Food for Thought - My Books of 2015

Food for Thought - My Books of 2015

Source: Bigstock 

Source: Bigstock 

I always have been a reader. Large parts of my childhood and youth I spent with a book in my hands, reading everything I could get hold of (including books of my parents, when I ran out of my own holiday reading material).

I never completely stopped reading, but my volume dropped significantly when I started university and afterwards entered the professional life. Only recently, after graduating from my part-time MBA program, I truly rediscovered the joy of reading.

According to “goodreads”, the app I use to track books I am reading or want to read, I finished 26 books and read combined around 6,500 pages in 2015.

In this round of life-sparring I would like to present my personal top 5 books for 2015. The list might come a little too late to serve as a Christmas gift guide, but in case that you are looking for some fruit for thought over the holidays you might get some inspiration.

Number 5: The Restful Mind, by His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa, 2014

Whatever happened yesterday is today’s dream
Whatever we experience today is tomorrow’s dream
— His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa, The Restful Mind

I had the opportunity to see his Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa as speaker in an Alumni event of my university. While the Khamtrul Rinpoche represents one of the most traditional lines of Tibetan Buddhism, dating back to the 13th century, he is an extremely pragmatic ambassador of Tibetan spiritualism.

Keeping esoteric symbolism at a minimum, “The Restful Mind” is a very practical guide aimed especially at busy business people looking to start a mindfulness practice. The book is a fairly quick read and offers a good introduction into practical mindfulness offering general advice as well as introductions to easy meditation practices. 


**** (4 of 5 Stars)

 Number 4: Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami, 2002

Chance encounters are what keep us going.
— Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I got on the Murakami train fairly late, partly due to my natural skepticism against blockbuster “must-read” books. “Kafka on the shore” was my fourth Murakami and is currently my second favorite.

“Kafka” is definitely a true Murakami. A book so fantastic, weird and almost silly, that I asked myself multiple times while reading, why I am so captured by the book. A feeling that I previously only experienced reading Douglas Adams.

I can’t say that I fully made sense of the book, but it didn’t feel as if I had to. “Kafka” is simply good entertainment and sometimes that’s all you need. 

**** (4 of 5 stars)

Number 3: The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, Ben Horowitz, 2014

Let me break it down for you. In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally.”
— Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things

“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” is a good book on entrepreneurship. With this book, Ben Horowitz does not deliver a blueprint to create the next unicorn, but he delivers solid management advice distilled from his own experience as Tech-CEO. Compared to other management icons Horowitz is fairly free from self-adulation and writes a refreshing style. The frequent hip-hop references though reminded me a bit of a model student exerting himself for coolness. Unnecessary as nerdy is undisputedly the new cool.

**** (4 of 5 stars)


Number 2: The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, Louisa Lim, 2014


(Jack) Ma himself has acknowledged the good fortune of his timing, telling Charlie Rose, “I think my father said, ‘If you were born thirty years earlier you would probably be in prison because the ideas you have are so dangerous.
— Louisa Lim, The People’s Republic of Amnesia

How a country treats its’ own history, often says a lot about its presence. “The People’s Republic’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited” is an incredible powerful book that easily makes my personal Top 5 of books on China.

Louisa Lim undertakes a serious attempt to trace different participants in the “Tiananmen Incident” and to chronicle the impact on their lives. The stories of the survivors not only make heartbreaking narratives but also draw a clear picture of the Chinese Zeitgeist.

***** (5 of 5 stars)

 Number 1: The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book about Relationships, Neil Strauss, 2015

What’s the difference between guilt and shame?” I ask. “Guilt is just about your behavior. Shame is about who you are.
— Neil Strauss, The Truth

To most people Neil Strauss is best known for his 2005 book “The Game”, exploring the tricks and knacks of the community of so called pick-up artists.

10 years are a long time and from the shy nerd turned Casanova comes now the ultimate book on the male struggle with relationships. “The Truth” chronicles Strauss’ long winding way from “sex addiction” to monogamy. While not many men will even rudimentary come close to Strauss’ extreme experiences, almost all men will empathize with his struggle.

“The Truth” is a great read, lustful, compelling, sometimes cringe worthy. It is a book with a message so strong, that every man should read it. It’s a minor matter, that the story line of “The Truth” is almost too good to be true and seems to have been written with a possible Hollywood adaption in mind.

“The Truth” hit me personally just at the right time in my life. This makes it my personal Book of 2015.

***** (5 of 5 stars)

 How about you? What are your Top 5 books in 2015? Which books inspired or moved you over the past 12 months?

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