My 2015 Monthly Book Challenge

It's a few hours before 2015 ends and I've come to wrap it up with my own personal challenge entitled "My 2015 Monthly Book Challenge". This is not some kind of internet bandwagon or a trend that poofed out of nowhere but, a challenge for personal improvement (and for fun too) and to do something out of work. I don't have all the time in the world to sit down and read a book so I tend to limit this to one book per month. Despite having work and less time for myself, I need a cool off from my daily life, and reading a book is a wise way of doing something out of the box.

Although this may sound a little rough, I'm enforcing some rules so each book would be more valuable, not just for the sake of reading, finishing, and forgetting it the next day. I want every book to count and bring its lessons wherever I go. The following rules are:

1.) Books must not be related to my career: Apparently, anything related to software development BUT entrepreneurship is a different story ;)

2.) Must NOT be fiction: Honestly, I don't like reading fictional books, and going back from my statement earlier, I want something to further develop myself. Although this might be a little biased, I find reading them kinda anti-climatic. Sorry for fiction lovers out there.

3.) Must post at least 3 reviews for the caption as a teaser- Originally, I posted this challenge in my Facebook account. Given this objective, I have to post the book per month and I have to give 3 insights/quotes proving that I learned something from it. These are the shameless plug reviews plus proof of concept. Since I'm blogging it, there's no need for me to place them here as what I'm about to tell you would be in a more structured manner.

4.) No E-book material - This is to sustain the integrity of the book. I'd ship the book from out of the country if I have too.

5.) Other types of reading materials are not considered - These are magazines, newspapers, comics, manuals, etc.

Lastly, you might ask what were my preferences in picking my book for each month. Well to put it simply, I don't, and honestly its sort off random. Whatever I can think/see/feel then that's that.

Without further adieu, here are my books for this years' challenge!

January - The Lean Startup By Eric Ries

The lean startup

This book explains stories of how founders started their startups, how they failed, and succeeded. It inspired me to become a founder and learning from their stories surely gave me a more cautious attitude towards decision making regardless of how big the odds are. As a software developer, I tend to make some apps yet some of them get stuck in the ideation phase because of asking a lot of what-if questions that never get resolved. This book taught me to release an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) in the shortest time meaning, release your product at its most minimal state as to where it could serve its core functionality. The reason why a lot of us can't achieve that is because of Analysis Paralysis. We'll never know until we try (get customer feedback). This is where Toyota's mantra "Genchi Gembutsu" comes into place meaning"Go forth and see for yourself".

Another thing I've learned from this is to avoid "Vanity Metrics", similar to the concept of a wantrepreneur. People become are blinded by the risks of entering entrepreneurship. They want to become one because of the new hype. Having a lot of startups escalate nowadays and most of them fail given that there are a lot of factors, some have lost their passion in the process and stuck to going back to their full-time job. Remember that the primary factor for success in a startup is to stick with it in the long run. It's not just about "Ok I want to build a startup because I'm getting left behind". Don't get all excited at first for the sake of getting the title "founder/CEO". Enter the startup scene because you know this will help a lot of people not for fame and fortune.

February - The Art of War By Sun Tzu

Art of War

This book teaches you to be a tactical war leader. Concepts can be placed on so many different levels with regards to politics, corporations, and human psychology (or even in games). Before engaging in something, this book will equip you with knowledge in making desirable plans. It's not just about engaging to war with destructive weapons but fighting smart will help you win the battle. Some quotes that got me where:

  • "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting" - victory is achieved without making any physical damage. Either your opponent knows you have a big upper hand or you already won the war without even declaring one.

  • "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, strike like a thunderbolt" - You don't reveal everything you have. This is pretty much similar to modern days wherein you don't need to post everything that's happening in your life to your social media accounts. It's best if you just keep quiet and surprise everyone that something big is going to happen.

  • "If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete." - Knowing is half the battle. If you clearly know both sides, there's no doubt about victory. Heaven is represented as night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons while Earth is the environment (distances, risks and security, wide/narrow passages, and the chances of life & death). These two completes the equation to seize victory.

P.S. - Other than the book, I had a trading card game together with a bookmark with a list of war novels to complete a war-themed set for this month.

March - The Design of Everyday Things By Don Norman


This is one of my favorite books. I actually had a detailed article for this one (Click here). Basically this book teaches you to be more aware of your surroundings of how well materials are designed. I guess I don't need to explain in detail as then again, you can check out my dedicated article for this book.

April - Dream Psychology by Sigmund Freud


This book explains the wondering adventures of your dreams. I've realized that dreams aren't just something floating beyond your imagination but foretell a message throughout your experiences. The interpretation of the book is that objects are not always what you see but are personifications of another object/event. For instance, if you're dreaming about a car, it could mean someone must have been running your world. This is where morality takes into place as the ego develops when a person grows. Ego is the defense mechanism that satisfies the demand of becoming socially acceptable and the reason why people look high upon themselves when in fact they are blinded by their own dream.

May - Find Real Happiness By William Gracian


The thinnest yet one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. Every time I read this, all the bad vibes go away. This book was structured objectively and explains how powerful happiness can be. Most people are searching for happiness. They're looking looking for it. They're trying to fond it in someone or something out of themselves. That's a fundamental mistake. Happiness is something you are and it comes from the way you think. There are some things money can't buy and one of them is happiness. You can't be happy forever by simply getting rich and famous. You should count your blessings and never take them for granted.

June - You are not Your Brain By Jeffrey Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding


This book made me realize that doing bad habits change the structure of your brain thus making it an unconscious habit of doing the same thing all over again. The brain can be really deceptive and rewiring it will take some time. Taking into account the things said in the book will make you change not only mentally but physically.

July - Dice World By Brian Clegg


This is one of the greatest science books I've ever read. "Dice World" is a coined term from luck. The book explains the science behind luck and debunks how randomness plays a role in our daily lives. The confusion people have with luck is that whenever you say "I am lucky", you are actually saying that person was fortunate all because of a random probability. Note that "luck" is denoted as pure randomness. Although there exists a factor of increasing probability, in the end, luck is still decided through probability (as in without any help from previous events nor follows a certain pattern). For example, how lucky are you to win in a game of Blackjack? You draw 2 cards and suddenly you have a total of 10 in value. There is an option to draw 2 more cards but how can you be sure that the next cards you'll draw will be enough to get to 21 (or at least close to it)? If you'll notice, there are what you call "Gambling Champions" and all of it is a game of probability. Probability doesn't require skill as there is no perfect forecast nor a consistent pattern followed. What makes them win is through instinct on decision-making. I'm planning to re-read this again. This enlightens me every time the author elaborates on his point.

August - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin


Reading this book gives you your daily dose of motivation. Although this doesn't stress concepts/terms like my May book, this book tells the story of Gretchen on how she improved her life by making herself happy with a checklist to be done by each month of the year and each month composes of a certain theme (E.G. January - boost energy, February - love, etc). The happiness in this book is contagious, so contagious that it makes me want to create my own happiness project, and its a perfect timing as 2016 is about to start. I might as well blog my own happiness project so watch out!

September - Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo

talk like ted

One of the most inspiring books I've ever read. This book not only explains how to pitch well but also tells how TED speakers became successful but simply telling out their stories. Out of the blues, its fun watching TED talks but going through the science behind it makes it a lot interesting. People pitching in TED simply isn't teaching the straightforward thought of the topic but rather tells the story behind everything. The book also tells the techniques on the art of public speaking be it on pitching startups, talking to seminars, and pretty much marketing anything. This book made me want to pitch and inspire a lot of people at a TED conference. It looks like I'll have another goal to be a speaker at a TED conference one day and see everyone get inspired.

October - The Startup Game by William Draper III


For this month I've decided to take a supplement of the first book I had (The Lean Startup). In this case, it would be on the side of a venture capitalist. William Draper, one of the fathers of Venture Capitalist talks about his story on how he witnessed successful startups to boom. In one instance, how he witnessed Yahoo's success during the time of its expansion. Starting out from a garage now largely collated. This book pretty much explains lessons from successful startups on how to make good decisions as an entrepreneur and to be a great leader.

November - The Magic of Maths


This is one of my favorite books. It taught me how to solve complex mathematical equations in the easiest ways possible. For example, how do you get the total sum of incrementing numbers from 1 to 100? Probably you'll take some minutes to solve that but will you believe in just a few seconds I already found the answer? Its 5050 and the reason is there's a simple equation (pretty much applied to anything else) explained in the book. If you don't like numbers, this book will make you like them! I won't be going too in-depth as this book covers more on mathematical equations.

December - Asap Science by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown

asap science

Derived from the Youtube channel AsapSCIENCE, all articulated into one book. To end up 2015, I've decided to stick with general knowledge. This book tackles your everyday observations on why X is Y. An example would be which came first, the Chicken or the Egg? and is it bad to "crack" our fingers? Learning these things is fun and changes the way you think about things. Although some illustrations are weird, science can never be weirder!

Well, that concludes my challenge for this 2015. Hope you'd try the same and hope I gave a good review of the books I've been through. Happy new year!

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