So, 2018 wasn’t a highly productive year in terms of book reading. I didn’t finish 5 books… and jumped into some others.
And as much as I love reading and always have some bookaroo, I do have a love-hate relationship.
More on that later.
Here are the books I read and finished.
In chronological order.
If you’ve genuinely tried to learn marketing and copywriting, then you’ve heard of the late, great Gary Halbert. This book is by his son. Not long. Just 116 pages in length or so.
What’s it all about? This is a reference book for copywriters. Not an actual “here’s how you copywrite.” You learn how to editing existing copy and tight it down. For example, removing “that” from your sentences, adding subheadlines, using cliffhangers so that you can…
…keep the reader going, and so on.
Do I recommend it? Only if you write copy and know what you’re doing. It’s as useful as a dictionary is to a language learner. Like a dictionary, you don’t read it for fun, you read to apply.
Everyone was talking about this one in early 2018.
And me, not knowing who the author was, decided to check it out.
What’s it all about? It’s a self-help book. The author, among many other things, is a clinical psychologist and therapist. And the book was written by a therapist. He sets 12 rules for life such as…
- #1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back
- #3 Make friends with people who want the best for you
- #6 Set your house in perfect order
- #9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
…and provides various stories from his own experience to back them up.
Don’t remember which rule this was from but there was one story of the author working on a railroad with a bunch of rough guys. And when a new guy joined the work crew, new guy became a target of jokes and pranks. Jokes that he took with a stiff face and couldn’t lighten up. The result? They escalated and continued – to the point where it could be considered abuse. But if buddy lightened up and laughed back, he’d likely win over the crew as friends.
The point here is – this happens daily, in every social environment – schools, playgrounds, work – and on various levels – from simple teasing to bullying or ostracizing. But if you could control your reaction…
Do I recommend it? Yes. But, I’m not a fan of the author himself.
Best book I read in 2018.
Not as good the Arnold Schwarznegger autobiography, which also beats out Steve Jobs’ biography, but still damn good.
What’s it all about? The author takes us from Elon Musk’s childhood in South Africa, to moving to Canada, to ending up the States, starting PayPal, down to the present (2015) goings on with Tesla and SpaceX.
Do I recommend it? Yes. For some reason, these are the kind of books that resonate most with me. Or, maybe I’m just a workaholic that’s interested in doing projects and big things. I’d re-read it too.
Joe Sugarman is an old-school, top-notch copywriter and the guy behind Blueblockers.
What’s it all about? This book is a collection of 30 “triggers” used in copywriting and sales… to improve conversions. And of course, he provides examples for each one. Triggers include…
- Trigger #8 Storytelling
- Trigger #11 Emotion
- Trigger #12 Justify with Logic
- Trigger #23 Specificity
Do I recommend it? Not really. Unless you’re interested sales/copy. Ultimately, this is a quick distillation of concepts and you need a plan of attack if you read this. Otherwise, you go “huh, cool” or “yeah, sounds about right” without ever actually applying them.
Not the only science book I bought this year. But, the only one I finished.
To be honest, I don’t remember much of what I’ve read.
The book was a bit like drinking water from a firehose. But, such is the case when you’re tasked with introducing laymen to gravity, black holes and galaxies. Neil Tyson did a fine enough job.
And, I do recommend it and I do need to re-read it. Why? Science. There needs to be more of it in the world. And we’d all be better off with an understanding of how the world works. As the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan said…
we’ve arranged a society based on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces.
But that’s a topic for another time.
Another top book for 2018.
And this baby was originally published in… 1962.
And everything inside still applies today.
From writing headlines, to the first line, to getting people to act — this book covers it all in extreme depth. I’d say, it’s quite up there with Breakthrough Advertising and the Robert Collier Leters.
This another one that I will return to and re-read.
I read his other book on leadership, Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, and enjoyed it.
So, I wanted to see what this was all about. Especially since discipline sounds good to me. So good that one of my many, many goals is to return to the 6AM club. I’m at 8AM at the moment.
This is a collection of motivational pieces of writing. Mostly Jocko’s thoughts on “keeping on,” “pushing through” and whatnot. Enjoyable, for sure.
My only caveat with self-help books and generally trying to siphon off wisdom from others is that… you can’t. Not without extreme practice on your end.
Discipline rules his life and has so for a long period of time.
Guy was a Navy SEAL and all.
He has a gut/visceral understanding and mastery of it.
And the reader only develops an intellectual understanding by reading.
That’s not enough. Not something that can be transmitted through a book or a lecture.
But this rant goes segues perfectly into my thoughts of 2018.
1) On reading wisdom. Yes, you should read some.
But I’ve long held that one needs to develop their own form of wisdom.
Why? Well, as much as I love Steve Jobs’ famous commencement speech and “stay hungry, stay foolish,” his understanding comes from his many years and experiences. Something you cannot replicate. And while you can get inspired by someone’s speech, it won’t last. It’ll fall off because that wisdom is theirs and not yours.
In acting classes, I was taught that “through the physical, you develop the mental.” This adage applies here. In other words, you need to be out “doing” because inspirational/motivational talks are momentary. The “doing” is what gets you the long-term “wisdom” or whatever you want to call it.
I think this is also why self-help books fall flat.
2) My Love/Hate Relationship with Books. You can’t “push” on “pull” exercises.” You can’t smile when you frown. And you can’t “act” when you’re reading.
Reading, in my opinion, is the complete opposite of action…
…or getting s*** done.
And that’s why I have a love/hate relationship with books.