When I moved to Poland on August 30th, 2015, I decided to make a list of goals for myself. One of them was to read 15 books within the following year. It turns out that I read 38 books. That comes out to 7,942 total pages read or 209 pages per book on average.
Just… why? Why did you do this?
I dropped out of college in January 2015. Lots of factors played into my decision, but the biggest problem I had with university was that I wasn’t learning enough and I wasn’t learning what I wanted. So since dropping out of school, my education has been exclusively in my own hands. If I want to learn new things, I have to consciously set aside the time to do so. It happens that books are my favorite way of learning. Reading is awesome. I do a lot of it.
So without further ado, please enjoy the fun graphs and master list of all the books I read (with the link to the review I wrote of each book, if applicable) presented below.
Note: I didn’t keep track of the fiction I picked up this year – except for 2 plays and 5 novels that I found particularly meaningful. I included those 7 works of fiction in my list.
Second note: I didn’t keep track of books I didn’t finish either. So all books listed were read cover-to-cover. (Note within second note: Reading cover-to-cover is neither a habit nor a hobby of mine.)
*These are books from more unique categories (i.e. cryptography, linguistics, art history, etc) that only contain one read book. Didn’t want to clutter up the graph.
The Master List
|Name of Book||Author||Date finished|
|The Importance of Being Earnest||Oscar Wilde||4/9/15 – complete|
|Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business||Barbara Corcoran||26/9/15 – complete|
|The Element||Ken Robinson||2/10/15 – complete|
|Outliers||Malcolm Gladwell||30/11/15 – complete|
|The Art of Non-Conformity||Chris Guillebeau||3/12/15 – complete|
|The War of Art||Steven Pressfield||7/12/15 – complete|
|Creative Pursuit||Brian Knapp||18/1/16 – complete|
|Hustle||Jesse Tevelow||23/1/16 – complete|
|Trust Me, I’m Lying||Ryan Holiday||23/1/16 – complete|
|The Connection Algorithm||Jesse Tevelow||26/1/16 – complete|
|Graceling||Kristin Cashore||6/2/16 – complete|
|The Golden Compass||Philip Pullman||8/2/16 – complete|
|Letters from a Stoic||Seneca||6/3/16 – complete|
|Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up||Ken Robinson||9/3/16 – complete|
|The Charisma Myth||Olivia Canabe||4/4/13 – complete|
|Steppenwolf||Hermann Hesse||9/4/16 – complete|
|What’s the Big Deal About Bitcoin?||Steve Patterson||13/4/16 – complete|
|The Communist Manifesto||Karl Marx||17/5/16 – complete|
|Semiotics: The Basics||Daniel Chandler||31/5/16 – complete|
|Freedom Without Permission||Zak Slayback||25/5/16 – complete|
|The End of Jobs||Taylor Pearson||31/5/16 – complete|
|Growth Hacker Marketing||Ryan Holiday||16/6/16 – complete|
|The Practice and Theory of Bolshevism||Bertrand Russell||16/6/16 – complete|
|Ego Is the Enemy||Ryan Holiday||19/6/16 – complete|
|Cryptography: A Very Short Intro||Fred Piper||21/6/16 – complete|
|Othello||Shakespeare||27/6/16 – complete|
|Sorcerers: A Novel||Jacob Needleman||7/7/16 – complete|
|Demian||Hermann Hesse||4/7/16 – complete|
|Intentions||Oscar Wilde||5/7/16 – complete|
|The Soul of Man Under Socialism||Oscar Wilde||11/7/16 – complete|
|Rhetoric: A Very Short Introduction||Richard Toye||13/7/16 – complete|
|Contagious: Why Things Catch On||Jonah Berger||31/7/16 – complete|
|Color Design Workbook: A Guide to Using Color in Design||Terry Lee Stone||1/8/16 – complete|
|The 7 Day Startup||Dan Norris||1/8/16 – complete|
|The Success and Failure of Picasso||John Berger||14/8/16 – complete|
|Social Media Marketing||Andy Anderson||16/8/16 – complete|
|Don’t Do Stuff You Hate||Isaac Morehouse & Mitchell Earl||19/8/16 – complete|
|Choose Yourself||James Altucher||23/8/16 – complete|
Other interesting facts
- The oldest book I read was Seneca’s Letters From a Stoic (c. 65 AD)
- The newest book I read was Isaac Morehouse and Mitchell Earl’s Don’t Do Stuff You Hate (published August 2016)
- I read several chunks of Rumi’s Fihi Ma Fihi in December 2015 and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is not in my list because I didn’t read it cover-to-cover.
- I also enjoyed the chunks I read of What Is Mathematics? by Herbert Robbins and Richard Courant. I have no intention of reading it cover-to-cover, but it’s still an excellent book and very accessible to people who are casually interested in math.
- When I think of my reading interests, my gut categorizes them as follows: 40% political science/international relations/sociology, 25% religion/theology, 15% linguistics, 15% misc, 5% entrepreneurism/personal development. So I’m incredibly surprised that my gut and my data don’t match up at all. Weirded out, actually. Like, I might have an identity crisis in the coming days.
My mind was blown by this book. Semiotics is (crudely put) the study of the communication of meaning. Traditionally, semiotics is seen a branch of linguistics. But many semioticians argue that linguistics is a branch of semiotics.
I picked this book up because phonetics (which is one of my most favorite topics in the world) and semiotics can be closely related. I think that after reading this though, I gained a lot of insight on not just phonetics, but sociology, psychology, and even marketing. Really fascinating stuff.
After reading this, I realized how much I love hustling (“Hustling is taking the next step, whatever that might be. It’s about not standing still. Making moves.”). Hustling is a lot like exercising. It causes pain, but it’s a good kind of pain. The bad kind of pain comes around when you stop hustling, because it sucks when you have to get a big boulder rolling from nowhere. Always keep the momentum going. Keep yourself rested, but don’t let the ball stop rolling.
I’m a huge fan of Hermann Hesse. One of the reasons is because his themes often involve the juxtaposing of opposites. I believe that the limits of human expression and understanding are in our ability to interpret the world only in terms of opposites. So when Hesse writes about the contrast and coexistence of reason vs emotion or instinct vs logic, I feel like he’s grappling with and attempting to transcend his humanity. It’s invigorating.
But in regards to what made Steppenwolf particularly meaningful to me, see this other article I wrote.
I was expecting this book to be alright. I was expecting some dry description and analysis of Bolshevism from a tea-sipping intellectual typing away on the other side of the continent. I wasn’t expecting a first-hand, honest description of Lenin halfway through the book. I’m still freaking out. Look, read it:
“Soon after my arrival in Moscow I had an hour’s conversation with Lenin in English, which he speaks fairly well…. Lenin’s room is very bare; it contains a big desk, some maps on the walls, two book-cases, and one comfortable chair for visitors in addition to two or three hard chairs. It is obvious that he has no love of luxury or even comfort. He is very friendly, and apparently simple, entirely without a trace of hauteur. If one met him without knowing who he was, one would not guess that he is possessed of great power or even that he is in any way eminent. I have never met a personage so destitute of self-importance…. He laughs a great deal; at first his laugh seems merely friendly and jolly, but gradually I came to feel it rather grim….”
Bertrand Russell was a cool guy. He got his hands dirty during this study of Bolshevism. He identified strongly with socialism, and yet he had the openness to realize what a mess the Bolsheviks were making and the personal integrity to write about it honestly. Really interesting book written by a really interesting guy.
My highlights are the books that impacted my life the most – but timing can be a big part of that impact. So here are the best books I read this year that I think anyone can benefit from reading, regardless of where they are in their life.
Just read it. It costs $0.99 for Kindle. Will improve your life no matter what kind of life you’re leading or dreaming of.
The world is changing. So naturally, the nature of work is changing too. Do you want to carve a living and craft a meaningful life for yourself? Yeah, me too. So read this book.