10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2018

As in past years, reading a book per week hardly makes a dent in all the great ones out there. This year I focused on personal development and history & biography. My guilty pleasure is detective fiction but didn't find any good new ones.

I keep abreast of current works. But I also look back to see what older books and classics I've missed. Here are the best from this year. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development

No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career by Larry Smith

So many service members leave their first post-military job within the first year. Larry Smith’s insights will convince you to hunt for a job you’ll love. His practical advice will show you how. He is as generous as he is perceptive. His counsel during a telephone conversation helped focus my book publishing efforts.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

You can increase your income by working long hours for low pay. Or you can work less doing high-value assignments. Cal Newport teaches you how to organize your day to maximize time for problem-solving. If you think you're not creative or innovative, I beg to differ. You do need to find time to focus and go deep.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Don't believe me about your ability to innovate? Carol Dweck will explain why you must develop a growth mindset. A fixed mindset not only limits you. It will inhibit your children’s success. I had to make this change 30 years ago without her help. Mindset would have reduced the time it took me by at least 50%.

The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt

Written before he became president, Theodore Roosevelt’s short book has guided men for over a century. He presents straightforward principles for pursuing a worthwhile life. Look no further if you’re a veteran looking for meaning in the civilian world.

Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart by Dion Leonard and Craig Borlase

I don't care for “heart-rending,” mellow dramatic stories. So the title of Dion Leonard’s book turned me off. But my wife urged me to read this story about an everyday guy turned ultra-marathoner. At times we’re all plagued by self-doubt. Leonard will inspire you to overcome it.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

I struggle to communicate with my daughter. And she feels sometimes she can't get though to me. So we listened to the audio version of Faber and Mazlish’s book. It has taught millions of parents and children how to bridge this gap. We learned and took action. It works.

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom

It may sound strange that I’m recommending this book. After all, isn't religion about empathy? No. Not when it leads to immoral results. Paul Bloom makes the case that our society has focused too much on empathy at the expense of other values.

History and Biography

Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams by Alvin Yudkoff

Gene Kelly appears to be the poster boy for “born with talent.” Except he wasn’t. Raised in poverty, all he had was hard work and self-discipline. So he trained harder than most other dancers. As a result, Kelly became one of the most successful of all time. Patricia Kelly is writing the definitive biography of her husband. Until then, this will do.

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters by Tom Nichols

Though not strictly a work of history, Tom Nichols shows how our society has devalued expertise over the last few decades. He also delves into why this trend bodes ill for solving the biggest challenges we face. If you think WebMD is as good as a human physician read this book.

The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray

It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issues of migration and immigration. Douglas Murray challenges every position on this complex question. He has researched it and interviewed migrants, illegal immigrants, and public officials. If you plan to debate this issue, read Murray now.

If you want to succeed you must read. Let me know if you have a specific challenge that none of these books address. I’m happy to recommend one to help you.