The Best of Farnam Street 2014

What better way to send off 2014 than a look back on the most read and shared articles on Farnam Street in 2014?

This list often surprises me — what I thought were the best and most insightful posts rarely make it into the top ten (see: Tiny Beautiful Things, Albert Einstein on Sifting the Essential from the Non-Essential, Adding Mental Models to Your Mind’s Toolbox, My Interview with Ed Hess, A Lesson in Friendship, etc. )

Ok, here’s the list of what you loved:

1. Hunter S. Thompson on Finding Your Purpose and Living a Meaningful Life — some of the most thoughtful and profound life advice I’ve ever come across.

2. The Buffett Formula — How To Get Smarter — Most people go through life not really getting any smarter. Why? They simply won’t do the work required.

3. How To Think — “Teaching chess is really about teaching the habits that go along with thinking,” Spiegel explained to me one morning when I visited her classroom. “Like how to understand your mistakes and how to be more aware of your thought processes.”

4. How To Read A Book — If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t given much thought to how you read since, errr second grade.

5. Eudora Welty to The New Yorker: The best job application ever — “It’s difficult,” writes Shaun Usher in his introduction to the letter in Letters of Note, “to imagine a more endearingly written introduction to one’s talents.”

6. Book Recommendations from Billionaire Charlie Munger That will Make you Smarter — “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none. Zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads—and how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”

7. Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport With Anyone — Warning: the content in this post is so effective that I encourage you to think carefully how it is used. I do not endorse or condone the use of these skills in malicious or deceptive ways.

8. Things You Need to Stop Doing — Rather than read all of these self-help books full of things you should start doing to be more productive, it’s often better to look at what you should stop doing that gets in the way of productivity.

9. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast — Taking control of your mornings is very much like investing in yourself.

10. A Four Star General on Leadership — “We like to equate leaders with values we admire, but the two can be separate and distinct.”

#2 and #7 made the list two years in a row.

According to Google Analytics, people spent the most time reading: Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport With Anyone, The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, John Gottman on Why the Little Things Matter in Relationships, Dan Harris on being 10% Happier, and How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.