12 January, 2014

The best books I read in 2013

Cleaning out consumed books on my Kindle this morning, I got inspired to share which of the books I read in 2013 that I enjoyed the most and would recommend to others. It's a mixed bag of novels, business books and various non-fiction.
  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
    My favourite novel of the year explores what happened to Japanese Americans on the west coast of the US during World War II. It is a historically accurate book providing a fascinating window into life in Seattle in the 40s.
  • Among Muslims: Meetings at the Frontiers of Pakistan by Kathleen Jamie
    I love travelling and I love reading the accounts of other people emerging themselves in other cultures. My wife and I went to Pakistan in July and out of the 60+ countries I have spent time in, Pakistan is probably the most friendly and hospitable place I've ever visited. Unfortunately, not many travel there, but Kathleen Jamie did and she's written a beautiful book about her experiences.
  • K2:Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs
    It's hard to beat the combination of adventure and drama that you find in mountaineering books and I'm a sucker to those books. One of the best I read last year is Ed Viesturs' narrative of the climbing history of K2. The fact that I was trekking into K2 base camp in Pakistan while I read the book only enhanced the reading experience.
  • Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life by Arlene Blum
    Mountaineering used to be a heavily male dominated sport. Back in the 1970s, Arlene Blum was determined to change that and led the first teams of women to successful summits of great mountains like Denali and Annapurna.
  • Fall of Giants and Winter of the World by Ken Follett
    These are the first two books of a historic trilogy which follows five interrelated families move through the 20th century. It's a very captivating way of learning about all the events that led to the world wars and the impact those had on people in various layers of society. Warning: These are big books! Although these days you don't realise until after several hours of reading and the progress bar hasn't moved much.
  • Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivated Us by Daniel Pink
    When it comes to motivating people in the workplace, there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Read this to understand why great companies should give their employees autonomy, mastery and purpose. I read this as part of a Friday book discussion group at work and I am grateful that I work for a company that sees this book as a blueprint for people management.
  • Whole Earth Discipline: Why Dense Cities, Nuclear Power, Transgenic Crops, Restored Wildlands, and Geoengineering Are Necessary by Stewart Brand
    What does it really take to ensure a sustainable future for humanity? You may find some of these ideas controversial, but this is an eye-opening book written by a green activist turned realist.
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles Mann
    In short, new archeological evidence suggests that the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparse, primitive or living in a pristine wilderness. Populations were some of the largest on the planet, very sophisticated and they actively engineered the environment around them. Some great lessons on sustainable geoengineering.
  • Presentation Secrets by Alexei Kapterev
    If you do a lot of presentations, it's always good to get a few tips for improvements. This book is great because it's written by a guy who by his own admission used to be a lousy presenter. It contains some very pragmatic guidelines for story telling, building attractive slides and delivering with a passion.
  • I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting the Lid on the Beautiful Game by Anonymous
    For a lifelong football fan (football with your feet that is), this is a rare insight into the "glamorous" life of a professional footballer. Written by a current player at the highest level, whose identity remains a mystery, this is an honest and fearless account of what goes on behind the scenes in the world of professional football.
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
    Considering this book in the context of "Big Data" will give you some interesting perspectives on the future...

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