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The Best Books I Read in 2011

Your 2011 might have been BIG. Or your 2011 might have been small. Mine was more like a resetting of priorities. With my divorce finalized and my focus on writing returned…I was able to dive into more books this year than ever. If you’re looking for a list of great reads, check here first. Oh and inclusion on this list is all about when I got to the book, NOT if it was published in 2011.

Psycho Cybernetics
by Maxwell Maltz
I love this book! Delve into the power of your subconscious mind to discover your hidden ability to win. Not a bunch of self help nonsesense, this book (this is AN OLD book by the way) will help you trust the hidden parts of your wetware. This book also explains why my best college papers were written the night before they were due. (or was that the morning of?). If you want to get more power from that thing between your ears. Get this book.
Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

The Ultimate Sales Machine
by Chet Holmes
Having done Corporate America for as long as I have, I found this book to be SPOT ON. I’d threaten to give this to EVERY sales manager in your world. Tie them down. Make them read this. Give it to corporate owners of small to mid-size businesses. I promise, anyone who reads this book will have a better understanding of what makes a sale more complete for both the customer and the company. Get this book and read it. Today.
The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
This book about Steve Jobs will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you understand why Apple’s products kick ass. I’m still confounded when I see people fighting with their Windows computers. I remember those days. What these people don’t realize is that Apple and Jobs were Innovators. The heart of what we know to be true about Apple products is that they rock…not because they are just pretty. But because Apple’s stuff WORKS BETTER! Everything else is like driving something from the dark ages.
Steve Jobs

Accidental Creative
by Todd Henry
My father turned me onto this book. If a guy that’s 78 years old is still working every day in an engineering capacity for US Aerospace, then by god, I’m going to read what he recommends. This book is a nuts-and-bolts break down that speaks to creatives. I know first hand how it can be intimidating for an organization to house a creative. I also know first hand how easy it can be for a creative to get overwhelmed. This book helps put the whole process into perspective and keeps you off those three martini lunches.
The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

The Tiger
by John Vaillant
The cover of this book says “A true story of vengeance and survival.” And it delivers. The source of this vengeance and survival plays out in northern Russia between man and tiger. Yes. A tiger. Didn’t think they had anything but bears, vodka and bull-sha-viks in Russia? Think again. Here is what I posted to Mr. Vaillant’s Facebook Wall the other day. He was kind enough to respond. Which was very cool of him! “This book is completely absorbing! I’m loving the chance peek into Russia’s hard-scrabble history, the canvas on which this tale of The Tiger unfolds. Thank you Mr. Vaillant for sharing such a treasure with us.”
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival (Borzoi Books)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
by T.S. Elliot
A friend of mine wrote a fantastic article about the origin or Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In that article he mentioned some of the most popular books of 1939, the year of the Great Depression. The Book of Practical Cats by TS Elliot was one of them. Now. This is a tiny book of poems that add anthropomorphic qualities to cats. It covers the naming of cats. And then also delves into the lives of a few cats. It’s very funny. Great for reading to young kids. You can practically get through it in one sitting. Or two visits to the bathroom–depending on where you do most of your reading. It’s cute. But it left me thinking that Mr. Elliot was HIGH as a kite when he wrote it. Hey, just saying.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Ready Player One
by Ernest Cline
Wow my inner GEEK loved this book. Hell. My outer geek loved this book. If you grew up in the 80s, owned an Atari, Commodore 64 or an IBM PC, and played Adventure games like ZORK, dug Monty Python and have a pretty good grasp on 80’s pop culture trivia with a dab of MMORPG, then crank up the Devo and read this book. It will send you back to the future.
Ready Player One

How History’s Greatest Pirates Pillaged, Plundered, and Got Away With It: The Stories, Techniques and tactics of the Most Feared Sea Rovers from 1500–1800
by Benerson Little
Wow, this book came at me from left field. But the screenplay that I just finished in December (the big reason why I haven’t been writing on my blog as much) required that I get some good knowledge of Pirates. Not today’s Somali ass-clowns in their motor boats. I’m talking about real pirates like Black Beard, Barbarossa, and Grace O’Malley (didn’t you know that there were women pirates too?) Terrifying. If you like Pirates and Buccaneers and want to delve into their sinister histories, then read this book.
How History’s Greatest Pirates Pillaged, Plundered, and Got Away With It: The Stories, Techniques, and Tactics of the Most Feared Sea Rovers from 1500-1800

Inbound Marketing
by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
When I was first turned onto this book, I was like… yea right. Another book about marketing. Oy. I’m sooo tired of books about marketing. It’s all such a bunch of bull shit. Except for this book. If you are running a company, working for a company, working for yourself, or planning on working for yourself or a company, read this book. The information here is exactly what more companies should be doing to get a handle on their marketing expenditures. And for those companies that are stuck doing 1960’s advertising in a 2012 world… you won’t have to worry about it. You won’t be here tomorrow anyway.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (New Rules Social Media Series)

Content Rules
by Ann Hadley & C.C. Chapman
I really liked this book. But I liked the Kindle book better than the Audible book. Combine this book with Inbound Marketing and you have IMMEDIATE access to a modern marketing plan that will kick ass. I know because we’ve been applying a lot of these techniques for years with our own clients. I keep this as an active book on my Kindle so that I can go back and read through my notes. This book will help you jump start your company marketing on the Internet. Yes…it’s harder than it looks. But are you brave enough?
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business (New Rules Social Media Series)

Write Great Fiction–Dialogue
by Gloria Kempton
When you’re writing a novel, a screenplay or a bit show for a lazy Saturday afternoon, and no one knows your name you need ALL the help you can get. I found this book, which is part of the Write Great Fiction series, to be extremely engaging and useful. Some yahoo on Amazon wrote a negative complaint about the book’s selection of certain scenes was inappropriate. That person was clearly some sort of Lord of the Rings/D and D purist who has no real business sharing their myopia with us. This is a good book. If you want to give your characters more depth, read this book.
Write Great Fiction – Dialogue

Rum Diary
by Hunter S. Thompson
By far one of my favorite all time Hunter S. Thompson books. Something about this early work of his that feels sharper, cleaner and slightly tamer than his later works. After Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail of ’72, this is the book to read. Or maybe just read this and the Curse of Lono and then spend the next two days at the bar–thinking that you are Hunter himself. (I went through that phase years ago. Miracle I didn’t get my ass arrested.) Anyway… I love HST. My first X-wife’s brother turned me onto him in college and I’ve never found better. No one can duplicate the great Hunter. And I love what Johnny Depp has done with his memory. This is one of the few books I actually read twice. What about the movie? I haven’t seen it yet. Sue me.
The Rum Diary: A Novel

The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World
by Justin Pollard and Howard Reid
Let your inner egghead out. Delve into the history of the most amazing city of antiquity… a city formed on knowledge. The epicenter of all known knowledge at the time hundreds of years before and after the birth of Christ. Enter Alexandria and walk through her streets. A refreshing historical portrait that’s not tainted by the lens of religious dogma and fear. At least I didn’t feel like I was in Sunday School when I was reading this. Hear her philosophers and inventors and stand by as the library, museum and city are founded and then returned to the sands of time. If you want to sharpen your horns against organized, religion, this is a good book to have in your bag.
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World

The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World
by Alexander Roy
My motorhead-anti-authority nephew (who is building a COBRA in his garage) is the coolest for turning me onto this book. If you’re into things like seeing how fast you can drive from New York to California, and want to see how a group of people actually got behind this lifestyle…the inspiration for the Cannon Ball Run, then read this book. But make some time. You won’t want to put it down. And then take a few deep breaths before you get behind the wheel. If you don’t already have the bug for pissing off cops and blowing through speed traps, this book will give it to you. Remember, it’s only a problem if you get caught.
The Driver: My Dangerous Pursuit of Speed and Truth in the Outlaw Racing World

Moonwalking with Einstein
by Joshua Foer
How could I forget this book?! How could I forget the list of things that they make you remember at the beginning (check me): pickled herring, cottage cheese, smoked salmon, bottles of wine and some socks. Well. That’s not perfect…but pretty good. How do you increase your memory? Well, if you’re trying to remember a name, like say for instance Diogenes Laertius, I think of Lady Di on her knees getting it doggy style. But that’s just me. This book WILL help you with your memory. Even just reading it I have increased my ability to recall people’s names and details of the past sort of automatically. Yes. That means it’s retroactive. And the more sex you apply to your memory hooks, the better your memory hooks will be. Now how can you go wrong with that?
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
If you are in the software development business, or in any sort of business to be creative and you have a product you need to deliver, you need to read this book. Written by the guys that created Basecamp, there is lots to learn in here. And if you don’t know what Basecamp is, where the hell have you been? It’s only the best project management software out there today.

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
by William L. Shirer
This is a massive book. It’s about 72 hours of audio. I swear if you try to read this all…without some sort of break between chapters or parts, you’ll go insane. If you’re like me, and take on the affectations of those you are reading about, then be careful of this book. This book shows you just HOW vicious people can be to other people. It also shows you how the 3rd Reich grew in power. This book dissects exactly how Hitler-Ass-Clown and his merry gang of fuck faces grew their power base by degrees. Read this book to discover how tyranny can creep into government and eventually own a people and a people’s destruction.  This is a good book that reminds us all that government  isn’t always ON the side of RIGHT.
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Cleopatra: A Life
Stacy Schiff
If you are at all interested in discovering more about the amazing Cleopatra, this is the book for you. The splendor of this period of time is something that can only be imagined by modern people. Not an Egyptian but of Greek Macedonian descent Cleopatra does not necessarily beguile her MEN (Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony) because of her beauty…but because she was SMART. This is  an extremely engaging book about a figure whose history is clouded in the misogynistic anti-pagan revisionist collections that we’re so used to having thrown around. Yes. she was married to her 10 year old brother. Whom she had killed. Nutty. But hey, when in Rome…right. Read this with the Rise and Fall of Alexandria to get a full understanding of the times and how the Library of Alexandria was so important in the formation of Cleopatra’s intelligence.
Cleopatra: A Life


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