Year in Books 2015
Total Number of Books Read: 61
Number of Physical Books: 37
Number of E-Books: 15
Number of Audiobooks: 9
Number of Non-Fiction Read: 61
Number of Fiction Read: 0
Number of Books on hold/stopped reading: 10
Oldest Published Book Read:
Why Don’t We Learn from History? by B.H. Liddell Hart
Published October 12th, 1972 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
On the Shortness of Life by Seneca, Charles Desmond Nuttall Costa (Translator)
Originally published 50 B.C
Newest Published Book Read:
Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
Published October 20th, 2015 by St. Martin’s Press
Biographies / Autobiographies / Memoirs Read:
- The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
- Steve Jobs
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
- Between the World and Me
Average Number of Books Read Per Week: 1.173
Most Books Finished During a Week: 4 in July
Most Books Read in a Month: 8 in December
Funniest Read: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Most Inspirational Read: Steve Jobs & Unbroken
Saddest Read: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Broken Expectation Read: Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries
Most Highlighted Read: The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
As part of My Year in Books Review, I wanted to open it up to some questions that people may have on my reading journey this year or in general.
Karim: Congrats on exceeding your goal! What was your favorite book read in 2015?
Thanks! I wouldn’t say I have “a favorite book,” as in singular. I would be very disappointed if I did. There were the seven books I mentioned this year in my best reads of the year list. Each of those served a purpose and impacted me in different ways. I couldn’t pick a best one out of the bunch.
Mike: What’s your process for prioritizing what to read from your list, and how does a book warrant being added to the to-read list?
I have a special list within Wunderlist (to-do list app), called Book Purgatory. If someone recommends a book to me, I don’t immediately take it down. Based on the context in which the book was recommended, I’ll consider if it is something worth further investigation and if it is I’ll add it to my Book Purgatory list. From the name of the list, you can guess, it’s my list of books awaiting judgment on whether I should purchase them or not.
Books that show up on my Goodreads “to-read” list are books that have made it through my review process and that I’ve gone ahead and purchased.
For a book to make it through, I’ll go ahead and read Goodreads and Amazon Reviews. I prefer to read lower reviews sub two stars first, and then I’ll read some 4-star reviews. I usually always take 5-star reviews with a grain of salt, unless I see the review has put a lot of thought into the review.
After I go through that process, I then go through the book’s table of contents and sometimes I’ll read a summary of the book to make sure it contains some value.
Meghan: How do you determine which books you’ll read? Do you establish a reading list at the beginning of the year, or does it grow organically throughout the year?
Parts of my response to Mike should apply to these questions.
I keep a list of themes, interests and values, and I try to find books that align with those. Every once in a while, I’ll experiment with a book that is outside of my comfort zone. In general, I read a broad range of book genres.
I prioritize books that are older and have withstood the test of time. Books that are principles oriented, whose knowledge can have a compound net positive effect on my life over time. I’m very big on learning fundamentals, books that stem from the masters, not the student unless the student has become the master.
I use trello to manage my reading workflow and plan out the books I read far in advance. There is enough flexibility in my reading system for spontaneous reads to fit in.
Sabina: How do you make the time to read so many books, given that your life must be very busy?
I make time for what matters to me and reading is one of those things. Whenever I try to build any new habit or system, I first look for things I need to remove to make it happen. I gave up watching TV over five years ago for example. I don’t have Netflix, etc. I realized early on that I don’t have to entertain myself that much through conventional media. I save a significant amount of time making those cuts.
I know in advance which books I want to read. I have enough book recommendations to last me the next three years. I set up habits and routines to help me read consistently. I read every day for at least 1 hour no more than 3 hours. I read different books for different times of the day. I have a book I read during commutes, a book I read before I go to bed, and a book I read during weekends. This allows me to have steady progress in getting, at least, one book in per week.
Which read had the most impact on your everyday life?
It’s difficult for me to name a single book. I can go on and list dozens (In the future, I’ll add a page to my site for books that have impacted me)
No one book has it all, the same way no one dose of medicine cures all ailments. I’m limiting myself to 5 books randomly pulled from my books that impacted me list with the area of my life it has impacted.
- The Power of Now [Present Mindedness]
- How to Win Friends & Influence People [Interpersonal Relationships]
- Made to Stick [Communication and Storytelling]
- 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management [Time Management]
- The Personal MBA [Self-Driven Learning for Business]
Seems like you read non-fiction almost exclusively? Do you want to read fiction just for fun, too? What fiction would you read if you chose to?
This is a problem that I’m aware of; I read 0 fiction books all of 2015. What it comes down to is I’m not at a stage in my life where I would want to read for “fun.” I am obsessed with learning all I can about the world and acquiring new skills. I still see the need for reading fiction, I will work towards reading at least 12 fiction books in 2016.
If I read fiction, I still want to get something from it, some life lesson. I enjoy books that go over difficult ethical situations. I like very grand and intricate storylines with some mystery. I like being engaged when I read, so I like very intense characters that pop out. I’m a sucker for very sad and depressing books, in a way I feel like it improves my ability to empathize.
What book did you have higher expectations for than it deserved? What made it not so good?
Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries. I had high hopes for it based on the title and some descriptions I read but came out very disappointed that I got nothing new and was turned off to it’s repetitive references towards the Pixar Story. Ironically, I actually want to read that Pixar book now.
I’ve learned that I need to be careful of reading too much into topics I’ve already read about if there isn’t enough depth to justify it.
What do you do when a book is kinda dry? How do you keep going?
The dry book’s I’ve read in the past have been fiction oriented. I read non-fiction with purpose and understand that certain parts may be dense. I interpret dry as “lack of substance.” I do a lot of research ahead of time to make sure I don’t read bad books, as that would hurt my reading pace.
There have been books that I’ve stopped reading, but it was more so because a priority came up where I needed to learn about something and needed to switch books.
It’s also ok to stop reading a book if you don’t enjoy it. It’s more damaging to lose your motivation for reading by grinding through a bad book, that to just put it down and go onto something you would enjoy. Just don’t let the stopped reading pile build up too quick.