2011 - My Favorite Books

I ended 2010 with the insane goal of reading a book a week in 2011. What was I thinking? Much like any thing resembling a new year's resolution, I failed. But I still read some great books in 2011.

In 2011 I discovered that, much to my surprise, I really do enjoy reading books on the iPad and iPhone. I have always said that I preferred paper books. But I quickly learned that e-reading (yuk, that is such a lame term) is awesome. For starters, I can read at any angle, without having the pages fall back down on my face. Secondly, I love grabbing a few pages on the iPhone when I want to. Plus, there's the added benefit of being able to carry a bunch of books with me... and being able to flag and highlight a page or a word... awesome!

Another change in my reading habit this year was the library. You know what those are? The buildings with all the books in them. Yeah, they still exist. And they are awesome. Well, ours are! I can go online and find a book and have it pulled from the shelf for me. Then, I just go to the library and it's waiting for me to pick up. Easy peasy. And get this, it's all free! What a concept.

I can't say that I will get all of my books from the library from now on but I can't imagine buying another physical book. If I must buy, I'll just buy the iBook (nah, don't like that term either).

So, (insert drum roll) here is my favorite of 2011.

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

For the first time, my favorite book of the year is fiction. Yes, I realize it was published in early 2009 but I only heard of it this year. I didn't know what to expect from this book but was mesmerized by the story from the first page. The opening chapter is written in the voice of Aibileen, one of the three central characters of The Help. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the sixties, the world she described could not have been further from the life I knew growing up in northern California.

The story is about a young writer telling the story of what it's like to be an African American maid, from their perspective.

The characters are gripping and so real. The dialog between them is amazing. The pain, anguish and fear jump from the pages to the very core of my soul. I know that's pretty dramatic, but it was truly a powerful book.

I read the book mostly in airports and airplanes, traveling to Buffalo, Sioux Falls and Memphis. I met so many wonderful people that had read or were currently reading the book. I've never been in a book club but it felt like I was in one.

When I boarded a flight home to SFO I met an elderly couple in Salt Lake City that raved about the book. One of the men had just started the paperback and told me how much he, too, loved the opening chapter. The other man, his husband, said he read it on his Kindle more than a year before. The two gentlemen exchanged a look only married couples do and the Kindle husband said "I kept telling him he would love it. He never listens to me".

When we finally landed just after 2 AM I got off the plane and sat alone in the desolate terminal and finished the last few pages. I sat there and cried my eyes out, stood up, wiped the tears from my face and headed out to catch the bus to my car.

The Help made me laugh and cry. But mostly, it made me think about other groups of people that our society treats poorly. It made me hopeful that someday, we would all look back and realize we were all as foolish as Miss Hilly Holbrook.

I did, of course, read mostly non-fiction this year. One of my favorites was The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. I didn't really like his previous book, Crush It, but thought I'd take a chance on this one. It did not disappoint. More than being a book about how smart companies use social media, I read it as a view into what customer service will look like in the future, what it's starting to look like now.

A few of the books I am looking forward to finishing soon:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson No Regrets by Ace Frehely Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick

What was your favorite book in 2011?

Happy reading!


Book-a-Week 2011


I have a lofty goal in 2011: to read 52 books.

I have always enjoyed reading but in 2009 and 2010 I fell off the wagon a bit. Typically, I would start each year with the goal of reading 15-20 books, a goal I accomplished about as much as I didn’t.

For 2011, I want to read more but I needed some inspiration. Along comes Daniel Johnson, Jr., one of the coolest guys I know but have never met face-to-face. His Facebook post about How To Read a Book a Week was just the inspiration I needed.

Since reading his post a few weeks ago, wanting to start a little early, I have read four books. That’s more than I have read in the last six months. I already have my next few books selected. Let’s see how it goes. I do not exactly have a great track record for these types of challenges (anyone remember my feeble attempt at my 365 Flickr set? or when I tried to ride my bike every day for a year?).

So, here’s looking forward to a great year of reading. Have a suggestion for me? Would love to hear what you’re reading.

Want to follow what I’m reading? Check out my list here -http://www.goodreads.com/mattbeckw.

Links: http://www.facebook.com/danieljohnsonjr/posts/168385256526315 http://inoveryourhead.net/how-to-read-a-book-a-week-in-2010/ http://www.goodreads.com/mattbeckw

Reading Is Like Your 401(k)

I got into the habit of reading when I was fairly young. My Mom suggested The Richest Man in Babylon and How to Win Friends and Influence Others. I devoured both and have been reading ever since. After years of reading I have learned quite a bit. I enjoy reading autobiographies and other non-fiction books (mostly categorized in the broad genres of Business or Leadership). Reading opens my mind to new ways of thinking. I consider it my greatest source of creativity.

After many years I have determined that reading is analogous with saving for retirement:

▪ Although it has great benefits, and many people want to do it, some just don’t do it. ▪ The trick is to start small. ▪ For best results, do it regularly, consistently, over a long period of time. ▪ After doing it for a week (or a month, or a year) don’t expect to be wealthy. ▪ It’s never too late to start. Start now. Create the habit now.

Happy reading.

7th Son

J.C. Hutchins's first installment of the 7th Son trilogy, 7th Son: Descent, hit book stores recently.


I don't read much fiction. I prefer to get my fiction fix by watching movies. This book, however, is worth reading over and over again. J.C. Hutchins tried, unsucessfully, to get his story published before releasing it as a free podcast. I discovered his podcast just before his final book was released on audio. He took to the podosphere and used the power of the internet to spread the message about his book.

After amassing an enormous following to his podcast, publishers finally started to take notice. And now, 7th Son is in print!

The story starts with the brutal assisination of the President by a 4 year child. Readers quickly learn that there is an evil conspiracy consisting of clones and government officials with code phantom clearance.


J.C. is a masterful storyteller and 7th Son is the creepiest story I have ever read. The podcast version of the book is still available, check out the info here. You can also purchase a copy from your favorite bookstore, or from Amazon.

If you're in to sci-fi thrillers, this one will not dissapoint!

If you do pick up a copy, tell J.C. that Beta Clone #235 sent you.

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