If you’re new to this blog, I do a monthly post with a recap of books I’ve read in the previous month. Today’s post covers the books I read in February 2015. Along with the recap, I also give away a copy of my favorite business book each month, so get on my email list for a chance to win.

1. What’s Best Next

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What’s Best Next, by authors Matthew Aaron Perman and John Piper, takes standard Getting Things Done philosophy and applies Christian faith principles. My biggest complaint about the book is that it’s very repetitious.

The first 55% of the book consists of the authors basically trying to convince you that Christians should be concerned with productivity. I’m a Christian and I don’t disagree with the overall premise, but it shouldn’t require more than half of a book to make that argument. Nor does it need to be restated it in 9,200 ways (yes, I made up that number) to convince a reader the argument is valid.

Then you get to the approximately 25% of the book that’s really great.

Starting in Chapter 13, Perman finally starts breaking some ground new to me as he talks about identifying your roles in life. Your role list would be something like:

  • Individual (encompasses all the things pertaining to you)
  • Family (wife, kids, parents…)
  • Church (church, small group…)
  • Social (friends, neighbours…)
  • Professional (programming, design, blogging…)

Those cover the primary areas of responsibility in your life, so as new things come along you see which role they fit into.

The main reason you should be looking at your roles is to keep them in balance. Now of course sometimes you’ll be working more and spending less time with your family. But by identifying your ‘Family’ role as the most important, you can keep your life in check over the longer term.

Perman suggests keeping your list of roles and their priority in the same place you keep your review tools for your weekly review. That way you are continually reminded of your roles and what you really value.

After discussing roles, the book addresses setting up your week (which I think is super important) and creating routines. Routines are important to reduce your cognitive load and make planning easy.

Overall there are some great tips in this book for anyone looking to be more productive. If you’re not a Christian and tend to be put off by scripture citations, skip to Chapter 13 where the book covers roles.

If you’re a Christian then start from the beginning, but expect the same message to be repeated over and over and over from slightly different angles.

2. 20 Things I Learned as an Entrepreneur

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This is a super short book of 20 chapters in about 20 pages (plus front and back matter of course). Each chapter is a short thought on what it means to be an entrepreneur.

There are lots of great takeaways in this short book and it starts right out of the gate with what could be the foundational thought for your whole life:

…did you do what you said you would do? And if you didn’t, were you accountable?

Yup it starts off by talking about being a person of your word. Do what you say you will do, and don’t let the little things, like sending an email a day late, make working with you something negative.

There are a number of other great points in this book so yes, I think you should read it. Now if I had paid full price for the print version, I probably wouldn’t have been happy, but it was free via Kindle. However, even at $5-$10, I would still consider it a good value.

3. Taliesin

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I first read this book in my early teens and it’s always had a place in my library. This is probably the 10th time I’ve read it.

Taliesin is the father of the famed Merlin so this is the beginning of Stephen R. Lawhead’s Arthur cycle.

The story begins with Atlantis and Charis (Merlin’s mother), and walk through the fall of Atlantis where Charis and a few thousand people escape the destruction.

The Atlantis timeline is interspersed with stories of Britain and Elphin (Taliesin’s father) as he prepares for the ‘dark time’.

The book ends with the birth of Merlin and a surprise death, which I’ll leave as a surprise so I don’t spoil the book.

I obviously love it since I’ve read it 10 times, so yes I recommend it if you like the genre.

4. Master the Essentials of Conversion Optimization

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If you’re looking to get into conversion optimization this is a great initial read. When you’re done you’ll have a list of the next resources you should be reading along with a specific process to begin your conversion optimization.

This is a no-nonsense guide that tosses aside your ‘hunches’ in favour of testing and proving your theories. When your tests turn out ‘bad’ as many will just revisit the hypothesis and run another test.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in working on conversions for their site.

5. Leviathan Wakes (Expanse Book 1)

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This book is billed as a space opera. I’ll trust that is true, although I didn’t hear any singing and I don’t know exactly what a ‘space opera’ is supposed to be.

Whatever it is, it’s a good book. Another one I just didn’t want to put down — at all, at any point.

Humans have colonized Mars, as well as a bunch of asteroids in the solar system. Now there is division between the inner planets (Mars and Earth) and the ‘belt’ (the asteroids and such). Someone finds an alien molecule, thaws it, then unleashes it on humans on one of the bigger asteroids, simply to see what it does.

Mayhem ensues as ships explode and huge rocks narrowly miss being pushed into the sun.

Overall, if you like science fiction, this is a great read. I’ll be getting the next book in the series.

That’s it for February. Stay tuned for the March reading list, and if you have your own recommendations, by all means post them in the comments.