What to read if you want to be awesome: The 17 best books of 2017 (Part 3 – Life)

This is the final post in my 3-part top 17 books of 2017 series. These are the books that don’t fit into a single category but rather they might help you grow in multiple areas of your life. Or they might simple be a great read that gives you a moment of awe when you realise what people are capable of – from a single individual, to the entire human race.

The numbering continues on from my last post.

Pick up a book that sounds interesting. Learn a little. Share what you’ve learnt with someone. Make your life and the world a little better.


13. Grit by Angela Duckworth

Who should read it: This is relevant to literally everyone. If you coach, parent or lead you will find the latter chapters especially useful.

Summary: Grit is defined as the confluence between passion and perseverance – essentially having a deep interest in something and working hard at it over time. Grit is the number one predictor of success in school and career, and it also has plenty of influence on happiness. Grit requires first that you are interested in something – you have a spark. Second, that you practice deeply. Third, that you find a purpose linking what you do to how it helps others. And finally, that you have hope and optimism – or a growth mindset. The author presents a ton of scientific research (there are 276 references) but it’s written in an engaging way where the research is summarised in simple explanations and illustrated with stories of individuals and teams.

Quote: ‘Most people think self-orientated and other-orientated motivations are opposite ends of a continuum. Yet, I’ve consistently found that they’re completely independent. You can have neither, and you can have both.’ ~ Adam Grant


14. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Who should read it: Those who run businesses, are interested in the future, or who just want to be amazed at what one individual can do.

Summary: This book made me feel pretty inadequate! Compared to Elon who has goals of colonizing Mars, and transforming both the car and energy industries (and is well on his way with all of those goals), I’ve basically done nothing with my life. I don’t read a ton of biographies but this one was insightful, real and gives an honest look at the man who is Elon Musk. He has plenty of flaws, but you have to admire not only what he has achieved, but his strength of mind to push on through some incredibly desperate times.

Quote: ‘He will pick the most aggressive time schedule imaginable assuming everything goes right, and then accelerate it by assuming that everyone can work harder.’


15. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Who should read it: Everyone, especially those seeking a more scientific approach to understanding feelings and thoughts

Summary: I first came across Brene Brown through her TED talk which is one of the top 10 talks of all time. This is a much more in depth view of her work as a shame and vulnerability researcher. She goes through ten guideposts for wholehearted living including letting go of: what other people think, perfectionism, comparison, anxiety and exhaustion as a status symbol and several others. This sounds like a fluffy, ‘think positive’ book but it is backed by very solid research and grounded in the practical. It will make you question your own thinking and hopefully lead to a great deal of personal growth.

Quote: ‘Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they are never weakness.’


16. The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape

Who should read it: Perfect for everyone from teenagers to retirees who want to learn the basics of how to be financially free. It does have an Australian focus so will be slightly less useful for those overseas.

Summary: All the financial know-how you’ll ever need written in plain Aussie English (and the occasional Aussie slang), filled with real stories of ordinary people who secured their financial future. This book is incredibly practical and literal puts down the exact accounts, super funds, investment options that you should use. As well as guiding scripts for things like negotiating your home loan interest rate and insurance. An easy read that is actually designed to be read as one chapter per month (along with accompanying ‘date nights’ where you implement the steps with your significant other).

Quote: ‘No-one is born ‘smart with money’. It’s a learnt skill – like driving – and it has more to do with your behaviour than your brains… it’s much more important to start than to be smart.’


17. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Who should read it: Anyone interested in history, evolution, how we developed our current society or what’s in store for the human race.

Summary: Just wow. The subtitle of the book is ‘A Brief History of Humankind’ and the author does a spectacular job of encompassing the entirety of human evolution in a mere 500 pages. It’s a science driven account, told as a series of stories, that educates the reader whilst forcing them to examine their entire belief systems. I loved learning about how the agricultural revolution actually made humans worse off for a very long time, how money came about, how religions developed and how our modern ideals such as liberalism and individual rights actually form the same patterns as a religion even though we don’t call it that. He also touches on possible futures for the human race. Thought provoking and paradigm shifting.

Quote: ‘Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, Sapiens have thus been living in a dual reality. On the one hand, the objective reality of rivers, trees and lions; and on the other hand, the imagined reality of gods, nations and corporations. As time went by, the imagined reality became ever more powerful, so that today the very survival of rivers, trees and lions depends on the grace of imagined entities such as the United States and Google.’


So that’s how I spent my 2017 – reading some fantastic books. I’d love to hear what books you recommend as I certainly won’t be slowing down my reading habits in 2018.


The complete list of 17 books is below. Thanks for reading!

Performance books

  1. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin
  2. Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron
  3. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
  4. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  5. Relentless by Tim Grover
  6. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

Career and business

  1. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
  2. Thanks for the feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
  3. The coaching habit Michael Bungay Stanier
  4. Rework by Jason Fried
  5. Winning – The Ultimate Business How-to Book by Jack Welch
  6. The Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell


  1. Grit by Angela Duckworth
  2. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
  4. The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape
  5. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
December 24, 2017