Check them out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear back if you have any recommendations or thoughts of your own about what you’ve liked and digested in 2016, and have on your reading list for 2017.
1. Tools of Titans-Tim Ferris
First is reserved for my favorite. In his latest book, entrepreneur and strategist Tim Ferriss shares the life secrets, routines, and mindsets of world-class performers he has interviewed on his #1 iTunes business podcast . For anyone who hasn’t heard of this guy, he’s essentially an extremely awesome Princeton educated human guinea pig who gets genuine thrill from treating his life as one huge science experiment, while exploring what makes successful people throughout the world tick. I absolutely love this guy, hope to meet him someday, and started listening to his podcast to make use of my morning subway commutes through Beijing when I was interning at UNESCO’s experimental school in the city this past summer. Lots of good stuff.
10/10 would recommend if you want exposure to new ways of healthy thinking and action to provoke changes in your personal or professional life. Equal parts entertaining and useful.
“The goal is not to simply eliminate the bad, but to pursue and experience the best in the world.”-Tim Ferris
2. Art of War-Sun Tzu
My Chinese Business Practices professor appropriately began our first syllabus class with, “If you run into Chinese people and they find out you haven’t read this book, they will point at you, laugh, and you will look stupid.” Incentive enough for me to grab this book on the ever so convenient Kindle. Art of War is the equivalent to a westerner’s Shakespeare. There was no greater war leader and strategist than Chinese military general Sun Tzu. He pretty much was a real-life Kungfu Panda/total badass. His philosophical work on how to be a great leader and ensure you win in work, management, and life is summed up in this ancient piece of literature that I’m mid-way through, loving, and will spend the Chinese New Year finishing reading in my favorite Shanghai coffee shop.
“Know yourself and you will win all battles.”-Sun Tzu
3. Zen and the Art of Happiness-Chris Prentiss
Sorry to be cliche, but ever since I landed in China, I’ve kind of become obsessed with studying Eastern philosophy. My time in the east has been a good opportunity to create a spiritual petri dish and explore these philosophical origins of the world that have now weaved their way into my personal mantras and goals of life and living. Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure I’ll be that 40-year old Buddhist with a Mac and bamboo in my minimalist apartment covered in Asian décor, sorry about it mom, it’s just a phase!!
With that being said, Zen is the one self-help spirituality book I’ll throw into the mix. This easy surface-level read is a good introduction to Eastern philosophy and self-help goodness. You’ll learn how to adapt to life’s inevitable changes, how to deal with stress in a healthy way, and how to nurture a mindful happiness in your daily life. Most importantly for me during my time overseas, it highlights how to invite magnificent experiences into your life and create a personal philosophy that will sustain you through anything.
4. Extreme Ownership: How NAVY Seals Lead and Win-Jocko Willink
INTENSE! Former Navy SEAL officer Jocko Willink’s book dives headfirst into his experiences overseas while fighting in the Battle of Ramadi. He gears these military lessons from his deployment in Iraq into life and business teachings that are digestible for the normal person. He is also host of the Jocko Podcast that I often tune into. This guy’s your classic American bulldog and gets my blood pumping.
“ The most important lesson, which was crystallized in my mind during the Battle of Ramadi, was taking ownership of everything in my world, the good and the bad. This became clear when, a few short weeks into the deployment, we had a mission go horribly wrong. Mistakes were made. Men were wounded and men were killed. I could have looked to blame other people—but I knew in order to maintain my integrity as a leader and as a man—I could blame no one but myself. I took responsibility for everything that had gone wrong and also for creating and implementing new tactics, techniques, and procedures to ensure nothing like that ever happened again. Leadership starts with ownership—ownership of everything.”-Jocko
5. Redefining Globalization-Pankaj Ghemawat
I’m halfway through this piece and can’t get enough (partly because he uses China in half his case studies). Published by Harvard Business Review, New York University professor Pankaj’s work explores the framework of globalization and the forces behind it that influences everything from the crazy historical cultural changes we are living through to the cold Coke siting in your fridge. It’s an academia read but super enjoyable if you want to get a better picture of how the gears of business grind between countries around our world, especially nowso during the Trump era (brb I need a drink or 4).
6. Confessions of an Advertising Man-David Ogilvy
Although published back in 1963, this is a must-read for me as I am currently interning at Ogilvy & Mather in Shanghai. For anyone who loves Mad Men or is interested in marketing/branding, the legendary Ogilvy reigns as the “Father of Advertising”, built one of the most successful agencies in the world, and has a lot of inspirational insight in and out of the business sphere. This book revolutionized the world and ad industry in the 20th century, and covers everything from management, corporate ethics, office politics, and good business practice.
“We admire people who work hard, who are objective and thorough. We detest office politicians, toadies, bullies, and pompous asses. We abhor ruthlessness. The way up our ladder is open to everybody. In promoting people to top jobs, we are influenced as much by their character as anything else.” —David Ogilvy
7. The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age-Reid Hoffman
Coauthored by the aspirational 21st century founder of LinkedIn, this bold but practical guide for employees, recent grads, managers, and executives highlights how to recruit and retain talent in the shifting employee to employer relationship in today’s rapidly changing world. The solution? Stop thinking of employees as either family or free agents. Think of them instead as allies on a tour of duty. I’m a fan.
P.S. JUST GIVE ME A PING PONG TABLE, AN EXPRESSO MACHINE, AND UNLIMITED VACATION TIME I’LL BE YOUR TYPICAL MILLENNIAL WORKER BEE! Oh..and like definitely 2 creative spaces and beanbags, thx!!
8. Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person-Arthur Kleinman
Penned by a bunch of Harvard and Berkeley peeps, I’m currently reading through Deep China for my one of my classes while studying abroad in Shanghai taught by a fantastic visiting US professor Hugh Shapiro. With the rapid rise of China, this book highlights how millenial Chinese find themselves grappling with their emotional and moral lives due to the waves of social and economic transformation currently flipping traditional ways of living and working upside down. This is must-read for anyone at all interested in China, and it covers everything from economy to sex and power in rising Asia.
9. Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble-Dan Lyons
Disrupted is a messy, tell-all account from the cynical perspective of seasoned Silicon Valley novelist and journalist Dan Lyons who essentially recollects his process of losing his shit amidst obnoxious start-up tech culture at Hubspot. While he spends the whole book cry-baby complaining about his encounters with freshly minted college graduates and fad-chasing venture capitalists in the valley, he does so in an extremely hysterical and compulsive way that is pure entertainment satire. 10/10 would recommend.
10. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Another stereotypical book selection by a millennial I suppose but it’s so good, so creatively inspiring (real artists ship), such a raw holistic picture of who Jobs was, and I’ve already reread it twice in the span of 6 months. @magicgenie, please just give me an hour and a 6-pack, I would have loved to shoot the shit with Steve.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”-Steve Jobs
I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂
Leave a comment/recommendation below!