2022 — books in review
2022 was not a year of hitting my book reading count target and for good reasons — I am happy to say that I read books with more focus, higher intent and purposeful retention. As James Clear states in Atomic Habits (still my favorite self help book because of it’s clear framework) — dont read to hit your reading goal, but read to become a reader. 2023 will the first year since I started tracking books where I will not have a book count target.
Thanks to some bad habits and mindless attraction towards self help books in my 20s, I naturally gravitate towards picking the next hot instructional self help book. As I am aging I am realizing that using my brain and relying on my emotions is a far better way of self-helping instead of trying to build a mindset and intuition by reading a 100 self help books.
Not all self help books are bad but majority of those can be a simple blog post that’s usually written drawn out to justify the writers time. Those that usually pave a clear framework are going to remain in the top of my list.
This year the best self improvement book that I read was the “The Atlas of the Heart" by Brene Brown. A simple emotional vocabulary building book that does not oversell it’s purpose. I sat with that book for hours reflecting on each emotion with the ones that I have experienced. It’s a timeless book and it’s retention will help me be aware of my emotional state.
The worst read on my list that has not aged well since it was written 1.5 decades ago is the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss. I know I am late to the party but wanted to still get in on the fun to see if its something that vibes with me. Life is not about hacks to optimize productivity. It is a marathon of good work and not of finding tiny optimizations so that I can sip cocktails at the beach.
The “meh" books in my 2022 list are the Four thousand weeks — time management for mortals and the world without email. Had higher expectations from both of them and ended up being disappointed — because both could have just been blog posts. Should have just read them on Blinkist.
I switched to a few fact and opinion books sometime in the middle of the year and picked up my newly found favorite genre — geopolitics through “Prisoners of Geography". The fundamental reason I like this genre is that it marries cause and effect seamlessly and creates multiple “what-if" storylines effortlessly in the readers mind.
I am looking forward to reading “The Silk Roads" in 2023.
Since I also recently relocated to NYC, I have been enjoying spending time at the public libraries specially at Stavros Narchos Foundation Library on the south east corner of Bryant Park. To avoid falling into the trap of browsing books for hours, my new rule at the library is to pick a book within first 5 min and sit with it for the next few hours, even if it turns out to be an uninteresting topic or badly written book. Most of the time I discover a good enough book or worst case, I will sharpen my critiquing skills.
Through the library I discovered 2 good books this year — Prisoners of Geography and a book on Alan Turing, apart from a random NYC joke book, a tourist guide (surprisingly good hidden recommendations in the city).
And finally some junk reading —
All in all, a great year for my readings in 2022. Higher intent and higher retention will still be my goals in 2023. (Though my time for reading good books has solid competition since I invested in some serious gaming equipment this cyber Monday. Screw you american consumerism.)
I am looking forward to going through the following in 2023
The Silk Roads
Truth, love and a little malice — Khushwant Singhs 2002 autobiography
The Book of Why by Judea Pearl