Books

I have always been a voracious reader. Each year I try my best to read 24 books. Following are the books I have read segmented by month and year. Each book title is linked to Amazon and each author is linked to their respective personal website if available. Each book is accompanied with a short personal review / rating. I hope you enjoy my reviews as much as I did writing them.


2015

December 2015

The Explorers Guild: Volume One

Baird, Jon & Costner, Kevin

Review: This is a book about exploration of the world and about adventure for its own sake. It is not an easy read by any means and is exceedingly wordy at times. It has the heft and sophistication that is necessary for a piece to become classic. I do not usually read fiction so I was initially leery of purchasing this book but I found it to be quite interesting and highly enjoyable. It has many excellent illustrations by Rick Ross, not the rapper but a gangster nonetheless.

Rating: A fine whiskey. In that it’s repulsive initially but you drink it anyway because it’s expensive. After half a glass you realize that it is the best whiskey you’ve ever had. Now you find yourself unable to enjoy cheaper liquors dooming you to a lifelong search for evermore expensive and rare bottles.

November 2015

The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey

Buck, Rinker

Review: This book is about a man and his brother traveling the Oregon Trail during modern times by wagon. In this book Rinker develops an appreciation and understanding for himself, his late father, his brother, a dog named Olive Oil, and three cantankerous mules. This book gives a detailed account about the challenges the pioneers faced on the trail, many of which are still present in the modern era. This is an excellent book about their journey that is humorous, informative, and contains some lessons about the human experience.

Rating: Gunslinger. Introspective or philosophical moments are periodically interrupted by the innate nature of the gunslinger; gunning down the sheriff in the street then perhaps entering the diner for a casual cup of tea. The balance between internal and external struggle must be expertly managed, for too much of either is death.

The Big Rich

Burrough, Bryan

Review: This is an excellent book about the rise and fall of the great Texas oil giants. Many of these  extremely rich and famous individuals (infamous in some cases) had humble beginnings. Through their hard work and risk tolerance they built empires. This is a great book for anyone who is curious about the Texas oilmen who put Texas on the map and developed the infrastructure that has supported Texas’s extraordinary wealth for decades. Overall it is an excellent book that really dives into the nitty gritty of these oilmen’s business and personal lives. From “hot oil”, to affairs, to Hollywood icons this book paints a truly magnificent picture of the Texas oil industry since Spindletop.

Rating: Prizefighter. The confidence of a boxer competing 2 weight classes above their own is astounding. The multidivisional boxer must jump between opponents of all sizes and remain ready for attacks from ever improving adversaries. The life lived is one on the edge met by extreme challenges and danger at every turn.

October 2015

The Art of Learning

Waitzkin, Josh

Review: This book is about a chess prodigy (the author) who must train his mind to compete at the highest level of competition. The author is faced with extreme pressure when a movie is made about his life. He had to train his mind so that distractions could be blocked out completely and extreme focus could be maintained in the heat of competition. The author left professional chess and pursued a career in the martial arts. He used his mental capabilities to improve his martial arts ability ultimately becoming the World Champion multiple times. This book illustrates his techniques to learn quickly and implement the information on a subconscious level. This book teaches the reader not to think but to know.

Rating: Like a manual for a DVD player. The directions are written in every conceivable language but your own. Through drawings and a crude understanding of Spanish you eventually figure out how to correctly hook up all the wires. The moment comes to push the power button and you hear strange oriental music and see the main menu of Enter the Dragon You stop and briefly think to yourself …yesssssssss.

September 2015

The First Billion is the Hardest

Pickens, T. Boone

Review: T. Boone Pickens has created wealth over and over again. He has also failed, over and over again. This is his story and a very interesting one at that. He went from a beginning geologist to billionaire supporter of Oklahoma State University. Pickens has worn many hats over the years in addition to his trademark cowboy hat. He has ran oil companies, organized mutual funds, speculated in commodities, promoted alternative energies, and built an empire. His story is truly amazing.

Rating: Terminator. The Terminator never quits. Explosions, bullets, high speed crashes, nothing affects this thing. In typical Terminator fashion even when it seems all is lost a light flickers and a hand reaches through the rubble. It then begins to repair itself and prepare for the next offensive…err sequel. It cant be stopped.

The Education of Millionaires

Ellsberg, Michael

Review: This book makes the case that most millionaires did not go to college and if they did the skills they used to amass wealth were not learned inside the classroom. The author makes states that sales, marketing, and networking are the things that the entrepreneur should focus on. Everyone knows that this is true. What the author does provide is a solid reference list. While explaining the importance of these concepts the author lists the resources he used in his own personal educational journey. This is a book that added quite a few books to my “future reading” list. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about sales, marketing, and networking. Although I do not necessarily recommend this book as an end all be all resource, it does provide the necessary information distilled from other resources. All in all it is a fair starting place.

Rating: Auto Repair. You find out your vehicles battery is dead. You hook up the cables and try to boost it off. Nothing. You decide that the starter has gone out. After working on the truck all morning you finally get the new starter installed and battery charged. Turn the key, nothing again. After inspection you find the problem all along was a frayed battery cable. Yes, the problem was eventually solved, but you took the long way of getting there. At least next time the battery is dead, a cable is frayed, or the starter goes out the repair can be made quickly due to the practice and information you gained in this exercise.

August 2015

The Millionaire Next Door

Stanley, Thomas J. & Danko, William D.

Review: This book is essentially a research study of millionaires. The average millionaire is determined to be a middle-late aged, middle class, business owner. The typical millionaire lives a very frugal life and budgets everything. They are also loyal patrons and prefer to do business with their acquaintances instead of strangers offering flashy deals. This is an interesting study that is worth the time if the reader is truly interested in the topic, which is: “What’s the average millionaire like.” The key takeaways are live frugal, work hard, and own a business. Also, skip the luxury items, buy used cars and try not to get divorced.

Rating: Shampoo Bottle. Like reading the back of a shampoo bottle while sitting on the toilet. Due to lack of reading material you look mindlessly at the back of three different shampoo bottles only to find out that ammonium lauryl sulfate is the common denominator. What you can do with this information is limited but on the off chance it comes up in a game of trivia you commit it to memory. As you finish your business you feel accomplished and later attempt to showcase this new information to your spouse, only to find out that this is in fact common knowledge.

July 2015

The Book on Investing In Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down

Turner, Brandon

Review: This book shows the different ways the individual can purchase real estate with no out of pocket money and with attractive financing options. This is a quick read with quality information. Several of the explained strategies require the use of outside investors or hard money lenders which present their own set of challenges. This is a good book for the investor who just wants to know what other options are out there. Real estate is a dynamic business, and there are a “million ways to skin a cat” as my grandfather would say. This book is on alternative real estate financing.

Rating: THAT GUY. The Dollar Store owner that claims to have made the Department Store business obsolete. The Dollar Store owner offers great deals on their products. This is due to the quality of the products being noticeably lower than their Department Store counterpart. Considering this fact the Dollar Store owner unabashedly regards himself the better businessman. He does not consider that some consumers are happy to pay more for higher quality products.

Trading Commodities and Financial Futures (4th Edition)

Kleinman, George

Review: This book is for the individual that is interested in trading commodities. The book mainly focuses on oil but also references corn, soybeans, cotton, and cattle as well. This is not pleasurable reading but the information contained is very valuable to the interested individual. This book has many charts and explains the concepts well.

Rating: Wet Paint. Like watching wet paint dry from 6 inches away. You have your nose to the wall and you can smell the wet paint. You understand what is going on at the fundamental level. You take two steps back and realize you are looking at an abstract painting. You take another 10 steps back and you realize that it is the latest work of the hottest artist around. After first admiring its inherent beauty you immediately begin concoct a plan to capitalize upon what you have been given.

June 2015

Trump-Style Negotiation

Ross, George H.

Review: This book had been sitting in my bookshelf for a couple of years before I picked it up. After rumors of Trump’s impending Presidential campaign were confirmed I really dug into this one trying to understand the man. The main takeaway from this book is not at all political. Trump used his consultant and lawyer to do most of the legwork in his multimillion dollar real estate deals. Trump only appeared in the negotiations when a bout of strength or force was needed to seal a deal. He did this by utilizing his loud boisterous mannerisms and playing the classic character of which we are all too familiar. Main point? Use people smarter than yourself to do the menial things, use your energy and passion to propel the deal forward over rocky terrain.

Rating: Assorted Hammers. A carpenter deciding on which type of hammers to buy. The carpenter needs hammers for his trade. He has two choices: standard hammers, or sledge hammers. The standard hammer can be used by anyone in his crew to complete most jobs. The sledge hammer is absolutely vital to the completion of only a select few of his projects. After visualizing his crew trying to break down a wall with only standard hammers he chuckles to himself. He buys both types hammers because they will both be used, although the sledge hammers only occasionally for the largest of jobs.

May 2015

Think and Grow Rich

Hill, Napoleon

Review: This is an excellent book and it has a rightful place in everyone’s library. Upon completion I felt that I had gained information that would let me outperform all of my contemporaries. When you realize that this book has been a best seller since the early 20th century the information contained becomes even more significant. How many people use these techniques? How come nobody recommended this book and I had to find it on my own? The significance of this train of thought reaches down into the primal competitive levels of human beings. This book is a must read for anyone, more so if you are involved in business of any capacity. I cannot even begin to summarize all of the information provided. This is one you just need to read yourself.

Rating: Locksmith’s training manual. The locksmith must understand what is going on inside the lock, to well, successfully unlock it. By studying the internal mechanics of a lock the locksmith is then able to construct a technique that if implemented correctly will release the internal barriers and the lock will be successfully opened. The locksmith’s trade is based upon an understanding of the internal mechanisms on which he is working to be successful, without this knowledge he will be met time and time again by failure.

April 2015

The Little Book of Market Wizards

Schwager, Jack D.

Review: This book is a summation of Schwager’s “Market Wizards” series. It tells stories about the great traders of our generation and of those in generations past. This book gave me a new outlook when it comes to trading equities. By retelling shortened versions of the stories presented in full within the “Market Wizards” series Schwager gives the reader a distilled version that presents the concepts in a concise manner. The principals are presented in an understandable way by recalling trading stories.

Rating: PowerPoint presentations that don’t suck. PowerPoint presentations are notoriously pointless, boring, or lacking in information. A solid presentation is a great thing in that it presents the objectives in an interesting, concise, engaging, and useful manner without the burden of condemning the population to independent study.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Kiyosaki, Robert T.

Review: This book tells the story of a boy who was exposed to two schools of financial thought from a young age. One of these men “Poor Dad” was a college professor who paid little attention to finances whereas the other “Rich Dad” taught the author how to build wealth and attain financial freedom. This is a classic real estate investing book but also provides insights into what it takes to become financially free. This is an excellent book.

Rating: Poetry. Like a poem that is initially amusing, then confusing somehow it becomes reflective then eventually provides a perspective. It holds the reader’s attention through amusing anecdotes then provides information that becomes highly applicable to one’s life. Eventually it all pulls together to offer a new perspective.

March 2015

The Miracle Morning

Elrod, Hal

Review: This book provides strategies to wake up and attack the day. Elrod outlines a process that if committed to gives the individual the mental preparation to perform at a top level throughout the day. Elrod’s process is centered on the acronym SAVERS, standing for: Silence, affirmation, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing (writing). I use this method personally and have had great success with it. This book is a quick read. I read it in one evening after work and immediately put the principals to work. For those that are not “morning people” Elrod includes tips to wake up quickly and attack each day. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Rating: Like Mike. The kid finds MJ’s sneakers in the critically acclaimed masterpiece (lol) and amazing things begin to happen in the kid’s life. When he puts the sneakers on the child gains all the abilities on the basketball court of the man, the legend, Michael Jordon. This book is Like Mike for starting the day off right.

The 33 Strategies of War

Greene, Robert

Review: In this book Greene provides well, 33 strategies of war. Not all are civil; in fact the pink section in the book focuses on “dirty tactics” exclusively. The lessons contained in this book can be used in any business or personal setting to get what the reader desires. This can be accomplished through civil practices or through less honorable practices such as deception. Overall this book will give the reader new insights into the variety of ways negotiations or disputes can be approached.

Rating: Gut Check. You got  a gut check. You didn’t need it, or maybe you did, but now you realize the consequences of your actions or lack thereof. This situation provided you with the information needed to either defend against the next occurrence or plan your retaliation accordingly.

February 2015

The Brothers Karamazov

Dostoevsky, Fyodor

Review: This is a story about a family that is dysfunctional to say the least. This book is a classic by one of the most revered authors of all time. It dives deep into the family dynamic and how one’s circumstances affect the ultimate character of the individual. This is a difficult read but is worth the time of any avid reader. This book will give the reader new insights into the world we live in wrapped up in a very interesting tale about a family with a father of questionable morals.

Rating: Jerry Springer. The family dynamic is nothing new. Hilarity, chaos, despair, and hope will forever make for interesting stories. Each segment presents new and exciting situations that you would not expect to surface in a million years. Yet they do, week after week after week.

The Greatest Salesman in the World

Mandino, Og

Review: Touted as one of the greatest books on sales ever created Mandino’s book tells the story of a young man set in the days of trade caravans in the Middle East. The young boy is given the secrets to selling in the form of scrolls. The young man follows the directions written on the scrolls and eventually becomes “The Greatest Salesman in the World.” The information is provided in the book and focuses on determination above all else. Affirmations are a big part of this book.

Rating:  Thorium Reactor. Will a Thorium reactor work? Yes. Does anybody have the dedication to follow the protocol necessary to make it happen? Very few. Thorium is an alternative to present forms of nuclear power. It has not made the impact that the scientific community thought it would. The case for Thorium powered reactors is excellent but somehow they have not come to fruition.

January 2015

The Obstacle Is the Way

Holiday, Ryan

Review: A review of Stoicism and its application to the modern man. Everyone faces obstacles in their business, relationships, and personal pursuits. Holiday analyzes these common obstacles through Stoic principals from another age. The advice contained in the book focuses on the good to be had in facing and overcoming obstacles. Holiday makes the case that often it is not the eventual reward but the growth obtained in the initial struggle that we eventually ascribe the most value. To turn away from an obstacle is to deny ourselves not only the ultimate reward but also the satisfaction of conquering the obstacle itself.

Rating: Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi teaches his young student about Karate but also about life. A person must struggle against obstacles and persevere to become a true champion.  Wax on wax off.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Wilde, Oscar

Review: This is a book on vanity and its implications within the soul of man. Immortality, and the accumulation of all the wealth of the world is in the end a fruitless errand. This book exposes the underpinnings of the human experience and examines them from a bizarre angle in this classic work by Oscar Wilde. This book I believe is a standard school assigned reading assignment (at least in my day it was) but should be re-read by adults to truly absorb the message contained.

Rating: Writing on a grain of rice. You look at the kernel of rice and respect the craftsmanship it takes to write on such a small and obscure medium. It is a beautiful thing that is understood by everyone and is looked upon in amazement. To truly understand the purpose you must take the time to actually read the creation. For an individual to go through so much trouble to create something it is worth the time to analyze it with intensity in order to get a glimpse at the secrets held within