My 34 Best Books of 2014
This year I was blessed to be able to read a book every single week of the year. Not all of them were good, but many of them were great. If you need to get some holiday book gift shopping done, here are some ideas for you.
THE BEST NON-FICTION BOOK OF 2014
Zero to One by Peter Theil
This book is the best business book I have ever read in my life. And I don’t say that easily. It is full of deep business wisdom, thought provoking ideas, and surprising opinions. As far as I’m concerned, this should be required reading for anyone interested in any kind of business.
THE BEST FICTION BOOK OF 2014
The Goldfinch by Donna Tart
One of my favorite novels ever, Donna Tart only writes one book every 10 years, and this one is incredible. It won the Pulitzer Prize and is just a beautiful story of a young man growing up. I didn’t want it to end and I could identify many of the characters in it with people that were in my life as well.
LIVING A GOOD LIFE
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This is a difficult read, but an important one. A first-hand account of life in the Auschwitz concentration camp from the point of a view of a psychologist who survived through it.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
This book teaches you how to live from the perspective of a man about to die. I can’t recommend it enough, short and sweet and full of great perspective.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The most motivational and inspirational book I read all year. Also a very short read, but for anyone struggling with creating anything (code, literature, movies, anything) this book will help you through the tough times.
The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
A modern take on stoic philosophy. The perfect gift for any stoics out there.
A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming by Dylan Tuccillo
This is a great read with a lot of practical advice that worked for me. Lucid dreaming has not been written about extensively, but this book really does a good job of giving techniques anyone can start using today.
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions from a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
If you want one book that will transform the way you see the world, this it it. You will never look at media the same after you read this.
Contagious by Jonah Berger
Ever wondered why some things go viral on the web while others just get a few views? Jonah’s studied the sociology behind this and created a fascinating book.
Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares
This is a definitive guide for the 19 proven ways to get traction for any product or startup idea. This is the real deal and they have done a great job centralizing this information.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
If social media still confuses you, pick up this book. It will explain how to effectively engage with your audiences on any of the major social networks out there.
Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl
Planning on publishing a book next year and want to figure out how to sell your first 1000 copies (whether self-published or traditionally published)? Start with this book. It’s fantastic.
Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich by David Garfinkel
Have you been blogging but unable to write posts that people share to their friends on social networks? Chances are the headlines for your blog posts suck. But don’t worry, this book has a bunch of templates for proven headlines that get people to click. You just need to fill in the blanks like madlibs.
Platform by Michael Hyatt
If you want to learn how to build a massive platform that reaches thousands or millions of people on a regular basis, start with this book.
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
Traditional marketing techniques are becoming less and less effective every day. So what do you do about it? If you haven’t heard of Growth Hacking, this is the book to start with.
Taming the Tiger Within by Thich Nhat Hanh
This is one of the books I have gifted the most this year. If you have ever struggled with anger and anxiety, this is a simple and deep book that can guide you through these difficult emotions.
Happiness by Thich Nhat Hanh
The elusive search for happiness is easier than most people think it is. This book is a great way to remember that all you need in life is right here and right now.
Training in Compassion by Norman Fischer
These Zen teachings on the practice of Lojong (Tibetan Buddhist practice that involves working with short, easy to remember phrases) is a great book. I have printed out many of the phrases and pinned them to my wall as reminders.
Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Sometimes life seems like a constant struggle of “what’s next?” and “where is it all going?” This book does a great job of reminding us that life is never in the future but right now. It helps you appreciate the present moment.
Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana
For anyone interested in meditation who is looking for a great starter book, this is it. No other book is as practical and approachable as this one.
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
This book blew my mind. It dissected many of my favorite stories (The Godfather, Casablanca, A Christmas Carol, The Wuthering Heights, Ulysses, and more) and it explained what sets them apart from the rest. This book inspired me to write my novel. For anyone interested in telling better stories, this one is a must.
Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant
The self-publishing industry is taking off and this book explains how many people are figuring out how to make a living writing books and self-publishing them. It’s a fun read and packed with great information.
On Writing by Stephen King
Half memoir and half how-to-write-a-novel, this is a classic from Stephen King. Whether you are interested in writing novels or you are just interested in Stephen King, it’s a great book if you haven’t read it yet.
Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman
This book is written by one of Ken Follet’s literary agents who helped him break through with writing The Man From St Petersburg. He shows you some of the early outlines from The Man From St. Petersburg which is SUPER interesting.
The Circle by Dave Eggers
A great dystopian novel about what would happen if Google merged with Facebook and Twitter and took over the world. Like 1984, but one where we have created and opted in to our own self-created Big Brother.
Uncommon Stock 1.0 by Eliot Peper
Ever wonder what it feels like to start a company? Eliot wrote a startup thriller that gives you a peek behind the curtain. This is a fun read full of great advice.
Uncommon Stock 2.0 by Eliot Peper
The sequel to Uncommon Stock, this book will be released this week. I was one of the beta readers and it takes the startup action to a new level.
The Man From St Petersburg by Ken Follett
This is one of my favorite novels of all time. The book haunted me for weeks after I read it. I absolutely loved the twists and turns and the ending was absolute perfection. An inspired novel that sold millions of copies in it’s day but is pretty much forgotten today to his more popular Pillars of the Earth series.
Eye Of The Needle by Ken Follett
Another pre-Pillars classic World War II Ken Follett thriller. I don’t love it as much as The Man from St Petersburg, but it is still great and lots of fun.
Inferno by Dan Brown
Dan Brown is one of my favorite storytellers. It may not be the best fiction, but I love how he tours people around famous cities and makes the cities an integral part of his stories. This novel is mostly set in Florence and Venice, two of my favorite cities in the world.
Carrie by Stephen King
Stephen King’s first novel is a bloody fun read. I was inspired by how the story was told from many different perspectives (ala Seven Samurai) like the newspaper clippings and police blotters.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
The recent sequel to The Shining, this book takes the young child who can see ghosts from The Shining and shows us what happens to him as an adult. This is a wonderful story and I highly recommend it.
The Firm by John Grisham
Grisham’s breakout novel is a classic that I finally got around to reading this year. It masterfully builds in tension and suspense page after page and has a MUCH better ending than the movie.
About the Author
Lucas Carlson is a hands-on consultant, author and entrepreneur. He helps founders discover opportunities for growth, both for their companies and for themselves. He was the CEO and founder of AppFog, a popular startup acquired in 2013 after signing up over 100,000 developers and raising nearly $10M in venture funding from top angels and VCs.