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Wandering Aimfully Through Stuff We Love

An Entrepreneur’s Reading List, With Emoji Book Reviews

This list is updated weekly, feel free to bookmark or save this page and check back to learn more about my most recently read books.
Jason ZookJason Zook Jason ZookJason Zook

Written by

Jason Zook

Table of Contents


Section One

Books I'm Currently Reading


Section Two

Books "On Deck"


Section Three

Books I've Read So Far In 2020


Section Four

Books I Read In 2019


Section Five

Books I Read In 2018


Section Six

Books I Read In 2017


Section Seven

Books I Read In 2016


Section Eight

Books I Read Before 2015


Section Nine

Thoughts About Reading Books

Jump to a section!

An Entrepreneur’s Reading List, With Emoji Book Reviews


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This is my entrepreneur’s reading list and I hope you enjoy it!

A few years ago I was completely allergic to reading books. Not medically allergic, I just didn’t want to invest the time nor did I see the value of flipping through pages of writing.

I was young and dumb. These days, I average reading about one book per week and wanted to create a place where I could share the books I’ve read with simple one-sentence reviews of them (including a fun emoji rating system!)

Feel free to bookmark this page and revisit it as I update my reading list often 👍🏻

Here’s the highly advanced emoji book rating system I’ve created:

Jason Zook Entrepreneur Reading List

This page is organized by year, with the most recent book I’ve read, or am in the process of reading, at the very top.

I’m ALWAYS up for great book recommendations! Please make sure to search this page for a book you might want to recommend. If I haven’t read it yet, shoot me an email or a tweet at me.

Disclosure: Most of the links below are affiliate links. You don’t have to use those, but I get a tiny kickback from Amazon if you do (and it doesn’t cost you any extra!) Also, I read 99% of books on the Amazon Kindle Voyage and love it.

Before we dive into the books I’ve read, here are the books I’m CURRENTLY reading…


Books I’m Currently Reading!

Ark, by Veronica Roth (Still Reading 🕵️)

I’m currently reading this book so I haven’t written a one-sentence review of any kind yet, but when I finish the book I’ll review it and move it to the read section!

Dark Age (Red Rising Series book 5), by Pierce Brown (Still Reading 🕵️)

I’m currently reading this book so I haven’t written a one-sentence review of any kind yet, but when I finish the book I’ll review it and move it to the read section!

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us, by Dan Lyons (Still Reading 🕵️)

I’m currently reading this book so I haven’t written a one-sentence review of any kind yet, but when I finish the book I’ll review it and move it to the read section!

The First Girl Child, by Amy Harmon (Still Reading 🕵️)

I’m currently reading this book so I haven’t written a one-sentence review of any kind yet, but when I finish the book I’ll review it and move it to the read section!

Books “On Deck” on My Kindle

A Gentleman In Moscow – Amor Towles

The “Forward Collection” of short stories

We Learn Nothing – Tim Kreider

The Dead Beat – Marilyn Johnson

Start, Love, Repeat – Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

Final Girls – Rylie Sager

The Flinch – Julien Smith

Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

The Knowledge – Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne

Winners Never Cheat – Jon M. Huntsman


These are the books I’ve read so far in 2020


Summer Frost, by Blake Crouch – 😎 😎 😎

If you scroll through my reading list you’ll see I’m a BIG Blake Crouch fan and this short story that’s part of the “Forward Collection” was AWESOME! Thoroughly enjoyed it and wish it was a full-length book; I wanted more!

Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orisha), by Tomi Adeyemi – 😎 😎

This is the sequel to Children of Blood and Bone and it was definitely a solid read! I wasn’t as sucked in and unable to put it done as I was with Tomi’s first book but it was absolutely still worth reading and I’m excited for the next book in the series.


These are the 30 books I read in 2019


The Institue, by Stephen King – 😎 😎 😎

Only my second Stephen King book and I think I need to read more of his work! Thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s not a horror book by any means. A fun read that kept my attention throughout (almost as if King was good at this or something!)


Embrace Your Weird, by Felicia Day – 😎

This was an interesting read for me because my own book Own Your Weird came out a month prior and our book titles are all-too similar 😆. I’d never read anything by Felicia Day but was pleasantly surprised by her authentic voice and the style of straightforward and practical writing (much like my own!)

The Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs – 😶

I had never heard of this book but it came across my radar and then I realized it was the book the movie John Carter was based on AND it was written in 1912 (!) which was super intriguing because of the “science” fiction part of this book from a century ago. Maybe give it a shot?

Supermarket, by Bobby Hall (aka Logic, the rapper) – 😶

I wanted to love this book because I love Logic’s music and creativity but it kind of felt like I was reading someone’s first book. It wasn’t bad by any means but I’ll be curious to see how his writing style improves with his next book.

Randomize, by Andy Weir – 😎

One day I was browsing the Kindle recommended book list and I saw a new book from Andy Weir (The Martian) and got SUPER excited… Turns out, this book was part of a short-story series from a bunch of great authors and I enjoyed this thoroughly and plan to read the rest of the “Forward collection.”

Clockwork, by Mike Michalowicz – 😶

One of our Wandering Aimfully members mentioned she was going to read this book and I decided to dive in as well. It kept my attention for about 2/3 of the book and much like Michalowicz’s Profit First I felt like I got the gist and could move on.

AFTERLIFE, by Marcus Sakey – 😎😎

Suuuuuuper interesting book! This was definitely a page-turner for me as I got sucked into the plot and the main character’s journey. A unique twist on the “post apolocyptic” genre!

Recursion, by Black Crouch – 😶

As you read further on this list you’ll find that I’m a big Blake Crouch fan (the Pines series is one of my favorites of all time) but something about this story and the characters didn’t jive with me. Maybe it was just me? Maybe it was weird timing in my life? No idea, but it was just ho-hum for me.

Challenge Accepted!: 253 Steps to Becoming an Anti-It Girl, by Celeste Barber – 😎

Celeste is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram (@celestebarber) and I grabbed her book right when it came out. It wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped, probably because her IG-game is SO GOOD, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.

Seveneves: A Novel, by Neal Stephenson – 😶

I read just past the 50% mark in this book and could not get excited about continuing to read it. I’m not exactly sure what happened but this book started our strong for me and I slowly lost interest over time and then gave up.

The Solar War (The Long Winter Book 2), by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎 😎

Give me an A.G. Riddle book ANY day of the week and I’m a happy camper! Book two in this series picked up right where book one (Winter World) left off.

The Land: LitRPG Saga (Books 1 thru 7 😱), by Aleron Kong – 😎

Okay, so, this was a 7-book series that I got sucked into for the first 3-4 books but then the last few books I felt like I had to read so I could say I finished the series. I’d DEFINITELY recommend the first book to see if you like the “LitRPG” genre (if you play Zelda: Breath of the Wild, you’ll dig it!) and then going from there.

Extinct (Extracted Trilogy Book 3), by RR Haywood – 😎 😎 😎

Nice and strong finish to the series – definitely a fun storyline that I hadn’t read in other books.

Executed (Extracted Trilogy Book 2), by RR Haywood – 😎 😎 😎

Just as good as the first book in the series (which can be a hard thing to do).

Extracted (Extracted Trilogy Book 1), by RR Haywood – 😎 😎 😎

Found this series after reading The Brilliance Trilogy and really enjoyed it. Fun, funny, and kept my attention!

Written in Fire (The Brilliance Trilogy Book 3), by Marcus Sakey – 😎 😎 😎

Just a fun and exciting trilogy from first page to final page of this 3rd book. Grab this series!

A Better World (The Brilliance Trilogy Book 2), by Marcus Sakey – 😎 😎 😎

I CRUSHED through the second book in Marcus Sakey’s trilogy. Could not devour this fast enough!

Brilliance (The Brilliance Trilogy Book 1), by Marcus Sakey – 😎 😎 😎

I randomly stumbled on this book searching the Kindle Unlimited section and WOW!! Looooved the premise and got sucked into every word. Highly recommend this series!


Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern – 😶

We all remember the phenomanon that was Sh*t My Dad Says, right? Well, I didn’t know a book was written and was honestly surprised at how mean/angry Justin’s dad was (not a very funny read IMHO).

Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz – 😎

Many people have raved about this book so I decided to pick it up. Honestly, the first 1/4 of the book was the most necessary part and if you’re a business owner you should read this.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel, by Mary Robinette Kowal – 😎

The first few pages of this book had me HOOKED… but then I felt like the character development went on a bit too long and could’ve gotten into more interesting parts of the story quicker. Either way, still a good read.

Sphere, by Michael Crichton – 😎 😎 😎

I feel like most people haven’t read Michael Crichton’s work, we’ve all only just watched Jurassic Park. At the recommendation of someone on Twitter I picked up Sphere and it was GREAT! Also, it was made into a movie in 1998 and it flopped.

Dot Con, by James Veitch – 😎 😎 😎

Odds are, you’ve probably watched on of James Veitch’s hilarious TED Talks and this book had me (actually) laughing outloud while reading his interactions with complete strangers on the Internet.


Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky – 😶

This book was recommended to me on Twitter and the first 10% of the book was solid – then something happened in the storyline and I just kind of felt MEH and gave up at the 50% mark.

Winter World (The Long Winter Book 1), by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎 😎

When A.G. Riddle writes, I read. Loved the premise behind this book and I immediately pre-ordered the 2nd book in the series after reading this one.

George Lucas: A Life, by Brian Jay Jones – 😶

I thoroughly enjoyed Brian Jay Jones’ biography about Jim Henson (read in 2016) but I simply could not get into George Lucas’ story and have my attention kept.

Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs – 😶

A book written by Steve Jobs’ daughter? Sign me up! Only… wow, a fairly tough read when you realize that Steve Jobs was not a “father figure” kind of guy.

Record of a Spaceborn Few (Wayfarers Book 3), by Becky Chambers – 😎

I wanted to be excited about the 3rd book in this series but something just didn’t keep me as interested.

A Closed and Common Orbit (Wayfarers Book 2), by Becky Chambers – 😎 😎

I dove straight into the second book in the Wayfarers’ trilogy and it kept my attention and turning those digital Kindle pages.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers Book 1), by Becky Chambers – 😎 😎

Was excited to start a science fiction trilogy written by a female author and Becky Chambers delivered – really enjoyed this unique story.


These are the 30 books I read in 2018


It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson – 😎

Let me start this short review by saying I LOOOVE Jason Fried and DHH, but, this book is pure common sense if you work for yourself and have figured out how to prioritize balance between life and work (if you haven’t figured that stuff out, definitely read this book).

Iron Gold (Red Rising Series Book 4), by Pierce Brown – 😎 😎 😎

I’m admittedly phoning in my reviews for Books 2-4 of the Red Rising series because they’re all equally amazing and you should read them!

Morning Star (Red Rising Series Book 3), by Pierce Brown – 😎 😎 😎

I’m admittedly phoning in my reviews for Books 2-4 of the Red Rising series because they’re all equally amazing and you should read them!

Golden Son (Red Rising Series Book 2), by Pierce Brown – 😎 😎 😎

I’m admittedly phoning in my reviews for Books 2-4 of the Red Rising series because they’re all equally amazing and you should read them!

Red Rising (Red Rising Series Book 1), by Pierce Brown – 😎 😎 😎

This is my RECOMMENDATION OF 2018! The Red Rising series kept me captivated cover to cover and I didn’t want to stop reading this inventive and super-unique fiction series!


Small Giants, by Bo Burlingham – 😶

I wanted this book to tell me something I didn’t already know, but having lived the “small” entrepreneurial story for over a decade, Burlingham’s book didn’t have much for me (but maybe it will for you??)

The Healing Self, by Deepak Chopra – 😎

I’ve never touched such an outwardly-focused self-help book, but was pleasantly surprised to have a bunch of my own ideas about life and taking care of your mental health reaffirmed by such a popular figure in our culture.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris – 😶

I’d heard such glowing reviews for Sedaris’ writing and I simply couldn’t get into it at all – maybe you’ll fair better, but it just wasn’t for me.

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi – 😎 😎 😎

Thoroughly, thoroughly (!) enjoyed Adeyemi’s creativity and story unlike any other I’ve read in a fiction book in recent years. I can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Surprise: Embrace the Unpredictable and Engineer the Unexpected, by Tania Luna & Lee Ann Renninger PhD – 😎

I’ve believed in the idea of “surprise and delight” for as long as I’ve been running my own businesses and this book dives a bit deeper into why this strategy is a good one (and how to apply it!)

So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo – 😎

As a white male I am well-aware of all my inherent priviledges and wanted to read something specifically about our complex racial climate – lots of solid takeaways and practical mindset shifts from Ijeoma.

Genome, by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎 😎

This is the second book in the “Extinction Files” series by Riddle and it did NOT dissappoint (much like the first book Pandemic).

Punch Escrow, by Tal M. Klein – 😎 😎 😎

Reeeeeeaaaaaaally enjoyed this book! Super unique premise and, no spoilers, an interesting twist on the idea of teleportation. Great read!

Bandwidth, by Eliot Piper – 😶

I read Cumulus from Piper earlier in 2018 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, this follow up book from Piper wasn’t as captivating and I shut it down after 40% completely. Bummer.

Pandemic, by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎

After reading Riddle’s Atlantis trilogy I was excited to dive into his newest series starting with this book. I genuinely enjoyed the plot, the characters, and by the end I couldn’t wait to start the next book. Solid read.

Tiger Woods, by Jeff Benedict & Armen Keteyian – 😎 😎 😎

WOW. This deep dive into the life of Tiger Woods was incredible! I could not put this book down and have an entirely different outlook on Tiger and his entire life. Highly, highly recommend this book.

How To Stop Time, by Matt Haig – 🤧

This was one of those books recommended to you on Kindle after you finish another book. I pushed through to 51% completion and simply couldn’t continue on. There just wasn’t anything that hooked me in, even though the premise of the book was pretty unique.

And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie – 😶

I really wanted to get into an Agatha Christie book but there was just something about it that didn’t suck me in to continue to turn the pages. Maybe I’ll give it a go again in the future?

Panic Proof: How the Right Virtual Assistant Can Save Your Sanity and Grow Your Business, by Jess Ostroff – 😎

I consider Jess a friend and when she asked me to read her book I happily obligded. I don’t need a virtual assistant, however, this book also shares Jess’ story, which I found interesting!

Abandon, by Blake Crouch 😶

You’ll find almost all of Blake Crouch’s books on this reading list because I genuinely love his writing style, yet this book felt more like a horror novel than a suspense novel and I couldn’t get into it. Just wasn’t for me, but maybe you’ll like that kind of thing?

Close To Home, by Robert Dugoni – 🤧

I’ve read every book in the Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni and this one fell flat for me. I pushed through to 30% completed and decided to shut it down. Bummer.

Culumus, by Eliot Peper – 😎 😎

I don’t typically gravitate toward dystopian novels, but I first heard about Cumulus on the website TheVerge and I tend to trust their recommendation about anything. It did not disappoint! Really enjoyed this book and am excited to read more from Eliot Peper.

All Over The Place, by Geraldine DeRuiter – 😎 😎 😎

I laughed. I cried (kind of). I snorted while flipping the digital pages of my Kindle. Gerlandine has a magnificent writing style and tells stories like no other. I might read this book again soon, it was that good.


Creative Struggles, by Gavin Aung Than – 😎 😎 😎

You may know Gavin as “Zen Pencils” and have probably stumbled upon one of his comics – I recently found his Bill Watterson comic, which led me to his website, which then robbed me of an hour of my life (in a good way!), and then I purchased this book and read it cover to cover.

All These Worlds, by Dennis E. Taylor – 😎 😎 😎

It’s RARE that I pick up the next book in a series right after the previous one, but that’s exactly what I did with the third (and final?) book in the “We Are Bob” series. I found myself excited to go to bed so I could open my kindle and read through a few chapters each night – riveting, funny, and hard to put down.

For We Are Many, by Dennis E. Taylor – 😎 😎 😎

This is the second book in the “We Are Bob” series and I enjoyed it exponentially more than I enjoyed the first book in the series – I think it was the development of characters and storylines in this book that grabbed my attention and held it tightly from cover to cover.

The Year of Less, by Cait Flanders – 😎 😎 😎

I could not put Cait’s book down – She doesn’t hold back on detailed stories of her battles with addiction and fighting personal demons, as well as sharing her journey with minimalism and figuring out what really matters and what she really values in her life. Read this book!

Manhood: How to Be a Better Man-or Just Live with One, by Terry Crews – 😎 😎

I became a fan of Terry Crews after his role in the movie The Longest Yard where he played “Cheeseburger Eddie” – Nowadays it’s hard to miss Crews and that’s fantastic given all he’s been through in his life and how hard he’s worked to get where he is (I don’t align with his religious beliefs in the book, but they didn’t affect my enjoyment of the stories and life lessons he shared).

The Last Black Unicorn, by Tiffany Haddish – 😶

This is a tough book for me to say you should or shouldn’t read as it’s a combination of funny, sad, and a life completely different from mine (which made it hard to relate to and get into at times) – I’d pick up the sample and make sure you watch a Tiffany Haddish interview or two to get her personality.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob), by Dennis Taylor – 😎

I was at a wedding and met a stranger who was a voracious sci-fi reader so I asked her what her favorite book was and she mentioned the “Bobiverse series” – A super interesting premise for a book (trilogy) that took awhile to get into, but I thoroughly enjoyed by the end.


These are the 33 books I read in 2017


Easy Street (the Hard Way), by Ron Perlman – 😎 😎

Man, Ron Perlman is such an interesting dude! Reading about his winding path through life and celebrity was a definite page-turner (full of laugh out loud funny moments).

Artemis, by Andy Weir – 😎 😎 😎

The much anticipated follow-up novel from the author of The Martian – I gave this book three 😎 because it deserves to be read and was just as good as Weir’s first book… IMHO.

Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies… a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success, by Shawn Stevenson – 😎

I struggle with getting a good night of sleep and always have – after sharing that fact with the Action Army multiple people mentioned this book and I was surprised by how non-boring it was (although, I was already doing most of the strategies, so no huge increase in sleep improvement).

Desert Places, by Blake Crouch – 😎

I am a Blake Crouch fan and decided to dive into this trilogy, however I will warn you, this series is verrrry dark and is probably best not read right before bed – haha.

Locked Doors, by Blake Crouch – 😶

Second book in the trilogy and it brought some hair-raising twists and turns that I wanted to recommend for you to read, but things get even darker in this book so choose wisely.

Break You, by Blake Crouch – 🤧

The final book in this trilogy really threw me for a loop and mostly because it felt forced, very violent for almost no reason, and didn’t leave me feeling good about life (which… may have been the point, so kudos to Crouch for that).

Masters of Doom, by David Kushner – 😎 😎

This book won’t be for everyone, but if you’re a nerd and enjoyed computer/video games, you definitely remember Doom and the height of its popularity – this behind the scenes look at the “two Johns” who created Doom was a really fun read.

Console Wars, by Blake J. Harris – 😎 😎 😎

As a child of the 90s who played copious amounts of video games on various Nintendos, Sega Genesis, and Sony Playstations, this book was such a cool inside look at how everything went down in the video game console industry (and a great book to read right after Masters of Doom).


Perennial Seller, by Ryan Holiday – 😶

I really dig the concept behind this book, but after reading 50% of it, I couldn’t find a reason to continue to flip the digital pages on my Kindle (so, I guess I’d recommend it, but you don’t need to read the entire book?)

The Atlantis Gene, by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎

If you’re looking for a new sci-fi trilogy to dive into, this is the one for you – Riddle’s writing is action-packed, has a few twists and turns, and is very imaginative.

The Atlantis Plague, by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎

I’m typically going in with low hopes for the second book/movie/etc of any trilogy, but this one did NOT disappoint as the plot thickened and the character development continued.

The Atlantis World, by A.G. Riddle – 😎 😎

When I finished the last page of this book I put my Kindle down, looked at my wife, and said: Damn, I wish there was another book in this series! – The third book may be the best in Riddle’s trilogy.

Cradle to Cradle, by William McDonough & Michael Braungart – 😎

I’m giving this book a positive review with a caveat: It’s not a page-turner, but it is a book that makes you think about the things you buy, how those things are made, and why you should think more consciously about your purchasing decisions.

I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons, by Kevin Hart – 😎 😎

If there’s one thing I really appreciate about Kevin Hart, besides his hilarious way of looking and talking about life, it’s his honesty about his shortcomings and how much hard work actually goes into success.

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, by Dan Lyons – 😎 😎 😎

READ. THIS. BOOK. Whether you’re in the “tech industry” or not, Dan Lyons wrote a fantastic book about his experience working at a big tech company (after being phased out of his job as a journalist).


Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome, by Robby Novak & Brad Montague – 😎

Like most humans, I looooove me some Kid President – I did feel resistance to continue to open and read this book, and I believe it’s because I got what I needed from it in the first few pages.

Becoming Who We Need To Be, by Colin Wright – 😎

This was the second book of my friend Colin’s I (finally) picked up and any book by Colin is worth your time, money, and attention.

Snowbound, by Blake Crouch – 😎 😎 😎

It’s safe to say Blake Crouch is my favorite author – This was one of those book I not only couldn’t put down, but I also had incredibly vivid mental images of the characters from Crouch’s writing.

Run, by Blake Crouch – 😎

I read this book right after Snowbound and while it was good, I think my brain was stuck in the previous story and couldn’t fully enjoy this one – definitely recommend it though!

Surge: Your Guide to Put Any Idea Into Action, by Matt Kane, Steve Garguilo & Sergiy Skoryk – 😎

I woke up one morning to an email asking if I’d write the foreword to a book about taking more action, along with a copy of the book itself – I was skeptical, but as a turned the digital pages I realized this was the book I’d write about action-taking, so I happily wrote a foreword and fully endorse this book!

How to Be Ultra Spiritual, by JP Sears – 🤧

Following JP Sears on Twitter is fantastic, so when I saw he wrote a book I was truly excited and pre-ordered it immediately – Unfortunately, the book couldn’t keep my attention and kind of fell flat for me.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah – 😎 😎 😎

Trevor Noah had humungous shoes to fill at the Daily Show and he’s done a fantastic job, which is why I was happy to dive into his book which was just a delight (and amazing to learn where Trevor came from).

Dust, by Hugh Howey – 😎 😎

Dust is the third book in Howey’s Wool trilogy and it was a great wrap-up to a solid (but admittedly long) series of fiction books.

The Things We Wish Were True, by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen – 😶

A book I really wanted to get into, but every time I opened my Kindle and read the words, it just couldn’t seem to keep my attention (maybe it’s worth a shot for you?)

Will It Fly?, by Pat Flynn – 😎

100% truth: I skim-read my friend Pat’s book, but mostly because I have my own personal experience to test my ideas and find out of they’re worth pursuing/launching/etc – I definitely recommend this if you’re just getting started in biz.

Wayward, by Blake Crouch – 😎 😎 😎

Oh hello again Blake Crouch! I read the first book (Pines) in 2016, and for some stupid reason I didn’t just continue with the second book of the trilogy – this series is soooo good!

The Last Town, by Blake Crouch – 😎 😎 😎

I wisen-ed up and dove right in to the third book in the Warward trilogy right after the second one and giddily flipped the pages wondering what would happen next.

Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder – 😎

While reading all these fiction books and finding out so many of them were optioned for big screen adaption, I got really curious to learn more about writing and selling a movie script, which is why I picked up Snyder’s book – It may not be for you, but I found it interesting.

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe – 😶

Soooo…. I know I read this book because it says 100% completed on my Kindle, but I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it – I guess that says something? No clue. Sorry. #honesty

The Trapped Girl, by Robert Dugoni – 😎 😎

The fourth book in Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series picked up right where the previous three books left off, filled with small twists, turns, and mysterious events.

Departure, by A.G. Riddle – 😶

This was the first book of Riddle’s I picked up, and I struggled to find interest in continuing to read it – Maybe I’ll give it a go again in the future?

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown – 😎 😎 😎

I cannot recommend Essentialism enough as it’s a wonderful way to think about life and business, no matter where you are on your journey (this was my second time reading it).


Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer – 😎 😎 😎

LIFE CHANGING BOOK ALERT! I’m not joking, Foer’s book put my wife and I on a path to plant-based eating, and I’m so glad I pushed through a book that was hard to read at times (but VERY important) – please read this book!



These are the 45 books I read in 2016


To Pixar and Beyond, by Lawrence Levy – 😎

I’d read Creativity Inc but was intrigued by this book to learn more about Pixar’s business, the crazy Disney contracts, and unique stories about Steve Jobs.

Ego is the Enemy, by Ryan Holiday – 🤧

I loved loved loooooooved Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way, but didn’t love love loooove this one (military history doesn’t inspire me).

Total Recall, by Arnold Schwarzenegger – 😎😎

Like him or hate him, Arnie has had a pretty crazy life and I appreciated learning more of it from the Austrian horse’s (honest) mouth.

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott – 😶

I could never write a book as eloquently written as this book and that intimidated me and made it hard to finish (just telling the truth!)

My Sister’s Grave, by Robert Dugoni – 😎😎

I found this book on Kindle Unlimited for free and decided to see if a book with 12,500+ positive reviews could live up to the hype — and not only did it live up to the hype, it sparked my interest in fiction books.

Her Final Breath, by Robert Dugoni – 😎😎

This is the follow-up to My Sister’s Grave and it did not disappoint, if anything, it appointed and appointed really well!

The Clearing, by Robert Dugoni – 😶

I’m not sure if I got burnt out on fiction by reading too many fiction books back-to-back, or maybe just the character in these books, but it took me way longer than it should have to finish the third book in this series.

Lucky Bastard, by Joe Buck – 😎😎

As a fairly big NFL fan, I’ve heard Joe Buck’s voice and seen his face on TV quite a bit, when I saw he wrote a book and was going to talk about all the things he couldn’t talk about on TV, my interest was piqued and rewarded (great job Joe!)

Thanks For The Money, by Joel McHale – 🤧

The subtitle (How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be) is the absolute best part of the book and I find Joel McHale funny in movies and TV.

The Fold, by Peter Clines – 😎

This was another Kindle Unlimited find and I was pleasantly surprised by the creativity of the story and the ease in which I tore through this book.

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Blue Bear, by Walter Moers – 😶

I heard about this book on a podcast and I was really excited to give it a go, but alas, as much as I loved the visuals in the book I simply couldn’t get into the story for some reason.

Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch – 😎😎😎

I found this book in an article on The Verge about upcoming sci-fi books and really REALLY enjoyed this book (more from Crouch in a minute).

Unsubscribe, by Jocelyn K. Glei – 😎

I’ve been able to get a solid grip on my use of email before reading this book, but it’s a GREAT refresher and an important read if you feel like your email inbox controls your life.

Rework, by Jason Fried and DHH – 😎😎😎

This was my FOURTH time reading Rework and the treasure trove of information is always a delight, this book is a MUST READ in my humble short-book-review opinion.


Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick – 🤧

I really wanted to enjoy this book, but I just never felt a strong connection to the words on the pages — sorry Anna (since I know you read my site – haha).

Originals, by Adam Grant – 🤧

Since these are my book reviews, I’m just being honest, but I get bored quickly with books that have 1,000 examples from other people and nothing from the author’s experience.

Act Accordingly, by Colin Wright – 😎 😎

I consider Colin a friend and for some odd reason had never picked up one of his books — I’m proud to say this was a very insightful read and I’ll be consuming many more books from that well-coiffed Colin guy.

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight – 😎 😎 😎

I’ve been a Nike fan my entire life, but I, like many people, took what the media was saying about Nike at face value and was happy to read the perspective and stories straight from the shoe-wearing horse’s mouth.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson – 😎 😎

I thoroughly enjoy Mark Manson’s writing (especially this piece) and was happy to purchase his book and enjoy a much longer-form read from him. Even though I do a pretty good job of not giving a f*ck, if you don’t do a good job of that you should read this book.

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, by Amy Schumer – 😎

You either enjoy Amy Schumer’s humor or your don’t, and I laugh out loud at all her vagina jokes so it’s a win for me!

Shift, by Hugh Howey – 😶

The second book in the Wool series, and while there were some good parts, I found myself thinking it didn’t quite hit the mark that Wool did.

Pines, by Blake Crouch – 😎 😎 😎

Blake Crouch is back and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the first book in the Wayward Pines series (probably not shocking to those of you who read this series years ago).


Talking as Fast as I Can, by Lauren Graham – 😎 😎

My wife read this book next to me in bed and laughed out loud almost every single time she read it so I knew I had to give it a read even though I’ve never watched Gilmore Girls — Lauren’s writing was LOL-worthy, but I could see how this book wouldn’t be for everyone.

“Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”, by Richard P. Feynman – 😶

I really wanted to enjoy Mr. Feynman’s book and I certainly did enjoy parts of it, but it felt like it took me forever to finish and I was never super excited to pick it back up and keep reading.

Creativity For Sale, by ME – 😎 #noshame

Yes, I read my own book again in 2016, but it was for good reason because I was working on my second book — truthfully, my first book was a first attempt at writing and it’s not stellar, but I’m still damn proud of it.

No One Wants To Read Your Sh*t, by Steven Pressfield – 😎

Apropos to have this listed right after my own book, probably, but this one was a quick read and had some solid nuggets of wisdom in it.

Wait But Why Year One, by Tim Urban – 😎 😎

This was the first year I’d read anything from Wait But Why and I’m angry with myself that it took me this long to do so — If you haven’t read ALL of Tim’s articles, this is a great place to start.

The Elon Musk Blog Series, by Tim Urban – 😎 😎 😎

Listen, the entire world has a boner for Elon Musk, and I’m no different, but I really loved buying the Kindle version of this blog series and supporting Tim’s efforts again.

Deep Work, by Cal Newport – 😎 😎

This book has a terrific message that anyone running their own business or working on creative ideas should read and focus on (heh).

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo – 😶

Marie’s book has an astounding 12,000+ positive reviews and I decided to give it a go — it wasn’t a page-turner, but it made me feel better about my pre-existing obsessive tidying.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman – 😎 😎

This book came out 10 years ago and I had only heard about it because it was becoming a TV show that looked interesting, the book did not disappoint and was a super unique story and fun read.

Tokyo Vice, by Jake Adelstein – 🤧

I just could not get into this book and I have no idea why, I tried and tried and tried and finally had to quit.

West Coast Modern, by Zahid Sardar – 😶

Saying I “read” this book is a bit of a stretch because it’s more of a picture book, but I still enjoyed it and you might too if modern architecture tickles your fancy.

Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin – 😎 😎

I was never a fan of Steve Martin’s style of comedy, it just doesn’t make me laugh, but I thoroughly loved every page of his story and learning more about his journey and how hard he worked in his career — a really well done autobiography.

Sick in the Head, by Judd Apatow – 😎

I’m going to give this book my recommendation, but with the caveat that I did skip a bunch of the interviews because they were uninteresting interviewees (to me), that being said, the style of this book was really cool and it was awesome to learn how dedicated Judd was to soaking up the experience of successful comedians as a teenager!

Party of One, by Dave Holmes – 😎 😎 😎

True story, Dave Holmes and I met for coffee/breakfast in 2010 — He was such a nice guy and I ordered his book the minute he said it was available (and enjoyed every single page, especially the real story of Dave’s MTV “life”).

Think Like A Freak, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – 😎 😎

I 100% consider myself a freak and after reading Freakonomics last year, was happy to pick this book up and turn the pages.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace – 😎 😎 😎

Another author that was well-acclaimed that I had never read anything by, David Foster Wallace’s writing style really resonated with me (and makes me laugh out loud) and the story of his experience on a random cruise ship was hilarious.

Kanye West Owes Me $300, by Jensen Karp – 😎 😎 😎

My wife and I found Jensen Karp’s podcast (Get Up On This) on a road trip a few years ago and he’s been a favorite (funny) person to follow on Twitter — When Jensen started talking about his book and his story of becoming a semi-famous white rapper, my interest was piqued and I read the book in one sitting.

Jim Henson: The Biography, by Brian Jay Jones – 😎 😎

My buddy Matt is back with another recommendation and this was a really interesting book about the life of Jim Hensen (heads up, it’s a long read).

Chuck Amuck: The Life and Times of an Animated Cartoonist, by Chuck Jones – 🤧

After finishing Jim Henson’s biography I jumped into Chuck Jones’ autobiography and simply didn’t have the same enjoyment or excitement to continue to turn the pages.

One Great Shoe, by Zack Schonbrun – 😶

This was a shorter book I found on Kindle Unlimited that told the story of the shoe brand AND1 that I was a HUUUUGE fan of as a kid, very interesting read for a very niche audience.

Ghost in the Wires, by Kevin Mitnick – 😎 😎 😎

This book was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC, although a bit nerdy, I hadn’t heard of Kevin Mitnick or his story of being on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in the ‘90’s — a must read in my opinion.


These are the books I read before 2016


Anything You want, by Derek Sivers – 😎 😎 😎

CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK ENOUGH!!! You can read Sivers’ book in one sitting and every line in it is quotable. Read. This. Book.


Yes Please, by Amy Poehler – 😎 😎 😎

I was 25% through reading this book on my Kindle when my wife and I decided to listen to the audiobook version on a road trip, and I couldn’t be happier we did! The pudding metaphor was LOL-worthy!

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown – 😎 😎 😎

This was the first time I read this book and it was suuuuuch a great way to think about how you focus your time and energy (whether in life or business) – Read this book!

The Martian, by Andy Weir – 😎 😎 😎

Such a great book, but you probably already knew that – feel free to listen to a full podcast episode where I gush about Andy Weir’s book with my BFF Paul Jarvis (who is also featured here twice as an author).

Freaks Shall Inherit The Earth, by Chris Brogan – 😎

As a proud “freak” I was honored to be mentioned in Chris’ book and enjoyed reading stories of other featured freaks – let your freak flag fly!

Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner – 😎 😎

Speaking of freaks… I had heard great things about Freakonomics and decided to pick it up – it did not disappoint and was a really interesting read.

My Family and Other Animals, by Gerald Durrell – 😶

Mr. Durrell’s book is highly touted, well reviewed, and was personally recommended by a friend, but it felt a bit too verbose for me and I simply found it hard to get into.

Your First 1,000 Copies, by Tim Grahl – 😶

A very tactical book about, you guessed it, selling your own book – This is a solid read if you’re thinking about writing your own book (or have and didn’t sell any copies).

Linchpin, by Seth Godin – 😎

I really don’t think you can go wrong with any book by Seth Godin, and this one does a great job of helping you understand the power of YOU and understanding the importance of your ideas/business/etc.

The Dip, by Seth Godin – 😶

We’re in the Seth Godin section of my book reviews, and truthfully I can’t remember reading this book and feeling like I had a big A-HA moment (although, re-reading the description makes me want to read the book again!)

Tribes, by Seth Godin – 😎

Still in Seth Godin-town, Tribes was the first book I read that explained the power of community and about finding the RIGHT people to surround yourself with.

Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin – 😎 😎

A must-read from Seth Godin if you’re trying to understand marketing in the digital age, especially if you’re doing an email marketing (although his principles apply to other marketing areas too!)

The Life and Times of a Remarkable Misfit, by AJ Leon – 😎 😎 😎

Even though AJ and I don’t talk all the time I consider him a great and trusted friend who is wise behind his years -This collection of essays is eye opening and FULL of wisdom.

Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull – 😎 😎

I am a huuuuge Pixar fan and was excited to read Ed Catmull’s recounting of the early days of the company, of working with Steve Jobs, and how to promote creativity with employees (when I used to have employees – haha).

The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau – 😎

Normally I don’t enjoy a book that’s a collection of stories from other people, as I like to hear from the author and their personal experiences, but I read Chris’s book at just the right time in my life and enjoyed all the stories.

Give and Take, by Adam Grant – 😎

Someone smarter than me has a great quote that says something like: If you don’t help people when you’re just starting out, you won’t help them when you’re rich – Adam Grant’s book dives deeply into that sentiment.

I Will Teach You to be Rich, by Ramit Sethi – 😎 😎

I’d heard good things about Ramit’s book, but the title always made me feel icky – I put that aside while making big changes in my life (my values) and Ramit absolutely nails redefining what “being rich” means.

Rework, by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson – 😎 😎 😎

MANDATORY READ ALERT!!! I cannot recommend this book enough, whether you work for yourself and want to start your own business, you have a side hustle, or you already own your own biz and want some inspiration.

The Good Creative, by Paul Jarvis – 😎 😎

Paul is my Internet BFF so it’s hard not to blindly recommend his stuff, however, I really do enjoy the way Paul writes and he’s been a big inspiration for me on how I think and write.

Three Simple Steps, by Trevor Blake – 😎

Trevor Blake’s book came at the exact right time for me as I transitioned away from my IWearYourShirt business and was trying to figure out what to do next and how to control my time toward my next business venture.

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield – 😎 😎 😎

If you’ve heard of this book, there’s a perfectly good reason: Pressfield does an amazing job of explaining resistance, how it affects us in unique ways, and how the heck to deal with it!

Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon – 😎 😎 😎

Between this book and Austin Kleon’s second (up next), I enjoy the message of the content, but I thoroughly enjoy the presentation and uniqueness of the design of these two books (I’d highly recommend buying the paperback version of Kleon’s books).

Show Your Work!, by Austin Kleon – 😎 😎 😎

The follow-up to Kleon’s first book, you cannot go wrong with early of these reads, especially if you grab the actual paper version and bask in the wonderful book layout and design.

Choose Yourself, by James Altucher – 😎

I really enjoy James Altucher’s brutal honesty and vulnerability – Choose Yourself is a great read if you haven’t yet committed to the fact that you are enough and you can do all things.

The Circle, by Dave Eggers – 😎 😎 😎

Before Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega took the big screen to adapt this novel, it was the first fiction book that I tore through without any hesitation (this was also my first realization that a book can be better than a movie).

The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks – 😶

One of the few times in this list I simply couldn’t remember any big takeaways from a book I read… so… take this “review” for what its worth.

The Essential Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson – 😎 😎 😎

I’ve read, and own, every Calvin and Hobbes book (including the massive collector’s edition) and I giddily re-read this collection of cartoons while creating a weird morning ritual.

Thank You Economy, by Gary Vaynerchuk – 😎 😎

Of the two GaryVee books I’ve read, this one resonated more with me and is a great read if you have customers and want to build habits to attract (and reward) more customers.

Crush It!, by Gary Vaynerchuk – 😶

In 2009 I thoroughly enjoyed the message of Gary’s first book, but these days, it’s not something I need and I don’t subscribe to the “hustle” lifestyle.

Body of Work, by Pamela Slim – 😎 😎 😎

MUST READ ALERT! Pam Slim is a dear friend and her book Body of Work hit me at the exact right time when I first picked it up in 2013 – a must read on this list!


The Obstacle Is The Way, by Ryan Holiday – 😎 😎 😎

MY MOST RECOMMENDED BOOK! Holiday’s book about reframing the way you think about obstacles helped me overcome personal hurdles in my life and business, so much so that I wrote an entire article about it titled, The Most Important Book I’ve Ever Read.


The Lean Startup, by Eric Reis – 😎

Almost everyone has heard the term “Minimum Viable Product” these days, but if you haven’t, or simply want to understand creating a business in the digital age, read this book!

Everything I Know, by Paul Jarvis – 😎 😎 😎

My introduction to my BFF Paul Jarvis was from a free email course about writing that ended with a pitch to purchase this book – I read it in one sitting, fired an email to Paul about how much I enjoyed his writing and perspective, and the rest is history!

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Al Ries & Jack Trout – 😎

I read this book many moons ago and don’t remember much more than this: Everyone should read this book once, whether you’re a whiz at marketing or not (and don’t ask my why that’s what I remember – haha).

The Four Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss – 😎

By now EVERYONE has heard of this book, but when I read it in 2007 (as the second book I’d read by choice!) and was just starting my first business, it was a helpful mindset shift away from thinking I needed to work 40-hour workweeks.

The Purple Cow, by Seth Godin – 😎 😎 😎

In 2005, while working at my first 9-5 job Seth Godin’s book ended up on my desk and forever changed my life – Not only did this book give me the permission to want to pursue a career working for myself, but it also helped me understand that being unique and different was an asset, not a liability.



Some overall takeaways from my experience reading nearly a book a week…

If you’ve read this far, then you care what I think about the books I read (which is awesome!) Going from reading ZERO books a year, to almost one a week, these are the things that have stood out to me.

Much like anything else, try new things when it comes to books.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be tearing through fiction trilogies left and right. I felt like reading always needed to be informative, so I naturally gravitated toward nonfiction/business books. But, as I gained more personal experience with business, I realized reading business books wasn’t very fulfilling anymore (and often distracted me from following my own intuitions). I’m really into sci-fi books these days, but in a year, maybe it’ll be romance novels!??

I would love to find more female authors.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, I simply found books authored by men much quicker and much more recommended. If you have recommendations please share!

I would love to find more comedic books.

I’d never read anything “funny” before 2016 and I quickly realized how dumb that was when I read Amy Schumer’s book and listened to Amy Poehler’s audiobook (maybe I just need to read books by people named Amy?)

Books are a wonderful distraction from mindlessly scrolling through social media.

As someone who is trying to pull away from the majority of social media, I’m finding myself with extra time on my hands that I want to fill with something thought-provoking or entertaining. Yes, I realize I’m waaaaaay late to the book party, but I’m here now, so let’s keep having a great time and not dwell on it.

The Kindle is an amazing invention.

I might be telling you something you already know, but I resisted reading on a Kindle for a long time. Nowadays, I love having all my books on one device that I can take anywhere (and have taken around the world!)

Give books (and lesser-known authors) a chance!

Again, I may be telling you something you already know, but as a former non-reader, I’ve gotten so much value out of the reading I’ve done these past few years.

So… what’re you reading?

An Entrepreneur’s Reading List, With Emoji Book Reviews

(Big Fat Takeaway)

Read more books! Challenge yourself to read outside your industry or standard reading genre. There's an entire world out there to be read!


This article written by

Jason Zook

I'm all about that Cinnamon Roll life (that just seemed like a "cool" way to say I love baking and eating cinnamon rolls). Also, I co-run this WAIM thing as well as Teachery. Currently, 75ish% completion of Tears of the Kingdom 🧝‍♀️⚔️.

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