Last week, I gave a highlight of the best books I read in 2019. Below, I present what I read in 2019. By comparison to 2016, 2017, and 2018, last year was a paltry year in reading for me.
|1||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||J.K. Rowling||6-Jan||640|
|2||The Bullet Journal Method||Ryder Carroll||31-Jan||320|
|3||Daring Greatly||Brene Brown||4-Feb||320|
|4||Trumpocracy – The Corruption of the American Republic||David Frum||25-Feb||320|
|5||Drive||Daniel H. Pink||4-Mar||288|
|7||The Gift of Failure||Jessica Lahey||12-Mar||304|
|8||Better – A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance||Atul Gawande||27-Mar||288|
|9||The Graveyard Book||Neil Gaiman||11-Apr||368|
|10||Bad Blood||John Carreyrou||9-May||352|
|11||Atomic Habits||James Clear||23-May||320|
|12||Built to Last||Jim Collins||25-May||368|
|13||Digital Minimalism||Cal Newport||30-May||304|
|14||Right Here Right Now||Stephen J. Harper||14-Jun||240|
|16||Complications – A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science||Atul Gawande||25-Jun||288|
|18||Becoming Superman||J. Michael Straczynski||4-Aug||480|
|19||A Game of Thrones||George R.R. Martin||11-Aug||864|
|20||Ultralearning||Scott H. Young||31-Aug||304|
|21||Reader Come Home||Maryanne Wolf||11-Sep||272|
|22||The Threat||Andrew G. McCabe||14-Sep||288|
|24||Permanent Record||Edward Snowden||22-Sep||352|
|25||The Path Made Clear||Oprah Winfrey||19-Nov||208|
I have a few thoughts as to why my reading rate dropped off significantly last year and what I can do about it in the year to come.
Last year had a few significant pressures on my life that might have affected my desire to read. We started basement renovations early in the year, only to discover our basement’s foundation was cracked, requiring us to source quotes and opinions for repairs. This delayed our basement renovation, which didn’t finish until the summer. The protracted project weighed heavily on our minds throughout the year as we questioned whether we were making the right decisions for our home repairs, or whether we would need to make additional fixes later down the line.
Another big change for me was a change of my job at work. While I wouldn’t say it affected me as strongly as the basement renos, it disrupted my routine enough to impact my desire to focus on reading when I came home from work. Couple that with another full year as Board Chair for the non-profit I head up, and it left me with less cognitive bandwidth for self-improvement.
Podcasts and Music
If 2016 was my year of purchasing books, 2017 saw me start to utilize Libby to access the library, and 2018 was an all-out race for me to go through as many audiobooks as my brain could absorb, I felt a greater push away from books in 2019. Instead of working my way through 8-15 hours of content for one piece of work, I found the shorter format of podcasts more satisfying on my commutes. I enjoyed the variety in topics, shows, and voices.
However I also found I was drawn back to listening to music instead of information. With the sheer volume of books I’ve consumed in the last three years, it was nice to go long stretches without a goal of getting through books (or trying to learn new things) and instead allow the melodies, riffs, percussion, and lyrics sweep me away.
Overall, my rate for the year was a bit varied. I started slow in January and February, then picked back up in March. April only saw one book completed, then I found my footing again through May onward. However, October is when my wife and I traveled abroad for our honeymoon, and I never recovered my reading habit for the rest of the year.
Given that I spent most of the last three years focusing on business, personal development, and productivity books, I didn’t feel a strong desire to read those books in 2019. Even among the books I did read from that area, I found looking back that I don’t remember anything of note from those books. Neither the book’s theses nor the examples they offered have stuck with me as I enter the new year.
I’ve mentioned a few time the concept of the animated bibliography on this blog, and I think I’ve hit peak saturation for the genre. I’ve read the canon, and find that reading new books in the genre is resulting in diminishing returns; that is, I’m not really seeing a lot of new insights being offered that leaves me wanting more.
In my list last week, I commented that the books that I’m drawn to now is starting to shift away from business and productivity and more towards moral lessons found in fiction, biography/memoir, and journalistic explorations of current events. That’s not to say I won’t continue to be tempted to pick up the latest book that promises to fix my life, but it does mean that I’m intending to be more selective in what I choose to prioritize.
Assuming I continue to live a somewhat healthy life that is free from accidents, I figure that I have around 45-50 more years of life left. If I read around 3 books consistently per month, I will get another 1,650 books in my lifetime (4 per month is 2,208 books, and 5 books per month is 2,760 more books before I die). While that sounds like a lot, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the number of books that come out each year and the books that have already been written. There is more to life and learning than being more productive or seeking more meaning in one’s life. I’ve grown to appreciate the value of storytelling this past year, and there are a lot of stories out there to sink into. If I only get access to a few thousand more stories, I should make sure they count.
Happy New Year and Stay Awesome,
4 thoughts on “What I Read in 2019”