I read a lot of books in 2013.
You may remember that I challenged myself to read 100 books this year. I achieved the goal, plus some. I read books I loved, books I liked a lot and books I hated.
I also noted in my observations of my reading year that I read a great deal more nonfiction than fiction. I assume this is because of my job, work on my dissertation and my love of true crime novels.
I gave perfect ratings to two nonfiction books I read this year. I rarely give perfect ratings to books because I believe writing always can be improved. However, these books were life changers. They were:
Platform is one of the first books I read in my 100 Book Reading Challenge. Michael Hyatt is one of my favorite bloggers and podcasters, but I’d never read any of his books. I remember thinking as I was reading that the book would change my professional world. I couldn’t wait to share the things the book taught me with my students and my blog’s audience.
Just applying a few of the lessons I learned in the book more than quadrupled this blog’s audience.
I also found myself referring to the book throughout the semester to assist in writing blog posts and creating course lectures.
Platform is a perfect book for anyone who is trying to build an online presence. It provides practical, applicable advice I haven’t found elsewhere. Here’s my full review of the book.
2. The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection by Brene´ Brown
Brene´Brown’s book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead came highly recommended to me. I read it and thought it was “ok,” but I really enjoyed the parenting parts of the book. I considered emailing Brown and asking her if she’d ever thought about writing a parenting book. Thank goodness I Googled her first. I would have felt like an ass had I emailed her about a book she’d already published.
It’s probably not surprising that The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting was my favorite Brown book. It’s not a manual for parenting, but more an explanation of why it’s ok that we don’t have a manual. Parents are humans. We’re not meant to be perfect, and that’s ok.
Below are the other eight nonfiction books I loved and consider “must reads” in this genre.
How could a lover of true crime novels make it to her mid-30s without discovering Ann Rule? I can’t answer that question, but I’m so glad I’ve found her now. The Stranger Beside Me was the first of Rule’s books I read. Now I’m hooked. I will read all of her books and pray she keeps writing more. In the meantime, you can read my full review of The Stranger Beside Me about Rule’s personal relationship with serial killer Ted Bundy.
I almost didn’t read this book. If I’m being honest, I didn’t read it, I listened to it. I chose the audiobook because it was available in the library and I didn’t have any more Audible credits for the month. Sometimes good things just happen on accident. I heard Colin Powell speak a few years ago and was really impressed with him as a leader. This book confirmed my thinking of the man. He doesn’t claim perfection. Instead, Powell just tells stories of approaches that have (and haven’t) worked for him. I found myself wanting to document just about every other line of the book to pass along to others. I’m glad I stumbled upon this one.
I don’t know if Amanda Knox killed her roommate or not, but what a story! I’ve followed this case casually in the news. It was interesting to hear Knox’s side of the story.
This book pissed me off. One minute I was angry at a corporate world that treats women as secondary; the next minute I was angry at the author for suggesting that women were inferior if they didn’t want the corner office. I wondered throughout the book if Sandberg’s ideas about discrimination against women were so radical that they actually discriminated against men. I’m still not entirely sure what I think about this book, but it certainly made me think.
The final four books on my list make it clear that I sometimes cannot separate the book from the person. They are written by people I’ve interacted with online, in person or both. They are people who are intelligent and successful in their fields. I felt it necessary to disclose my personal relationships with them because it’s likely they impacted my opinions of their books. All of that aside, these four books certainly are worth reading because of their topics and content.
7. Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real-World Guide on Achieving Success and Happiness by C.C. Chapman
I love a good storyteller, and C.C. Chapman certainly is one. This book mostly is C.C.’s own story about being open to opportunities and changes as they arise. I enjoyed the narrative and quotable moments.
8. The Power of Unpopular: A Guide to Building Your Brand for the Audience Who Will Love You (and why no one else matters) by Erika Napoletano
I heard Erika Napoletano speak earlier this year, and I honestly can say she’s one of the most entertaining public speakers I’ve ever experienced. Erika’s brash sense of self isn’t for everyone, but I love her. The Power of Unpopular is 100 percent Erika and highly entertaining.
9. Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies that Turn Customers into Fans by Mack Collier
Remember that thing I said about being biased when I know authors? Well, I love Mack Collier. He seriously is a great guy from whom I have learned a ton. I also loved his book because it takes the concept of a traditional audience and tells the reader how to take them to a new level. Once you turn your audience into fans, they’ll act as loyal advocates for your brand. Read my full review of Think Like a Rockstar.
10. The New Elevator Pitch: The Definitive Guide to Persuasive Communication in the Digital Age by Chris Westfall
Speaking of men I think are fabulous, Chris Westfall is at the top of that list. One of the things I love about Chris is that he practices what he preaches. He seriously listens and communicates in a way that is helpful and authoritative. I enjoyed Chris’s book because of his knowledge of the topic, but also because you can hear his voice in the jokes and stories throughout. Reading his book was a lot like having coffee with him. To me, your voice shining through in your writing is author success. Read my full review of The New Elevator Pitch.
This is a diverse group of books, so I hope each of you will find something here you can read and enjoy. Since I’m always looking for something to read,