Reflection Archive

2017 in Review: Books Read

 2017 Books

I’m currently dealing with what I think are some frozen pipes in my heating system, so this post will be abbreviated. Trying not to freak out and start cutting up the drywall to thaw the pipes.

I’m pleased to see that I hit a new books read in a year record of 113. For full transparency the vast majority of the books I “read” were actually audio books, however I can read far faster than I can listen. It again is a way to leverage my abysmal commute. Below are my top picks for the year and all of my books read.

Top 3 Books of 2017






Out of Your Mind: Tricksters, Interdependence, and the Cosmic Game of Hide and Seek This is a fantastic set of lectures on big topics. Watts had an interesting perspective that blends both Western and Eastern ideas into something easy to digest and apply in everyday life. I recall having many “ah-ha” moments while reading this and plan to do so again.







The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacific

This book will never make you want to complain again. This man went through hell and back and to hell again and survived. Alistair Urquhart was a member of the Scottish Gordon Highlanders. His group was sent to Singapore in 1939 and by December, 1941, the Japanese had seized control. Singapore, Britain’s main outpost in the Far East, fell to an invading force only 1/3 the size of the defenders. Urquhart and thousands of others became prisoners of the Japanese. This began a 3 1/2 year odyssey for Urquhart which saw him endure sadistic treatment at the hands of the Japanese.






The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended This is an awesome book that goes deep on all the health benefits of fasting and intermittent fasting. Long duration fasting (more than 24 hours) has taught me most importantly of all that hunger is usually a result of conditioning more often than true bodily hunger.

2017 Reading List

I’m pleased to report I hit a new yearly book PR of 113 books read.

Beyond Redemption Michael R. Fletcher
The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance Steven Kotler
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions Brian Christian,Tom Griffiths
More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite Sebastian Mallaby
Get Smart!: How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field Brian Tracy
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddh Tara Brach
Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results Stephen Guise
Cholesterol Clarity: What The HDL Is Wrong With My Numbers? Jimmy Moore, Eric C. Westman
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Trevor Noah
One Wild Bird at a Time: Portraits of Individual Lives Bernd Heinrich
The Science of Energy The Great Courses and Professor Michael E. Wysession
The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life Piero Ferrucci
All Quiet on the Western Front Erich Maria Remarque
Money Management Skills The Great Courses, Professor Michael Finke
Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science Dani Rodrik
The Complete TurtleTrader: How 23 Novice Investors Became Overnight Millionaires Michael W. Covel
Lincoln David Herbert Donald
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers Tim Ferris
Pets on the Couch: Neurotic Dogs, Compulsive Cats, Anxious Birds, and the New Science of Animal Psychiatry Nicholas Dodman
The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacific Alistair Urquhart
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales Oliver Sacks
The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Jason Fung, Jimmy Moore
Dark Pools: The Rise of the Machine Traders and the Rigging of the U.S. Stock Market Scott Patterson
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management Roger Lowenstein
Civilization: The West and the Rest Niall Ferguson
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Jonathan Haidt
Siddhartha Hermann Hesse
Full Dark, No Stars Stephen King
Big Sur Jack Kerouac
The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man John Perkins
Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima James Mahaffey
Wired to Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You Robb Wolf
Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion Gary Vaynerchuk
The Moviegoer Walker Percy
Profiles in Courage: Deluxe Modern Classic John F. Kennedy
Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting Wayne W. Dyer
Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion Sam Harris
Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies Cesar Hidalgo
The Heavens May Fall Allen Eskens
Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor) Mark Lawrence
When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery Frank Vertosick Jr.
The Lost Art of Listening, Second Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships Michael P. Nichols
The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History Thor Hanson
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World Cal Newport
The Strangler Vine (A Blake and Avery Novel) M.J. Carter
The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe Joseph E. Stiglitz
Shadowrun 15: Burning Bright Tom Dowd
Becoming a Writer Dorothea Brande
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory Caitlin Doughty
Stories of Your Life and Others Ted Chiang
NPCs (Spells, Swords, & Stealth Book 1) Drew Hayes
Trend Following (Updated Edition): Learn to Make Millions in Up or Down Markets Michael W. Covel
The Hike: A Novel Drew Magary
Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud David Dayen
Ready Player One Ernest Cline
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict The Arbinger Institute
Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War Mary Roach
Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics Richard H. Thaler
The Buy Side Turney Duff
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life Eric Greitens
The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria) Anthony Ryan
The Solution To Social Anxiety: Break Free From The Shyness That Holds You Back Aziz Gazipura
The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills Daniel Coyle
The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers Matt Bird
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness Edward Abbey
Ubik Philip K. Dick
Hedge Fund Market Wizards: How Winning Traders Win Jack D. Schwager
Mastering Amazon Ads Brian Meeks
Hiroshima John Hersey
What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength Scott Carney
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World Jack Weatherford
Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning Benjamin K. Bergen
The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero Timothy Egan
Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It Jennifer Michael Hecht
Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History Dan Flores
The Sociopath Next Door Martha Stout Ph.D.
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things Maynard James Keenan
Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body Jo Marchant
Suggestible You: The Curious Science of Your Brain’s Ability to Deceive, Transform, and Heal Erik Vance
My Favorite Universe Neil deGrasse Tyson
Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them Jennifer Wright
Anansi Boys Neil Gaiman
How to Get Run Over by a Truck Katie C. McKenna
Coilhunter – A Science Fiction Western Adventure (A Coilhunter Chronicles Novel) (The Coilhunter Chronicles Book 1) Dean F. Wilson
The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith
Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success Shawn Stevenson
The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy Chris Bailey
Principles: Life and Work Ray Dalio
Men of Affairs Roland Pertwee
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think Peter H. Diamandis,Steven Kotler
Out of Your Mind Alan Watts
Shadowrun: Nothing Personal Olivier Gagnon
Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System–and Themselves Andrew Ross Sorkin
Shadowrun: The Vladivostok Gauntlet Olivier Gagnon
Arm Size and Strength: The Ultimate Guide Charles R Poliquin
Nightmares: Bedtime Stories for the Wicked Mark Souza
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power Brené Brown
The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves Matt Ridley
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It Gary Taubes
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative Florence Williams
The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to Be Calm and Mindful in a Fast-Paced World Haemin Sunim
Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism Fumio Sasaki
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse Book 1) Dennis Taylor
Scythe (Arc of a Scythe Book 1) Neal Shusterman
The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined Steven Pinker
Jailhouse Strong Josh Bryant,‎ Adam benShea
Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive Brandon Sanderson
Shadowrun: Fire & Frost Kai O’Connal
The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) Gretchen Rubin
Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks Dave Asprey
Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the RadicalRight Jane Mayer
Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind Joe Dispenza
The Internet of Money Andreas M. Antonopoulos


See my 2015 and 2016 years in review below:

Learning to Love Reading

Learning to Love Reading

I’m very fortunate to have learned to love reading when I was in elementary school. I started with Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine, which were horror books for kids. They’re laughably scary now, but I remember them having quite an impact on me at the time. They were addictive. I had a few friends who read them too. We’d swap them around and discuss them in school, discussing how stupid the characters were to walk into the abandoned house rumored to be haunted by the vindictive witch. Then I moved onto R. L. Stine’s YA books, the Fear Street Saga.

These books were pivotal in my youth and likely for countless others. I would still suggest reading them today, not Goosebumps, but Fear Street. In hindsight, these were dark books for a kid to read, comprising a tale of betrayal, revenge, and unrequited love. These books did not end happily.

Then there was a period in High School for about a year when I hardly read at all, the time swallowed by socializing, chasing girls, and video games. Then I made a new friend who was an avid reader and thus reignited my passion for reading. We would spend weekends from morning to night at the now closed Border’s books, gathering stacks of books and magazines and lugging them up to the cafe area. Being the poor students we were, we would bring our own food and drink in bags and eat at the cafe. And of course, it was rare for one of us to cough up the funds to actually buy a book.

This period was a turning point for me. I realized everything I wanted to learn could be learned without the help of a school teacher. I discovered that I didn’t need anyone but a book to teach me what I wanted to know. [This is of course discounting the immense value of mentors, though I did not know that then.] I taught myself how to program, studied physics, computer architecture, science, hacking, read fiction, dug into philosophy and more. I realized that school was only for the lazy and those without the mental fortitude to take self-directed education.

I learned that there were few things that excited me more than learning new stuff. Knowledge really was power. Knowledge was the key to unlocking the mysteries of life. The vicious thing about learning is that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know.

I carried this hunger for knowledge with me throughout college and after. Last year I read more books than I ever had in a year and upon reflection, found the experience immensely enjoyable. It really made the year feel like it was an incredibly valuable use of time. Audiobooks have become one of my favorite ways to digest a book, as I now drive over 100 miles each day for work. As I’ve said before in previous blog posts, it’s a great use of “dead time.”

READERS: How did you discover your love of reading? Please let me know in the comments!

2016 in Review: Goals, Books Read

2016 in Review


I set a goal to do something interesting with my girlfriend once a month. It was hit on most occasions. The condition I put in place to achieve the goal was a monthly google calendar email alert. I love gcal. It’s great for these types of cyclical goals. Groupon has been an awesome resource for finding super interesting and reasonably priced activities. Most notably we recently attended a glass blowing class, which was a lot of fun! It’s great way to have a novel experience and potentially find a new hobby.

I had another goal to meet up with a friend at least once a month. Low bar, right? Maybe its a symptom of being old, maybe from taking on too much other shit, but I’ve felt like my time was continually regimented and restricted this year. Spending 2.5 hours commuting everyday certainly has not helped this cause. I made a good attempt at meeting this goal, but sometimes fell short due to not following up with initial contacts for planning a meetup.


I came super close to hitting my financial goals for having $xxx in liquid assets. I had a few shitty trades (option trading) at the end of the year due to improper risk management that really hurt my both account and my trading confidence. I’m still chipping away, but it has been a harsh lesson in risk management and how tail risk can eventually get you. I’m trying to write it off as part of building my skill base for trading as I’ve started experimenting with more complex instruments such as Iron Condors and Butterflys.


I set a goal to write 1,500 words every time I write (M-Sat, Sunday off), which I’m pleased to report I hit on most days. Times where the bar was not hit was typically due to extenuating circumstances. I thought 1,500 would be far more painful that it turned out to be, but once again I’m surprised by how well the “formal process” of goal setting works. There really is something magical about writing a goal down. I believe the act of writing it crystallizes the intention in some part of your unconscious mind that keeps you driving for its success.

Book sales have been frustrating at best. Perhaps my expectations are too high. I am a long way from being able to write full time. Something needs to change. I have some ideas I’m going to try in an attempt to put this business back on course for freedom.


I started training BJJ in January of 2016 and have fallen in love with the sport/martial art. It has been a refreshing break from weightlifting. I was hoping it would be a little easier on the body than weightlifting, but it’s significantly harder. I’ve dislocated my shoulder multiple times and it seems like some joint is chronically sore. Despite that, I wouldn’t stop going unless my body totally failed. What I love most about it is the difficulty. It’s very cognitively engaging and I think as a beginner requires a lot of focus to determine how to put your body into new positions and movements.

There is also the aspect of training with a community that hits the social piece that I think a lot of us have lost in our electronic screen-filled lives. While Working in IT I spend most of the day with my headphones on trying to block out the distracting chatter of the office, spending most of my time with my monitors. I think an important part of being a human is having daily social connections with a group.


The goal I’m most excited about hitting this year was finally cracking the elusive 100 books read mark. I managed to wrangle 107.  For full transparency the vast majority of the books I “read” were actually audio books, however I can read far faster than I can listen. It was a way to leverage my abysmal commute. Below are my top picks for the year and all of my books read:

Top 3 Books of 2016


Ego is the Enemy was my most gifted book of 2016. Do yourself a huge favor by buying and reading this book. Some of my notes:

You have to be careful you don’t let ego get the best of you, especially after time of success. Nurturing the ego is a form of death. Robert Greene, refers to this as “dead time.” “There are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second.” To be entrapped in our ego, is to recoil from the world around us, to retreat into solipsism, and to chain ourselves to “dead time.” Ego can ruin aspiration and success, and how it can get in the way of learning from failure

Seneca: “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man.”

Epictetus: “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows”

Bill Bradley: “When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win”

Harold Geneen: “People learn from their failures. Seldom do they learn anything from success”


The Lessons of History is short and jam packed with gems. This book is fucking brilliant, buy it. Read it.

Some of my favorite passages:

“Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way.”

“…But a tornado can ruin in an hour the city that took a century to build; an iceberg can overturn or bisect the floating palace and send a thousand merrymakers gurgling to the Great Certainty. Let rain become too rare, and civilization disappears under sand, as in Central Asia; let it fall too furiously, and civilization will be choked with jungle, as in Central America. Let the thermal average rise by twenty degrees in our thriving zones, and we should probably relapse into lethargic savagery. In a semitropical climate a nation of half a billion souls may breed like ants, but enervating heat may subject it to repeated conquest by warriors from more stimulating habitats. Generations of men establish a growing mastery over the earth, but they are destined to become fossils in its soil…”

“…The startled animals scurry away at our coming; the birds scatter; the fish disperse in the brook. Suddenly we perceive to what a perilous minority we belong on this impartial planet, and for a moment we feel, as these varied denizens clearly do, that we are passing interlopers in their natural habitat. Then all the chronicles and achievements of man fall humbly into the history and perspective of polymorphous life; all our economic competition, our strife for mates, our hunger and love and grief and war, are akin to the seeking, mating, striving, and suffering that hide under these fallen trees or leaves, or in the waters, or on the boughs.”

“…So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life— peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food. Animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law.



If you’re a human and you sit for a significant part of your day, you need to read Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World

Some of my favorite passages:

“Some experts argue that sitting is even more pernicious than smoking. An Australian study conducted in 2008 reports that every hour of television watched after age 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by 11 minutes. Dr. Levine claims that for every hour we sit, we lose two hours of life.6 The typical seated office worker has more musculoskeletal injuries than any other industry sector worker, including construction, metal industry, and transportation workers. One researcher’s conclusion: sitting is as much an occupational risk as lifting heavy weights on the job.”

“When we sit for long periods, the muscles in our lower bodies literally turn off and become inactive. Simultaneously, we automatically adopt positions that don’t utilize the critical muscles and connective tissues that stabilize and support our trunk and spine.”

“…the actual cause of pain or sickness can be very elusive, and assigning blame can be difficult. If a beaver chews away at a tree for nine days straight and then a mild breeze knocks the tree over, what caused that tree to fall? Sure, the wind finished the job, but without the beaver’s long hours of arduous work, the tree would have been just fine. When it comes to many modern ailments, our sedentary lifestyle is the hardworking beaver that weakens our bodies and primes us for pain and disease. It’s time we stand up to our sitting world.”

Runner Up

I really wasn’t expecting much new from The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, but it was surprisingly filled with a lot of stuff I didn’t know about food science. This book goes DEEP on the food industry’s vile practices they use to get you to consume their shit.

2016 Reading List

Firefight (The Reckoners) – Brandon Sanderson
She Sat He Stood: What Do Your Characters Do While They Talk? – Ginger Hanson
The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed – Mark Divine
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Half the World (Shattered Sea Book 2) – Joe Abercrombie
Trading in the Zone: Master the Market with Confidence, Discipline and a Winning Attitude – Mark Douglas
Stealing the Corner Office: The Winning Career Strategies They’ll Never Teach You in Business School – Brendan Reid
Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement – Katy Bowman
Half a War (Shattered Sea Book 3) – Joe Abercrombie
The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath – Ben S. Bernanke
The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning – Marcelo Gleiser
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers – Ben Horowitz
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration – Ed Catmull
Stock Options Trading Strategies: 3-Digit Return Opportunities On Large Monthly Amplitude Cycles – Julian Sebastian, Juris Doctorate
The Lessons of History – Will Durant, Ariel Durant
Power vs. Force – David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D.
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
How to Develop Story Tension: 13 Techniques Plus the Five Minute Magic Trick Guaranteed to Keep Your Readers Turning Pages – Amy Deardon
The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships – Neil Strauss
Blood Song (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life – Joe De Sena
Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing – Melissa Mohr
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win – Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
Market Wizards, Updated: Interviews With Top Traders – Jack D. Schwager
#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness – Gary Vaynerchuk
Third Circle Theory: Purpose Through Observation – Pejman Ghadimi
The Daily Trading Coach: 101 Lessons for Becoming Your Own Trading Psychologist – Brett N. Steenbarger
Get Rich with Options: Four Winning Strategies Straight from the Exchange Floor – Lee Lowell
Kissinger: A Biography – Walter Isaacson
400 Things Cops Know: Street-Smart Lessons from a Veteran Patrolman – Adam Plantinga
Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law – Joe Abercrombie
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal – Tom Shroder
Lying – Sam Harris
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma – Bessel van der Kolk M.D.
Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job & Your Dream Job – Jon Acuff
Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday
The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman – Richard P. Feynman
Getting Started in Options – Michael C. Thomsett
Why Isn’t My Brain Working?: A Revolutionary Understanding of Brain Decline and Effective Strategies to Recover Your Brain’s Health – Dr. Datis Kharrazian
Ego Is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror – Michael Weiss, Hassan Hassan
The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable – James Owen Weatherall
The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It – Kelly McGonigal
Elantris – Brandon Sanderson
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction – Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner
Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade – Adam Minter
Adventures in Human Being: A Grand Tour from the Cranium to the Calcaneum – Gavin Francis
Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime – Val McDermid
$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America – Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer
The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM) (Volume 5) – Hal Elrod
Men Explain Things To Me – Rebecca Solnit
The Prince – Niccolò Machiavelli
The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Tower Lord (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us – Michael Moss
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders – Vincent Bugliosi
My Antonia – Willa Cather
The Call of the Wild – Jack London
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World – Andrea Wulf
You’re It!: On Hiding, Seeking, and Being Found – Alan Watts
The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – Ken Robinson
The Screwtape Letters – C. S. Lewis
Queen of Fire (A Raven’s Shadow Novel) – Anthony Ryan
The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It – Scott Patterson
The Great Courses: The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries – Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Road – Cormac McCarthy
The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives – Leonard Mlodinow
Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground – Kevin Poulsen
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results – Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Greg McKeown
The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months – Brian P. Moran, Michael Lennington
Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender – David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D.
Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection – Jia Jiang
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ – Giulia Enders
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It – Kamal Ravikant
The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game – Sam Sheridan
Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success – Napoleon Hill
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
I Can See Clearly Now – Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future – Martin Ford
The Road to Character – David Brooks
A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing – Burton G. Malkiel
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol Dweck
The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism – Jeremy Rifkin
The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome – Susan Wise Bauer
The Power of Broke: How Empty Pockets, a Tight Budget, and a Hunger for Success Can Become Your Greatest Competitive Advantage – Daymond John
Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything – Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams
The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival – John Vaillant
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – Cheryl Strayed
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott
Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass series Book 1) – Sarah J. Maas
Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff – Jim Johnson
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? – Frans de Waal
Deskbound: Standing Up to a Sitting World – Kelly Starrett
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – Brené Brown
The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor – Mark Schatzker
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain – John J. Ratey
Don Quixote – Miguel De Cervantes
Where Are the Customers’ Yachts?: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street – Fred Schwed
Fear and Trembling – Soren Kierkegaard
The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection – Michael Ruhlman


See my 2015 in Review below:

Things I’ve Learned From My Dog

Things I’ve Learned From My Dog

  1. Expect the best from people and give them a warm greeting. Do I always do this — hell no. But I like the idea. Charlotte will run up to most people at the dog park and try to give them a kiss, albeit without them expecting it. It’s the thought that counts, right?
  2. Charlotte willingly will give most things a shot at least once. Jumping over rocks, slithering into narrow spaces, to jumping the backyard fence. The time she jumped the fence I found her terrified, trying to jump back over but failing. She made it over in the first place by standing on a pile of leaves and dirt I use for compost. She never tried to jump the fence again. Give new things a shot, even if they scare you.
  3. Charlotte doesn’t speak when she wants to be touched. She simply nudges her snout against you or under your arm until you start rubbing and scratching her. She loves attention and loves to be petted. Being touched makes you feel good. It’s easy to forget how important this is to life when you spent most of your day lost in the hustle and bustle of the day.
  4. When she wants something or doesn’t like something she plainly lets you know without beating around the bush. When she wants to go outside she’ll whine at the door. Wants to eat, she’ll sit near her food bowls. If she wants to sleep and we’re watching a movie, she’ll go into the bedroom where it’s dark. There generally is no murkiness to what she needs to be happy.
  5. Charlotte simply wants to be with you. She doesn’t care where we’re going, what we’re doing as long as we’re doing it together. I think what makes her most disappointed is when (we) the humans leave the house without her.
  6. She needs to workout to remain sane. If she doesn’t get her walks she won’t sleep and will spend the night gnawing and licking herself. She is an organism whose body needs to be used for more than just sitting and sleeping.  She always stretches before she moves, when she wakes up, and when starting any sort of physical activity. I find her frequent stretching quite remarkable.
  7. Dogs let go. If you accidentally step on her paw, bump her too hard, accidentally pinch her long tail on something she’ll let you know with a yelp. A few seconds later it’s as if it never happened. She instantly forgives and does not hold grudges. Grudges, bad moods are simply a waste of your energy and a waste of your short life.
  8. Persistence pays off. When I’m trying to teach my dog a new trick, most recently balancing a treat on her snout, she doesn’t know what I expect of her. Each time she gets it right I praise her and give her a treat. Do that twenty, fifty times later she knows what I’m looking for and can do it almost flawlessly, though sometimes confuses commands.

Readers: Have a dog? Any pet? Post your pet’s photo in the comments! 🙂

5 Things I’ve Learned from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) about 4 months ago. It’s a grappling martial art with a focus on joint locks/dislocations, throws/takedowns, and chokes. The goal is to use your body’s leverage to best a stronger opponent. BJJ is what MMA(Mixed Martial Arts) and UFC fighters generally use when you see their bodies tangled up and wrestling on the ground. It is widely considered one the most effective forms of martial arts for self-defense. Brazilian jiu-jitsu has been forged in the fire of ring based combat, proving itself as an almost insurmountable style to compete against.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is an amazing fighting style, but also has many parallels to living life in its fullest. 

“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” -Bruce Lee

  1. You will fail. A lot. And it’s ok.

To get better at BJJ, you will often find yourself in positions that could be crippling and certainly deadly. When you’re a white belt, the tyro’s color, you’re always failing and getting beaten. This is my current rank and my experience 95% of the time I put my skills to the test against another opponent. When your opponent is about to choke you into unconsciousness, you “tap out” by frantically tapping a part of your opponent’s body and they will then release you before causing any damage, at least a good training partner should. When you tap out, you concede that the person holding you in that position has the capability to kill you or break your bones, and that you have given up and must trust them to let you go unharmed. It’s difficult to accept. It’s hard for me to accept. I don’t like giving up. Just last week, I was in an armbar and I tried to fight my way out of it when I should have immediately tapped. Part of it was wanting to see what I could do to get out. You learn very quickly to accept defeat when in a horribly compromised position. I ended up with an elbow that’s still sore over a week later. People who cannot stand to have their egos bruised will not last. When you walk through that door you have to discard it, knowing you’re weak as a baby worm in the hands of wolves. It’s humbling and if you’re used to be being good at everything you do, get used to being bad. Very bad. 

2. There will always be someone at a level above you

You will never be complete. The evolution of the craft of BJJ is endless and always evolving, like life. From my limited experience, it seems like new techniques are always propping up and as they start trending you must learn how to defend them. Life is either growing or dying. The more you learn in BJJ, the more you realize you don’t know.

3. There are no shortcuts to success

You must put in the time and dedication if you truly want to get good at anything. I’m all about working smart. Work smart and work hard if you want to get good. There are some guys who come once a week and they might be white belts for five years, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but your advancement will be significantly slower than someone who can commit and find the time to train 4-5 times a week. Life sometimes, though not always, gives you what you put in.

4. Your body is a treasure

Martial arts help you realize the potential of your body. Once you see how it can move and what it can do, you will may find it disturbing how little many people respect theirs. You only get one body (for now), don’t fuck it up. I’m already starting to feel the seams of my body stretching at the ripe old age of 33. Injuries take a little longer to recover from. My work capacity is a bit less than it once was. It’s a gift that you might not appreciate until it’s far too gone to fix. Exercise, eat right, move everyday.

5. Most things don’t matter

When you get into positions where you’re about to be choked unconscious, or your shoulder is a few more pounds of force from being torn free from the socket, the other noise in your life seems to fade into the background, forcing you into the immediate present. When you’re in a compromised position on such a regular basis, you become somewhat inoculated to that stress. It makes you cold, it helps you think clearly under duress.

If you haven’t tried BJJ, I would highly suggest giving it a shot. I love it! Can you tell? Do you practice martial arts? If so, which style?


2015 in Review: Books Read, Goals

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my 2015 writing performance, though there is a lot of room for improvement. I published three novels and made progress on my fifth novel, which stands at over 120,000 words… while holding down a full-time job in the technology sector (software development). I believe my writing has evolved quite a bit since I wrote my first book, Stormcaller and can only hope it continues to improve in the future.

I had a couple fitness goals and glad to say I hit one and came pretty damn close to hitting the other. The first was a 500lb deadlift and I managed to pull 505lb. The second was a 300lb bench press, but I couldn’t seem to get past 295lb. I have a great coach who designed a fantastic program for me to hit these goals. He was a former Strongman competitor and has 20+ years of experience weightlifting, so I have to give him a lot of credit for helping me achieve that. I’m going to take a break from serious weight lifting and go back to martial arts, starting with Brazilian jiu-jitsu specifically.

Another goal I had was to get Scuba diving certified and am quite pleased that my girlfriend and I got that. If you had any interest in learning how to Scuba dive, I highly suggest doing it. It’s an incredible world down there. I thought at one pointed I wanted to purchase a semi-automatic handgun, but now I’m not so sure. I had it as a goal, and sort of lost interest as the year progressed.

My Top 3 Books of 2015

  1. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto) Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  2. Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure Andreas Kluth
  3. A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson

What were your favorite books from last year?

Books Read (in the order they were read): I had a goal of 100, but going to give it another shot next year.

  1. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (Incerto) Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  2. The Magnesium Miracle (Revised and Updated) Carolyn Dean Md Nd
  3. Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story Arnold Schwarzenegger
  4. Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler
  5. Thinking, Fast and Slow Daniel Kahneman
  6. Mistborn: The Final Empire Brandon Sanderson
  7. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr Ron Chernow
  8. Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life (Red Sneaker Writers Book Series 2) William Bernhardt
  9. Starting Strength Mark Rippetoe
  10. 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew: The Best Quick and Easy Ways to Increase Motivation, Lose Weight, Get In Shape, and Stay Healthy Derek Doepker
  11. Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find-and Keep-Love Amir Levine, Rachel Heller
  12. Writing Fight Scenes (Writer’s Craft Book 1) Rayne Hall
  13. Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos Donald J. Wheeler
  14. The Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Joseph Campbell
  15. The Artist’s Way Julia Cameron
  16. Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men Leonard Sax
  17. Gardens of the Moon: Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen Steven Erikson
  18. Before They Are Hanged: The First Law: Book Two Joe Abercrombie
  19. Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World H.H. Dalai Lama
  20. The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life Dave Asprey
  21. The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (Incerto) Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  22. Last Argument of Kings (First Law: Book Three) Joe Abercrombie
  23. A People’s History of the United States Howard Zinn
  24. 37 Quickfire Lesson In Trading Options: 10 Years of Trading Experience Compacted Into Easy to Digest Lessons Gavin McMaster
  25. Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear, and Panic Jeffrey Brantley MD DFAPA
  26. Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  27. The Evolution of God Robert Wright
  28. Red Country Joe Abercrombie
  29. The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves Dan Ariely
  30. The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More Chris Anderson
  31. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking Susan Cain
  32. The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement David Brooks
  33. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It Mark Cuban
  34. The Post-American World Fareed Zakaria
  35. The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance Josh Waitzkin
  36. Best Served Cold Joe Abercrombie
  37. Mitosis Brandon Sanderson
  38. Managing Oneself Peter Drucker
  39. As a Man Thinketh James Allen
  40. Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All- —and What We Can Do About It Sean Faircloth
  41. 101 Ways to Transform Your Life Wayne Dyer
  42. Legion: Skin Deep Brandon Sanderson
  43. Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty
  44. On Being a Man David DeAngelo
  45. Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way Steven Pressfield
  46. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) George R. R. Martin
  47. The Narrow Road: A Brief Guide to the Getting of Money Felix Dennis
  48. The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together John Carlton
  49. The Heroes Joe Abercrombie
  50. Writing Naked Puts: The Best Option Strategies. Volume 1 Mark D Wolfinger
  51. Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
  52. Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success and Failure Andreas Kluth
  53. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition Charles T. Munger
  54. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character Paul Tough
  55. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming Mike Brown
  56. Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, Sixth Edition Charles P. Kindleberger
  57. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t Simon Sinek
  58. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Ashlee Vance
  59. How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed Ray Kurzweil
  60. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell Brandon Sanderson
  61. The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience Chuck Wendig
  62. Revival Stephen King
  63. Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success Shane Snow
  64. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help Amanda Palmer
  65. The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King Rich Cohen
  66. The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon Brad Stone
  67. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Walter Isaacson
  68. Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman Neil Gaiman
  69. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic Dan Ariely
  70. Warbreaker Brandon Sanderson
  71. The Virgin Way: If It’s Not Fun, It’s Not Worth Doing Richard Branson
  72. The Way of Zen Alan W. Watts
  73. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life Thich Nhat Hanh
  74. Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human Jesse Bering
  75. Virtual Light William Gibson
  76. Life 101: Everything We Wish We Had Learned about Life in School–But Didn’t (Life 101 Series) Peter McWilliams
  77. A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson
  78. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person Shonda Rhimes
  79. 30 Days In The Word Mines Chuck Wendig
  80. Alan Turing: The Enigma Andrew Hodges
  81. The Girl With All the Gifts M. R. Carey