TMBA 481: Our Favorite Books of the Past 12 Months

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On this week’s episode, we are continuing one of Dan and Ian‘s favorite traditions on the podcast.

Today we are talking about books and, in particular, the favorite books that we have read in the past year.

And continuing an annual tradition, we invited our good friend and talented author Kyla Gardner to share her recommendations too.

This conversation also details how some of our reading and social media habits have changed over the last 12 months, why Kyla has started writing fiction, and much more.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How social media habits have influenced the ways that we read and write. (4:12)
  • The new book that Kyla is currently working on. (7:31)
  • A somewhat controversial book that critiques our modern society. (11:53)
  • Some of our favorite entrepreneurial stories we read this year. (17:39)
  • A few bonus books for those who want even more recommendations. (31:22)

Mentioned in the episode:

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This week’s episode is brought to you by Dynamite Jobs. Dynamite Jobs is a service that helps entrepreneurs and listeners of this show find top, experienced talent to join their teams.  These types of remote positions can be especially challenging to hire for, and we specialize in making that process easy.  For those of you who are on the hunt for a new opportunity, we know how frustrating it can be to find good remote jobs, so we only work with established, reputable companies offering great remote opportunities. If you’re looking for a new job in the new year, check out

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Published on 02.21.19
  • I always enjoy these ones.

    Glad to hear Taleb’s latest book discussed. I got it on Audible right when it came out and cruised through it. My first impression was that it was more feisty and less meaty than his other books. That might just be because The Black Swan and Anti-Fragile have so permeated my thinking at this point.

    I certainly agree with his overall point: don’t just listen to the things people say, watch the risks they are willing to take. The most interesting idea that stuck out to me was his brief discussion of Old Testament justice, which always puzzled me as a kid. Why were multiple generations sometimes punished for one father’s sins? Because, at least in theory, there are social crimes that are greater than can be retributed for in a single lifetime. Plus punishments that sweeping add even more deterrence to keep people from doing those things. I think it’s good for us to periodically think “anti-modern” thoughts like that.

    Taleb has gotta be a dream guest for this podcast!

    For some reason it alarmed me to hear Grit referred to as “pop psychology,” even though it probably is. Angela Duckworth is a legit scholar who communicates to a general audience.

    And you have to love a business podcast that talks about Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals! Talk about clashing with modern sensibilities. This one thrilled me as a young person who left his parent’s religion, but scared me as a student of history. If moralities that favor the weak emerged as a way to strike back at the strong, then where does that leave us after centuries of imperialism and genocide? In one of his books, Taleb mentions admiring people who care for and protect the weak. It’s hard to disagree with that, but that could be because we grew up in modernity, in the wake of the moral systems Nietzsche takes to task.

  • Sjors Provoost

    I also think I read fewer books in 2018 than before, though I didn’t count. I have massively increased my podcast listening, which I think is a bigger factor in my reading reduction than social media. I’ve had two poor experiences with Audible where the book and/or the narrator weren’t very good. I miss having samples like with the Kindle. But I’ve also had great experiences with audio books in the past.

    Still it’s much easier to listen to 1 to 2 hour podcasts with fresh content than a whole book, even though the latter might be more impactful. That’s almost a similar dynamic to how social media can distract you from longer content. Perhaps that’s a good reason to worry. On the other hand, some books probably should have been a two hour podcast :-)

  • @sjorsprovoost:disqus – I have also gotten more into audiobooks in the last couple of years.

    Two things that I’ve learned in the process –

    – I still prefer to reading “meatier” books on Kindle as I find my info recall is a lot better.

    – I find that I stay more engaged and get more out of the book when the author narrates their own book.

  • kylagardner

    I was under the impression that ‘pop psychology’ was legit psych popularized for a general audience. I didn’t know about its pseudo-psychology connotations. I loved Grit a lot, all apologies to Angela Duckworth. TIL. Thanks!

  • kylagardner

    I got really into audiobooks and then…really out of them. I also find that my recall of the material in general is worse. And often I want to go back and find a passage to re-read or reference, which is near impossible with audio.

  • Nick

    Taipan is a great book – Noble House the quasi followup I can also recommend. Could do without the communist plot storyline but is a great snapshot of HK at that time.

    Imperial Twilight by Stephen Platt was out this year which is the real historical story behind Taipan is also worth a read though Julia Lovells The Opium War is still the most detailed.

    Any other historical epic series like these to recommend?

  • Micki McNie

    Kyla is responsible for a large chunk of my current reading list. Recent faves of mine are The Hate U Give, The Goldfinch (by the author of Secret History), and for an unexpectedly refreshing ‘self improvement’ vook try Tell Me More

  • Allen Walton

    Wow, Overdrive is a gamechanger. Nice one, Kyla.

  • 10 minutes from now
    My fav of 2018 is “lost and founder” by Rand Fishkin. Rand is extremely open describing personal struggles during his Moz years, this book is simply a killer on that level. Plus on practical side it covers so many tricky things about running/growing company.

    About Newport. His work is not my cup of tea, sorry. The guy sounds too preachy to me. And, if I understood correctly, his official field of studies is not related to “deep work” or social media.

  • kylagardner

    awesome, right? cheers!

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