Book – Year in Review 2015

“The best books to read are not the ones that think for you. Rather the best ones are the ones that make you think.” – Quote”

This year, on one of my Whatsapp chat groups, my beloved colleague from California, shMohammed Faqih, posted this fascinating question: “What books are you planning to read in 2016?” That made me stop and think. I had never actually ‘planned’ my reading schedule. I went about it serendipity style, whatever I found myself interested in, at the moment, I would seek out a book on the topic.

Serendipity ˌsɛr(ə)nˈdɪpɪti/
the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

So the thought of actually mapping out what I would read in this upcoming year roused my interest. If you want to treat me to a candy shop, then drop me off at a bookstore. If you want to buy me a fail-proof gift *ahem*, then buy me an Amazon gift card.

Mixed with this thought, I wanted to end this year’s blog post with a ‘year in review’. And I wanted it to be personal, yet in sha Allah, something that you, the reader, find beneficial. People often ask me, “So Muhammad, what are you reading these days?”

So here you have it. The top 10 books I’ve read in 2015 that left lingering brain-morsels that I observed myself chewing on long after closing the back cover.

2015 Book-Year in Review – Click on any book title to view it’s details on Amazon

Book 1: The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
Author: Daniel J. Levitin
Big Lesson: I love how the book explained the way in which our mind stores information. I often find myself mentally overloaded when I have to multitask, and this book explained what was going on and why multitasking sucks. Since reading this book, I’ve started going offline and using simple index cards and pen whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Book 2: Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity
Author: Joshua Wolf Shenk
Big Lesson: I spend a lot of my time on creative work; thinking up creative and innovative solutions. So I loved how this book dispelled the myth that creativity is an art fulfilled in isolation. More accurately, creativity happens with the clash of two great minds. Since reading this book, I’ve redesigned my creative process to include others.

Book 3: Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way
Author: Richard Branson
Big Lesson: I’m not really into biography books, but this one was exceptional. I loved the entrepreneurial journey, struggle, and success that Richard Branson vividly reveals. His story covers decades (he’s 65 years old now). For the entrepreneurial spirited, this is a great read that’ll teach you what it means to aim higher and push further.

Book 4: THE MUQADDIMAH: An Introduction to History
Author: Ibn Khaldun
Big Lesson: I was reintroduced to this classic when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg added it to his monthly reading list. Although it’s heavy, there’s a sweetness to the heaviness. The oft-repeating lesson I got from Ibn Khaldun is that when people and nations amass luxuries and stop growing – stop being hungry – they perish.

Book 5: Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body
Author: Michael Matthews
Big Lesson: Originally, I wanted to read “Engineering the Alpha,” as recommended by my friend Belal Khan (shout out to Belal :). But I found the reviews for it weren’t stellar. Many people in the comment section recommended “Bigger Leaner Stronger” as the superior alternative. So I bought it instead and loved it. Straight forward muscle building advice backed by science. I love science, not opinions. And I enjoy the weightlifting workout Matthews recommends. It’s quick, doesn’t leave you aching or doing silly things.

Book 6: Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
Author: Oren Klaff
Big Lesson: I got the opportunity to attend a seminar by Klaff, and was blown away by how cool he was. Afterward, I investigated him more and found he wrote this book “Pitch Anything” that details that business seminar. For example, I love his lizard brain framework – how people immediately try assessing if you are a threat or not. I think a lot of what we see in the media and the widespread Islamophobia could benefit from understanding Klaff’s explanations. If you ever have to pitch an idea to someone, this is a go-to book.

Book 7: Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Author: Michael Moss
Big Lesson: Let’s just say you won’t look at a spoon of ice cream the same way after this. Laboratories engineer our insatiable desires for their processed foods, exploiting our built-in cravings for fat, salt, and sugar. This book details the incredible history of how we got hooked. I found the research contained in Salt, Sugar, Fat, to be curiously empowering.

Book 8: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life
Author: Timothy Ferriss
Big Lesson: Make a commitment contract when you’re learning something new. Make a commitment to try it at least 4 or 8 times (before throwing in the towel). Typically people never start or, if they do start, quit after the first try. With the 4-Hour Chef, I got a serious crash course on how to cook. I highly recommend all my bros out there to learn how to cook. Knowing how to cook is liberating.

Book 9: The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom
Author: David Kupelian
Big Lesson: If you don’t know where you’re going in life, others will take you for a ride. This book was an eye-opener. We are all aware that there is a dominant force behind the marketing of vice. But how does it get done? This book will show you the foundations of how various interests flood us with vice, strategies that have been decades in execution.
And here’s one of the fictional books that I enjoyed this year. Truth be told, it isn’t that beneficial. Still, I find reading fiction that’s light and fun (yet still intelligent) grows one’s reading muscles for the heavier book lifting.

[Bonus Fiction Book]
Book 10: Signal: A Sam Dryden Novel
Author: Patrick Lee
What I enjoyed about it:
I love books that twist your mind and make you think long after you’ve read the last page. Signal is a fun read with an intriguing premise: a radio that can play for you the crime news stories many hours before it happens.


About the Author Muhammad Alshareef

Founder and President of DiscoverU, an Islam-based personal development institute. Muhammad Alshareef graduated Islamic Law from Madinah University and holds a Masters Degree from West Virginia University. Canadian, ethnically Egyptian, and a true citizen of the world. He writes about Islamic solutions to popular personal development questions.

Leave a Comment:

Quran says

Priceless gems of information

Maria says

I map out my reading because my reading wishlist multiplies with each book I read. I am now at 700+ books I want to read. Alhamdulillah. At the end of 2014 I purchased over 100 for my anti-library using my accumulated miles (I won’t be able to travel for some time so bought books instead). I borrow from the library as well but I’ve started building my own commonplace book and I prefer to take notes directly on the book which is not something I can do with borrowed ones. I then follow a trail and any book that is recommended within a book gets added to my wishlist. I buy the ebook versions whenever they’re in $3 or less but I prefer the physical ones even if they’re used. Last month I finished the 10th anniversary edition of “On Writing” by Stephen King and he recommends quiet a few books. I haven’t added them all to my wishlist yet but did include 68 of them. I loved his book and it’s now in my writing reference shelf.

Biggest lessons: “The adverb is not your friend…the road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Second, “good writing is often about letting go of fear” and the paragraph, not the sentence, is the basic unit of writing.” Finally, “description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the readers.” I would recommend this book even to those not looking to write one. I felt I learned a lot about the craft and was very entertained by it. My current read is “Talking to Crazy” by Mark Goulston. I figured it would be relevant to parenting 4 children.

Ramatu Ayuba says

Salam, you did a greate work, I hope I could be a good reader too . Bissalam.

Farzeem says

I might steal some of your books to read in 2016 inshaAllah 🤓

Hauwa says

Book 9. The marketing of Evil by David Kupelian sounds really interesting to me. would want to definitely read that.
I wrote out 5 out of the 10 books you listed to add to what am to read for 2016. Good list I must say.
Thanks for sharing.

Mustapha ibrahim says

Thank you so much for these books in review .may Allah continue to increase you in abundance knowledge and wisdom Amin.

J says

Simply amazing. JazakAllah khair for sharing!

Abdullateef Abdulkareem says

May Allah help you beyond your expectations. l will try my best in the year 2016l.meeting you has been inspiration.Thanks for everything.

Abdullateef Abdulkareem says

May Allah help you beyond your expectations. l will try my best in the year 2016l.meeting you has been inspiration.Thanks for everything. Jazakalhu khairan.

Hafiz Masud Akhter Khan says

I wish to develop a reading habit like you. My reading list is too small but with big desire to go as long as I can. Hope I succeed.

Rukaiyatu says

Farzeem try to write In sha Allah in 3 separate words otherwise the meaning changes.

kevinadams says

I would like more, and more information on this subject be cause I for one am a person very fond of books#

rooxana_ says

Very valuable informations which are of great help in our daily lives. Jazack Allah khair.


Alhamdulilla for been wit good person, bcus been wit good person wil make u to be good too, wish u best of all.

asiraji msangi says

Congratulations brother May Allah help you beyond your expectations. Amiin inshaallah!! Can I have your WhatsApp number so that I will be able to have more access to communicate with you?

Aisha says

Jazakallah khayr Sh Muhammad.

I wanted to make it a life long goal to read as many biographies as possible, perhaps 2 a year inshaAllah. Where to start? I don’t mind if they’re not Islamic personalities, but are there any suggestions you may offer? Having had a quick look, I could not find many in English language of Islamic personalities, and am wary of venturing into non-Muslim bios blindly.

Ma salaam

Raheemah says

Ma sha Allah, i love the list but will definitely add some to my already growing list of 28 titles for 2016. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger……is a must buy for my husband. JazakAllahu khairan for sharing. Some of my 2016 to read titles are on my blog:

Ibrahim Shaik says

AsSalamalekum Sheikh, Jazak Allaha Khair for sharing. Could you please share your reading list from 2014 and previous years too ? May Allaha(swt) reward you – Ameen

Dedicated server says

The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here . I will consider this book a success if it helps to spark a serious discussion of these issues among Muslims themselves.

Faisal Moosa says

Rukaiyatu, pls explain

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