Read This

Good Business BooksI’ll admit, when I was younger I wouldn’t have been considered a very prolific reader.

Talking about reading, I’m reminded of the time in elementary school when my parents were excited when my teacher told them that I was 2 grades behind when it came to spelling.  I was a sound-it-out kind of guy and not so much into learning all the “spelling rules”.  These days, I’m a thank-goodness-they-invented-spell-check kind of guy.  My parents were excited because being 2 grades behind represented a big improvement over the year before.  Yeah for supporting parents for focusing on the positives (love you!).

Over the past 6 years, I have probably read more books than the rest of my life combined (not counting the books I was forced to read or had to read for school). Looking back, there were two events that really caused this shift in my reading habit from a being a non-reader to someone who enjoys getting through books.

A Walk, A Train, A Bike Ride & an iPod

Train in HollandIt all started with an overseas work assignment in The Netherlands where it’s faster to ride your bike and take public transportation than drive a car.

While I was living in Holland I had a one hour door-to-door commute  which was much longer than it could have been but I chose to live in the vibrant city of Utrecht which was further than ideal from work.  I loved the city which made the commute well worth it.

My commute consisted of walking from my apartment to the train station, riding the train for 40 minutes then hoping on my bike that I parked in the bike parkade (see below) at the train station and a 10 minute bike ride to the office.

Bike Parking Holland

The parkade in Holland for bikes. They had these at most train stations. Awesome.

I quickly realized that a walk and a bike ride before work is the perfect way to start my day.  There was no need for that morning cup of caffeine and my mind was sharp and ready to go the minute I got to the office.

After a few days I quickly realized that the 40 minute train ride was going to get old… that was until I discovered audible.com.

I loaded up my iPod with the first book I downloaded from audible which just so happened to be The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (as can be seen in the picture below) and started to listen to audio books from the moment I stepped out of my apartment to the moment I showed up at the office.  This made the commute go by so quickly that sometimes I was disappointed that my commute was over because I would have to stop listening to the book I was “reading”.

The First Book I Downloaed From Audible

Since I downloaded that first book on October 14, 2007 I have subsequently downloaded 121 items (which is actually 67 books as some are split up into multiple downloads).

I just can’t get enough of the audio book format and I listed exclusively to audio books while working out.

I have found that this has become an amazing way to “read” and exercise my brain while I’m exercising my body.  Talk about a double whammy of awesomeness!

Being an audible gold member allows me to download 12 books a year for $149.50 and, although I no longer have a walk, a train and a bike ride to the office I still listen to more audiobooks that I ever would “read” otherwise.

A Beach But No Bookstore

There Are No Bookstore WaikikiA few years back my girlfriend and were lucky enough to have two friends who decided to get married in Hawaii and we were more than happy to join them for the festivities in paradise.  This was our first trip to Hawaii and boy did we ever fall in love with Waikiki.

We both brought the standard book or two that you bring on vacation since it’s the only time to read, unless you make it a priority of course, but quickly finished them thanks to long relaxing days at the beach.

That night we went out for a walk to find a book store so we could pick up another book for the rest of our vacation.  We were shocked to find out that there wasn’t a single bookstore in all of Waikiki.  Not a one.

We did end up taking the city bus to the Barns & Nobel which was in the mall not too far away but not before I started to consider a Kindle Touch with 3G.  I figured with the 3G coverage we could have just downloaded a new book to read right from the beach.  Talk about the ultimate in convenience.

When we got home, we ordered ourselves a Kindle plus 6 more as gifts!  (Seriously)

Since then I almost always have my kindle in my work bag and it’s full of books.  I don’t know what it is exactly about reading on the Kindle vs. a paper book, but I started reading way more books since we got our Kindle.

Maybe it’s the senior citizen sized font I set the Kindle to display since it makes me feel like a speed reader because I can read a “page” so quickly.  Or maybe because I can get in a comfortable position and never have to move the book no matter which side of the “page” I’m on.

Huge Kindle Font

The font size on my Kindle as compared to the font in The Art of Non-Conformity.

Whatever the reason, I’m happy that there weren’t any bookstores in Waikiki which lead me to buying a Kindle which has lead me to read more books.

Are You Reading The Right Books?

Read ThisOver the years, some of the best books I’ve read have been books that friends, business partners, mentors and strangers online and in bookstores have recommended to me.

A word of mouth referral is a very powerful thing and recommending a book, a product, service, a place to eat or a city to visit is something I take very seriously.  I will only recommend something if I believe in it.

I wanted to create a resource for you that you could reference when you are looking for a good book to read or listen to.

This is why I have created the Vosa Book Club where I will be posting reviews for all the book I have read and all the books I will read in the future.

If you visit http://vosa.com/books, you will see that there are currently only 7 books on the list.  I didn’t want to overwhelm you with a list of 67+ books, plus as I learned in The Lean Startup, it’s smart to get a minimum viable product out as soon as possible in order to start getting feedback from the pubic.

I will be adding to this list over time and hope you enjoy my honest reviews (stay tuned, there will be some brutally honest reviews with scores close to 0/10) of the books I’ve read.  I sincerely hope that this resource can help you read books that make a difference in your life.

Be sure to sing up for the Vosa Book Club newsletter to get notified with I post a new review and when I start reading a new book.

Books You Should Start With

I would recommend you start by reading the following two books:

  • The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman – This is an excellent book for anyone who is the lease bit interested in pursuing entrepreneurship. The author provides an interesting view point on the value of an MBA vs a “Personal MBA”. This is an excellent read and the first book in the VOSA Book Club that received a perfect 10/10. Read it and you’ll see why.
  • Tuesday’s With Morrie by Mitch Albom – I found this book to be incredibly sad in an inspiration way. If you think you will be embarassed by someone else seeing you shed some tears while reading then I recommend you read this book in private. I starting reading this book on an airplane and had to stop because I didn’t want the baby in the row in front of me to get accused of crying his eyes out and disturbing the other passengers when really it was me blubbering away. This book will make you think about what’s important in life. It’s a quick read but it had a big impact on me and I recommend you read it as well.

Any Books Your Recommend?

Just as I hope you look to this list as a starting point when you’re looking to find your next book to read, I hope I can look to you for suggestions as well.  Do you have any books that you recommend I read?  Please leave your suggestion(s) in the comments below.  Thanks and enjoy the books!

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