15 Books I’ve Read This Year & My Honest Opinion Of Each

Personal development.






All part of my 2014 reading list.


Reading 101

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would read 15 books in one year, I would have laughed and thought you were nuts.

The fact that I read 15 books this year blows me away, considering I never enjoyed reading.

I’ve slowly begun to enjoy it more and more over the years, especially now that I’m able to choose what I read, stuff that interests me, versus books that were chosen for me in school that I had no interest in whatsoever.

For me, there’s always been a big difference (there still is) between me wanting to and having to do something.

I read now because I want to. I want to learn, grow, and develop new skills.

I want to get better and be able to do more, understand more, help and serve more.

Jim Rohn says it best – “miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a book.”

I do believe that knowledge is power, which is obtained through reading .


The Unexpected

I didn’t set out at the beginning of this year to read 15 books. It just happened that way. I would read one and learn about another, and then another, and another. Before I knew it, I had purchased several book that I was excited about reading.

Some books resonated with me more than others and there were some that I even read a second time. If you’re wondering why I would read a book a second time, its because I believe in the books message and it will help when I’m reminded of it regularly.

With every book I read, I made it a point to identify takeaways and apply them to my life; in different areas and in different ways.


My Unofficial 2014 Book Review

For each book, I’ll provide the author, a brief summary, a takeaway, and how I’ve applied it to my life.

I’ve decided to do this in a way that’s relaxed, real, and if I didn’t like the book, I’ll tell you.


The Trust Edge

Author: David Horsager

[Summary] Great book, great message. If you want better relationships, better sales, better everything, establish trust. Those who are trusted are effective. 

[Takeaway] In order to trust yourself and build or rebuild trust with others, you must make and keep promises. Say what you do and then do what you say.

[Application] I followed through on the weekly schedules that I committed to for my posts, Motivational Monday Message series, and newsletter. If I said I was going to do something, I did it.


How To Win Friends & Influence People

Author: Dale Carnegie

[Summary] Be interested in people. Care more about asking questions and learning about others, than talking about yourself. As Henry Ford puts it, “if there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

[Takeaway] You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years trying to get people interested in you.

[Application] I make it a point to engage people in conversation, ask them questions, inquire about their life, their interests, and what they’re up to. It’s a great way to meet new people and make new friends.


The Good Fight

Author: Ben Wikler

[Summary] A good book that talks about relationships, how they all have a component of conflict and disagreement, and how to deal with it in the most positive and productive way possible.

[Takeaway] Care enough about who you’re with to make the effort to be your best, patient, and respectful at all times, especially during conflict. Communication often.

[Application] I know conflict and disagreements will always come up, that’s expected. I make it a point to always communicate, even over communicate if necessary, than under communicate or not communicate at all (no sweeping stuff under the rug).


The Way of Men

Author: Jack Donovan

[Summary] A book about men being men. Survival of the fittest, best of breed.

[Takeaway] Men who are strong, courageous, competent, and loyal will be respected and honored as valuable members of team “us”. Team “us” being all men.

[Application] In addition to being a good human being, a good man, I also strive to be a man of value, and provide value in the lives of others through my actions. The book was just OK for me.


Start With Why

Author: Simon Sinek

[Summary] An awesome book that talks about how great leaders inspire action. Knowing “why” is essential for lasting success and the ability to avoid being lumped in with others.

[Takeaway] People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

[Application] I referred to this book a lot when I created The Wellness Bucket, asking myself along the way, “why am I creating this?”. The answer wasn’t to help people exercise more, lose weight, or eat right… the answer was to make a positive difference in the lives of others by believing in them and helping them believe in themselves so that they may give themselves a chance to live the life they want.

If you haven’t seen Simon’s TEDTalk on Start With Why, you definitely should.


The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

[Summary] I read this book for a second time this year. It’s a story about a Shepard boy who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure buried in the pyramids. It’s not the treasure, but the journey along the way that matters most.

[Takeaway] When someone makes a decision, they are really diving into a strong current that will carry them to places they had never dreamed of when they first made the decision.

[Application] I must take action and start somewhere if I’m ever going to get anywhere other than where I am right now. It isn’t about what decision I make, it’s about making a decision.


The $100 Start Up

Author: Chris Guillebeau

[Summary] A great book by a great guy offering ideas for businesses you can start for $100 or less. Businesses, ideas, and passions you love and are crazy about that you wish could make you money – which they can. Read the book!

[Takeaway] You don’t need to be great or have lots of money to take action and start working on creating what you love.

[Application] The idea that I need lots of money to start a small business or project I believe in isn’t true. When I first created The Wellness Bucket, my initial start up costs were less than $5o – domain name purchase and hosting, that was it.


The Power Of Starting Something Stupid

Author: Richie Norton

[Summary] Stupid is the new smart, when it comes to taking action on ideas. The new smart is trusting the voice inside your own head, that nagging hunch, the golden idea, that lofty dream, that if it weren’t so seemingly “stupid”, might actually have the chance to become something truly significant – in your own life, and quite possibly, in the world at large.

[Takeaway] Successful people throughout history and today, don’t avoid stupid, they lean into it. All our dreams can come true, including the stupid ones, if we have the courage to pursue them.

[Application] No idea is a bad idea. I rather take action on stupid ideas that I have versus having an amazing idea and never acting on it.


The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth

Author: Chris Brogan

[Summary] Another awesome book by a great guy and friend of mine. The book is all about helping you to stop doing the things that aren’t working for you, and start taking action with the things that will when it comes to the people you intend to serve. 

[Takeaway] To get experience, you need to do things – before you know how to do them.

[Application] Waiting until I’m fully prepared and ready to something doesn’t work. The only way I am going to learn and get the experience I need to succeed, is to just dive in and figure it out as I go.


 Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook

Author: Gary Vaynerchuk

[Summary] A book that’s all about the different social media platforms that are out there such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and how to use each one of them effectively to engage with your audience. Not my favorite book, plus Gary is a huge New York Jets fan. That certainly doesn’t help. 🙂

[Takeaway] If you have a business, any business, and you’re not actively using and taking advantage of the different social media platforms that exist, you’ve missed the boat big-time.

[Application] The Wellness Bucket is active on all three social media platforms I mentioned above: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I regularly reach out, ask questions, and make comments as a way to connect with this community and our members.


Leaders Eat Last

Author: Simon Sinek

[Summary] Another great book by Simon Sinek. He talks about what it means and takes to be a leader. Leaders sacrifice themselves so that others may gain, not the other way around. 

[Takeaway] There are so many takeaways, I could write an entire post about it. Here’s just a few:

The rank of office is not what makes someone a leader. Leadership is the choice to serve others with or without any formal rank.

One definition of love is giving someone the power to destroy us and trusting they won’t use it.

The more good things we do, the more good we want to do. This is the science behind “paying it forward”.

The more we give of ourselves to see others succeed, the greater our value to the group and the more respect they offer us.

[Application] Everything I do and create for The Wellness Bucket, I first ask the question, “how will this help and benefit others?” Yes of course I want to be successful but more than anything, I want to serve others and know that I’ve made a difference in the lives of others.

Check out Simon’s talk on Leaders Eat Last here, it’s worth the watch.

Side Note: I’m currently trying to win a contest that would give me the opportunity to meet Simon personally. You can see my project here on SkillShare. It would be even more awesome if you took a second and voted for my project. 🙂


Happiness of Pursuit

Author: Chris Guillebea

[Summary] A fun book by a great guy who over the last 10 years, has visited every country in the world. The book is about his quest along with others he met along the way on their own quest, what it all means, and what it teaches us about life.

[Takeaway] Adventure is for everyone. You don’t have to travel the world to have an adventure. You can create one right in your own kitchen like Sasha Martin did by cooking a meal from every country in the world. Quests can come in all different shapes and sizes. Everyone will have their own unique calling, follow it.

[Application] Kristen and I are currently plotting our own big quest to travel the world extensively for a year. We’re still working out the details on what our quest will be. Visiting the top 100 beaches in the world? Hosting wellness camp in different parts of the world? Bringing unknown beauty of arts and crafts from remote villages online for the economical benefit of the villages and its people? The possibilities are endless.

Here’s a post I wrote specifically about this book and the idea of quests.


The Game

Author: Neil Strauss

[Summary] This is an interesting one. A book about the life and secrets of pick-up artists. Wait…what? I know, crazy. The book was recommended not for the purpose of me increasing my knowledge of how to pick up women. The concepts themselves, such as the “three second rule” are valuable in any social setting for connecting with people. Would I read it again? Probably not.

[Takeaway] The biggest takeaway was the three second rule. It states that if you see someone you’re interested in talking to, you have 3 seconds to walk up to them and start a conversation, otherwise you’ll probably over think it and never approach them.

[Application] I always enjoy meeting and speaking with people so the three second rule wasn’t new to me. Kristen and I have made met some wonderful friends this way. One of them even led to an unbelievable weekend trip to Cabo, Mexico where all expenses were paid, including our own catamaran, bartender, and a house that was like something out of a magazine.


The Quite Alternative

Author: Ben Fanning

[Summary] A book by a very good friend of mine who I had the pleasure of meeting this year at World Domination Summit. Ben turned his life and career around without actually quitting his job. What was once a nightmare of a job, ended up becoming his dream job. His life, health, happiness, and finances all improved substantial because of a strategy he created.

[Takeaway] You don’t have to quite your job in order to be happy. With so much hype around, “just quite your job, screw it”, Ben takes a different approach where you win in more ways than one without having to start all over again with a new job where the grass may not be any greener.

[Application] I’ve been sharing Ben’s book with family, friends, clients, anyone I speak with that is unhappy in there current job. I’ve already seen great successful because of Ben’s book and strategies, which are applicable to any job situation.


The Millionaire Mind

Author: Harv Eker

[Summary] This was given to me as a gift. In order to make money, you must be open to receiving it. Thoughts and ideas we have about money that are developed when we’re kids, either by what we see or what we hear, shapes how we view money and how we either welcome it into our lives or without even knowing it, push it away.

[Takeaway] Money isn’t everything but it’s necessary. In order to have and make the money we want, we must be open to receiving it, tell ourselves we want it, and then deciding on how much of it we want.

[Application] I grew up with the idea of making just enough money to pay bills and a little extra to do a few other fun things here and there. I realize now that, if all I plan for is to make just enough and a little extra, than that’s exactly all I will ever have. If I want to make money to pay my bills AND have lots more of it to do, see, and help more, than I must tell myself that.


Reading in 2015

I’ve already committed to reading 20 book, 5 more than this year, in 2015.

Who am I?

Who’s this guy who enjoys and looks forward to reading?

Somehow that’s me now.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What books did you read this year that helped make a difference in your life? Will you share them with us in the comments below so that we may all benefit?

Thanks – you’re awesome!



  • Awesome list Mike!
    I’ve read JJRH, The Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth & The $100 Startup as well. Amazing books all together. Just added a few of yours to my wishlist on Amazon 🙂


    • Thanks Jan – I appreciate your comment and you being here. Seems we have the same taste in books 🙂 Cheers!

  • Nice list Mike. And we share quite a few. Like you, I’ve learned to like reading and barely read until I started university. The biggest challenge i’ve had with reading so much is distilling the actions. Each new book tends to lead me in a new direction and now my like path is starting to look like spaghetti!

    • Thanks John! I know what you mean completely about distilling the actions. Took me a while to get a handle on that. I’ve done enough reading now where I feel comfortable with the plan and difference I am heading in and have committed to staying the course. As I read new books now and come across different ideas and suggestions, I may insert a new strategy here and there but nothing to where it shifts me current plan completely. So far, so good. Thanks for being here – cheers!

  • Great list mike! Like how you included application – sometimes we forget that, inspires me to read as much as you do! cheers!

    • Thanks Dorene! I haven’t always been the best at applying what I learn, but I’m certainly making an effort to do so… it’s a work in progress 🙂

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