How To Read 118 Books In One Year

This year I continued my odd quest to read a lot of books and ended up reading more than last year. This feels very odd since I’m a big fan of making things rather than just constantly drowning in consumption.

In fact I’d like to send a special message to the hundreds of people that have visited my website because they typed “Bad Effects of Reading” or “Why Reading is Bad For You” into Google: It isn’t always bad for you, but just reading crap all day long is.

How I Read Two Books a Week

My system for reading this much is quite simple:

  1. When I am in a situation in which it is socially acceptable (or encouraged) to be staring at your phone I read on the Kindle app instead of doing things on social media. These social situations are more frequent than you think and are probably more than 15 minutes a day.
  2. When I am working I take at least one break a day and read for 10+ minutes.
  3. Some nights, not always, I read to help me relax and fall asleep. Some days I drive in my car and listen to books on Audible, about 8-10 of the books were consumed this way.
  4. I read things that I like. If I get 25% into a book and I hate it, I close it, loudly shout a curse word, and then donate it to the library or throw it away. After I shout the curse word I don’t regret having wasted some time on the book, and I try to not ever regret buying a book that I never read.
  5. I surround myself online with other people that read a lot, thus making this amount of reading seem normal.

My Favorite Book This Year

I read a lot of very useful books this year – ones that were fun to read but also actionable – and one that continues to standout is The Obstacle is the Way (by Ryan Holiday). Great writing, good structure, interesting historical anecdotes, and direct relevancy that you don’t see in many books of this form. I am currently reading through the rest of Ryan’s books and have also enjoyed Ego is the Enemy.

What Else I Read This Year

What follows is a partial list of the books I read this year (some items have been removed to protect privacy).  If I recommend that you, dear reader, should also read the book I have included it as a link.

Fun To Read:
– Modern Romance
– Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread
– Silver Screen Fiend
– Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself
– Consider the Lobster
– Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
– Le Metier
– Mere Anarchy
– Funny Girl
– True Grit
– Microserfs
Temporary Stories
The Whites
– The Abortion
– So The Wind Won’t Blow it All Away
Big Fish

Not Fun To Read, But Needed:
– Between The World and Me
– Erasing Hell

Parenting:
– Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why
– Rules for a Knight
– Keep Your Love On

Things That Defy Category and This is a Compliment:
We Learn Nothing

Books That Defy Category Because I am Lazy:
Stories of Your Life and Others
– Turing and the Computer
– Dirty Library
– Calvin and Hobbes
– Ready Player One
– Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine

Advice That I Have Ignored:
– Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
– The Short Guide to a Long Life

Memoirs and Biographies:
Bossypants
Yes, Please
– Little Black Sheep: A Memoir
The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber: maybe 2016 wasn’t the right year to read about how quickly the Nazis took over, but a wonderful read overall about an amazing man.
– My Mother was Nuts

Work / Self-improvement:
Ego is the Enemy
The Obstacle is the Way
The Passionate Programmer
Building Great Software Engineering Teams
The Magic of Thinking Big
The Lean Startup
– The Greatness Guide
– The Greatness Guide: Book 2
– Awaken the Giant Within
– Flourish
– The Talent Code
Zero to One
– Catching the Big Fish
The Hard Thing about Hard Things
– Hooked
– Enough
– The Art of War
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
– Don’t Make Me Think
– The Difference Maker
High Output Management
– The 2-minute Leader
– Paper Towns
– Claw Your Way to the Top: How to Become the Head of a Major Corporation in Roughly a Week
– Manage Oneself

Distributed / Remote Working
– The Field Guide to Telecommuting
– Embrace Remote Working

Comedy:
– Egghead
– This is a Book
– Point Your Face at This
– My Life and Hard Times
– The 50 Funniest American Writers
– Fierce Pajamas
– Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans
– Sick in the Head

There is no such thing as Children’s Books:
The BFG
– Hatchet
– The Poet’s Dog
– The Phantom Tollbooth

Gerald Weinberg:
– The Secrets of Consulting
– More Secrets of Consulting
Are Your Lights On?
– Becoming a Technical Leader

Writing:
– The Elements of Style
– Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t
– The Writing Life

Written by Someone I Know, or About Someone I Know, or Just Self-Published:
– A Wicked Creature
– Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian
– Fearless Salary Negotiation
– Untethered
– The Zen Founder Guide to Founder Retreats
– What I’ve Learn from Failure
– Postmortem of a Failed Startup
– The Lost 10 Point Night

OK I guess but not something to base a religion on:
– The Four Agreements
– The Alchemist

Neil Simon Plays
– Biloxi Blues
– Brighton Beach Memoirs

Dave Eggers:
– The Wild Things
– How We are Hungry
– You Shall Know Our Velocity!

Written by Men with Mustaches Who I Wish I Could Meet:
– How to Tell a Story and Other Essays
– Armageddon in Retrospect

A Sudden Interest in Steve Martin:
– Shopgirl
– The Pleasure of My Company
– The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People
– Pure Drivel
– Born Standing Up
– Cruel Shoes

A Constant Interest in Elmore Leonard:
– Riding the Rap
– Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

Books That Took More Than Six Months to Finish:
– Fifty Great Short Stories
– 12 Essential Skills for Software Architects

I’m writing a book about successfully working from home; click here if you want to know when it is complete.

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