My 2015 Weekly Book Project

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.

Yes these are affiliate links, why not? You’ll notice that the links go to the Audible version, so here’s a promo to get 2 free books instead of the usual one free book promotion: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Without further ado, here’s the list. Books are linked via the title.

Title Author Date Finished
Beowulf Seamus Heaney Fiction Literature 2015/01/02
Romeo & Juliet William Shakespeare Fiction Literature 2015/01/03
The Winter’s Tale William Shakespeare Fiction Literature 2015/01/10
How the Stock Market Works Professor Ramon P. DeGennaro The Great Courses Finance 2015/01/16
The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie Fiction Literature 2015/01/20
Waking Up Sam Harris Nonfiction Sociology 2015/01/21
Siddhartha Hermann Hesse Fiction Literature 2015/01/23
Beyond Religion The Dalai Lama Nonfiction Philosophy 2015/01/25
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Truman Capote Fiction Literature 2015/01/26
A Rage in Harlem Chester Himes Fiction Literature 2015/01/30
Zero to One Peter Thiel Nonfiction Business, Thought Leadership 2015/02/01
The Fall of Hyperion Dan Simmons Fiction Science Fiction 2015/02/04
Good to Great Jim Collins Nonfiction Management 2015/02/09
Thérèse Raquin Emile Zola Fiction Literature 2015/02/10
The Hobbit J. R. R. Tolkien Fiction Fantasy 2015/02/14
Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation Professor Mark W. Muesse The Great Courses Sociology 2015/02/16
The Fellowship of the Ring J. R. R. Tolkien Fiction Fantasy 2015/02/18
The Two Towers J. R. R. Tolkien Fiction Fantasy 2015/02/22
Hooked Nir Eyal Nonfiction Consumer Behavior 2015/02/23
The Return of the King J. R. R. Tolkien Fiction Fantasy 2015/02/24
How ideas spread Professor Jonah Berger The Great Courses Sociology 2015/03/12
Money: Master the Game Tony Robbins Nonfiction Business & Money 2015/03/20
How Google Works Eric Schmidt Nonfiction Leadership & Management 2015/03/25
Scrum Jeff Sutherland Nonfiction Management 2015/03/31
No Place to Hide Glenn Greenwald Nonfiction Civil Rights 2015/04/07
I Am Malala Malala Yousafzai Nonfiction Memoir 2015/04/16
Cryptonomicon Neal Stephenson Fiction Science Fiction 2015/04/20
And Then There Were None Agatha Christie Fiction Mystery 2015/04/27
What I Learned From Losing A Million Dollars Jim Paul Nonfiction Business & Money 2015/04/27
Thinking About Cyber Security Professor Paul Rosenzweig The Great Courses Technology 2015/05/04
Heretic Ayaan Hirsi Ali Nonfiction Memoir 2015/05/11
How to listen to and understand great music Professor Robert Greenberg The Great Courses Music 2015/05/19
Elon Musk Ashlee Vance Nonfiction Memoir 2015/05/24
Captivology Ben Parr Nonfiction Consumer Behavior 2015/05/28
The Little Prince Antoine de Saint-Exupery Fiction Literature 2015/06/03
The Everything Store Brad Stone Nonfiction Leadership & Management 2015/06/04
Elements of Jazz Professor Bill Messenger The Great Courses Music 2015/06/11
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon Fiction Literature 2015/06/12
Being There Jerzy Kosinski Fiction Literature 2015/06/18
Last Song Before Night Ilana C. Myer Fiction Literature 2015/06/21
Mars Rover Curiosity Rob Manning, William L. Simon Nonfiction Space 2015/06/23
Bold Peter H. Diamandis Nonfiction Business, Thought Leadership 2015/06/30
The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli Fiction Literature 2015/07/06
The Moral Landscape Sam Harris Nonfiction Philosophy 2015/07/09
The Creator’s Code Amy Wilkinson Nonfiction Leadership & Management 2015/07/14
Classical Mythology Professor Elizabeth Vandiver The Great Courses History, Literature 2015/07/22
Why We Are Wired To Worry Sharie Spironhi Nonfiction Health 2015/07/23
Financial Literacy: Finding Your Way in the Financial Markets Professor Connel Fullenkamp The Great Courses Finance 2015/07/28
Making Habits Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change Stick Jeremy Dean Nonfiction Applied Psychology 2015/07/30
Banished Lauren Drain Nonfiction Memoir 2015/08/05
The Virgin Way Richard Branson Nonfiction Business, Thought Leadership 2015/08/11
The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas Fiction Literature 2015/08/12
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Al Ries, Jack Trout Nonfiction Marketing 2015/08/16
Bird by Bird Anne Lamott Nonfiction Writing 2015/08/19
Vagabonding Rolf Potts Nonfiction Lifestyle, Travel 2015/08/25
The Glass Bead Game Hermann Hesse Fiction Literature 2015/08/26
The Art of Learning Josh Waitzkin Nonfiction Memoir 2015/09/01
The Facebook Effect David Kirkpatrick Nonfiction Business, Memoir 2015/09/09
The Edge of Uncertainty Michael Brooks Nonfiction Science 2015/09/11
Frankenstein Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Fiction Literature 2015/09/14
The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal Professor Seth Freeman The Great Courses Business 2015/09/17
The Innovators Walter Isaacson Nonfiction Business, Memoir 2015/09/24
Scientific Secrets of Self Control Professor C. Nathan DeWall The Great Courses Applied Psychology 2015/09/25
What If? Randall Munroe Nonfiction Humor, Physics 2015/10/01
Wild Swans Jung Chang Nonfiction Memoir 2015/10/07
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla Nikola Tesla Nonfiction Memoir 2015/10/09
Superbetter Jane McGonigal Nonfiction Applied Psychology 2015/10/17
Currents of Space Isaac Asimov Fiction Science Fiction 2015/10/20
So You Want to Start a Brewery? The Lagunitas Story Tony Magee Nonfiction Business, Memoir 2015/10/26
Call of the Cthulu and other stories H. P. Lovecraft Fiction Literature 2015/11/04
A Midsummer Night’s Dream William Shakespeare Fiction Literature 2015/11/12
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution Neil deGrasse Tyson Nonfiction Space 2015/11/18
Infidel Ayaan Hirsi Ali Nonfiction Memoir 2015/11/24
Surely You’re Joking  Mr. Feynman! Richard P. Feynman Nonfiction Memoir 2015/12/01
Alan Turing: The Enigma Andrew Hodges Nonfiction Memoir 2015/12/07
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Mark Twain Fiction Literature 2015/12/09
Debt: The First 5000 Years David Graeber Nonfiction History, Economics 2015/12/17
The History of Ancient Egypt Professor Bob Brier The Great Courses History 2015/12/22
The Iliad Homer Fiction Literature 2015/12/22
Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz Nonfiction Philosophy, Sociology 2015/12/24
The Odyssey Homer Fiction Literature 2015/12/28
NOS4A2 Joe Hill Fiction Horror 2015/12/29

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