My favorite books: 2012 edition

I read  a lot of books in 2012.  I ended up reading close to 30 books over the year, some were forgettable but I did come across quite a few memorable ones with highly useful information. I estimate I read close to 6,000 pages.   Here are my list of favorite books I read during the course of the year.

InSideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann was an amazing book.  I had purchased it because I was interested in becoming a better coach and  the book had received praise from some notable sports figures.  I didn’t know who Joe Erhmann was and I was surprised to find out he once was a fearsome defensive lineman in the NFL.  The book sat on my bookshelf for a long time and I honestly can’t quite remember what made me pick it up and starting reading it, but once I dug into it, I couldn’t put it down.  Here is a story of a NFL brute who had a personal transformation and now is trying to change the whole sports coaching culture.  He believes we should use coaching sports as an opportunity to help transform the lives of children and help them become successful adults.  This is a book that will stay in my collection and I know I will read again.  If you are a coach, I highly recommend that you read it!

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Being Happy by Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D. was packed full of tips on how we can achieve happiness.  In this book, he takes research from the field of positive psychology and shows us how we can apply it in our lives.  This was the first book I read during the year that addressed the notion that failure is okay and essential for true success. We should strive to be optimists and not get caught in the trap of being a perfectionist.  He provides exercises for self reflection and meditation.  I felt like it was a well written book that had useful exercises to help anyone live a happier life.

Poke the Box by Seth Godin is a small book and a quick read but it is not short on great insight.  As the author would say, this book is a “manifesto about producing something that’s scarce, thus valuable.”   It is better to take action and be wrong than to wait for the perfect opportunity to release your product or service.  This book is about business, so if you have your own business, create products or services, I would recommend this book as an inspiration to get moving.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell has been out for awhile and I finally got around to reading it this year.  I believe it was referred to in another one of the books I read, so naturally I had to read it.  Outliers is the story of success, and the story of success can be quite complex.  Intelligence and ambition aren’t the only factors that play into a persons success.  If you have ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule to become an expert, this is the book it came from.  A very fascinating read!

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is another book about my favorite subject for the year, Success!  She explains that it’s not just are abilities and talent that lead to success, but also our mindset.  There is a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  Those in a fixed mindset want to make sure they succeed so they don’t challenge themselves.  Those in the growth mindset believe in stretching themselves and that they can become smarter.  They are willing to fail and take risks to learn and become smarter.  She describes how the right mindset can help us reach our potential in all aspects of life.  This includes parenting, business, school, and relationships.  This book had interesting information but there was a lot of it so it took me awhile to read.  It is worth reading if you have the time.

A Game Plan for Life – The Power of Mentoring by John Wooden and Don Yaeger is the first book I read about John Wooden.  I think I was inspired by a John Wooden quote to find out more about this highly successful coach.   InSideOut Coaching had inspired me to improve my coaching in 2012 and Coach Wooden would prove to be another great source of motivation.  I also believe it is important for us to have mentors to look to for inspiration and knowledge.  This book iss broken down into two main parts, the seven people who were Coach Wooden’s mentors and the seven people that he mentored.  There are great stories in here of sharing knowledge, experience, and life lessons.  A mentor doesn’t have to be someone you have met in person, a mentor can be anyone who has transmitted useful information to you through some form of media or communication.  I hope I can be even a fraction of the mentor that Coach Wooden was.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg explains why we have habits and how we can change them.  This book is loaded with interesting scientific research and fascinating stories but here are the two most important things I got from the book.  At the core of a habit is a loop that consists of three things, 1) a cue 2) a routine 3) a reward.  There is a 4 step plan to reshaping a habit, 1) Identify the routine 2) Experiment with rewards 3) Isolate the cue 4) Have a plan.  For further details, check out the book.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Practice Perfect by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi is about the 42 rules for getting better at getting better.  The book contained great ideas for improving your practice to help you get better at whatever endeavor you wish to pursue.  There are examples of how high level athletes, great teachers and other top level performers structure their practice and what techniques they use to improve.  There was a bonus section in the appendix that had techniques from the author Doug Lemov’s book Teach like a Champion.  I thought this was an excellent addition to the book and I found it very useful.  I immediately started applying some of these techniques in the boot camp class that I taught and when I didn’t apply the proper technique, I at least caught myself doing the wrong technique.  A youth participant in class was being disruptive and questioning my choice of exercises and I engaged the distraction.  Never engage the distraction and allow it to disrupt your teaching.

Why People Fail by Siimon Reynolds is jam packed full of great ideas and techniques to overcome the 16 obstacles to success.  Every chapter is full of great ideas and techniques to help a person become more successful.  This is the kind of book that you keep around so you can refer to again and again in the future.  One read is not enough to absorb it all.  It touches upon so many subjects from destructive thinking to low productivity to even money obsession.

Earn What You’re Really Worth by Brian Tracy is a great reference manual to improving your earning potential and overall success.  If you have read any of Brian Tracy’s books, you will know that he is really good at laying out a step by step plan to follow.  Each chapter has action exercises at the end to help you apply the key ideas to your life.  One of the stand out ideas from the book was that no matter what position of employment you hold, you should see yourself as self employed.  You are 100% responsible for your life and everything that happens to you.  You are president of a company with one employee; you.  You have one product, your own personal services. With a good attitude and a lot of hard work, even if you are in an entry level position, you could eventually rise to the position of a leader with that proper mindset.  Brian Tracy is a great motivator and I highly recommend checking out one of his books if you wish to be more successful in business and life in general.

The Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, Ph.D.’s.  Here is a book bursting with science about nutrition and what might be the perfect human diet.  I love science so this book was hard for me to put down and I read it in about two days while on vacation.  This diet has some similarities to the Paleo diet but it also has it stark differences.  I know there has been some debate in the Paleo circles about this book.  Let me relay to you what I found most interesting.  When the body goes into starvation and begins to break itself down into nutrients, it breaks down into moderate carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high fat to help us sustain life.  Mother’s milk breaks down into moderate carbohydrates, moderate protein, and high fat.  In the gut of animals that are herbivores, the food they eat is broken down through the digestive process into, you guessed it, moderate carbohydrates, moderate proteins, and high fat.  So this is the science they used to create the perfect health diet.  They also talk about supplements, but I think it may be better to have lab work done and find out exactly what you are deficient in or not deficient in instead of blindly taking supplements   A good naturopath can also be helpful regarding supplementation.  I am still a bit skeptical about whether moderate carbs are ideal and if there really are safe starches, or if it is best to keep things low carb.   I think it help proves once again that we need a lot of fat and hopefully helps destroy that myth that fat makes us fat.  Of course, make sure the fats are good fats.  As far as carbs go, Robb Wolf touches upon the subject recently on his blog.   Maybe hard training athletes do need a little more carbs.  However, I have a training client who wasn’t having success in her weight loss efforts until she went low carb.  The moderate carbs weren’t working for her.  Maybe it’s not that simple and each person is different and the carbs need to be adjusted accordingly.  However, it is clear that high carb diets such as the Standard American Diet (SAD) lead to poor health.  If you are interested in nutrition and science,you should check this book out for yourself!


Well, there you have it!  My favorite books for 2012!  So if you’re wondering where all the books regarding exercise are, DVD’s were my learning tool of choice in the field of fitness.  I hope 2013 is getting off to a great start for you and thanks for stopping by my blog!