The Best Books I Read in 2018
When I was a kid I hated reading. The books we had to read in school didn’t interest me. I dreaded taking the Accelerated Reader tests. In high school I started reading books and magazines about photography but still wasn’t big on reading much else. It wasn’t until well after I graduated from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2013 that I grew to love reading. In 2014 I started reading more, and now reading is one of my favorite hobbies. I have a very eclectic and esoteric taste in books. In 2018 I read seventy six books on topics as diverse as nootropics, minimalism, pipe smoking, Sigmund Freud, old timey medicinal practices, social awkwardness, personal finance, aesthetics, etiquette, and the scottish covenanters. As I looked thru my goodreads to see which books receiving a 5 star rating I would talk about in this blog post I was surprised that only one book I read this year dealt directly with photography. Ansel Adam’s classic The Camera: which held up surprisingly well despite its age and the advancements in technology. Here are some of my favorite books I read in 2018 on topics ranging from business to non-fiction to theology.
The Thank You Economy – Gary Vaynerchuk
The Thank You Economy is one of the best business books I’ve read in some time. Gary Vee’s books are far less crass than his podcasts and videos, which I appreciate. Some of the major themes in the book are summarized in the last chapter of the book.
“Care—about your customers, about your employees, about your brand—with everything you’ve got.
Erase any lines in the sand—don’t be afraid of what’s new or unfamiliar.
Show up first to market whenever possible, early the rest of the time.
Instill a culture of caring into your business by:
Mentally committing to change
Setting the tone through your words and actions Investing in your employees
Hiring culturally compatible DNA, and spotting it within your existing team
Being authentic—whether online or offline, say what you mean, and mean what you say
Empowering your people to be forthright, creative, and generous
Speak your customers’ language.
Allow your customers to help you shape your brand or business, but never allow them to dictate the direction in which you take it.
Build a sense of community around your brand.
Arrange for traditional and social media to play Ping-Pong and extend every conversation. Direct all of your marketing initiatives toward the emotional center, and to the creative extremes.
Approach social media initiatives with good intent, aiming for quality engagements, not quantity.
Use shock and awe to blow your customers’ minds and get them talking.
If you must use tactics, use “pull” tactics that remind consumers why they should care about your brand. If you’re small, play like you’re big; if you’re big, play like you’re small.
Create a sense of community around your business or your brand.
Don’t be afraid to crawl before you run.”
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success – Shawn Stevenson
Since graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2013 I have struggled off an on with insomnia. This is primarily due to my inconsistent sleep cycle from being self employed. Sleep Smarter greatly helped me sleep better in 2018. Stevenson doesn’t just give practical things to start and stop doing but explains the science behind why these practices work. Using these techniques I was able to wean myself off of melatonin and get on a far better sleep cycle for the majority of the year.
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse In The Age Of Show Business – Neil Postman
I found a copy of Postman’s classic for ninety-nine cents at Goodwill in Mt Pleasant. Postman shows how we are headed towards the Huxleyan dystopia of Brave New World due to our obsession with entertainment and how we got to this point. Not a happy read but an eye opening one.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir Of A Family and Culture In Crisis – JD Vance
JD Vance’s autobiographical Hillbilly Elegy tells the story of the author’s impoverished upbringing in Kentucky and Ohio and how he later became a Marine then Yale graduate. Raw and vulgar at points but necessary. One of my biggest takeaways from this book was the importance of social capital.
Living In God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Approach To Christianity and Culture – David VanDrunen
My church went thru David VanDrunen’s Living In God’s Two Kingdoms during our Christian Education classes in late 2018. VanDrunen goes into detail explaining the common kingdom, rooted in the Noahic covenant, and the redemptive kingdom, rooted in the Abrahamic covenant. Learning about two kingdom theology has greatly impacted how I practically live my life and is the reason I have joined several of the organizations I am involved with.
I hope to read at least a book a week in 2019. To see more of what I am currently reading check out my Goodreads profile.