The 40+1 books that I intend to read in 2019 by reading every day
The picture above shows some real commitment, since the books are already on my bookshelf I have no other option but to read them! Yeah, a new year always comes with new year's resolutions and as the third week of the year is coming to an end I'm happy to see that I'm sticking to the habit to read every day. As a result, I've already finished Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Friedrich Nietzsche), which I started in 2018, and I'm about to finish the second one.
In 2018 I didn't do too bad, 12 books and a couple of unfinished ones. My favourite one was A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson) with The Society of Mind (Marvin Minsky) close behind. This is how my everyday.app yearly view looked like:
70% is actually pretty good, but there's a lot of room for improvement. Funnily, this visualization just made me realize that if I fail to read on Mondays, then it's more likely that I won't read a lot during the whole week. Something that makes a lot of sense considering that I view Mondays as reset days. I'll try to keep that insight in mind for this new year.
For 2019, I knew I wanted to read more and I randomly decided to buy 30 books and read them as a challenge througout the year. Later I learnt from Àlex's challenge to read as many books a year as your age. So every year, you'd increase it by one. Really smart and sustainable growth challenge. However, making the selection of 30 books was tough and I ended up buying 40, whoops. The point is, it doesn't matter how many books I read while I read every day!
I basically asked everyone for recommendations as well as made a list of categories I'd like to read something about... this is my pick in no definite order (*** means that for some reason I think they'll be mindblowing):
1. Atomic Habits (James Clear)
I've been following James Clear since I started working on everyday.app and so I am already very familiar with his powerful ideas on habits, some of which I've tried to bring into the app. However, having Amir from Todoist.com personally recommend it convinced me to read it straight away. I'm almost done with it and I think it's one of those books that makes a difference. It's an extra twist to common sense to realize the power of habit. Golden quotes all over the place. I'm sure I'll write a summary of it very soon!
2. On Creativity and the Unconscious (Sigmund Freud)
I was trying to find a book on creativity and finding a collection of Freud's original essays really caught my interest. Also, habits are a product of behavioural psychology, a field of psychology that Freud wasn't very fond of, so I'm eager to see which arguments does Freud raise against it!
3. Your Brain Is a Time Machine (Dean Buonomano)***
I was searching for something related to time and how our brain deals with it. We live in the present but we have a hard time to enjoy it because we are either melancholic about better pasts or hyped with the anticipation of potential great futures that never arrive. I really have high expectations for this one.
4. This Explains Everything (John Brockman)
This is yet another collection of essays written by scientists at the edge of human knowledge. Taro introduced me to John Brockman's collections and I enjoyed the format. Some of the essays deal with topics that are impossible to explain in few pages nor to comprehend fully, but you always get something out of them.
5. Ideas and Opinions (Albert Einstein)
Well, one of the brightest minds ever has a book about his ideas and opinions. It'd be foolish not to read it, eh? Another matter is if I'll be able to follow.
6. The Evolving Self (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
I'd have a hard time explaining why I got this one so I better just leave this review: "The Evolving Self suggests that only a collaborative effort of individuals willing to bring the creative zest of flow to the hard questions of moral choice will ensure a viable and harmonius future.""San Francisco Chronicle"
7. Social (Matthew D. Lieberman)
I was searching for something on neuroscience when this showed up on any of the lists I checked, maybe Brainpickings? Among many other ideas, this book backs with science the idea that the human brain gets a heftier reward by forging connections with others than by money or other incentives. Since I'm considering bringing a social layer to everyday.app it might very well be worth it.
8. Education and the Significance of Life (Jiddu Krishnamurti)
I'm quite obsessed with the idea of education and how to improve it, especially since I have 2 super young nephews to experiment with. No, I don't plan to do like with the Polgar sisters even though I'll get them to play chess soon enough. I don't think this book will provide any specific learnings on the matter but that's not what I'm after anyways, and I find the philosophical edge of such a great thinker probably has a lot to bring to the table.
9. The Art of Strategy (Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff)***
Another of the books I'm really looking forward, probably because I don't really know what to expect. I wanted to read about game theory to expand my abstract thinking when I came across this one. Great reviews and apparently applicable learnings.
10. Economics for the Common Good (Jean Tirole)
This is Faust's recommendation. I know he spends some good time figuring out what to read and despite he is not a talker, he is pretty fucking eloquent. So I better try to grab ideas from his sources! Also, damn, I hope the writer delivers, there has to be a better system to regulatory capitalism.
11. The Black Swan (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)
Last year I enjoyed reading Fooled by Randomness by the same author. A bit full of himself but it's always fun to read his tweets. Also, randomness is aligned with the idea of free will... the background here is on economics though.
12. Little History of Economics (Niall Kishtainy)
After reading A Little History of the World and A Little History of Philosophy I guess I had to read this, especially if I want to solidify pretty basic concepts that I haven't revisited since university. Yep, we did history of economics in Computer Science but most of us still end up being pawns of the system. So happy to be earning my freedom with everyday.app!
13. Why Nations Fail (Daron Acemoglu)
Another of Faust's recommendations. I'm also really looking forward this one. It will be interesting to compare the ideas presented here with the theory of cyclic civilizations in The Mathematics of History that I read a couple of years back.
14. Irrational Exuberance (Robert Shiller)
I've always wanted to understand economics and the stock market better. A couple of years ago I followed Shiller's (a nobel laureate btw) course on coursera and been meaning to read this for a while. It's a book that analyzes bubbles, and they say we are on one again...
15. Stock Investing For Beginners (John Roberts)
There isn't much mystery to this one, a very brief and highly-rated guide on how to get started on the stock market. Seeing how well 2018 was (ironic) I think I'll wait a little bit before I give it a try.
16. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)
This is the first of books categorised strictly as philosophy. It's a collection of personal writings (yep, if Marcus knew how many people is peeking into his personal journal...) mostly on stoic and self-improvement ideas. Since I keep a very similar journal it'll be interesting to see how little we've progressed in two millennia.
17. Man's Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl)
The chronicles of the author's experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and his method to find purpose in life even when it seems impossible that there's one.
18. Conjectures and Refutations (Karl Popper)
Oh boy this is going to be a tough read. Popper was a philosopher of science: "All scientific theories are conjectures, even those that have successfully passed many severe and varied tests." I think I'm gonna make some connections with the ideas behind Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but I might as well be very wrong.
19. Major Works (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
Still within philosophy, I worry it's going to be another tough one. Wittgenstein was one of the first philosophers that caught my interest back in school and teenager-me archived him under the idea that "language is limited, why bother", so finding a collection of his most representative essays could only lead to add it to this pick.
20. The River of Consciousness (Oliver Sacks)
Oliver Sacks' books appeared in every list of recommended books and finding one that aggregated his ideas on several topics caught my interest. Also I loved Awakenings, a movie based on one of his books. Go watch it if you haven't.
21. Principles (Ray Dalio)
Came upon the web version on HackerNews a couple of years back but needed to take my time to read it on paper. Within the category of business, it's edited as if it were some sort of bible. I'll wait to read it to make my judgments though.
22. Start Small, Stay Small (Rob Walling)
The indie makers wave is thriving and I'm happy to be part of it. However, bootstrapping has been around since forever and Rob Walling is one of the main defenders of the idea that you can start small and grow to a point where you feel is enough. It was a must read that I've taken too long to commit to.
23. Explosive Growth (Cliff Lerner)
Well, this is a very promising one. Epic reviews everywhere and about exactly what I need now, explosive growth ;P It's a collection of use cases and growth hacks used before that will surely boost my creativity on the matter. However, the list of ideas is already too big, and motion takes me nowhere, I need to act, I need to execute and experiment with those ideas.
24. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
It's a classic that everyone seems so happy about I had to add it to the list. I'd like to remember Maya Angelou's quote here: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
25. Escape from Freedom (Erich Fromm)
The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness was one of the best books I read last year. And so, I had to read more Fromm. Funnily, my mum gave me a spanish translation of this book she read in the 70s when I was back in the university and I unsuccessfully started reading it during my commute. Nope, it's not a book to read at the commute.
26. Endurance (Alfred Lansing)
Consistency is one thing, endurance is the next level. Endurance was also the name of the ship that took Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctica (well, almost) at the beginning of the 20th century. I watched the movie, and well, what a adventure story! It's one of the many stories that contributed to my special interest in the beginning of the last century.
27. The Razor's Edge (W. Somerset Maugham)
Jordan said: "If you enjoyed Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance you are probably gonna enjoy this one". I first met Jordan when he came all the way to Barcelona from India and through the Stans on a 70s Royal Enfield. Would you not read a recommendation by such a beast?
28. Into Thin Air (Jon Krakauer)
Krakauer is also the writer of Into the Wild, but here, he relates his personal experience of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster where 8 climbers died. The movie Everest tells the same story but if you want to watch a good movie on survival and mountain climbing go for Touching the Void.
29. Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari)
Another must. Anthropology? Must read. Good reviews everywhere... I enjoyed Dan Dennett's short essay on the raise of early civilizations and I'm curious about which theories Harari brings into the table and why scholars are generally skeptic about them.
30. Mindset (Carol S. Dweck)
It all comes down to our mindset. If we have a growth mindset we've much won, if we don't, well, we better change our mindset! I read a pretty detailed summary of the book last year that convinced this would be a good read. I'm sure it has a lot to say when it comes to personal growth.
31. Curious (Ian Leslie)
I was specifically searching for a book on curiosity. I find curiosity is so incredibly important. I'd dare to say it's what drives humanity and the meaning of life. Without curiosity everything is pointless. At times I've lost my curiosity and I would like to learn how to spark curiosity in me and in those around me. Hopefully, curiosity isn't innate but can be trained.
32. The Art of Deception (Kevin Mitnick)
I wanted to read something about cyber security and this was the number one on every list, so let's see. It looks like the weakest link are the humans who form part of the system, who would have guessed! computers are always right.
33. The Boy Who Could Change the World (Aaron Swartz)
I see a collection of Swartz's writings, I read. Also, it's good to have those around in case the site finally dies (or someone kills it...). For archiving purposes :D A hacktivist commited to his values to the very end. I'd recommend watching the documentary based on him.
34. The Internet of Money (Andreas Antonopoulos)
A lot of trash on bitcoin and blockchain around these days. Getting something on paper and the author being recommended by Alex will give it some credibility. I generally believe in the idea that this is a game changer but when it comes to make money, I prefer to generate value.
35. Thinking in Systems (Donella H. Meadows)***
I sincerely don't remember where I got this one from but it's probably the one that sparks my curiosity the most. It must have been in one of those "Ask HN" where I ask how to boost my abstract thinking. It would fall in the category of problem-solving.
36. The Wealth of Networks (Yochai Benkler)***
Yet another one of those I really look forward to read. A book on information theory, a social theory of the internet and the networked information economy. "The phenomenon he describes as social production is reshaping markets, while at the same time offering new opportunities to enhance individual freedom, cultural diversity, political discourse, and justice."
37. Contagious (Jonah Berger)
A more a less serious study of virality on the internet. Hopefully I'll get some new ideas to apply to everyday.app :)
38. Introduction to Graph Theory (Richard Trudeau)
This is the only strictly theoric book. I wanted to revisit graph theory and this book seems to be the perfect fit, a short highly-rated introduction to freshen the basic concepts.
39. The Phoenix Project (Gene Kim)
I really didn't want to get any novels, but Sven's recommendation seems to be a novelized story of problem-solving in a world that's not too far from mine. Highly recommended around, I'm sure it won't disappoint.
40. Philosophy of Computer Science (William J. Rapaport)***
This is the +1 because it's not edited. It's a giant work in progress that I'm very curious about. The frontier between computer science and philosophy. William (the author) recommended me to print it chapter by chapter and to send any feedback but I'm not sure if I'll be able to give any feedback at all.
That's all folks!
So the books and the commitment are there, let's see how far I get by reading a little bit every day! Want to join me in this challenge? :)
P.S: If you have any recommendations you think would align with the interests shown above, feel free to leave them in the comments!!