These are the books I finished. Each is an Amazon Affiliate link.
Reading is slightly underrated. Get the most out of reading by starting more books, quitting more books, and diving into themes.
Personal maintenance. Familiar subjects and books to “remind me”.
Atomic Habits I was late to this because it’s not too new. The book is built around adjusting the friction in our lives. Clear does a great job explaining these things and the book is a reminder to redesign gunky systems.
Never Split the Difference, a reread. Voss’s best-seller is heavy on his own stories and I skip these parts for the tactics like: two copies? or help me understand or that’s right or how am I supposed to do that? Be empathetic and talk to people in their world with their words.
Courage is Calling. Holiday adds stories to his stoic virtues series. I need reminders like the one above my desk: don’t be overheard complaining about life at court, not even to yourself.
Fiction used to feel unproductive because there wasn’t a story to write or a way to hack novel solutions into our daily optimization. I’m dumb. Fiction is fun. And if you need – like I still sometimes do – a rationalization, remember that these are stories written about people by people for people. The payoff is humanity.
All the Light we Cannot See. Good and I can’t wait for the Netflix series. The fictional account of fleeing families during WW2, personal growth and love, attention, and riddles and mazes.
The Nightingale. Like All the Light… and last year’s Alice Network this book follows a pair of women (sisters) during WW2. Why read historical fiction about women during WW2? I’ve no idea. This book, man this book had it all, even a few good sniffles at the end.
Fellowship of the Ring. At the Council of Elrond, the members are amazed at the dangers Aragorn has faced. “There is little need to tell of them”, said Aragon, “if a man must needs walk in sight of the Black Gate, or tread the deadly flowers of Morgul Vale, then perils he will have.” I think about this a lot.
Better off Dead (Jack Reacher). Each year Lee Child writes a new book, mostly the same structure, always focusing on Jack Reacher. Each year I read it.
Prey. A Patrick O’Shaughnessy recommendation. Written in 2002(!!!!!) the book holds up. This was the only aged passage: “I had a ten o’clock meeting with my headhunter, Annie Gerard. We met in the sunny courtyard of a coffee shop on Baker. We always met outside, so Annie could smoke. She had her laptop out and her wireless modem plugged in. A cigarette dangled from her lip, and she squinted in the smoke. “Got anything?” I said, sitting down opposite her.” I’ll only add that thermite makes a great white elephant gift.
JTBD books. JTBD is a problem-solving approach we’ve covered a lot.
Demand Side Sales. A collection of stories from Bob Moesta’s experiences. But my favorite story is from the introduction by Jason Fried:
I noticed that when people browsed shoes on a wall, they’d pick a few up and bounce them around in their hand to get a sense of the heft and feel. Shoes go on your feet, but people picked the shoe with their hands. If it didn’t feel good in the hand, it never made it to their foot.Jason Fried
Start With No. Recommended by Chris Voss. It’s a little JTBD and a little Never Split… though Camp’s stories are as good as Voss’s or Moesta’s. A good book to ’round out’ these ideas but not essential.
The Accounting Game. This a short fun read for an introduction to accounting. Though I still don’t ‘get it’. What I want is a holistic approach. How did Buffett understand float? How do I understand high fixed costs relative to accounts receivable? Accounting is a bathtub problem. Right?
Virus of the Mind. Richard Dawkins coined meme but this book (by one of the designers of Microsoft Word) goes into it. Through evolution, we developed preferences for messages built around danger, food, and sex. Certain types of those messages (stories, images, etc) spread better than others.
Status Games. There’s a set of books like Miller’s Spent and Hanson’s Elephant… that address the idea of status, mimicry, and imitation. Status Games was the best personal fit because of its evolutionary focus. Miller’s is more commercial (it was also good) and Hanson’s never clicked for me.
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic. My daughters’ school suggested this one. The warning for books like this is that most of parenting is making sure kids are physically, mentally, and emotionally safe from the big stuff. The rest is just tweaks. What I liked about this book was the contrast between parents being ‘helicopters’ or ‘consultants’.
Nomadland. Stories of people living as nomads. Usually, people didn’t intend to end up as nomads but if they did it was because they lost their health, house, job, or spouse. Instagram #vanlife isn’t real, and these stories are tough lives – but there’s something to this. Why do people live in one place? What are the limits? If jobs, insurances, paychecks, fulfillment, and family photos are in the cloud does that change how we live?