The Best Books I Read in 2018

In 2018 I read a lot. I read books on Ancient Rome and Winnie the Pooh. I studied marketing, leadership, rucking, kettlebells, and more. I also read countless children’s books with my kids as they continue to grow interested in reading.
 
Some books I loved and couldn’t put down. Others, I quit reading halfway through. That’s the way it goes, though. Sometimes a book doesn’t draw us in the way we hoped.
 
I know a lot of people who experience this with a few books and decide that reading “isn’t for them”. Heck, I was one of them for the first 25 years of my life!
 
But, as I later found out, reading was for me. I was just reading the wrong books.
 
My goal with this list is to help steer you towards some of the books I enjoyed reading this year. If you’re like I was – simply reading the wrong books, maybe this list can help get you going. Hopefully one of these books speaks to you and you fall in love with reading, as I did.
 
And if you’re already an avid reader, I hope you find this list useful. Perhaps there are a couple of gems you haven’t yet read.
 
This list is broken down into five different categories:
 
  • Philosophy – Books that shape the way I live, and think about, my life
  • Personal Development – Books that help me improve my day to day life
  • Professional Development – Books that help me grow professionally
  • Fitness – Books that make me and my teammates better athletes
  • Family – Books I read and enjoyed with my kids
Some of the books may seem like odd choices for their respective category. Using the above criteria, I placed books where I felt they fit best.
 
I hope you find the list useful and enjoyable!

Philosophy

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead And Win

I assumed this book would be nothing but hype. “The scariest Navy SEAL” Tim Ferriss has ever met… How could it not sell?

But people kept talking about it. So I gave it a chance.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. The content is fantastic and both Leif and Jocko do an amazing job of linking their horrific war stories from Ramadi to everyday life. The lessons in this book are powerful.

Not only do we learn how lucky we have it here, but we also learn how to become better leaders and people.

The follow-up book – The Dichotomy of Leadership was, unfortunately, exactly what I expected Extreme Ownership to be.

Honorable Mention

Living with the Monks

Jesse Itzler’s previous book, Living With a Seal, is one of my favorite reads. It is equal parts hilarious and motivating. Living with monks, understandably, wasn’t as comedic as living with a Navy SEAL, but I still really liked this book. There are so many great lessons in here. I know I’ll be reading it again soon.

This may be the most underrated book of 2018.

The Tao of Pooh

This was a Dan John book recommendation. It surprised me how much I could learn from Winnie the Pooh.

“If we add up all the rewards in our lives, we won’t have very much. But if we add up all the spaces between the rewards, we’ll come up with quite a bit. And if we add up the rewards and the spaces, then we’ll have everything.”

Personal Development

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment

Getting really good at something is a rollercoaster. Sometimes you feel like a natural. Sometimes you feel like a dunce. No book encapsulates this journey quite like Mastery.

The “Mastery Curve” outlined is the perfect representation of what learning a new skill looks like. As much as we wish progress would be linear, that’s never the case. Instead, we see a little progress, a bit of a decline, and then a long plateau before any more signs of progress.

This book is about how to manage those long, boring plateaus. The plateaus where most people quit. Because, as this book will show you, the master is the one who stays on the path, day after day, regardless of boredom or an apparent lack of progress.

Honorable Mention

Atomic Habits

This is my new favorite book on habits. The Power of Habit and The Power of Less are great, but this one is fantastic. The lessons are memorable and its advice is actionable. This may be the “blueprint” on how to change your life.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Zig Ziglar spoke highly of this book. I finally listened to the audiobook this year. It’s heavily focused on prayer and the Bible, and I understand that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I got so much out of this book that I’ve listened to it a few times now.

Professional Development

This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See

I’ve been a big Seth Godin fan for years. His message of “getting started before you’re perfect” has helped me immensely.

There’s a lot to love about this book. It’s not about making more money or becoming famous. It’s about learning to understand the stories we tell ourselves and how they affect us.

This book guides us on how we can spread positive messages and help change the world for the better.

Honorable Mention

Legacy

If I could make every teenaged athlete read one book, I think this would be it. I placed it under “Professional Development”, though, because I’d do the same with my employees.

This book will make you a better teammate, a harder worker, and a more successful individual. Champions do extra.

The Score Takes Care of Itself

It started out slow, but by the end, I got the message. When we focus on the basics and do the little things perfectly, the score will take care of itself.

Fitness

Tactical Barbell and Tactical Barbell II: Conditioning

Combining both strength and endurance training has always intrigued me. I’ve never wanted to be the strongest guy in the world, nor have I ever wanted to be a fast distance runner. I decided long ago that being stronger and faster than most people was a goal worth pursuing.

I loved collecting Marvel cards as a kid. Comparing the qualities on the back – like strength, speed, agility, and stamina, was my favorite part. We’d often play “Super Heroes” and chose who we wanted to pretend to be based on those cards. Hulk and Thing were cool with all that strength, but I preferred the well-rounded heroes like Spider-man and Wolverine.
 
Come to think of it, maybe “agility” was what I valued most. What’s the point of being big and strong if you can’t move?
 
Regardless, I’ve spent the past two decades of my life trying to “level up” my strength, speed, and endurance. I wish I’d found these books a long time ago as they contain some of the best information available on how to do so.

Honorable Mention

Endure

Endure had me skeptical at first. I’ve come across a lot of books like this and very rarely do they live up to their expectations.

Perhaps I got more out of this one because I went in with more of an open mind. I wasn’t looking for answers this time. Instead, I was looking for the right questions to be asking. In this regard, Endure delivered.

Pressing Reset: Original Strength Reloaded

The idea behind this book is simple – get strong and mobile by tapping into our body’s “reset buttons”.

This book will teach you to rock, roll, crawl, breathe, and move your head the way you were born to do. How the author reaches his conclusions is… interesting. But I’ve found a lot of value in the prescribed movements. Crawls and rolls have become a big part of what we do at Conviction Fitness because of it.

Family

Way Of The Warrior Kid and Marc’s Mission: Way Of The Warrior Kid

While far from “great literature”, these books were enjoyable. Reading them with my kids (aged 5 and 8) was a lot of fun. My son, Max, has already asked to reread them together.

The messages in these books are important for kids to hear: If you aren’t good at something, practice it. If you have a problem, deal with it. If you want something, work for it. If someone isn’t nice to you, be nice to them anyways.

… Actually, these are important messages for all of us to hear.

Honorable Mention

The Giving Tree

We picked this one up during a visit to the library. I was familiar with the story but had never actually read the book.

Reading it with the kids was an experience I don’t think any of us will forget.

Magic Tree House Merlin Missions 1-4

Pretty simple – Jack and his sister Annie come across a Magic Tree House in the forest. The books inside the tree house take them to different times and places where it’s up to them to save the day. These books were a lot of fun to read together.

Least Favorite

As I stated above, sometimes a book isn’t what we expected or hoped for. It’s frustrating when that happens. My goal here isn’t to put anyone down. My goal here, again, is to steer you towards books I found enjoyable and useful.

Tribe of Mentors

Tools of Titans was good. There was a lot of solid advice, routines, and resources from a lot of very successful people. It felt like many “Titans” had something real to share.

This book, though, was terrible.

The little value provided in Tribe of Mentors was not worth the time invested in reading it. It looks, feels, and reads like the results of a survey.

Listen to the podcast instead.

Honorable Mention

Unplugged

I really like Brian MacKenzie. I did not like this book.

Through My Eyes

Athlete biographies are some of my favorite books. So when I saw Tim Tebow’s for $1.00 at a book sale, I jumped on it.

It’s bad. Would it be rude to say I overpaid?

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