So I read a lot of books every year. Well, I have someone else read it to me, but it's basically the same thing. Audiobooks, in my opinion, are like taking a test drive: I listen to the book and if something jumps out at me, something I think I really need, I buy the book. Here is this year's list of books I have or am planning on buying for reals (last year's list can be found here):
Think Like A Rocket Scientist - Ozan Varol
It's not rocket science, they say. Well, for Ozan Varol, it actually is. Having worked at NASA for 9 years and teaching the science behind some of the most complex systems created by man, Ozan Varol has broken down what it takes to succeed in that world and created 9 strategies everyone can use in theirs. I truly enjoy reading about concepts and problems/solutions in other fields and integrating them into the financial world. Concepts that are foreign to our business like First Principles, Adversarial Thought, and, most importantly, Testing were never taught in any education I have. The audiobook is read by the author and is full of anecdotes that help keep the subject relatable to everyone.
Stolen Focus - Johann Hari
It's no surprise that we have all become slaves to the powerful little devices in our pockets. A recent study showed that the average Tik Tok user spends 95 minutes a day on the platform, and if you know anything about averages, that means many more spend way more than that. How can we create meaningful connections with other people 30 seconds at a time? Stolen Focus attempts to explain why these social media platforms are so addicting and, in a personal experiment, what happens when you disconnect from it all. There is a lot of criticism of the book based on the author's connection between social media and the rise of ADHD, but all self-help books should be taken with a grain of salt. They are not meant to be textbooks, but more guides to make you think about your own world, perspective, and habits. Yes, some of the information is common knowledge, but it's always good to hear it again. [Side note: this book convinced me to separate work from home life and pay for a second cell phone that is not connected to anything relating to my business]
An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth - Col Chris Hadfield
Nope, nothing to do with space travel. Depending on your outlook, this book can lift you up with stories of perseverance, dedication, and patience...or can make you feel like you really have done nothing exciting in your life. Through the stories and the adventures going from a kid in Sarnia to a resident of the ISS, the author outlines what it takes to be "the best of the best". As a child, he decided he wanted to be an astronaut and planned his every decision around that, even though there had never been a Canadian in space. Common sense themes like empathy, kindness, respect for your fellow man, and practice practice practice are abundant in the book. Considering he is the most accomplished (and famous) astronaut in the world, maybe we should give it a try.
Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing - Matthew Perry
Any non-fiction book that has "Hello, my name is Matthew...and I should be dead" in the first line screams interesting. Being of a certain age and having watched Friends religiously as it originally aired, I was very interested in this book. Once deep into the book, I found myself saying "I had no idea" a lot. The addiction problems he had were well documented, but after Friends ended, no one (fans) really cared anymore; he wasn't in the public eye. The book is written in the style of a modern movie, jumping all over the place in time, but as long as you are engaged, it all makes sense. Sometimes, we look at celebrities and think that have it all figured out and wish we could be them. Books like this remind us that they are regular people as well, with the same issues we have, only with a larger bankroll to feed them.
Kenneth Coombs CFP CHS RRC
Ken has worked in the financial services industry since 2005, is a Registered Retirement Consultant, and is a Certified Financial Planner. Ken has written financial planning columns and has been a guest on financial radio and podcast programs.