Book Recommendations For Non-Fiction Lovers

Hi. It's Richard, Jenn's husband. Jenn is always talking about personal development with her team. It's something we feel strongly about in our home.

Those of you that know me know that I really like to read books. I read primarily non-fiction because for me it is simply more interesting. Many people ask for good recommendations on what to read. It is such a hard question because that is so personal. My favorite book is often very boring for someone else. What speaks to one person doesn’t always speak to the next. However, one of the things I love is looking at other people’s lists of books that they like and getting their take on it. It helps me find some very interesting books I normally wouldn’t read.  

I am going to share with you the books I have read in the last year. Normally I have no clue what I read in the last year but this year I moved to Kansas City and my library of books stayed in our house in Provo. Much to Jenn’s chagrin, I purchase a hard copy of all the books I read. So everything I read this last year is sitting on my shelf in Kansas City and nothing else to make to get me confused.

Here are my recommendations in no particular order. I have categorized them by genre.

  • Finance, Economics, and Technology

  • Philosophy and Science

  • Business

  • History


Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Black Edge: Inside Information

It talks about the dirty side of Hedge Funds focusing on Steve Cohen. I found it very interesting to get an inside look at the misdeeds of Wallstreet, how they get away with it, how they do it, and how they do it.

I would recommend this book!

On my My Blowing Scale of 1-10 stars, I'm giving it a 6. Either you are interested in this book or you aren’t.

The Inevitable:  Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

The Inevitable:  Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

This book was a very fascinating read for me.  It was one of those that I wanted to stay up into the night reading.  It talks about how technology is changing and will change our world.  Books like this tend to get over zealous in their predictions….it isn’t too crazy but very interesting to read.  It really helped me see technology through a new lens.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10: 8

Interesting and useful

Machine Platform Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future

Machine Platform Crowd

This book is about the future of technology and how that will affect us.  It is a follow up book to the Second Machine Age, which I have in my library in Provo.  It talks about the modern digital revolution, what is driving it and what the authors believe will be some of its ramifications in the future.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  7

I think everyone should read at least one book on the future of technology.

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

This book is about how wealthy nations in debt, control, influence, punish and/or enslave weaker nations through economics.  I don’t know how true his assumptions are but it is a very insightful and interesting read.  I believe much of what he says does happen but not all of it.  I don’t believe most conspiracy theories or I take them with a grain of salt.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  5

If you like conspiracy theories then this will be a gripper for you.

the Four:  The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

the Four:  The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Never in the history of mankind has one institution held so much influence and sway over mankind as do these four companies.  This is why you should read this book.  You need to understand who they are and what they do beyond being an Amazon Prime junkie.  My wife is a pro at that.   This books explains how they came to be, what they are doing to keep your attention and their future plans to become the first trillion dollar company by having a finger in every aspect of your life.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

You need to be informed on why you are addicted to FB!

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

This book has you covered if you want to learn about that!  If you are trying to use social media to build your business then this book is a great read.  It will help you understand why those stupid videos go viral but yours isn’t getting more than 5 views.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  8

Very good book for people wanting to know how to create viral content.

Everybody Lies:  Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are

Everybody Lies

It turns out that people are the most honest with……..Google.  Through analyzing the aggregate data of Google search there are many fascinating insights on humans.  By analyzing the data we can find very interesting truths that nobody would otherwise be willing to admit or know.  This book was interesting but it wasn’t my favorite.   I don’t know why I didn’t like it.  I guess I felt like it didn’t live up to its potential???

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10: 4

Meh…I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are data guru.


Fooled by Randomness:  The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

Fooled by Randomness

This book is about how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.  What role does luck play in a person’s success?  He uses a lot of examples and jargon from Wall Street but it is applicable to anything.  I personally loved this book.  It really made me think differently and more conservatively about my business ventures.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

Very useful and a viewpoint everyone should understand.  

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

This book is a short read.  The title explains everything you need to know about this book.  If you are at all interested in Physics and don’t have a strong background in it then this book is for you.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10: 6

Easy book to read and instructive

Reality is Not What it Seems:  The Journey to Quantum Gravity

Reality is Not What it Seems

This book is written by the same author as Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli.  Carlo is a good writer and makes reading a book about Physics interesting.  In this book he delves deeper into the topics covered in the previous book.  He talks a lot about how the theory of reality has evolved over time and how we have arrived at our current understanding.  He focuses a lot on quantum gravity.  Basically what you learned about in high school physics or even many college classes was wrong.  Read this book to find out where it was wrong. ;)

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10: 7

If aren’t interested in physics don’t read this book.  I found it to open my mind to new ways of thinking.

The Book of Joy:  Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

The Book of Joy

This book has great insights into how to be happy and how your conditions surrounding you don’t have to dictate your happiness.  It is fun to see the different opinions and views held by the Archbishop versus the Dalai Lama.  The book focuses too much on their relationship than I would like but I like to get down to the facts.  It has too much foofy stuff and that is why I didn’t finish it. I must be too grumpy of a person…it was making me have an identity crises or something.  Very interesting otherwise.  

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  10

Just because I can’t be happy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. ;)

The Achievement Habit:  Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life

The Achievement Habit

I loved this book.  It isn’t the most eloquent and it doesn’t flow very well at times but it really made me think.  I felt like the title is misleading, I thought I was reading a business book but it is more a how to live a good life with business topics mixed in.  Overall, this book made me happy!

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  8

Not the best written but other than that I have nothing but good things to say about it.

The Social Animal:  The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

I think this was my favorite book I read this year.  However, it is one of those books that you hesitate to recommend to people because you know if they read it there is a 50% chance they will think you are crazy.  It goes through the different stages of life while focusing on the subconscious mind and how that affects our life for good or bad.  This is one of those books that is right up my alley.  I have no idea if you will like it or not but it was an amazing and eye opening book for me.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

I don’t know if it is just me or if everyone would like this book.  If it wasn’t for that then it would be at a 10.


Tools of Titans:  The tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers

Tools of Titans

I haven’t read all this book entirely.  It isn’t meant to be read from cover to cover.  It has many small case studies and stories organized by different categories.  I think this book is very interesting to read, however, it falls into the bucket of a lot of bull crap for me.  I know most of you reading this are ready to call me up and tear into me.  I have been reading business books since I was 13 years old.  I feel like they sensationalize and over exaggerate way too much….it just pisses me off and this book isn’t the exception.  Sorry people.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  5

If you haven’t read very many business books like this then it will be very exciting for you to read.  The saving grace of this book is that you can easily pick and choose what you want to read...that is genius!

EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches


This book is written by Dave Ramsey.  I only read part of it and it didn’t grab my attention.  I think I have read and listened to too much of his stuff so it wasn’t very exciting for me.  I don’t know what to say….Dave Ramsey bores me.  That feels like that is a bad thing.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  7

I found it boring but I know a lot of people who love his book.  I think I am the odd man out on this one.

Originals:  How Non-Conformists Move the World

Originals:  How Non-Conformists Move the World

This book is the bomb.  It is one of those books that I feel like I could suggest to anyone and they would most likely enjoy it.  It is well written, thought out and he keeps it interesting.   It is a book about people who are the movers and shakers and what they have in common.  This book is the book that Tools for Titans should have been.  Researched and well thought out.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

If you read non-fiction then this is a must read in my book.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy

This was one of the typical business books that I start reading and just can’t stomach.  However, I do like and agree with its premise of the blue ocean strategy.  The problem is that I could have read a 5 page white paper on it and that would suffice.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  4

I don’t need to read 224 pages of the same thing just phrased differently.

Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap….and Others Don’t

Good to Great

This a great book.  I read a good chunk of it but didn’t finish it.  I have read lots about this book and so I decided to finally read it.  I think I got bored with it because I had read most of his principles already.  My favorite part of the book is that what most people think would make a great leader typically isn’t true.  I love that they use statistics and studies in this book to make their assumptions unlike many other books in this genre.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  8

If you are unfamiliar with his work then it is a must read.

The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live Without Regret

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is a very easy read.  It has a fresh perspective and doesn’t fall too much into the trap that many business books fall into of being repetitive and/or sensationalized.  If you are an active person who doesn’t read a lot of books but wants to be your own boss then this is the book I would suggest for you to read (if you made it this far in this list then you probably aren’t that person).

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  8.5

Just a simple straightforward book with great insights.

Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion

Just crush it.  Do these three easy steps and you will crush it.  Everyone is crushing it.  You should crush it.  Crushing it is sooo easy.  Crush it like me by doing this one thing.  That is how I felt this book read.  It is a short read and I couldn’t hack it.  I really like Gary on his videos and I was excited about reading his book but I was disappointed in his book.  I think some people will love his book (if you love Tony Robbins then you will like this book).

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  4

I am sure this book has changed someone’s life.

Hooked:  How to Build Habit-Forming Products

How has FB, Snap, Online Games, etc… become so successful?  By building products that are habit forming.  Would you like to what that looks like?  If yes then this book is a must read.  I actually read it twice this year.  If you are in the business of building a product for consumers then you need to read this book.  I hesitate putting this book on the list because I feel like this is my new secret sauce and I need to keep it a secret. ;)

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

If you aren’t involved in driving customer engagement then this book might not be super interesting.  Other than that you HAVE to read this book.


The American Spirit:  Who We Are and What We Stand For

The American Spirit

This book is a compilation of speeches that David McCullough has given.   Overall I liked it but he starts every speech very similar and half way through the book it gets old.  I like how he gets very specific on some of his details and pulls in unique history applicable to his audience.  David likes to focus on the rosier aspects of the history he shares and I like to know the dirty details.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  4

If you love David McCullough or are a major history buff then it would be interesting to read.

The Tunnels of Cu Chi:  A Harrowing Account of America’s “Tunnel Rats” in the Underground Battlefields of Vietnam

The Tunnels of Cu Chi

My wife asked me what I was reading and I casually replied The Tunnels of Cu Chi……she did a double take and said WHAT ARE YOU READING?   No, this is not a pornographic book.  It focuses on the people who dug, fought, lived, and died in the tunnels in Vietnam.  It takes into account both the American and the North Vietnamese side. I really enjoyed it.  I like history and I like a good neutral narrative that tries to give both sides to the equation.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  6

If you like war history then it is a good read.

Guns, Germs, and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies

Guns, Germs, and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies

This book is amazing.  Riddle me this?  Why did Europeans end up with the technology to sail across the ocean, kill off the Indians through disease and war and came out on top instead of Native Americans being the ones who developed that technology and diseases?  If you don’t know the answer then you need to read this book.  It is a very fascinating read on why certain areas of the globe lead to accelerated rates of technology and disease resistance and others did not.  The author is very detailed in his explanations and thorough in backing up his theories with data.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

If you can hack reading a book like this then it is a must read.  Very eye opening.  

Blueprint for Revolution:  How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators or Simply Change the World

Ever wonder how governments have been toppled by nonviolent means?  If you answered yes then this book is for you.  If you answered no you should still read this book.  I loved this book.  It was one of those books that I felt was a gem you find out of nowhere.  I have never heard of this book and don’t think it is very popular.  It is super applicable to business and life not just starting a nonviolent revolution.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  9

One of those books that was better than expected.

Black Elk Speaks

Black Elk Speaks

Great book about Black Elk and the recorded account of his life and experiences.  It is a very sad and depressing read because of what happened to his people.  It can be boring at times because he goes into detail about his visions he had.  It was a book that broadened my horizons and helped me see things from a new perspective.

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  6

A book about the Native American tragedy should be read.  Is this the book to read….I don’t know.  I plan on reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee as soon as I can work up the courage.

Killing Reagan:  The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency

With all these killing {insert famous person} books being written I felt like I needed to read one.  It was a good history on Ronald Reagan but I felt like they spent too much effort on the killing part which wasn’t that important for Reagan.  He didn’t die….he just was shot a couple of times and didn’t really ever recover.  Overall it was a great book written by Martin Dugard with Bill O’Reilly’s name on the front for some reason.  

Mind Blowing Scale from 1-10:  6.5

Great book for history/political buffs.

Have you read something recently that you think I should add to my stack of books?