A little over a year ago I embarked on a journey. I noticed that I was listening to a LOT of podcasts: on my commute, at work, on the treadmill, cooking. I really couldn’t stop. What made me notice the frequency was the fact that I had finished the backlog of This Week in Startups and saw that I had a lot of empty time… So I decided to try Audible and began eating up books like they were candy, well, now I think they are - which is nice. In fact I noticed that my pace was roughly a book a week.
Last December I saw a post by Joe Hill, I can’t find it anymore. It’s possible that it was only in my head, but I could have sworn that he had posted all the books that he had read in 2014 and his goal had been a book a week. I can’t find it anymore, but this is the closest I could find to such a post. Inspired, I decided to try it myself and finish a book a week in 2015.
It looks like I’m not the only person who did such a feat-of-brain, Mark Zuckerberg just posted his new book every other week of 2015 challenge.
Some books took longer than a week. The Count of Monte Cristo was 5 minutes short of 47 hours, and Crytonomicon was 7 minutes short of 43 hours. So I staggered them over several weeks making sure to finish other books at the same time, sometimes extremely short books. A Shakespeare play typically is about 3 hours. However, I nonetheless finished a significant book each week.
Not everything I considered a book is technically a book, I decided to count a “Great Course” as a complete book, even though it’s a lecture series. In my humble opinion it amounts to the same.
Here are some fun stats about what I completed:
I completed a total of 82 books this year; you see the complete list below. That’s 1.57 books each week on average. In five different weeks I finished 3 books, in twenty different weeks I finished 2 books and in the rest I finished 1 book.
I’ve been fairly diverse in terms of which authors I read. I read 4 books by JRR Tolkien, 3 by William Shakespeare, 3 by Sam Harris, and 2 books by: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Hermann Hesse, and Homer. The remaining 66 were by different authors.
I read 41 nonfiction books, 30 fiction books, and 11 Great Courses.
I will NOT be continuing at this pace. I think Mark’s challenge leaves much more room for contemplation, but I don’t want to commit to a specific pace this year. While I’m pretty sure I can discuss pretty intelligently the list below, I wish I had retained more of the ideas.
This brings me back to the whole debate of whether bekiut or iyyun is better, from my yeshiva days. Bekiut is trying to finish a large amount at a quick pace, iyyun is study in depth. I personally believe that both are important. Context gives you a whole lot when studying in depth. You will miss important connections without vastness of knowledge, but that breadth will only get you so far.
I hope to go back over many of these books and do a whole lot more. But I’d like to start remembering the things I’m reading, discuss them. Savor them.
Having been inspired by Joe Hill, I decided to tie off the year with the book I hadn’t yet read of his, NOS4A2.
Other notable mentions: Last Song Before Night, is absolutely the top of my list. I’ve probably read it 5 times and am looking forward to revisiting those characters in new books and old.
I rediscovered my love for Shakespeare, it lends itself to being listened to, being made for the stage… and being Shakespeare. Such beautiful language.
And I found out that I love book, specifically autobiographies, read by the author.
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Without further ado, here’s the list. Books are linked via the title.
|Romeo & Juliet||William Shakespeare||Literature||2015/01/03|
|The Winter’s Tale||William Shakespeare||Literature||2015/01/10|
|How the Stock Market Works||Professor Ramon P. DeGennaro||The Great Courses||2015/01/16|
|The Satanic Verses||Salman Rushdie||Literature||2015/01/20|
|Waking Up||Sam Harris||Sociology||2015/01/21|
|Beyond Religion||The Dalai Lama||Philosophy||2015/01/25|
|Breakfast at Tiffany’s||Truman Capote||Literature||2015/01/26|
|A Rage in Harlem||Chester Himes||Literature||2015/01/30|
|Zero to One||Peter Thiel||Business, Thought Leadership||2015/02/01|
|The Fall of Hyperion||Dan Simmons||Science Fiction||2015/02/04|
|Good to Great||Jim Collins||Management||2015/02/09|
|Thérèse Raquin||Emile Zola||Literature||2015/02/10|
|The Hobbit||J. R. R. Tolkien||Fantasy||2015/02/14|
|Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation||Professor Mark W. Muesse||The Great Courses||2015/02/16|
|The Fellowship of the Ring||J. R. R. Tolkien||Fantasy||2015/02/18|
|The Two Towers||J. R. R. Tolkien||Fantasy||2015/02/22|
|Hooked||Nir Eyal||Consumer Behavior||2015/02/23|
|The Return of the King||J. R. R. Tolkien||Fantasy||2015/02/24|
|How ideas spread||Professor Jonah Berger||The Great Courses||2015/03/12|
|Money: Master the Game||Tony Robbins||Business & Money||2015/03/20|
|How Google Works||Eric Schmidt||Leadership & Management||2015/03/25|
|No Place to Hide||Glenn Greenwald||Civil Rights||2015/04/07|
|I Am Malala||Malala Yousafzai||Memoir||2015/04/16|
|Cryptonomicon||Neal Stephenson||Science Fiction||2015/04/20|
|And Then There Were None||Agatha Christie||Mystery||2015/04/27|
|What I Learned From Losing A Million Dollars||Jim Paul||Business & Money||2015/04/27|
|Thinking About Cyber Security||Professor Paul Rosenzweig||The Great Courses||2015/05/04|
|How to listen to and understand great music||Professor Robert Greenberg||The Great Courses||2015/05/19|
|Elon Musk||Ashlee Vance||Memoir||2015/05/24|
|Captivology||Ben Parr||Consumer Behavior||2015/05/28|
|The Little Prince||Antoine de Saint-Exupery||Literature||2015/06/03|
|The Everything Store||Brad Stone||Leadership & Management||2015/06/04|
|Elements of Jazz||Professor Bill Messenger||The Great Courses||2015/06/11|
|The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay||Michael Chabon||Literature||2015/06/12|
|Being There||Jerzy Kosinski||Literature||2015/06/18|
|Last Song Before Night||Ilana C. Myer||Literature||2015/06/21|
|Mars Rover Curiosity||Rob Manning, William L. Simon||Space||2015/06/23|
|Bold||Peter H. Diamandis||Business, Thought Leadership||2015/06/30|
|The Prince||Niccolo Machiavelli||Literature||2015/07/06|
|The Moral Landscape||Sam Harris||Philosophy||2015/07/09|
|The Creator’s Code||Amy Wilkinson||Leadership & Management||2015/07/14|
|Classical Mythology||Professor Elizabeth Vandiver||The Great Courses||2015/07/22|
|Why We Are Wired To Worry||Sharie Spironhi||Health||2015/07/23|
|Financial Literacy: Finding Your Way in the Financial Markets||Professor Connel Fullenkamp||The Great Courses||2015/07/28|
|Making Habits Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change Stick||Jeremy Dean||Applied Psychology||2015/07/30|
|The Virgin Way||Richard Branson||Business, Thought Leadership||2015/08/11|
|The Count of Monte Cristo||Alexandre Dumas||Literature||2015/08/12|
|The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing||Al Ries, Jack Trout||Marketing||2015/08/16|
|Bird by Bird||Anne Lamott||Writing||2015/08/19|
|Vagabonding||Rolf Potts||Lifestyle, Travel||2015/08/25|
|The Glass Bead Game||Hermann Hesse||Literature||2015/08/26|
|The Art of Learning||Josh Waitzkin||Memoir||2015/09/01|
|The Facebook Effect||David Kirkpatrick||Business, Memoir||2015/09/09|
|The Edge of Uncertainty||Michael Brooks||Science||2015/09/11|
|Frankenstein||Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley||Literature||2015/09/14|
|The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal||Professor Seth Freeman||The Great Courses||2015/09/17|
|The Innovators||Walter Isaacson||Business, Memoir||2015/09/24|
|Scientific Secrets of Self Control||Professor C. Nathan DeWall||The Great Courses||2015/09/25|
|What If?||Randall Munroe||Humor, Physics||2015/10/01|
|Wild Swans||Jung Chang||Memoir||2015/10/07|
|My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla||Nikola Tesla||Memoir||2015/10/09|
|Superbetter||Jane McGonigal||Applied Psychology||2015/10/17|
|Currents of Space||Isaac Asimov||Science Fiction||2015/10/20|
|So You Want to Start a Brewery? The Lagunitas Story||Tony Magee||Business, Memoir||2015/10/26|
|Call of the Cthulu and other stories||H. P. Lovecraft||Fiction||Literature|
|A Midsummer Night’s Dream||William Shakespeare||Literature||2015/11/12|
|Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution||Neil deGrasse Tyson||Space||2015/11/18|
|Infidel||Ayaan Hirsi Ali||Memoir||2015/11/24|
|Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!||Richard P. Feynman||Memoir||2015/12/01|
|Alan Turing: The Enigma||Andrew Hodges||Memoir||2015/12/07|
|A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court||Mark Twain||Literature||2015/12/09|
|Debt: The First 5000 Years||History, Economics||2015/12/17|
|The History of Ancient Egypt||Professor Bob Brier||The Great Courses||2015/12/22|
|Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue||Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz||Philosophy, Sociology||2015/12/24|
I’d love more discussion this coming year. So I plan on posting books as I start reading them so others can jump on board. Please comment if you’ve ready any of the books above, which, and what you thought.
Edit: 83, I got one more in before the year ended… Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankel - 2015/12/31