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Every year I read between 50 and 75 books. At the beginning of January, I like to focus on the books that I think brought the most value to me. Here are the non-business books I found most valuable that I read last year.

This year I’ve decided I’m going to read fewer business books and more non-business ones. After all, I’ve already read well over 1,500 business books during the last forty years. That should be almost enough.

Here’s my list of non-business books for 2017 that I thought were worthy in no particular order…….

The Conversation: A Revolutionary Plan for End-of-Life Care – Angelo E. Volandes. This book was especially useful for me when we helped usher my father out of this life. Too often we use every trick in the book to keep our loved ones alive. Too often, that’s not what the wishes are loved ones have for how they want to leave this world. If you are helping someone leave this world, this book is for you.

Paris in the Present Tense – Mark Halperin. There has not been a book written by Mark Halperin that I haven't loved. I believe he is one of the very best writers alive today. His storytelling is wonderful, and his characters are believable, if not loveable. This particular book is a mystery about love and death. It describes a life well lived, if not a bit on the strange side. If you’re looking for a great novel to read, this is one of the two I highly recommend from this year’s reading.

Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment – David F. Swensen. Mr. Swensen is the head of the Yale Foundation Endowment fund. He’s well known for using alternative investments for the Yale Endowment. But, in this book he gives us some common wisdom about what the everyday investor can do to improve the odds that they’ll have investments they’ll be happy with.

His suggestion: use index funds and low-cost funds to build your portfolio. You as an individual don’t have access to the funds he has, and he points out the mutual fund industry has spent years and millions of dollars selling active management when active management has over time not proven to be the best option. This book is very approachable and one I highly suggest if you’re looking to build a portfolio that can last.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. – Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. Neal Stephenson is my other very favorite fiction author. His books are long and intricate, and this one is no different. You get a combination of historical fiction with science fiction in this book, and I bet you won’t be able to put it down once you start. This may have been my favorite book from last year.

Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Boost Brainpower, Increase Focus, and Maximize Performance-in Just Two Weeks – Dave Asprey. I usually stay as far away from these books as possible. In this case, I made an exception and you should too. Mr. Asprey is the founder and originator of Bullet Proof Coffee. I’ve been using this for the last several months, and it’s made a huge difference in my mental acuity.

The author considers himself a health hacker where he tries all sorts of different health ideas on himself as a guinea pig. Many of his ideas are too far out for me, and some seem to make sense. Read this book and decide for yourself.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity – Ryan Holiday. Mr. Holiday is another author that I’ve not found anything of his I don’t love. This book is a series of meditations on the school of philosophy known as Stoicism. I’ve come to appreciate the Stoics, and I’ve been on a year-long quest of making daily comments about each of the meditations in this book one at a time. I highly recommend giving this a try for yourself. I’ve been finding more clarity in my life and more clarity around actions I’ve been taking. This fits in well with my daily practice of meditation. Give it a try and let me know what results if any you get.

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The authors show us how to design thinking can help us create a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. For me, this is one of the keys to living a successful life. The authors give you a great roadmap for how to do this.

Critical Path – R. Buckminster Fuller. I read this book every few years, and every time I come away with some ideas that are worth paying attention to. This book was written in the early 1980’s, and it feels a little dated. At the same time, there are some timeless truths in the book. This is the book that had me starting down the road that mistakes might be so bad after all. This is one of the ten books I believe everyone should read at some time in their life.

This is my list of the best non-business reads I had last year. What’s on your list.

Topics: books, books to read, managing transitions

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