Books I Read In 2016

Here’s a list of books I read in 2016. I started keeping track in 2011 after a conversation with my friend Matthew Landrum. I try to complete two to three books each month. You can find previous lists here:

2011       2012       2013       2014       2015

fireworks 2

If you found a “must read” book last year please share in the comments. Also, if you’ve read any of these let me know your thoughts. Here’s to a prosperous 2017.

Down and Out In Paris and London by George Orwell

Do The Work by Steven Pressfield

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmul with Amy Wallace

Living Forward – Michael Hyatt & Daniel Harkavy

The Art of Nonconformity by Chris Guillebeau

Russian Fairy Tales  Translation by Gillian Avery

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Unseen Footprints by Sheridan Voysey

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

Resilient: Your Invitation to a Jesus- Shaped Life by  Sheridan Voysey

Nobody Wants To Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield

Baudolino by Umberto Echo

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

Tolkien The Authorized Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

Raymie Nightingale by Kate Dicamillo

Ressurection Year by Sheridan Voysey

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

The Pug List by Allison Hodgson

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

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Writers And Entrepreneurs Need Rest Too

When I was in elementary school, I broke my foot. I flipped off my bunk bed, landed on the ground and all of a sudden my foot would not work without a piercing pain. I hobbled to the kitchen where my parents played cards with my aunt and uncle and informed them of what occurred and soon learned how to use crutches.

I remember when I tried to place pressure on my foot prematurely that it hurt and I was angry, but not because of the pain. I was upset because my foot did not function like it did before. This was my first experience with the injustice that not only can we break our bikes and every door in the house if we kick them, (sorry mom and dad) but also ourselves.

Painter sleepingI mentioned before that the most recent season at work was brutal. I thought I broke myself mentally. I could not remember simple tasks. I had little to no energy to play with my kids when I got home. And writing? The thought of spending another moment with a computer made me ill. It was rough all around.

A week ago, after things slowed down at work, I became angry that I could not just dive into another blog. I needed to get going because I had books and a website to launch. The more I thought about it the more I stewed. The angrier I was at my inability to write, the more I became frustrated that I was doing nothing. It was a vicious cycle. The pressure to produce weighed on me and I could not shake my lethargy, or so I thought.

It’s taken sometime to learn a lesson that I should have learned when I was young – I am not a machine. I can break – emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The stories of Sherlock Holmes living off no sleep and cocoa leaves are just not possible. Sure you can go on little sleep for a while (I have four kids) but sooner or later you crash.

There are different seasons of life. Some of planting, harvest, and rest. I needed to let my mind settle and heal by simple reading and planning.

Grace is what I needed most in the aftermath of a stressful experience.

Grace to be.

Grace to breathe and not feel the stress that comes from the need to produce.

But as with all seasons there is also a time to move on to the next one.

Now, my workload at work is back to a normal pace and I have more bandwidth for other projects at home.

This past Friday night, I did not feel like mush. So we ordered pizza. Then my kids got into their pajamas and we turned up the music and resumed our long-missed after dinner dance party. Then, by the encouragement of my lovely wife, I went to the bookstore to write. 

And you know what? Just like when my foot healed and I did not need my crutches any more it felt amazing to write again.

To My Wife On Her Birthday

My Wife and I took our first date on a golden fall day, right around this time, thirteen years ago. I love fall. The harvest time with cider, fairs, hayrides, pumpkins, the change of the leaves and crisp mornings with ground covered in dew.

To me it makes perfect sense that I fell in love with my wife, and do each year, in Autumn.

Hold my hand

When we got married, over ten years ago, my love affair with writing had yet to begin. But, six months into our marriage, I was taken with words. All these years later I am doing what I am doing because of her and I’ll tell you why.

I used to give up easily. I used to search for something I lost in the house with little effort. If something was hard I would give up or just try later. She would tell me often, in her kind and gentle way, to not give up. I still have yet to give up on this adventure.

I know you’ll read this today Cindy. You are my biggest supporter and my most encouraging friend.

In writing and in every aspect of my life you are steady and I admire that strength everyday. I see it with your unending patience with our three kids (and with me all the while being eight months pregnant!). You inspire me to be better and want to grow and serve this family well.

Thank you for listening to my late night rants about words, books, and conferences. Thank you being understanding even when I am a little (or a lot) crazy. But most of all thank you for believing in me even when I don’t believe in myself.

I love you.

Happy birthday.