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“I’m not saying that you have to be a reader to save your soul in the modern world. I’m saying it helps.” — Walter Mosley

I have always devoured books. Why, exactly, I’m not sure. Obviously a big reason to read is because it is fun. As Petrarch, a famous book lover observed some 700 years ago, “books give delight to the very marrow of one’s bones.”

But if I was honest, I would say the real reason that I have spent so much time with my nose inside this book or that book is because I have been searching for something: a way to life. There is a Latin expression: liber medicina animi [a book is the soul’s medicine]. I guess that is what I have been after, the medicine.

I get asked by LORA students and some of the entrepreneurs I have the privilege of mentoring to share books I’m reading.

So I decided instead of answering each question one at a time, to share a reading list of books I have read so far this year, from January 2019 to June 2019.

I hope you will find my list helpful.

Each book on this list, I give a summary of what the book is about, and my rating.

This list is not in an order of highest rating, but in the sequence and order I have read them from the start of the year.

The following are the books I have read so far this year [January 2019 to June 2019]

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama – The former first lady of the USA shares her amazing journey to the White House together with her husband. She is an amazing writer and she takes us through what life is like being the first lady of the US. This is an amazing read, thoroughly enjoyed it. [9/10]
  2. The Runaway Project by David Eagleman – a deep-dive into the creative mind, a celebration of the human spirit, and a vision of how humanity can improve our future by understanding and embracing our ability to innovate. If you are crazy about innovation and creativity, this book is for you. [9/10]
  3. Why Women Manipulate Men by Charlize Venter – very interesting book about how men are manipulated. A very interesting book, I will just leave it at that 🙂 [9/10]
  4. Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield – I love how Steven Pressfield writes, he gets to the point. His books are short and sweet. In this book Pressfield highlights the distinction between what ordinary people do and what professionals do and what you need to do to turn Pro. [9/10]
  5. Let It Go – TD Jakes – Forgiveness and healing are often difficult things for people. In this amazing book TD Jakes talks about various ways to forgive people, and also mostly to forgive yourself. [9/10]
  6. Marketing: A Love Story by Bernadette Jiwa – Entrepreneurs [and everyone] has no shortage of ideas, but we struggle to package and sell these ideas as stories to people who may resonate with them. In this book, Bernadette does a good job of unpacking storytelling as a way of connecting our ideas to people. [9/10]
  7. Difference by Bernadette Jiwa – What if, instead of finding ways to be one step ahead of your competition, you could build and market your business to give people a reason to choose you? What if you could completely reinvent a category or experience? What if you could stop trying to beat the competition, and become the competition? Bernadette answers these questions in this amazing book. [9/10]
  8. Hunch: Turn Your Everyday Insights Into the Next Big Thing by Bernadette Jiwa – Trust your intuition [gut], how often do we do this, especially in business? Bernadette Jiwa shows you how to harness the power of your intuition so you can recognise opportunities others miss and create the breakthrough idea the world is waiting for. [8/10]
  9. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff – This book almost got me to throw my phone in the river and run for the hills. Shoshana does a sterling job of highlight the behind the scenes of what Google and Facebook are doing with our data. That like or retweet on your social media, is used for cash. We are being watched and monitored and soon we will be manipulated by our own data. Amazing book, well researched and holds back no punches [9/10]
  10. The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr – What is the internet doing to our brains. Is it shortening our attention span? Is is making us impatient? This book drove home, more effectively than anything else I have seen, just how addictive the Internet is. As he says, you don’t want to admit to yourself how much you crave internet stimulation, and how frequently you check mail, SMSes, social media updates and similar inputs. I immediately turned off all of these to see what would happen. I’m afraid to say that I was very much more productive than usual. I have since adopted to switching off and deleting some Apps on my phone. [9/10]
  11. Storyworth by Matthew Dicks – Whether we realise it or not, we are always telling stories. On a first date or job interview, at a sales presentation or therapy appointment, with family or friends. One of the best books on storytelling. Lots of advice, details and examples. My only complaint is that the main points are hidden among LOTS of stories. I guess it makes the book more entertaining, but most important parts are harder to find. [8/10]
  12. The Irresistible Introvert by Michaela Chung – The Irresistible Introvert is a mix of memoir, manifesto and self-help that combines Chung’s personal struggles with introversion, celebrates the unique traits of introversion and finally, offers sound advice on how to navigate both the professional and personal realm as introvert in a society that favors extroverts. I loved it. [8/10]
  13. The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney – here are so many interesting facts/statistics that Dr. Laney throws into this book. For instance: Introverts are outnumbered 3:1 in this world. Introverts live longer than Extroverts. Introversion has been directly linked to intelligence. Introverts loose their words more easily, dislike eye-contact, and shirk when required to engage in “small talk.” [7/10]
  14. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly – Kevin projects forward over the next 30 years to see where he thinks technology will take us. Anyone can claim to be a prophet, a fortune teller, or a futurist, and plenty of people do. What makes Kevin Kelly different is that he’s right. In this book, you are swept along by his clear arguments until it finally hits you: The technological, cultural, and societal changes he is foreseeing really are inevitable. It is like having a crystal ball, only without the risk of shattering. [9/10]
  15. AI Superpowers, China, Sillicon Valley and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee – such a powerful book on entrepreneurship, innovation and AI. What Kai-Ful Lee has managed to do so well in this book is to compare and contrast the Chinese and American approaches to entrepreneurship and innovation. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I may read it again. [9/10]
  16. Failing Forward by John C Maxwell – One of the oldest books on business failure and how to overcome it. If you are an entrepreneur, you will experience failure more often, this books is something that may help you to overcome it. [8/10]
  17. Fragile Bully: Understanding Our Destructive Affair with Narcissism in the Age of Trump, by Laurie Helgoe – This book is a thought-provoking and, at times, deeply personal exploration of narcissism. Looks beyond the sound bites of self-aggrandizing celebrities and selfish tweets to the real problem of narcissism. [8/10]
  18. Creative Quest by Ahmir Questlove Thompson – known professionally as Questlove [stylized as ?uestlove] is musician, bandleader, designer, producer, culinary entrepreneur, professor [yes professor], and journalist. Love this book! Love how it is written without all the fancy creative theory jumbo. It is relatable. And so inspiring to see that even famous and great creatives like Questlove have creative blocks too. He gives some very usable advice and tips too. It is a great book for everyone, not just creatives since you can apply his advice and experiences to anybody starting anything new. [7/10]
  19. The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson – The beginning of the European Renaissance can be traced to the city of Florence in Italy. At that time, the most influential family that played a key role in the creation of the renaissance is the Medici Family. The Medici Family of Renaissance Italy’s patronage helped develop European arts and culture. Frans Johansson’s The Medici Effect shows how breakthrough ideas most often occur when we bring concepts from one field into a new, unfamiliar territory, and offers examples of how we can turn the ideas we discover into path-breaking innovations. [8/10]
  20. When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques – I have been a fan of Martin Jacques’s amazing TED talk on the Understanding the Rise of China for some time. This book is no different from the talk except that he goes deeper in the book. Martin does an amazing job of unpacking China’s tradition, views, philosophy and economic plans and approach to development. This is a must read for anyone in the development space. [9/10]
  21. The Book of Beautiful Questions by Warren Berger – I love hearing and asking great questions. It has been a journey of mine for the past 15 years. During this time, I have found several great books on questioning, and this book is no exception. Here is one example of a great question in the book: Do I think more like a soldier or a scout?” A soldier’s job is to defend, while a scout’s purpose is to explore and discover. I am guilty sometimes of being too much the soldier and not enough scout. [9/10]
  22. The Artist’s Journey by Steven Pressfield – I love Pressfield’s books, they are quick, to the point and written as if he is talking.”“Your artist’s journey is unique to you. You alone are on your path. Your job is only to follow it and be true to it. Who knows what heights it may eventually bear you to? You are an artist. Your journey–however humble, however fraught, however beset with thorns and thistles—is part of a noble, cosmic cause. It is not meaningless. It is not in vain. It is a portion of a grand adventure. The artist’s journey is the hero’s journey of the human race.” This is how he starts his book. I will recommend The Artist’s Journey for artists [regardless of the artistic medium] to read and apply on their own artistic journey. [8/10]
  23. We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo – Darling, the young narrator of this powerful debut novel, lives in a town in Zimbabwe called Paradise, a misnomer if ever there was one. A collection of shacks inhabited by displaced families, the run-down town is just a stone’s throw from neighboring Budapest, where whites and wealthy Africans absorb the good life. [8/10]
  24. James Baldwin A Biography by David Leeming – James Baldwin is an amazing human being. He was one of the great writers of the last century. In this biography, Leeming deals extensively with Baldwin’s precarious [and shifting] place on the racial divide, with his homosexuality, and with the mental instability that led to suicide attempts. I learned so much about him that I didn’t know. [9/10]
  25. Nelson Mandela: By himself – The authorised book of quotations [edited by Sello Hatang and Sahm Venter] – This collection, gathered from privileged authorised access to Mandela’s vast personal archive of private papers, speeches, correspondence and audio recordings, features nearly 2000 quotations spanning over 60 years, many previously unpublished. [8/10]
  26. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Human beings are creatures of habit. We live most of our lives on autopilot, repeating our habits over and over every day. How to form new habits that are progressive is what Charles Duhigg explores in this book.  This is not a self-help book conveying one author’s homespun remedies, but a serious look at the science of habit formation and change. Very interesting stuff. [8/10] 
  27. The Creative’s Curse by Todd Brison – You will write things, and they will suck. You will draw things, and they will be terrible. You will make music, and nobody will like it. Today you do something amazing, tomorrow you do something terrible. Creativity has it’s ups and downs. In this book Todd Brison, talks about how to live a life between creative amazing and creative not so amazing. [8/10]
  28. Born to Kwaito by Esinako Ndabeni and Sihle Mthembu – incredible book, as someone who witnessed the birth of Kwaito, this books does an amazing job of sharing stories of artists who were at the centre of starting Kwaito. Stories of Mandoza, Brothers of Peace [BOP], Arthur, Makendlas, Mapaputsi, TKZee, Mandoza, Boom Shaka, Trompies, Bricks are shared in this book. What I enjoyed in this book is the connection of the dots about what makes these artists similar and what sets them apart apart from their music. [9/10]
  29. Humility Is The New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age by Edward D. Hess – As machines become better at doing our jobs, we keep relevance by becoming better human beings. I loved this book. Very well-written and super engaging. Hess talks about four skills in order to stay relevant in the new smart machine age and gives you the tools to develop those skills yourself. Put in practice, these skills don’t just impact your professional performance but every aspect of your life – family, social, well-being. Do not pass up this book. [9/10]
  30. Trust: Creating The Foundation For Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries by Tarun Khanna – This book will deepen your understanding of how for-profit, nonprofit, or governmental entrepreneurship can be a powerful force for economic and social progress in developing countries. The book is conceptually insightful in placing a distinctive spotlight on the critical role of trust in the entrepreneurial process. [9/10]
  31. Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwe Lives by Peter Orner and Annie Holmes – The situation in Zimbabwe represents one of the worst humanitarian emergencies today. This book asks the question: How did a country with so much promise, a stellar education system, a growing middle class, a sophisticated economic infrastructure, a liberal constitution, an independent judiciary, and many of the trappings of Western democracy, go so wrong? [7/10]
  32. Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money by Bert Whitehead – This book deals with financial matters in a very straight forward way. It was easy to understand. I kept seeing my own financial habits in the book and how I could change and improve how I manage my money. [7/10] 
  33. The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life by Deepak Chopra – I thought this book was a little hard to get into, and some sections I appreciated more than others. Overall I enjoyed the book. [6/10]
  34. Leap First: Creating Work That Matters by Seth Godin – Seth always makes me think. Sometimes he reminds his readers of what they already know, and often he clarifies what we feel in our hearts but only dare to hope might actually be qualities, actions and experiences we can strive for and achieve. Short and useful. [8/10]
  35. Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World
    by Tim Ferriss – Timothy asks carefully framed questions of some of the most successful people in the world an in effort to ferret out how they came to the place that they are now. I found this book fascinating in its breadth and diversity. It highlighted in my mind that there is not one path to success or fulfillment. [9/10]
  36. The Super Afrikaners: Inside the Afrikaner Broederbond by Ivor Wilkins and Hans Strydom – This book exposes the secret workings of the Broederbond. It sheds a light on why Afrikaners continue to have such powerful grip over South Africa’s economy and over social superiority in South Africa. The strong foundations the Afrikaners laid down for their collective economic success in the mid-90’s through the Broederbond is of prime interest and should be something we learn from for our own economic liberation. [8/10]
  37. The Zulu Wedding by Dudu Busani-Dube. The book, which tells a story of Lou who’s been promised to the Zulu king in marriage to repay an old ancestral debt, is an Africa-meets-modern-day story. Lou has been running from this obligation since the death of her parents when she was 15. When she meets her soulmate, Tex, she realises she has to return to South Africa to confront her demons. [8/10]
  38. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl – Man oh man, this book neh. extremely intense book, first published in 1946. The author shares his experiences in four different German concentration camps in WWII, including Auschwitz, and how he coped with those experiences and saw others cope with them, or not. He discusses his approach to psychiatry, called logotherapy, based on the belief that each person needs to find something in his or her life, something particular and personal to them, to give their life meaning. We need to look outside ourselves. [9/10]
  39. How To Grow Your Small Business by Jane John-Nwankwo – Starting a business is one great task, but growing it is another thing. Why do you think many new businesses close up in the first two years? The answer is: They failed to grow the business. [6/10]
  40. Capital in the Twenty First Century by Thomas Piketty – Everyone should read this book. This is not a book just for economists. This is a book for everyone no matter your profession or stage in life because it illuminates the arch of wealth and where we are now. [9/10]
  41. Down 2nd Avenue by Es’kia Mphahlele – This is Es’kia Mphahlele’s autobiography of his South African childhood and his struggle against discrimination. The memoir tells of his childhood in Maupaneng, a small village outside Polokwane, and Marabastad, in Pretoria. Here he showed academic promise. This resulted in a career as a teacher. After a number of years, though, he was barred from teaching because of his vocal opposition to the segregation and discrimination occurring in schools. Mphahlele then worked for Drum magazine in various capacities. The biography culminates in his exile from South Africa in 1957. Down second avenue is Mphahlele’s personal account of his struggle for identity and dignity in the face of the growing discriminatory policies of the South African government. It is a compelling mix of humour and pathos. [9/10]
  42. Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin – Seth writes innovative, thought provoking and fun to read marketing books. This book is all of those things. After all, any book that had the first 100,000 copies available inside a cereal box (get it, the Free Prize Inside?) must be innovative, thought provoking and fun. This is written as a marketing book and so if you are an entrepreneur, have a marketing interest or responsibility, I believe it is a must read. [9/10]
  43. Survival is not Enough by Seth Godin – The idea behind this book is pretty simple, and the title summarises it perfectly in just four words. Shift happens, and survival is not enough any more. The best way for you stay ahead of the curve is to constantly innovate, to thrive during times of change by embracing the shift and, wherever possible, causing the shift to happen in the first place. [9/10]
  44. The Dead Drink First by Dale Maharidge – One of the best books I have read this year. I like learning about history and this here is a powerful story on the history of the World War II. This is an inside account of what happens during a war. The negative consequences of any war. I now understand what they mean when they say, there are no winners in a war. I learned so much about how many dead soldiers are unaccounted for from previous wars and what is being done to bring them home. [9/10] 
  45. The Modern Stoic: Understand Ancient Stoic Philosophy and Learn Practical Ways To Develop Perseverance, Resilience & Calm in Today’s Complex World
    by Nicholas Hill – It’s a thin, I would say it’s an introduction to Stoicism philosophy. It does a decent of introduction. I would love to go deeper on this philosophy. [6/10]
  46. Extraordinary Leadership by Robin Sharma – Very short read with several good tips, but nothing earth shattering. [6/10]
  47. Astonishing the Gods by Ben Okri – This is my first Ben Okri read, this guy is not a easy simple English writer. But he has a way of saying something simple is a sophisticated but amazing way. I loved this novel. I will re-read it, because as much as I loved how he tells the story, he is highlighting a journey of standing out, of being an outcast, of being invisible in a society where everyone is trying to be visible. [8/10]
  48. Quit Your Job and Hire Yourself by Matt Lawrence – Working an unfulfilling job can be absolutely soul crushing for someone who has bigger ideas. “Quit Your Job & Hire Yourself” is a quick start guide to starting and building the business of your dreams. This short, yet comprehensive book covers everything from building an effective team to funding your startup. [7/10]
  49. The Minimalist Way: Minimalism Strategies to Declutter Your Life and Make Room for Joy by Erica Layne – This book is a bit different then most other minimalist books. The author doesn’t just tell you how to get rid of “stuff” but walks you through the effort needed to declutter your heart and mind; the more subtle obstacles we face in the minimalist process. Well worth the read. [9/10]
  50. Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World by Zig Ziglar – I can’t say enough about this book, great read, lots of helpful tips on parenting. It really makes you think about what you say, how you say it and how we act towards our children. Great great great book. [9/10]

 

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler