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As we approach the end of year, I think back on some of the books I’ve ready in 2018 and which ones people with similar interests would also enjoy. To that end, here are some of the best books I read this year:

Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight

Nike co-founder Phil Knight weaves a gripping story of how his athletic empire was built though passion, trial and error, actual trials, luck, an enormity of work, and even the occasional lie to his banks and suppliers. What became clear to me in reading it is that Knight wasn’t driven by money, though Nike has made him a multi-billionaire. Other factors, from simply wanting to win to seeking approval from his father and coach, were far bigger drivers for him. But Knight also clearly viewed what he was doing as a mission to help others. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance

Yes, Musk’s story of going from janitor to billionaire is impressive. Yes, his work ethic and engineering-oriented mind make for fascinating stories. But the real issue that kept striking me is that Musk doesn’t seem that motivated by making money for himself, though of course he’s done that in droves. Rather, his entire reason for existence is to use business as a way to help solve some of what he sees as humanity’s most pressing problems. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Quirky, by Melissa Schilling

Melissa Schilling’s book explores common traits among some of the most successful innovators of all time. The litmus test for Schilling to enter such a coveted club is much higher than merely hitting the innovation jackpot and changing the world one time. For Schilling, being a super-innovator means being serially successful in a variety of fields. Think Einstein, Franklin, Edison, Tesla, Jobs, Kamen, Musk, and yes, of course Curie, and these are the folks to which Schilling devotes her study. More of my thoughts on the book here.

Rescuing Ladybugs, by Jennifer Skiff

Humanity is often very skilled at inflicting suffering on the rest of the animals with whom she share our planet. This book tells the story of several individuals who are doing their part to try to stop that suffering and help create a kinder world for all animals, humans included. I really enjoyed reading these tales of the different ways people have been called to give a voice to powerless animals. Perhaps the most poignant quote for me in the book:

“The history of the world will, one day, be defined by the people who witnessed the tragedy of impending extinction and were able to turn humanity’s destructive patterns into creative solutions.”