My Year in Books
about This page is a public shelf of the books I have read this year. I was tired of using Goodreads and decided to create my own virtual shelf. The ‘review’ format is inspired by little index cards found in independent bookstores.
Four thousand weeks
This book is life-changing. I picked up this book expecting a detailed writeup on another productivity method. Instead, it is a very practical philosophy book. There are plenty of productivity books asking you to get more and more done, cheering you to complete this never-ending race of life. Except that life ends. And quickly - 4,000 weeks on average. Burkeman makes the argument that we should embrace finitude and accept that we cannot get everything done. There is no better thing coming in the future. What we have is the present and there is only so much we can do now.
Factfulness is a rare book in the non-fiction genre. Instead of just throwing facts at you, Rosling uses storytelling and thought frameworks to understand the world in a rational manner.
When breath becomes air
This was a tough listen for me. I learned a lot about how a neurosurgeon thinks and how even the toughest become weak when faced with cancer. Kalanithi’s memoir is deeply sad and inspiring at the same time.
Babel is as fun as it is thought-provoking. Babel is a fantasy tale touching on friendship, fears, fighting unfair systems and misrepresented history. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can see why it is so popular.
This is a typical pop non-fic fact book. It strings together a long array of short narratives filled with random facts. While it is a popular book, I found it to be somewhat boring.
This is water
Wallace’s commencement speech to students is a meditation on staying present and observing your thoughts. While I don’t fully subscribe to everything in this book, it poses interesting philosophical questions like ‘What is Freedom?’ . Certainly a book to revisit multiple times.
Yellowface explores jealousy, cultural appropriation and loneliness. It also gives us a glimpse into the publishing industry’s quirks. This book is totally different from RF Kuang’s other books. Yellowface is well-paced, thoughtful and sometimes even suspenseful.
Why fish don't exist
This book is biography, autobiography and history rolled into one. And even then, as John Green says, this book cannot be put into any category - which is funny because this book explores taxonomy. I enjoyed Miller’s storytelling. I felt like my own view about Jordan and life in general was evolving as I read the book. Also, learned that fish don’t exist!
However, the first half of this book reads like Jordan is a great human being. As some others pointed out, the dark side is revealed very late into the book. I didn’t like this book at all initially. The first couple of chapters in, I wanted to stop reading and just return the book. My rating went up towards the end. After reading more reviews and reflection, I think this book is just okay. Good but not great.
While the story shows how complex humans are, it also makes you wonder if the author could have taken a different approach to showing the many colors of Jordan’s personality. Miller clearly feels negatively about Jordan now but it feels like she has difficulty narrating the dark side in depth.
I haven’t read a design theory book in a while. I love how Hara describes chaos and the emerging creativity from that chaos. This was a short read, and while not profound, this book somehow brought some stillness to my week.
Filing this under ‘recommended-if-you-haven’t-read-self-help-lately’ category. The framework on the back cover is helpful (and I use it) but other than that, the rest of the book doesn’t add much. Still good and I recommend it but the content is not new (to me). It’d have been nice if they had dug deeper into the Ikigai framework itself. But it focuses too much on longevity and strings together concepts from Psychotherapy, Flow, Antifragile, Getting Things Done and Buddhism in an attempt to drive its core point home.
This is one of those self-help books that will take years to absorb and put to practice. Brene Brown captures vulnerability and shame very well. This book is helping me understand myself and others more, but it is also helping me understand what it means to be human.