My GIANT Booklist

A lot of people have been asking me for book ideas, and I thought it would be worth putting together a list (as much for my benefit as yours!). This list encompasses many of the books I have read over the last 2-3 years (since deciding that reading was a worthwhile pursuit). I have categorized them as best I could, but you may not agree with some. They are ALL good, but some are great, indicated by between 1-3 stars (*).

Personal Development

  • The Power of an Hour – a book divided into one hour segments to be read daily, with actionable steps to improve and better understand the drive and vision for your own life
  • Be Great – a call to personal action
  • Do What You Are – a Myer Briggs approach to finding out what you might like, and what to do about it
  • Be All You Can Be – John Maxwell takes a great stab at putting the pressure on your to achieve
  • How to Get into the Top MBA Programs* – if you are serious about going to a top 20  (worldwide) MBA program, this book is for you. They break down everything (the book is about 500 pages), its written by real interviewers/boards, and is the best I have come across
  • Think and Grow Rich – I am lukewarm about this book. About focusing on success to drive your actions.
  • Time Management* – a great and quick read on time management, something none of us do enough research on – lots of practical and good tips/tricks
  • How to Read a Book*** – written by the ex editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, get it 1) because even though you think you are good, you are in fact probably a terrible reader (so learn to be better), 2) it has a list of the ‘top writings of all time’ over the last 2,000 years, well worth the investment in itself
  • You, Inc – a great book on developing your own personal brand
  • On Being a Real Person

Business Principles

  • Rework* – ideas on basic business principles (although some are very contrarian) for running your own business – from the creators of Ruby on Rails
  • The Art of the Start* – key ideas to starting a business, kind of a condensed version of Reality Check
  • Reality Check*** – the long version of AotS, but a very good read. You can read it as you need (as its divided into functional areas) or all at once, a must have for anyone starting a company
  • The Little BIG Things – a collection of rules for business (I have a few of these), this is probably tied for #2 in the ‘business rules’ category
  • Rules of Thumb – similar to the above, a collection of business rules
  • How to Succeed in Anything by Trying Really Hard – similar to above, tied for #2
  • Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive*** – the best book I have come across on general business rules
  • Never Eat Alone*** – if you don’t know how to network, GET THIS BOOK, it is the best on the subject!
  • 100 Best Business Books – overview of the 100 best business books of all time
  • The Essential Drucker** – while most of this book is great, there are a few slow chapters. Overall a very highly recommended read
  • Execution* – a good overview on how to get things done, as execution is really the only thing that matters (ideas are a dime a dozen)
  • What the Dog Saw – one of my favourite Gladwell books, various interesting stories/insights
  • Good to Great – why/how do companies go from being Good to Great? Answer inside.
  • Drive – what motivates people?
  • Buy-in – how to get buying at work
  • The Innovator’s Dilemma*** – why companies that are so good at keeping up with sustaining technologies fail to adapt to disruptive ones – and what you can do about it
  • In Search of Excellence
  • Th!nk – on why it is better to critically analyze then make gut decisions


  • Boomerang – if you like fiction storytelling, Michael Lewis is your guy – a good (but shallow) overall picture of the current state of the economic world
  • Diary of a Hedgefund Manager – another great story, a PM’s rise and fall from glory
  • The Best Jobs on Bay Street – GREAT overview of each ‘pillar’ (read: vanilla) job on Bay Street, what it’s like, education required, and interviews. If you want to work on Bay Street and don’t have it, get it
  • Market Wizards* – interview with top traders, great real world experience
  • The New Market Wizards – more content, new interview – similar to previous
  • Reminiscences of a Stock Operator* – this book is THE story of Wall Street. If you think its Liar’s Poker, you are poorly misinformed. This is a great read.
  • Endgame** – this is the data/numerical driven version of Boomerang. Much better, and a much deeper analysis in my opinion
  • The Trader’s Guide to Key Economic Indicators – if you have no idea of GDP revisions, housing data, and want to learn more, this is a fantastic place to start – very in depth
  • Market Indicators – whether you are looking at put/call ratios or any of the other indicators, this book tells you about them all, and how to read them. It’s published by Bloomberg.
  • Crash of the Titans
  • Too Big to Fail
  • The Big Short
  • More than You Know – taking insights from other industries and applying them to finance, very interesting


  • How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends – might sound lame, but it was recommended and turned out to be a great read – how to connect with people
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People – some good thoughts on communicating with others
  • The Likeability Factor
  • The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs*

Macro Idea

  • The Tipping Point* – why do some ideas catch on, when do they ‘catch’, is there a formula for making something catch?
  • Switch – how to promote change when change is hard
  • Tribal Leadership** – a good read, how to understand where people are in their personal philosophy, and how to help them advance
  • Moonwalking with Einstein – a look at memory, how to improve it, and our understanding of it


  • The Sales Bible – a great read by Gitomer, some key ideas for someone interested in improving their sales skills


  • Crossing the Chasm*** – perhaps one of the best books on launching disruptive ideas – an ESSENTIAL read
  • Made to Stick*** – the best book on marketing. Period.

Your Job/Personal Brand

  • Bullet Proof Your Job – how to become essential at work – a decent read (but not the best)
  • The First 90 Days* – this job puts forward that you have 90 days to adapt to a new role, then its sink or swim. Some ideas on how to do that in different environments.


  • The Snowball (Warren Buffet)
  • Founders at Work* (various companies)
  • King of Capital* (Blackrock)
  • Last Man Standing** (Jamie Dimon)
  • In Their Time (various leaders)
  • Leonardo (Leonardo Da Vinci)
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • E=mc2(Einstein)
  • Coach Wooden One on One (Wooden)
  • Inside Apple (Apple, NOT Steve Jobs)
  • What Would Google Do?** (Google)
  • Losing my Virginity (Richard Branson)


  • The Lessons of History*** – a short read, but one of the BEST I have ever read, MUST READ
  • The Second World War* – a great (one of the best) book on the WWII
  • Where History Was Made – memorable and deciding moments in history
  • Milestones, Setbacks, Sidetracks – German history
  • A Short History of Nearly Everything**
  • World History for Dummies (actually a great overview)
  • The Odyssey of Homer*
  • A Short History of Progress*


  • On the Shoulders of Giants* – a great read and overview of those who came before us, whose shoulders we stand on
  • The Universe in a Nutshell
  • The Elegant Universe – an introduction to String Theory
  • The Fabric of the Cosmos** – more on String Theory (same author as above)


  • Empire of the Sun** – about a boy in a Japanese POW camp, and how he survives (and how he comes to be there)
  • Beowulf
  • Farenheit 451* – dystopian future story where books are burned (as a means to sedate the population)
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Great Gatsby***
  • 1984 – the classic dystopia story
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Brave New World
  • The Pursuit of Hapyness
  • A Man Called Intrepid
  • Robot Dreams
  • I, Robot


  • W.H. Auden Collected Poems* – if you are new to poetry, it’s a great place to start

One thought on “My GIANT Booklist

  1. Pingback: My GIANT Booklist « blairlivingston

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