My 39 Best Books of 2015
Last year people really liked my 34 favorite books of 2014. This year I was again blessed to be able to read a book every single week of the year. Same as last year, not all of them were good (and again I won’t include the bad ones in this list), 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 FICTION BOOK OF 2015
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
I have such mixed feelings about this novel. It is breathtakingly good in so many ways, but has some horribly boring parts where I almost gave up a few times. But yet when I got to the end, I felt like I had lived through the 5,000 years this novel covers myself. Neal Stephenson has created a modern space opera that will surely be a canonical sci-fi moon book going forward. This book is too epic to ever turn into a movie.
RUNNER UP FICTION OF 2015
I, Zombie by Hugh Howey
(NO RELATION to the TV show) This is Hugh Howey’s favorite of the books he has written and I can see why. The concept is this: What if you were a zombie, but completely conscious of all your actions? You couldn’t stop your body from eating brains, but you were definitely in there watching as your body did it. Now tell that story from a first person narrative and include various zombies’ stories and you have I, Zombie. It’s fantastically cathartic and makes you feel grateful for everything you have in life.
THE BEST NON-FICTION BOOK OF 2015
The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer
I know that I am going to get criticized for having a “self-help” book top my non-fiction list for 2015, but hear me out. The author created a high-tech startup from nothing, took it public, and sold it for over a billion dollars. And he talks about the whole process throughout the book. So do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I can safely say that this book did change my life.
Wired by Douglas E. Richards
What if you could bio-hack genius and immortality into your DNA? Douglas E. Richards did and made this great page-turning novel with the concept. This book has been a top 10 bestselling techno-thriller on Amazon forever, which piqued my interest in it. The twists are fun and surprising and Mr Richards does a great job raising the stakes throughout.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
A classic noir novella. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest it. The dialogue and turns of phrase are masterful and a lot of fun.
Along Came a Spider by James Patterson
James Patterson wrote ten books over twenty years before he wrote this breakout novel. And it’s a nail biter. If you have seen the movie, the book is so much better. The movie is a watered down version of this book.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
What if everyone lived and went to school inside virtual realty like Oculus Rift? And then… what if Mark Zuckerberg gave away his entire fortune AND control of Facebook to someone who could solve a monster puzzle inside of Oculus Rift? Ernest Cline wrote a super fun thriller that incorporated a technology that will likely change the world forever. Read this book for entertainment and a potential peek into the future.
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Recently I had the honor of eating at a restaurant inside of the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant was called Jules Verne. So I wanted to know what this guy was all about. What a fun read! Definitely pick this up if you haven’t read it before.
Uncommon Stock: Exit Strategy (Book 3) by Eliot Peper
My friend Eliot Peper finished his startup thriller trilogy with a bang. This book has more action than the previous two and we get to meet the big bad guy behind it all.
Departure by A.G. Riddle
What if you got in a plane at one point in history and it crashed in a different time in history? This novel feels like reading Lost, except it has a very satisfying ending. It even talks about startup stuff! This was another book that is always in the top 10 techno-thriller list on Amazon.
The Secret History by Donna Tart
This book is a little Crime and Punishment meets Hitchcock’s The Rope. Donna Tart is a master writer who paints large canvases of words one small stroke at a time.
The Martian by Andy Weir
What if you were stranded on Mars with enough supplies to last a month and had to live over a year? Would you make it? This brilliant question brings you The Martian. At first glance it might seem like Gravity 2.0, but it is not at all. And if you liked Gravity, you will love the Martian.
Duck by Stephen Parolini
This little novella is a beautiful little vignette about family.
Lie Down With Lions by Ken Follett
Another pre-Pillars classic Ken Follett war thriller. I don’t love it as much as The Man from St Petersburg, but it is still great and lots of fun.
Midnight by Dean Koontz
Dean Koontz’s breakout success keeps you wondering. At first you wonder if it is a werewolf or vampire thriller, but it turns into something totally unexpected and darker. There is a lot of interesting technological and philosophical questions posed in this book, and the ending is masterful. If you love great books with awesome endings, pick this one up.
Shift (Wool: Book 2) by Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey answers your questions about Wool in this second book in the series. How did the silos get there? Who did it? Why? Find out here.
Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey writes a space book. Enough said!
Harry Potter: Book 1 by J. K. Rowling
I never did read this book as a kid, but now that my son is five I am reading it to him. What a wonderful story that is so fun for adults and children!
SALES AND MARKETING
Influence by Robert Cialdini
Want to know the tactics and strategies that sales and marketing people employ every day? Also want to know ways to protect yourself from these same tactics? Do you self a favor and read this classic book.
The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert
The secret to writing great sales copy: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. If you want to know what that means, read this classic text on copywriting.
Ask by Ryan Levesque
Did you know you could turn a survey into a sales funnel? This one book opened my eyes to an incredible idea that changed the way I see online sales. If you do any online sales at all and are going to read just one book this year, make it this one.
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
What are stories for? Why do they matter? I don’t think anybody has given this question more deep through that Joseph Campbell. And his answers are brilliant and deep. This book is setup as an interview with Campbell which makes it feel less textbooky than his other books.
The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne
A brilliant look at how to dissect story structure. If you write (fiction OR non-fiction) and want to know whether what you wrote “works,” use the techniques in this book to help guide you.
Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell
A great book laying out the process of self-editing.
How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell
A motivational book for writers.
Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran
The big idea of this book: treat Amazon like a search engine. Great idea and most authors I know don’t do it.
Supercharge Your Kindle Sales by Nick Stephenson
Goes great along with Let’s Get Visible with the same idea but applied in a way that Gaugran didn’t write about.
Advanced Twitter Strategies for Authors by Ian H Sutherland
This guy has a way to grow your Twitter audience to tens of thousands of followers. And the method has worked for me! It is a rare book that has such an outlandish claim and actually delivers on it.
5,000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox
The big ideas of this book: get into flow states, track everything and look into dictation.
Fiction Unboxed by Sean Platt & Johnny B Truant
Find out how these guys pump out tons of great books.
The Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau
Wondering what Zen enlightenment really is all about? This book does the most amazing job of explaining what looks on the surface like an intractable esoteric practice. My favorite part was when they interviewed a bunch of regular people who attained Zen enlightenment about their experience. I have never found another book like this one.
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
There are only a few words per page in Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, but I end up highlighting them all. Very powerful deep inspiration.
How to Sit By Thich Nhat Hanh
This is Thich Nhat Hanh’s simple book about meditation.
How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
A beautiful book about the secrets of relationships.
What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars by Jim Paul
This guy got everything he wanted in life. And then lost it all. His recounting of the story is riveting and the lessons he gained from the process and incredibly important.
Angel Investing by David S. Rose
This is one of the most thorough and cogent books on the guts of angel investing available today.
Startup Wealth by Josh Maher
A fantastic companion to David S. Rose’s book, Josh tells stories directly from many of the top angel investors in the world about how and why they invest. Very fascinating book!
The Little Book of Trading by Michael W. Covel
If you are curious about trading, this book provides a very simple starting point without getting bogged down in too much detail.
The Demographic Cliff by Harry S. Dent
What happens when the baby boomers get older? They spend progressively less money year over year. Given that consumer spending makes up 70% of GDP, this is naturally going to lead to a major economic slowdown soon that will last years.
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.