My Favorite Books of 2013

For me, 2013 was a breakthrough year in many regards.  I lived all over the world, published my first Kindle book, and began to cement many of my own unique ideas about how to live life to the absolute fullest.

One of the catalysts for thinking differently this year was reading a hand full of incredible books to inspire and challenge my beliefs, paradigms, and vision – so I thought I’d share them with you in hopes they could transform your life in the way they’ve done so for me:

My Favorite (Non Fiction) Books of 2013:

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Choose Yourself – James Altucher

This inspiring book challenges the belief that you must get ‘lucky’ or be ‘discovered’ to live your dream and find success. Alutcher outlines the elements that have allowed him to build success and a world view that advocates individual thinking and uniqueness over plain old hard work.

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The Art of Being Unmistakable – Srinivas Rao

In this book Rao offers unflinching vulnerability and an open heart as he shares his journey through life’s ups and downs. He makes no apologies for thinking differently than the status quo, and his refreshing candor are uplifting and left me wondering what truly is possible in building my lifestyle.

I highly recommend this easy read to offer a new way of seeing the changing economy and a fresh take on what truly matters in life.

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The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin

This is likely the most influential book I read this year (in 2012 my favorite was either Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” or Shawn Achor’s “The Happiness Advantage”) and I believe Godin is one of my favorite thinkers on the planet.

In this though provoking volume Godin explores what it truly means to be an “artist” in your craft of choice and why so many fail to achieve success in pursuing their passion.  His presents the clearest roadmap I’m yet to see on how to begin living your passion and what pitfalls to avoid as you walk your path.

For anyone who’s ever wanted to follow their dreams but was unsure if you could make them a reality financially, this is a MUST READ.

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The War of Art – Stephen Pressfield

This short read is like a bullet point list of what it takes to be a “pro” and excel in being self employed.  Pressfield specifically talks about what it takes to be a writer in today’s world, but the advice and insights translate to nearly any endeavor.

Word for word, this may be the most power packed book on my favorites list in 2013.

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Steal Like An Artist – Austin Kleon

This book feels more like reading a highly entertaining and shrewd comic strip than an actual “book” but each image is spot on.  If you’re looking for highly insightful and easy to understand ways to be more creative and live inspired, this book is for you!

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Love Yourself Like Your LIfe Depends on It – Kamal Ravikant

I’ll start by saying that I personally feel this book should be required reading for everyone who walks the planet.  It’s practical, easy to understand, and deeply profound.  Kamal’s writing style and fearless approach to sharing his deepest inner experience is mind blowing.  If you have a heart that beats, don’t miss this little book.

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Prosperous Coach – Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin

This book is for people who want to coach, consult, or help others while getting paid to do it professionally.  Steve & Rich offer a powerful insider perspective while also dispelling the myths behind what it takes to gain coaching clients.

This book isn’t for everyone, but if you want to make a career out of being a transformational coach or consultant of some kind, this is definitely a great book to add to your library.

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Lives of the Artists – Calvin Thomkins

I’m a creative person and I’m always intrigued by the ways of thinking and living that allow other creatives to rise above the crowd.  In this book Calvin Thomkins (long time Arts writer for The New Yorker) takes you inside the history and lifestyles of some of today’s most successful artists.  From Damien Hirst to Jasper Johns his storytelling and observations about these fascinating people will captivate you, shock you, and inspire you.  If you like art, biographies, or just unique ideas then this compilation is something you can’t miss.

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Print Workshop – Christine Schmidt

My final book of the year is simply a fun one that I bought while living Barcelona, Spain this Summer.  Whether you love creativity, crafts with the kids, or just trying to make some of your own, unique “stuff” – this book offers  something for everyone.

Christine Schmidt is highly successful (many of her items are sold in Urban Outfitters and boutique shops around the world under the name Yellow Owl Workshop) and shows that you don’t need to be a fine artist to bring your own style to anything you’d like.  This book is bursting with ways to customize your clothing, create & transfer images, or carve your way into print making greatness.  In fact, I was so inspired by it that I’ve begun creating my own hand carved prints and have found a new obsession with it!

That’s it for 2013, but if you have other suggestions or recommendations, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what I missed this past year.  Comments below are welcome…


– Derick Van Ness

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