This year marks a dramatic shift in my reading habits. It is a habit I’ve been trying to improve for a couple of years, and this year I have results that I’m proud of. I’ve read more books than any other year in my life - and up 36% from last year’s high!
Most interesting is my shift from audiobooks to actual reading. Last year, I explored audiobooks as a way to get any result - and it worked. This year, I realized that audiobook comprehension isn’t as high, so I switched to actual reading. Since audiobooks seem a lot easier to consume, I consider this year’s results a notable milestone. Here is a graph to illustrate the trend:
Regardless, both 2018 and 2019 are a major step up from my reading habits before 2018. I have nothing against audiobooks, but I do agree with the studies that comprehension isn’t as high - especially for dense nonfiction works. I just want to maximize my ROI.
Here are my favorites from the past year:
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. This has been appearing on peoples’ top books lists for years, and the hype is real. Harari provides a great perspective on world history that is unique and thought-provoking. One takeaway I had was how big of a role myths or stories have played in human history, even in the present day. Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century were also good follow-on reads.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I chose this book as a challenge for myself. I knew it was massive (1,168 pages), but have heard so many people reference it. I don’t agree with Rand’s vision of absolute capitalism, which is what many people bash the book for. What I loved were some of the other core ideas from Objectivism, particularly how rational thinking and logic is valued so highly. This closely aligns with one of my principles - Think for Yourself.
Atomic Habits by James Clear. Earlier this year, I built a robust habit tracking system. It seemed only fitting to read this book. I’m normally not a big fan of self-help books, but Clear provided a handful of mental models that have turned out to be quite effective. Since it’s an easy read, I recommend this while thinking about New Year’s resolutions. [my reading notes]
The Price We Pay by Marty Makary. The US healthcare has been a giant black box to me. I have never spent time in it, and it’s difficult to figure it out without an in. Makary may have written the ultimate 101 crash course on how everything works and what’s broken. I’ve been recommending this book to everyone - if you are only going to read one book in 2020, make it this. [my reading notes]
Who is Michael Ovitz by Michael Ovitz. An autobiography by one of the founders of Creative Artists Agency - a legendary talent agency that changed the power dynamic in Hollywood. It was a great insight into how the business of Hollywood works. What I enjoyed most was the detailed recap of some of his biggest deals. A few chapters walk the reader through his strategy from deal inception to a signed contract.
I read great books all year, but these were my favorites. For the complete list, check out my Goodreads page.