The Power of a Positive No (New York, NY: Bantam, 2007)

If you are ever going to create the margin you need to focus on the things that matter most, you have to learn to say no. This is difficult, especially for recovering people pleasers like me. Fortunately, Dr. Ury make it easier by reframing the whole exercise as something positive—both for you and for the person making the request. If you struggle with saying no, this book will provide the motivation you need to say no more often.

The 4-Hour Workweek (New York, NY: Harmony, 2009)

This is one of the best books on productivity and lifestyle design available. I have read it through at least three times. I got something new each time. I especially enjoyed Ferriss’s framework: Eliminate first. What you can’t eliminate, automate. What you can’t automate, delegate. What you can’t delegate, do yourself. This is the easiest way to free up margin for yourself. Ferriss is also a very entertaining writer.

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health (Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Books, 2011)

This is one of the most revolutionary health books I have read in some time. The author’s basic premise is that wheat and wheat products are responsible for many of the health maladies that plague modern Americans, including obesity, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and more.

When I first heard about the book, I dismissed it because I have always been taught that wheat, especially in its whole-grain form, is healthy for you. He presents a compelling case that the wheat we eat today bears little resemblance to the wheat of one hundred years ago. It has been so genetically-modified and hybridized that our bodies can’t process it. The result is chronic inflammation, leading to everything from poor health to a general lack of energy.

The book is pretty technical. The author is a medical doctor, and he is determined to prove his case with hard data and lots of science. Fortunately, he weaves in lots of case studies about his patients and how a gluten-free diet transformed their health.

Get Off Your “But” (Hoboken, NJ: Jossey-Bass, 2009)

This is one of the best books I have read this year. It is written by a man who overcame enormous physical disabilities to succeed. He really does take all the excuses away. Better yet, he offers practical advice that can literally change your life. This is one of those rare books that I was sad to see come to an end. It is the perfect book to read in preparation for the year ahead.

Book Yourself Solid (San Francisco, CA: Wiley, 2010)

This is one of the most inspiring and practical books I have read in a while. If you are in the personal services business, it is must-reading. The subtitle says it all: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling. This book has 81 reviews on Amazon—68 are five stars!

Paid to Speak (Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2011)

This is one of the few books I have read on public speaking that covers more than just communication. The book also deals with the business side of public speaking. I found it very helpful as I shifted from amateur speaker to professional.

Do the Work (New York: The Domino Project, 2011)

If you are a writer—or a creative of any time—this book is must reading. It is not that different from the War of Art, but I found it more focused and helpful. If you are having a hard time getting started on that really important project or if you are stuck, this book is for you!