5 books you probably should have read by now

Throw away your television. If there’s one thing that will free up masses of extra time in your life, and at the same time reduce the input of worry and general misery, it’s unplugging your television from ‘live’ terrestrial or satellite broadcasts.

We did this in the Bamford household several years ago – definitely not just because when redecorating the living room the Sky cable was accidentally severed – and it’s been transformational. Instead of watching television based on the whims of schedulers and being force-fed advertisements, we now occasionally watch ‘catch-up’ shows or movies via Apple TV.

Doing this frees us from the shackles of the broadcasters and turns unconscious television watching, with hours of mindless channel hopping, into more mindful decisions. I still watch shows including Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and True Detective, plus maybe a movie a week, but I’m no longer subjected to adverts or a viewing schedule which suits someone else. It’s truly liberating.

And of course all of that lovely extra spare time means I can read more. I’ve been reading a lot more since last summer anyway as a result of Becky getting me a Kindle for my birthday (which means I can read in bed, with the lights off) but year to date I’ve managed to get through 15 titles, a mix of fiction and non-fiction.

As Financial Planners or advisers, I believe we should be avid readers. Here are five books which have caught my attention recently I think you should probably check out:

Non-Obvious by Rohit Bhargava

Bhargava is a curator of trends. This book is part guide to his trend curation process, part non-obvious trend report for 2015 and part review of previous trends going back to 2011. It’s an idea-generator and quick read. For only 99p for the Kindle edition, this one is a bit of a no-brainer.

The Extra One Per Cent by Dr Rob Yeung

What do ‘exceptional’ people do which distinguishes them from everyone else? This incredibly well researched book will tell you. It’s a great review of the psychology of high achievers, condensed into the eight main capabilities they demonstrate.

Best Practices of Elite Advisors by Matt Oechsli

Assuming you can forgive the misspelling of ‘advisers’ in the title (he’s an American, say no more) then this could be the most valuable book you’ve ever read about our profession. Seriously. Read this book.

Antifragile: Things that gain from disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Feeling brave? Read this book and it will, I promise, dramatically alter your perspective on a wide range of Financial Planning and investing topics. Taleb is not always the easiest author to read. He’s deliberately combative in places and delivers a philosophical stream of consciousness which can grate with the reader. But I found this much easier to read than The Black Swan, which I ditched half way through. A really important book.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Last but by no means least, this is one of a few books on my shelf (I liked it so much I bought the paperback version) that I describe as genuinely life changing. If you’ve ever caught yourself saying “I’m too busy” then you need to read this book.


What else should be on this list?

What’s on your Kindle/bedside table at the moment?


5 thoughts on “5 books you probably should have read by now

  • I haven’t managed to move to a Kindle yet despite several friends and acquaintances insisting it is the only way now to read books. Age also now means that reading in bed pretty much means at best 3 pages before the eyes close for the evening. What I have pretty much always tried to do is to read, only for maybe 30 minutes, at some point during the day and normally at lunch. I find it is a great way to break up the day and give the mind a bit of a break and a refreshment.

    On the go at the moment:

    David Quantick – How to write everything (hilarious)
    Clive James – Sentenced to Life (brilliant and incredibly raw book of poems)
    Spike Milligan: Man of Letters (as brilliant as you would expect but fantastic for picking up and just reading 2/3 letters to make you think and smile)

    I’ve just finished reading again The Fight by Norman Mailer and, whether you are boxing fan or not (I’m not), it is up there as one of my favourite ever. It is an absolute masterclass in journalism on one of the most famous sporting events in history.

    Whatever the subject I think reading is a vitally important activity that should only be encouraged.

  • Hi Martin,

    Great post! The five which springs to mind for me are….

    Influence by Robert Cialdini – A great book which talks about the psychology of influence and how as a society we persuade and are persuaded. One I read a couple of years ago but still sticks with me as a classic.

    Drive by Daniel Pink – I only read this over the weekend….it’s a great book which explores the idea of motivation and whether ‘carrot and stick’ in our modern economy is the best way to motivate.

    Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Khaneman – A book which explores how we think and challenges the assumption that most of our decisions are rational.

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – A novel, narrated by death, set in the 2nd world war doesn’t sound like an immediate winner! However it’s full of humanity, humour and even sadness. It’s the only book I’ve read recently which has made me both laugh out loud and close to tears!

    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I read this for the first time last year and it’s an incredible piece of work. A classic which truly deserves this particular monicker!

    Also after Bert’s comment I’m going to pick up Spike Milligan’s book….his ‘sardines’ poem still makes me laugh!

  • I always love it when people come out with a list of must-reads. As an avid reader I constantly have a pile of books waiting to read, and I often read 3 at once! I now have more to add!

    I’ve read ‘Essentialism’ but wasn’t as blown away by it as Martin was. But maybe that’s because I’ve always been pretty good at focussing on getting on with the essential! If you liked it, you may also like ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller.

    Like Chris, I’ve also read ‘Influence’ – I first read it many years ago and still re-read it from time to time. It’s the first book that ever opened my eyes to influence and the psychology behind it. Well worth a read.

    Drive by Daniel Pink is also an interesting read – I think I pretty much devoured that one on a plane to Chicago a few years ago.

    To add to the general list:

    The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is one of my most recent reads that I’ve bought for a few other people. It really gets you thinking about how little steps lead to huge successes. It’s an easy read.

    Outliers, David & Goliath and The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell are also some of my favourites.

    I’m currently reading The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin about thinking straight in the age of information overload. It’s a hefty tome but seems to be worth it!

  • To make your head spin, another great (non-business) book is Nothing from New Scientist (edited by Jeremy Webb) Makes my head hurt!

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