Books I Read in 2019

I keep a list of books I read each year, by month. In 2019, I read 19 books. Some were great, some were mediocre, some I read because I was tired of hearing about them.

Recommended books are denoted with *. Audible books are denoted with ^.


  • The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz.
  • Smart Retirement, by Matt Zagula
  • The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks than Others Do in 12 Months, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.


  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg. *
  • Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport. *


  • The Dichotomy of Leadership, by Jocko Willink *
  • Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great, by Jim Collins


  • Lead Yourself First:Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude, by Michael S. Sorensent and Raymond M. Kethledge
  • Frederick Douglass: The Prophet of Freedom, by David W. Blight ^
  • The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts – Vol. 1, by Shane Parish. ^ *


  • The Odyssey, by Homer translated by Emily Wilson. ^ *


  • Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, by Dr. Joe Dispenza. ^
  • The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. ^ *


  • Grit, by Angela Duckworth *


  • The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Jeff Cox and Eliyahu M. Goldraft


  • The Longevity Solution: Rediscovering Centuries-Old Secrets a to a Healthy, Long Life, by Dr. Jason Fungoes and Dr. James Dinicolantonio. *
  • Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, 3rd Edition, by Sam Carpenter
  • The Lessons of History, by Ariel Durant and Will Durant.


  • I Hear You, by Michael S. Sorensen. ^


Here is the truth: We don’t know the whole truth.

I came across this in my reading today from The 80/20 Principle:

Nothing flows from one simple cause. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is ever in equilibrium or unchanged…few people understand what is really causing anything, good or bad.

Richard Koch

It is a lesson that is too often forgotten as we dig our heels in and expound the truth because we have a handful of data points that support our “truth.”

When the environment is chaotic, the truth is obscured. Those data points are hypothesis, rumor, gossip, and, sometimes, flat out lies. And yet, some among us cling on to data points that have no value because they are no longer true. We cling onto them because we want to stay “consistent” in our line of thinking.

Ah yes, the scared lineage of our thinking. That bloodline that justifies all of our decisions heretofore. Break the bloodline and we are a lie. We unravel. But, to unravel, to untangle, is that such a bad thing?

To pull on that thread of our “truth” or the “truth” we believe and to discover why we have stayed mentally knotted all these years. No, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. To understand that our consistency is not a show of commitment or conviction. Instead, we begin to see that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The truth is what makes good sense today and that is supported by evidence today. We can discard yesterday’s truth if evidence no longer supports it. We’ll worry about tomorrow’s truth tomorrow.


“…most adult books are about 90,000 words, and no longer than 100,000 (unless you’re JK Rowling). Teen books are about 55,000 words.”(website)

I don’t have aspirations for writing a book, but I do want to write more frequently because it is an essential life skill. If you can’t articulate your thoughts in writing, when you have time to formulate your thoughts, select the exact words that mean the exact thing you want to say, then you’ve really have no chance of communicating at all.

For better part of my time as a CPA (certified public accountant) in public accounting, I used my writing and reading skills (not very good) more than I did my math skills (which I have none.) I read technical accounting literature, interpreted it, and wrote position memos to support an accounting position. I wrote footnotes that went into SEC filings of public companies. I’ve written memos explaining the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board why a certain audit procedure performed was to standard.

The more I write, the easier it gets to crank out a decent first draft. The more I write, the easier it is to get into the flow of writing but I still don’t do it enough. When I do go on a writing streak, I there is a noticeable difference is the flow of the writing. This doesn’t mean that the writing is any good.

To keep the state of writing flow near and readily accessible, I decided that I should add a daily writing component to my #75hard challenge.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since August 14th: write 500 words per day.

Here are the simple rules I use:

  1. Write 500 words per day.
  2. Any topic is okay.
  3. No editing, unless I catch a typo mid-sentence. The goal is to make progress, not perfect prose.
  4. No research. The focus in on writing, not researching (a deep and endless rabbit hole.) If I don’t have a fact or figure, I’ll put a placeholder like this: [insert fact or figure here].

Let’s do some math. 500 words per day x 365 days per year = 182,800 words.

Adult books have about 90,000 words; therefore, 182,800 divided by 90,000 = 2 books per year; or, 1.8 books if you’re JK Rowling. But, again, forget about books. That’s a lot of words for your blog, movie script, marketing content, thesis, journal, or whatever.

Here’s some technical stuff: I start my writing in the Drafts app which has a nice word count feature. I then push it to Dayone and tag it with “500 Words” for the writings that I want in my journal. I don’t want everything in the journal because some days are just rambling…forcing myself to write 500 words, even if it’s a bunch of nonsense (remember: progress, not perfect prose.)

By the way, the post has exactly 500 words in it so it’s part of my daily #500words.


This is Miles, my dachshund. This year he will be 18 years old (126 dog years!) A few years ago he had a back surgery. He recovered nicely but lately he’s looking frail again. No one knows how much time is left.

As I look at him, with the sun beaming past his body and lighting his way, I think that we are all like Miles.

When the sun is behind our backs, the shadow faces forward. It is darker because there is no clarity.

The shadow is a signpost of the past and the future.

If we let it, the shadow is the hazy memory of past failures. It could of a reminder of what we could have been but never was because we didn’t make so.

Or, the shadow can be the nascent self, the better self, if we can only get past the opaque outline and the uncertainty of what that self really is when we arrive.

The sun lights the way. Are we using the light to choose our path or are we staring at our shadow?

Whatever you do, don’t stare too long. The shadow will move, with or without you, to create a regrettable past or a unexplored future.

Books I Read in 2018

I keep a list of the books I read each year, by month. In 2018, I read 24 books. Some were great, some were mediocre, some I read because I was tired of hearing about them.

Recommended books are denoted with *. Audible books are denoted with ^.











2018 Annual Report

At the beginning of 2018, I chose a one-word theme: “attack.” The plan was to attack the day with maximum effort and win the day

I didn’t focus on goals. Instead, I focused on developing habits that moved the needle. I relied on consistency and the accumulation of daily effort.

Here’s how 2018 shaped up for me.

Physical Activity

In November 2017 I decided to start running and I kept up with this habit throughout 2018.

I logged in 591 miles over 176 runs. Although this is the most I’ve ever run, I am a bit disappointed that I did not run more. With 365 days a year, subtract 61 days in May and July where I did not run and subtract 52 rest days (1 rest day per week), I was left with 252 days available for running. I ran only 70% of those days. That’s 12 weeks where I chose not to run.

In May I sprained an ankle and did not run. In July, I experimented with only walking in order to keep my heart rate in the fat burning range of 105 – 135.

For the year, I walked 240 miles over 79 walks.


I started the year at 200 pounds. My last weigh in today, the last day of the year was 184. That’s down 16 pounds this year, an average of 1.33 pounds per month. This was a bit disappointing because I was hoping for a lot more.

But hope is not a strategy, and I didn’t have much of a strategy other than exercise which is not much of a strategy at all because 80% of weight loss is about diet. I prioritized the 20%, the exercise, which wasn’t smart.

I overate and I deluded myself by telling myself that my activity outweighed my calorie intake and poor food choices. As a result, my weight loss plateaued for months. It wasn’t until I was disciplined did I see downward movement on my weight. The disciple was short lived in June and November.


Since 2017 I’ve had a goal of reading 100 books each year. Each year I fail horribly at this goal. The upside is that I read more than I would have if I didn’t have this goal at all.

I read 24 books in 2018. One book was an audiobook, my first audiobook in a long time.

Personal Development

Attacking 2018 means action. To help with this I joined a mastermind group run by Andy Frisella and Ed Mylett. I credit these guys with getting me to take action this year.

The purpose of the mastermind is to help me connect with liked mind people and to keep me moving forward. I haven’t connected with as many people in the mastermind that I would like, but that’s completely on me.


My business, Basis 365 Accounting reached a milestone this year: we acquired an accounting firm. That’s a big step for us.

As a result, we added 4 people to the existing team 12 and we added an office in Oceanside, California.


2018 started off horribly on the personal front. A family member passed away too young due to cancer. Another family member got cancer for the second time but, luckily, she’s in the clear.

I’m more than ready to leave this part of 2018 behind.

The Year Ahead

Similar to 2018, I’ll focus on habits, not goals. I’ll focus on consistency and the accumulation of effort.

Here’s to a productive and awesome 2019.

Books I Read in 2017

I keep a list of the books I read each year, by month. In 2017, I read 29 books. Some were great, some were mediocre, some I read because I was tired of hearing about them.

Recommended books end in “*.”










Life Calendar — Visualizing Your Life

A few weeks ago I watched a TED Talk by Tim Urban. He talked about procrastination.

Near the end of this talk, he presented a “Life Calendar” on screen. The screen was filled with little boxes which represented a 90 year life, a grid. There were more than 90 boxes, so I’m guessing he broke it down by weeks. There’s probably 4,680 boxes (52 weeks X 90 years).

I thought it was a great way to visualize this fleeting life and to remind me not to waste time. I created my own grid of 4,004 boxes using the average male life expectance in the United States of approximately 77 years. I filled in 2,230 boxes with a little dot. Over half my boxes are gone!

At the end of each week, I’ll draw another little dot in a box. I’m hoping that I can fill in the 4,004th box and beyond, but there’s no guarantee of that.

You can also buy a life calendar poster from Tim Urban.

You can get a PDF of my less optimistic 4,004 life calendar here.

If you want something more digital, check out Count.Life. There’s a Chrome extension too.

Every second, I am dying.

“There is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.”

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Forgetting That You’re Dying

A little over a month ago my uncle checked himself into the emergency room. Hours later, he had two stents expanding arteries around his heart. A few days later my aunt, his wife, checked herself in for hypertension.

This whole business of “dying” is no joke. Yet, so much time is wasted on doing non-essential things. Hundreds of flicks and swipes through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and the list goes on and on. A dozen or so hours lost each week as brain cells melt away in to the social media abyss. It is so easy for inactivity to be the activity.

I decided that I wasn’t haven’t anymore of it so I devised a mechanism to break myself out of the mind-numbing activity of doing nothing — a little hack to promote activity.

I setup my Due app to go off five times a day at 8 A.M., 12 P.M., 3 P.M. 6 P.M., and 9 P.M. to remind of with a simple message:

“Every second, I am dying.”

Remembering Death Is Near

For about a month now, I’ve had this reminder pop up on my phone, my watch, and my computer. The reminder pops up in the middle of meetings, screencasts, everywhere — it just popped up again (the 9 P.M. reminder) as I am writing this.

The reminder is incredibly effective at breaking through the haze of inactivity and pushes me towards doing something productive or meaningful. What I’ve learned this past month is that it is really easy to let yourself slip into doing nothing.

It’s a bit of a morbid message, but it is the truth. To think that death is happening for me every second is a stronger motivator than thinking that death will eventually come sometime in the future.

This is one hack that I’ll keep until I, um, die.