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The Very Best Books I Read in 2016

5193adhz9hl-_sx352_bo1204203200_Now is the time to start a tradition of sharing the best books I read over the past year. The first full year of The Wealthy Accountant is fast approaching. Each December as the year draws to a close I will list my three favorite books I read during the year. Many books I pick up from the library, but the best books really belong in your personal library to read and reread. If you are like me you keep books close at hand for research. There is still time to order from Amazon and have these books in your hand to fill in  the quiet time during the holidays.

Some books I consider the best were already reported earlier. Of the three books recommended, there will be additional books mentioned that compliment the recommended book. Time is precious. Books are a must if you want to succeed and reach your goals. A good life starts with learning and books are the only way. Neither the internet nor formal training can do what books can. Sure, the internet, college, and formalized training are part of the learning process, a part you also need to seek out.

I read 30-50 books every year, depending on the size of the books. Reading is part of every day. Your schedule is just as tight as mine is. You still make time to eat, drink, breathe, and sleep. Time for books is as important as food. Food for the mind is vital. The short list allows you an opportunity to read the most books that convey a powerful message without reading as much as I do.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by: Ryan Holiday

Holiday has become my favorite author lately. His work on the Stoic way to reach the good life resonates. The Daily Stoic is written in the same manner as a devotional. There is a short excerpt from a great Stoic teacher of the past with a short story to illustrate the lesson each day. The reading takes a minute at best, but to gain the most value you need to reflect on what was said. I have started each day with the appropriate entry since The Daily Stoic arrived. Of course, you can read it straight through. To fully digest what is said requires a long-term review of the text. By reading a small entry each day there is almost no time requirement. Reading and reflecting takes five minutes. Returning each day builds a positive habit.

The Daily Stoic isn’t the only classic from Holiday. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph and Ego is the Enemy are two books you want in your personal library also. There is no doubt in my mind you will return to these books repeatedly, as I do. In an uncertain world, Stoic literature helps us find meaning and the good life. Most Stoic thought comes from the ancients. A few modern authors have provided quality guides of the Stoic philosophy. A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by: William B. Irving comes to mind. All these books are excellent additions to a personal library. You will find as much meaning and comfort from these books as I have found.

Kirinyaga: A Fable of Utopia by: Mike Resnick

My science fiction reading days are in the past. I still crack a novel open a few times a year, but most books I read are nonfiction. Kirinyaga has been on my shelf for years. I pulled it off a month ago and enjoyed an afternoon and evening of thought provoking entertainment.

Resnick has a history of award winning stories. The Kirinyaga series is about the best ever produced. The novel contains eight separate stories that weaver together one long story arc. The best story of the group is the second: For I Have Touched the Sky. That one story alone is worth the purchase price of the book.

The stories revolve around Koriba, a witch doctor who took his people from Earth to a planet far away to live their lives the way they should, without technology. Koriba keeps a computer hidden so he can communicate with civilization should an emergency arise.

For I Have Touched the Sky is about a Kikuyu girl, Kamari, who found an injured pygmy falcon and brought it to Koriba for healing. He broke Kamari’s heart when he said the bird could not be saved. He said since the bird has touched the sky it could never live in a cage. She insisted. Koriba relented and said he would try if Kamari would clean his hut. She agreed.

Kamari finds Koriba’s computer and slowly learns to access it. She learns to read and about other worlds, technology, and peoples. Then the pygmy falcon dies. Kamari is heartbroken. She agrees to continue cleaning Koriba’s hut as promised. Koriba eventually discovers Kamari is accessing his computer and that Kamari has learned many things, including creating her own language and how to write. Women are not allowed to write, Koriba told her.

This creates a crisis. Koriba cuts Kamari’s access to the computer and demands she never speak of what she knows. She desperately wants to learn more. Koriba refuses. Kamari grows more despondent each day until she commits suicide. Koriba is tasked with going through Kamari’s belongings and finds strange writing on a skin hide. Koriba takes the skin to the computer for analysis. He is told the writing is the language of Kamari. When he asks what is says the computer translates:

I know why the caged bird dies—/For, like them, I have touched the sky.

For I Have touched the Sky is a moving story you will not soon forget. The message is clear, we cannot go back. Knowledge, once released, cannot be returned to the bottle. Human beings hunger to learn and know. Take away the opportunity to grow and the human dies. Take away the ability to learn once you have touched the sky and there is nothing to live for.

Resnick writes fun stories that read fast. His bestseller, Santiago: A Myth of the Far Future, is his most famous novel and put his name on the map. His short stories have received numerous awards over the years. If you are in for an evening of light reading that makes you think after you put the book down, Resnick is a good choice.

Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies

I wrote about Valuation earlier in the year. It is a bit expensive for a book, but worth every penny and worthy of a second mention as one of the best books of the year. You will need a yellow highlighter when reading this book. There is so much powerful information you want to take notes.

img_20161218_195650Valuation is used as a college textbook. The reading is crisp and clear while the subject is in-depth and complete. For readers interested in investing in individual stocks or business owners looking to increase the value of their firm will find the tools necessary to complete the job. Creating value is why you invest. Business owners (investors are fractional business owners of a large company) need to understand how value is created. A simple answer like: A return on invested capital in excess of the cost of capital creates value, is only a small part of the equation. There is much more.

My copy of valuation is marked up and I keep it next to my desk as a reminder, and a resource, of what I am in business for. Business decisions and investment decisions are clearer with a better chance of success because of this resource.

There you have it. Three books to keep your mind active. I know, I know. I talked about several additional books connected to the books discussed. Use this list as a starting point.

One final point. The links to Amazon will generate a commission for me if you buy the books (or anything else) during the same visit you clicked on the link. If you think I am worth it, feel free to use the embedded links. If you would rather I not receive compensation for the links you can go to Amazon directly and order that way. Either way is fine as long as you read more good books and learn—so you too can touch the sky.