Sent on December 5th, 2022.
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Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.— Jim Rohn
Last year I listed ten books as favorites, but this time I’m going to axe the list to only five. I believe that I can better condense what books made a difference for me this year when it’s only five ones that I talk about.
First, let’s look at how my reading has evolved in the past year.
When it comes to reading more books, here’s what I’ve learned:
The number of books I’ve read in the past five years:
- 2018: 10 books
- 2019: 24 books
- 2020: 34 books
- 2021: 62 books
- 2022: 55 (Dec 8th)
Here’s what I’ve discovered from reading more books:
Quality over quantity. In 2023, I will trim my reading down to about 40 books. Why? I want to spend more time reflecting on the books I’ve read. I want to take it slow and understand how the books I’m reading can improve my life. It’s not a race.
Even as I slow down the pace, the habit of reading is something I will continue cultivating. Re-reading books from 2020 and 2021 is something I will work on since there were so many good ones, like “Psychology of Money,” which could give me new insights which I didn’t realize when I read it in 2020. I’ve changed and learned a lot in two years, and a great book can create new connections with what I now know.
Keep reading. When I finish a book, I’m already craving to start a new one. My appetite comes from keeping a consistent reading cadence of about ten or more daily pages. Less Netflix and Disney Plus and more time with my books have made me a daily reader.
Reading in the evening. My reading habit revolves around reading at the same time. I always try to read from approx. 9PM to 10PM. One hour dedicated to reading. It’s become a strong habit that will be hard to break.
Other things I’ve learned about reading
It’s hard not to finish a bad book. You are relying on reviews as recommendations from friends who think in similar ways and have similar interests. Pick up free samples for the Kindle to know what you are getting into.
It’s OK to read many books at a time. Having several books consumed simultaneously, get a second Kindle Paperwhite.
Goodreads reading challenge. Watch out for reading lots of short, shallow books. The big payoff is to learn, so again, quality over quantity.
I am highlighting things and taking notes, lots of them. Read my piece on taking highlights and curating them from June.
Favorite books of 2022
Here are my favorite books that I read in 2022.
I’m not interested in the product. I’m interested in the customer journey.
— Tony Fadell
This book is a biography by entrepreneur and investor Tony Fadell, who was the lead on the original iPod, then went on to found Nest, which Google eventually acquired to become Google Nest. Later, Tony worked as an investor in tech.
In this book, he talks about how entrepreneurs should be obsessed with the non-obvious, like how product design starts with people talking about your product and what kind of perception the potential customers get before they even purchase your product. That’s where the customer journey begins, leading up to years of being a customer and how the customer would describe the project when they’ve been a user for a long time.
Tesla is six companies because they need to a stellar customer journey.
— Tony Fadell
Here are a few other lessons I picked up from this great book:
1: Steve Jobs and other mission-driven assholes: “Pushing for greatness doesn’t make you an asshole. Not tolerating mediocrity doesn’t make you an asshole. Challenging assumptions doesn’t make you an asshole. Before dismissing someone as “just an asshole,” you need to understand their motivations.”
2: On being a leader: “Expecting great work is not micromanagement. Your job is to make sure the team produces high-quality work. It only becomes micromanagement when you dictate the step-by-step process by which they create that work rather than focusing on the output.”
You need to learn how to start saying no to things you do want to do, with the recognition that you have only one life.
— Oliver Burkeman
The book’s title, four thousand weeks, talks about the average lifespan of a person in the 21st century. That’s the finite time we have to live our life. This book dives deep into anxieties surrounding our limited reality and how people turn into productivity machines where the time I spend productive isn’t fulfilling and lacks joy.
“Time feels like an unstoppable conveyor belt, bringing us new tasks as fast as we can dispatch the old ones; and becoming ‘more productive’ just seems to cause the belt to speed up.” — Edward T. Hall
The big messages that I got from this book were:
Don’t skip living: “We’re made so uneasy by the experience of allowing reality to unfold at its own speed that when we’re faced with a problem, it feels better to race towards a resolution – any resolution, really, so long as we can tell ourselves we’re ‘dealing with the situation, thereby maintaining the feeling of being in control. So we snap at our partners, rather than hearing them out, because waiting and listening would make us feel – correctly – as though we weren’t in control of the situation.”
Seeking relief from the discomfort of confronting limitations: “The most effective way to sap distraction of its power is just to stop expecting things to be otherwise – to accept that this unpleasantness is simply what it feels like for finite humans to commit ourselves to the kinds of demanding and valuable tasks that force us to confront our limited control over how our lives unfold.”
Marshall Goldsmith is an author and leadership coach. His well-known book is “What got you here won’t get you there.” The idea is that as we achieve something in life, be it in our career as entrepreneurs, leading ten or twenty people. But what got us here won’t get us to lead hundreds or thousands of people.
His latest book, The Earned Life, talks about living a fulfilled life. Marshall explains the impact of our choices and how we can start living our own lives, the one that matters and gives us fulfillment.
The outcome doesn’t matter: “We are living an earned life when the choices, risks, and effort we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, regardless of the eventual outcome.”
Live your own life: “I know Florida retirees who play golf practically every day. Is it their love for the game or a burning desire to lower their handicap that motivates them to spend so many hours hitting a little white ball around a very large lawn? Or is it inertia—they don’t have a better idea how to spend their day? If you find that you’re living the same day every day, you could ask yourself the same question: Am I living my current life because it’s how I choose to find fulfillment, or because I can’t imagine an alternative?”
Paul Millerd used to work in management consulting but left to embark on what he calls “The Pathless Path.” In his book, Paul talks about what he’s learned about exploring a new way of thinking about work, what stimulated him to choose his path and the relentless pursuit of what is inside of you that makes you feel the way you do about work.
Breaking the conventional: So much of how we think of work is a relic of the industrial era. Work 8 hours, have titles, and report to people. This book talks about what things can be like if we’d go back to thinking about work from a pre-industrial era standpoint, but with everything that modern technology enables us to do.
Change from default to pathless: ”The pathless path is an alternative to the default path. It is an embrace of uncertainty and discomfort. It’s a call to adventure in a world that tells us to conform. For me, it’s also a gentle reminder to laugh when things feel out of control and trust that an uncertain future is not a problem to be solved.”
Ryan Holiday’s latest book, Discipline Is Destiny, is perfect for someone looking for ways to take hold of themselves. We’ve just come out of the pandemic, and then there’s war, an energy crisis, and global inflation and recession. No wonder we are stressed and feel uncomfortable. The only thing we can control is how we react, and Holiday’s book is about learning to master oneself.
Here are my favorite takeaways from the book.
Discipline equals freedom equals discipline. ”Freedom, as Eisenhower famously said, is actually only the opportunity for self-discipline.” We think that once we’ve gotten what we ever wanted, be it the perfect job, a promotion, funding for your startup, or wealth from an exit. But that’s when the work starts. Life gives you things, but nothing is a means to an end. An elevated state just brings up new challenges. If you have discipline as you climb the ladder, you will have it good.
It’s you, not them. ”Why can’t they get such simple things right? Why can’t they just do it like we showed them the first time? Why can’t they just be like us? Because they are not us!” People spend a lot of time judging others for flaws. Maybe they’re not good at managing stress, responding to messages, or taking a break. “We’re on our own journey, and, yes, it is a strict and difficult one. But we understand that others are on their own path, doing the best they can, making the most of what they have been given. It’s not our place to judge. It is our place to cheer them on and accept them.”
Read what you love until you love to read.— Naval Ravikant
If you want to follow what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads, where I keep an updated log of everything I’m reading.
By the way, here are my favorite books from previous years.
- 10 Favorite Books of 2021
- 10 Favorite Books of 2020
- 10 Favorite Books of 2019
- 10 Favorite Books of 2018