2 minute read

It’s been a long time since I’ve made a New Year’s Resolution. I’m decent at sticking to a goal or plan once it’s made, so I usually don’t tie myself to New Years to make commitments.

But this year I made one simple goal:

Read or listen to 12 books this year

Reading has been one of my favorite activities since childhood, and I’ve always found it worthwhile to carve out some time for books. This year, I made it through one a month, with a bonus collection of scifi and fantasy short stories to bring the total to 13! Here’s a link to the full list. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it through Kafka on the Shore before it needed to be returned, and I haven’t had a chance to renew it.

The list of topics is super diverse, and if it seems a little random, that’s because it more or less was. My process for choosing audiobooks this year was to open the Libby app (accessed through my local library card), filter for currently available audiobooks, sort by most popular, and scroll until something caught my eye. Something that surprised me, however, is that half the books are (auto-)biographies:

  1. Permanent Record (Edward Snowden)
  2. Yes, Please (Amy Poehler)
  3. Brain on Fire (Susannah Cahalan)
  4. Kitchen Confidential (Anthony Bourdain)
  5. Surrender (Bono)
  6. The Splendid and the Vile (Winston Churchill)

That’s equal to the number of biographies I read from 2014 to 2022. But I loved diving into these people’s lives and was consistently surprised at how connected I felt to the content and messages of these books, regardless of how distant the individual’s existence seemed from my own reality. Kitchen Confidential and Surrender, in particular had surprising overlap with many of my emotions around starting Lodestar this year. It turns out that Bourdain and I have similar philosophies on hiring a team. And Bono could teach me a lot about sales.

Erin asked me if I had a favorite, but I don’t. Apples to oranges and all that. I will say that, despite my rule about not starting series that haven’t been finished, I would absolutely recommend The Way of Kings to anyone, and am looking forward to getting my hands on the next book. It’s impressive to compare The Way of Kings to Elatris, which I read last year and is Sanderson’s first book. The amount of growth he had as an author between the two books is phenomenal.

The final observation I want to make is that reading each of these titles now makes me recall at least one specific instance of listening to the book outside the house. Whether it was walking in San Francisco, in the airport, in the neighborhood behind my house, or while lifting at the gym, I have an association between the book and other things that were going on in my life at the time. I can’t prove this, but a hypothesis I have is that it’s been harder for me to remember work related this I’ve learned since WFM started during covid. So many of the conversations I’ve had and things I’ve learned recently are only anchored to the same wall or corner of my room. Pre-covid those same memories would be tied to someone’s 3D full-resolution facial expression, or a bar smell, or standing awkwardly over someone’s shoulder while they code.