2018 was a weird year for me when it comes to reading. I was unable to enjoy/read books that I wanted to read e.g. Black Swan, The Rational Optimist etc. That made me fundamentally unhappy. How come I am not reading books recommended by Naval? Out of frustration, I started reading ones I knew I can finish and hence will make me feel better. Most of these latter books, however, were not fun because there wasn’t anything new for me. My over-reliance on audible for the most part of the year made matters worse.
At the beginning of last year, I was enjoying audio books. Which made me believe that I am better at listening than reading. In hindsight, though listening was just easy. Also, certain books are good for listening e.g. history and topics you already have a grasp but want to expand upon. But for topics new to you, listening is probably not the right format. At least that’s what I learned about myself.
Also, audible subscription allowed me to have any book I want anytime I want to without necessarily paying for it at the moment. Which resulted in I not buying books from local bookstalls. Something I now realize was a constant cause of anxiety. I like buying books just as much as reading them. Sometimes even more. I have lowered my audible subscription ever since and spent the resulting savings to buy some paper books.
With that said, one thing I realized while writing this post is things were not as bad. I did enjoy quite a few books this year. Writing puts things in perspective. Reading is a first world problem after all. And I feel lucky to have it in my life.
Below is the list of books in order of format I read them in i.e. paper, kindle and audible. And are linked accordingly. I am listing books I feel comfortable talking about, finished or not.
The Innovator’s Dilemma I first read it back in 2010. Bought the hardcover version the year before just to put on my book shelve. Picked up out of frustration of not being able to read Black Swan. And for the weekend I was lost in the worlds of disk drives, excavators and steel mills.
Apart from Zero to One, maybe, this is my favorite business book. It’s also the best product management book out there. A core part of a PM’s job is to figure out what not to do. The book has a lot to say about that.
Thinking Fast And Slow Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.
The Origin Of Virtue The combined mass of ants on the planet equals the combined mass of humans on earth. Also, ants are one of the most collaborative species on earth which is core to their survival.
Hit Refresh Satya Nadella on transforming Microsoft. The actual act is much better.
Influence The original work on the topic.
Hold Onto Your Kids You are not your kids’ best friend, mentor or role model. You are their parent. Hold onto that.
In Spite Of the Gods India (today’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives etc) once constituted a third of the world’s GDP.
Don’t Make Me Think Skimmed through again for a work project. Must-read book if you are designing for the web.
How to Fail at Almost Everything And Still Win Big There aren’t many books that are must read for everyone. This comes close.
Pakistan: A Hard Country Best book if you want to understand why things are the way they are in Pakistan. Helped me a lot while deciding to vote last year.
Fearless Salary Negotiation Things you do for love. Kidding aside, this is an important organizational skill regardless of your side on the table.
The Startup Of You Things to build your business and your career have an uncanny similarity.
Taking the Work Out of Networking Common sense stuff, well packaged.
Consider The Lobster And Other Essays I like reading or listening to David Foster Wallace.
A Life in Parts The real-life story of Walter White (from Breaking Bad).
Federer and Me Tennis used to be about wrist shots, court coverage, and soft touch volleys. Starting from Agassi it shifted towards power hitting from and behind the baseline. Federer and Nadal, of course, took it to a whole new level. The difference between Federer and other modern players is Federer is just as good at playing traditional tennis as he is at modern.
In a way, Federer connects tennis to its roots. So when he loses you feel like tennis is losing.
The Lessons of History Amazing.
This is Marketing Seth Godin has a message. But it’s repetitive if you follow his work. The book is no different.
How the Internet Happened The initial days of the web aka Web 1.0 are far more interesting than Web 2.0. Complement this with Halt and Catch Fire season 4.
The Courage to be Disliked I can’t recommend enough.
Man’s Search for Meaning I first realized how minuscule my reading troubles are when I first listened to this. Must read.
American Kingpin The story of Ross (the man behind the Silk Road). Breathtaking.
You Need a Budget I will teach you to be rich, which I read last year, is better.
Hit Makers A book I should have read instead of listening to.
Gandhi and Churchill The influence of political leaders, good and bad, is only clear in hindsight. While alive they are judged not for who they are but the information bubbles people seem to have developed about them. Yes, information bubbles are not new.
A Guide to Good Life Your best place to getting started with stoic philosophy.
Pre-suasion A followup to Influence. Equally good.
Digital Gold The history of Bitcoin.
The World of Ice and Fire Westeros before Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. Lots of dragons and incest marriages.
The Conspiracy How and why Peter Thiel destroyed Gawker.
Meditations Time old classic.
Antifragile The only Naseem Taleb book I finished.
Unstoppable Like Maria Sharapova herself. Often times too good yet more often than not hard to bear.
The One Device Audible is the right format for this book. I couldn’t get through reading it in 2017.
In Defense of Food What you eat is way more than just calories. Also, nutrition is not exactly a science subject.
The Death of WCW The most important wrestling story of the past 25 years.
The God Delusion The book that legitimizes atheism.
Resilience Original work on the topic. Much better than Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s Option B.
Creative Selection Best product development book I read. It helps if you are an Apple fan.
The Billionaire Raj The story of India’s wealthiest from the 90s and beyond. Mukesh Ambani’s home has a built-in tennis court and a football ground. I wonder who plays over there?
The Story of India Best book on our ancestral history.
Draft No. 4 This will make you write better without necessarily talking about writing itself.
Bad Blood The story of Theranos. One of the best audible books of the year.
The Upstarts How Uber and Airbnb conquered the world. Better read it.
Just Kids Two kids turned artists living in NY without much cash. You can’t ask for a better story.