This Year I Read 88 Books And Wrote 1

As 2015 started I made a goal to read 50 books by the end of the year.

This, like all great goals, was very stupid and certainly foolish. I have a very demanding job, four young children, and a very structured imaginary marathon-training program.

I set this goal for two reasons:

  • My daughter was in the 2nd grade and starting to read more and I wanted to throw some fuel on that fire.
  • I found that reading relaxed me more than any other activity – there aren’t any notifications when you read and I found it quieted my mind.

I started out with the following goals:

  • I would read 50 books, with the definition of “book” sort of up to me.
  • I would prefer books that I already owned.
  • If somebody gave me a book, I had to read that book this year.
  • If I sneered about a book or rolled by eyes then I *had* to read it next.
  • I would try to not read “fancy” books; no judgment.
  • I could re-read a book only if I hadn’t read the book in the last 5 years.

Results

I ended up reading a lot of books – more than expected. I didn’t stop working or paying attention to my kids, but instead replaced time spent doing the following with reading:

  • Taking breaks at work
  • Reading stuff on the internet of little value (i.e. most things on the internet)
  • Watching TV
  • Doing nothing while waiting on something (like in a waiting room)

I ended up exploring my local library and a local used bookstore due to the sheer volume of books I ended up purchasing.

More Interesting Results

The most interesting thing about my reading this year was that I ended up writing a book as well. By not judging the types of books I was reading I found deep veins of silly books that I liked so much I decided to take a run at writing one in the same style. The nice thing about reading is that you can surround yourself with people that you like; this isn’t always possible in the real world.

Books

Here is a list of all the books I read with a one sentence snarky review of each.

My top 5 recommended:

  • Hyperbole and a Half – one of the best books I read this year.
  • The First Bad Man – what do you say to a book like this?  What the hell?  I don’t want this weird story to end?  I can’t describe this book but I have now read everything Miranda July has ever written and will buy everything she writes in the future forever.
  • Creativity, Inc. – great read, good story, remarkable transparency and teaching
  • The Stench of Honolulu – funniest book I have read this year.
  • What in God’s Name – Simon Rich is a delight, and I enjoyed this one greatly especially the parts with God working to open a restaurant.

Short Story Collections & Classics

Elmore Leonard & Westerns

  • The Bounty Hunters & Glitz & Freaky Deaky – if you have never read any Elmore Leonard you should start now.  Any “hip dialogue” in a modern movie has been influenced by his realistic gritty style.
  • Galloway – picked up at a used books store and is #12 in a series; good mindless entertainment.  The good guys win (SPOILER ALERT)
  • The Last Kind Words Saloon – real story of Wyatt Earp which is different than all the crappy movies you have seen about it.
  • No Country for Old Men – held up against the movie which is impressive.

Ernest Hemingway

Books about Creating Things

Parenting

I don’t know what this is

Religion

  • The Screwtape Letters – Masterpiece.  Should be re-read by me every few years.
  • Stuff Christians Like – hard to finish.  Talk about niche.
  • Scary Close – Donald Miller is one of those guys that is so thoughtful you hope that he has the same struggles as you do so that can can impart wisdom.

Comedy

Business and Practical Advice

  • The Ultimate Guide to Remote Working – pretty good resource, very interesting that they include their annoyances and issues with traditional office space.  People rarely think about just how terrible the typical setup really is until they start working from home.
  • Smart Money, Smart Kids – If I do 50% of what is in this book with my 4 kids they will all be just fine financially.
  • A Brief History of Walt Disney – if you aren’t inspired by Disney what are you even doing.
  • What If? – Great interesting read.
  • The Myths of Innovation – Very interesting book with clear conclusions around creative output and structure.  Good think piece.
  • Mindfire – Good edit of Scott’s posts; one of my favorite authors.
  • Focus – I enjoy Leo’s blog Zen Habits and this was in the same vein.
  • Lean In – Great resource; should be read by all people in the workplace.  These books are normally so boring you just read them because you feel like you have to, but this one was full of interesting personal stories and a good forward-moving narrative with clear actions for us all to take.
  • AngularJS – just finishing this one up; technology I used at work.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – I hate business books but this was pretty solid.

Miranda July

  • It Chooses You – man this was so freaking good and real. Whenever somebody says that a writer has a ‘strong voice’ I think of July. I’m going to read everything she has ever written, she works in multiple formats so see her movies too, but probably not any sculptures etc. by her.
  • The First Bad Man – what do you say to a book like this?  What the hell?  I don’t want this weird story to end?  I can’t describe this book but I have now read everything Miranda July has ever written and will buy everything she writes in the future forever.

Books that were intended for children

  • Lauren Ipsum – cute, but probably funnier to adults who work in the field than actual children.  The end where they go back and explain everything is better, so if you read with that in mind it would be a better exercise.
  • Esio Trot – I read a few Dahl’s this year so one is representative of that; good cute little book.