ALearningaDay Book Oscars: The 5 Books of 2011

Note: These books were not necessarily published in 2011. These were chosen from the books I read this year.

This year’s been a good one for books. I think I managed to keep up 30 mins/week day pretty much throughout the year and read 24 books. Very few of those disappointed. And that naturally meant I had great difficulty keeping this list down to 5.

But, there are only 5 Oscars and I had to define some judging criteria. In an effort to keep it simple, my judging criteria was the following –

1. I have to use the word ‘Mind blowing’ when I refer to the book. ‘Awesome’ is minimum requirement.

2. The book should have impacted me in real life i.e. inspired real change.

Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out, it’s time for the actual awards!


Winner – Book of the Year: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

Why? This book passes both tests with ease. Regulars on this blog have likely seen many a Book Learning (posted typically on Sunday’s) in the last few months from Switch.

The reason this book tops the list is because of an incredible number of anecdotes that have simple messages and for the fact that it has inspired me to dig deeper into the logic/emotion balance and it’s impact on our happiness and our ability to get things done. I’m now amidst reading the book that is the source of the now famous elephant rider analogy called The Happiness Hypothesis and boy, this book looks like it’s going to be a winner.

Incredible book. Amazing learnings. Thanks Chip and Dan.


1st Runner Up – Book of the Year: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams

Why? This book also passes both tests easily. This was my choice ‘gift book’ in 2011. I think I ended up gifting 10 odd copies of the book to friends and family.

And of course, one incredibly deep insight that I’ve thought of most times I’ve found myself feeling negative or unhappy.

Big impact. Great book!


2nd Runner Up – Book of the Year: Gifts Differing by Isabel Briggs Myers

Why? Deep book with many great insights. This book was again one of those that had high personal impact and has changed the way I see the world. In many ways, it has helped me empathize with different types of people better. Much better.

Great book. A must read. To just understand ourselves better.


Fourth Place – Book of the Year: Ready for Anything by David Allen

Why? David Allen just gets it. That’s why.

I must admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of his best seller ‘Getting Things Done’. I found the book very instructive and very focused on the what. In this book, David Allen takes understanding the principles of GTD to a whole new level.

The book focuses on the why and how of hacking our productivity and our brains. Must read for all those productivity geeks out there.


Fifth Place – Book of the Year: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Why? Few 2011 lists would not include Steve Jobs’ autobiography. And for very good reason. The book is very well written and is a page turner in many ways.

It tells the story of one of the greatest entrepreneurs of this generation (and, of any, perhaps?) complete with all the ups and downs that were part of the journey. It helped me understand what made Jobs the man he was and gave me tons of learnings along the way.

Great book. Another must read!


Special Mention – Book of the Year: Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

Why? This book is riveting. A page turner a la Dan Brown except it is non fiction. I’m not sure if the story of a financial crisis has ever been told in such entertaining fashion. Or if it ever will be.


The Other Nominees

1. First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham

2. Drive by Dan Pink

3. The Lessons of History by Will Durant

4. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas K Gandhi

5. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh


With that, we come to the end of the 2011 edition of the ALearningaDay Book Oscars. For more information on all things books, do check out Everything Books.

Until 2012 then.. 🙂

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