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My Top 5 Favorite books from 2017

January 10, 2018

I set myself a modest challenge to read 12 books in 2017. That equates to one book a month, which can be challenging at best of times as I also need to find time  for raising two boys, career progression (work), house projects and many other commitments that life throws at you.

Now that the midnight fireworks have marked the passing of the old year and the beginning of 2018, I thought I would share with you the outcome of my personal reading challenge. *drum roll*, I managed to more than double my original goal by consuming 26 books.

You can find the complete list of books HERE

A secret to my success has been to complete the books in an audio format. I am a big fan of audio format and have a subscription to audible.com.au. Listening rather than reading books bestows two benefits;  first being that I can multi-task and secondly that I  can listen to books while performing tasks that would not be possible while having a paperback in my hands, these include, washing dishes, cleaning house, walking dogs, digging trench around the house, on the train while playing ‘one more brick’ on my phone, etc.

Another advantage of audio format is that I can increase the speed of which I listen to, depending on the narrator I would usually listen on 1.2x to 1.4x speed.

Here are my top 5 books for 2017

1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#6) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter half blood prince

I read the whole series in 2017 and was contemplating listing that as one of the entries. In the end I picked book 6 from the series, because I felt it delivered a real crescendo to the whole Harry Potter narrative. Half-Blood Prince managed to take the many threads and plot lines that have been weaved in the previous 5 books and bring it into a sharp focus, making me and other readers finally see most of the puzzle in its entirety. A very entertaining read through the whole book. Listening to Stephen Fry narrate the whole series was a delight. He truly does an excellent job in capturing each characters little nuances with a unique voice and speech pattern.

2) Elon Musk: Inventing the Future –  Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk book

I have to preface that I am huge fan of Elon Musk, he is a real visionary and amazing entrepreneur. His ability to create successful start-ups and grow companies that are in my ways so vastly different and which have Everest-like barriers of entry is truly aspiring. SpaceX and Tesla being the big names on consumers’ minds, but also his contributions to the battery storage, which many Australians are familiar with made me want to better understand what makes the man tick.

I enjoyed the book because it has given me a glimpse into early life of the man, his inner thoughts, his struggles in the entrepreneurial world, and hearing his long-term visions for humanity in reaching out to Mars and other space exploration.

3) The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior – Robert O’Neill

The Operator Oneill

Its always exciting hear first accounts of people who had lived or experiences extra-ordinary lives. The author and narrator of this book was Robert O’Neill a now retired Navy SEAL recruit, one of the few people who was involved in a top-secret mission that resulted in the assassinating of Osama Bin Laden within his Pakistani compound.

O’Neill provides the truly extreme accounts of what he had to endure in the grueling evaluation and testing process to become a SEAL. When he has been finally selected to be part of the team we hear his  actual missions in the Middle-East, culminating the mission that the book takes its title from, killing the most wanted man in the world.

Something about hearing raw experiences from a straight talking Navy SEAL as he dodges bullets from insurgents really made me enjoy this book.

4) Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology Neil Gaiman

I have been always captivated by famous myths, sagas and epics from around the world. Norse Myths are no exception. Having said that though, I haven’t actually read in any detail many of the stories prior to this book. All the knowledge that I have of the Norse myths mainly have come down to me from the many inspirations that other people have derived from the Norse Myths, such as The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter books, Comic, many computer games & characters etc.

Neil Gaiman re-tells the old Myths in a fresh new modern fashion. It’s a much more accessible and rich read. Much like the Greek myths, Its fun hearing the unique personalities and flaws of each of the gods and the antiques that some of them reek on the others, especially Loki.

5) The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee

Emperor of all Maladies

One of the topics I did not have much knowledge on but was keen to learn more about as it’s so prevalent in our society; The morbid topic of ‘cancer’. The book is a great history on the subject and spans thousands of years from the first documentation of cancer to where we are today and possible treatments into the future.

The book really makes you appreciate how far we have come in understanding this “Emperor of all maladies”. I love hearing the story of incremental progress from generation of scientists who build on top of each others work and come up with new treatments, methods and ways of looking at the same problem.

The book does remind you of your fleeting mortality, but on the plus side its very informative and hope-filled.

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