Last month, I shared my January 2019 book recommendations based on six books that I’d read.
In February my reading rate dropped to five books. Here they are:
- Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future.
- Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.
- The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.
- The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.
- No Surrender: My Thirty Year War.
My Top 3 Picks From February 2019 (In no particular order)
#1. No Surrender: My Thirty Year War
Big idea: Your life’s purpose is defined by what you’re willing to die for.
Most interesting quote: “When I became a soldier, I accepted my country’s goals. I vowed that I would do anything within my power to achieve those goals…I was prepared to die for my country…It was a solemn oath, and I was resolved to carry it out.”
My review: This book is a first hand account by Hiroo Onoda, the man who kept fighting 30 years after world war two ended.
The plot itself is interesting enough: why would a soldier keep fighting for three decades after a war ended?
I picked up this book primarily to uncover the psychology behind such actions. But I walked away after reading this book, asking myself deep philosophical questions like what am I willing to die for?
The tale of Onoda’s 30 year war is captivating and his detailed accounts are cinematic and fiction-like. So much so that I read through the entire book in one sitting.
This was hands down one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
#2. Zero to One: Notes on Start Ups, or How to Build the Future.
Big idea: Seek and pursue ideas that are both contrarian and correct.
Most interesting quote: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”
My review: In Zero to One, Paypal cofounder, Peter Thiel, challenges conventional business advice, and suggests that future business giants will emerge from new innovative ideas, not copy and paste of what’s already worked.
What I enjoyed most about this book were Thiel’s contrarian views.
For example, in one chapter, Thiel argues that contrary to conventional business wisdom, competition is unhealthy as it kills profit margins and innovation.
I also enjoyed Thiel’s idea that everyone is a salesperson, and the better you are at not looking like a salesman, the better you are at sales.
It’s important to note however, that Zero to One is more of a philosophical book, than a business one.
If you’re looking for a hands on practical business book, this book may not be for you.
But if you’re looking for a quick read on counterintuitive and philosophical business ideas, then you’ll love Zero to One.
#3. Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination.
Big idea: Embrace self-delusion, follow your heart and go all in. If people don’t think your dreams are crazy, you’re not dreaming big enough.
Most interesting quote: “Yet all of these accumulated contributions paled before a larger one: he demonstrated how one could assert one’s will on the world at the very time when everything seemed to be growing beyond control and beyond comprehension.”
My review: In this biography, historian and researcher, Neal Gabler, describes the fascinating story of how Walt Disney overcame childhood poverty, a rocky relationship with his father and a catastrophic business failure, to become one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century culture.
The book is extremely well-researched and drills deep into the character of not only Walt Disney, but also his father and family members.
What I loved most about the book was the unbiased details. Gabler doesn’t shy away from painting a vivid picture of both good and bad sides of Walt Disney—including nasty personality traits that clash with mainstream innocent images of Disney and Mickey Mouse.
The main downside of the book is the length, as the book is a long read.
If you’d like to be inspired by the life story of Walt Disney, and are looking for an in-depth detailed biography, you’ll enjoy this book.
Get your copy: Print
That’s a wrap on my book recommendations for February 2019.