Each year around this time, I dust off my master reading list, review, organize, and prioritize it for the coming year. There are currently 230 books on my master list, so it took a little effort this year to rearrange it into the subset of books you’ll find here.
I usually read around 25-30 books a year. According to GoodReads, which I use to manage my reading lists, I read 32 books in 2019. However, to be fair, 4 of these were short stories, and 1 was my daily devotional. Still yet, 27 books read is a good year for me.
I added 34 books books to my master reading list in 2019, which is an improvement since I usually add a lot more. I tried to be more disciplined about adding books than in the past. There have been years where I’ve added over 50 books. So the master list only grew by a couple this year, rather than the usual 15-20.
For the coming year, I used the same process as I have in years past to prioritize my annual list and narrow it down to the 50 or so candidates you see below, with one slight adjustment. I know this is far more than the 25-30 books I typically read in a year, but I like to have a buffer just in case my reading pace is faster than usual.
Let’s start with the selection parameters for the list.
One of my favorite books from last year was The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. It’s similar to a daily devotional. There is a passage for each day from an ancient Stoic philosopher, such as Marcus Aureilius, Seneca, and Epcitetus, followed by a short interpretation of it. I liked it so much that I decided to read through it a second time this year with The Daily Stoic Journal. I had wanted to start journaling daily, and this was a good way to kick-start the habit. The Journal has a prompt that follows along with the daily reading to inspire and direct my thoughts and writings.
Ryan Holiday has written other books based upon Stoic philosophies as well. Since I enjoyed his work on The Daily Stoic, I decided to read Ego Is the Enemy.
I didn’t learn how to play the piano until I was an adult. When Amanda started taking lessons when she was 6 years old, I decided that I would take them with her. I felt it would encourage her, and it was always something I had wanted to do.
Through an interesting series of events, and a stroke of luck, I got introduced to Pauline, who taught lessons out of her house. When I first met her, I knew she was older. Based on her mannerisms, movements, mental acuity, and piano playing ability, I figured she was probably in her later 60’s, maybe early 70’s. It would be a few years of taking lessons from her before I found out she was much closer to 90 than she was 70.
She lived a simple life. Outside of the lovely Steinway that I played during my lessons, her house and the possessions within were simple and unassuming. Her car was nothing special, but it provided a means of transportation that allowed her to get around town. In other words, she had everything she needed to meet her basic necessities.
My lessons were scheduled for 45 minutes, but they would usually last closer to an hour and a half, and sometimes up to two hours. We would get sidetracked on in depth discussions of music theory, or she would start telling stories about her experiences around music. Whether it was about her student experiences at Syracuse University, teaching at the University of North Carolina, playing piano for radio programs in Hollywood, or her music writing, the stories were always interesting. While she may not have had a wealth of money and material possessions, she was rich with experiences and memories.
One of my favorite books from 2018, and one of my top reads for 2019, was The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. There was so many important and essential takeaways that could be readily applied to living both a better and more successful life. As I wrote in my review (linked above), it really helped to connect the dots and codify a lot of personal development concepts that I had been studying over the past few years. The book made such an impact that I made it a point to read Burg and Mann’s follow-up book, The Go-Giver Leader, during this year.
This is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have fond memories of this time period growing up, especially while I was away at college. I always looked forward to finishing up the semester, getting home a couple of days before Christmas, and doing my last minute shopping for gifts.
There are so many things that make this time special – family, celebrations, decorations, anticipation, and the music. Oh yes, the music.
To the dismay of my family, I am a serious Christmas music addict. It starts the evening of Thanksgiving and lasts through the end of the year. With relatively few exceptions, I listen to a steady diet of Christmas tunes this time of year. And why not? It’s really the only time you can get away with playing it throughout the day and not risk being committed.
Five years ago, I posted a list of my 50 favorite Christmas songs. Since then, the list has grown. While I have a playlist with over 170 songs on it, below are the 65 that I could shuffle and put on endless repeat. So here’s the updated, refreshed list (new additions are in bold).
While getting my MBA, a professor told us that we should get our news from multiple sources. Why? Because each editor has an opinion, a story they want to tell, a way of interpreting the facts and presenting them.
I can apply the same argument to books, particularly personal development books. I’ve read enough books in this genre to recognize that many of the books cover the same concepts. However, each author has their own way of interpreting, presenting, and applying them. The way one author presents a topic can resonate much better with me than the way another author presents it.
Where am I going with this?
It applies to one of my latest reads, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. According to McKeown, essentialism is the practice of focusing on and doing fewer things to make progress on what matters most. Since I’ve recently read Eat That Frog!, Getting Things Done, and the 80/20 Principle, Essentialism seems like it would be more of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol – get organized, de-clutter, prioritize, focus, achieve results.
Last year, when I posted my annual beard photo, I said I was 85% certain I wouldn’t grow it again this year.
Well, I did it again, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s just something about this time of year that brings out the beard.
This year’s edition started around the end of October. I’ve kept it somewhat groomed over the last 6 weeks, although it’s starting to get a bit out of control, and a little uncomfortable. Abbey helped me with a photo shoot last night. Google Photos assembled an automated collage which is what you see to the right.
The plan is cut the beard back this weekend, and then shave it all off before Christmas.
I’m not a big fan of the beard, which makes me wonder why I’ve done it for the last 10 years. So who knows, maybe this is the last year for it. Let’s just say that I’m 85% certain it is.
(If you’re interested in taking a trip down memory lane, here’s a post that has images of “the beard” dating back to 2012).
If I hadn’t gotten interested in engineering and computers when I was younger, neuroscience may have been one of my alternative career choices. How the brain works has always fascinated me. Even more intriguing is how and why we think about the things we do.
I’ve read a lot of books over the last couple of years that have a lot to do with training the mind. These include Psycho-Cybernetics, The Power of Positive Thinking, The Happiness Advantage, and others. While these books talk about harnessing the power of the mind, they don’t get into the details about how the mind works. Incognito, written by David Eagleman, takes this next step and explores the inner workings of the brain.
Turn on the evening news, and you will be overwhelmed with the tragic events of the day:
- Terrorist attacks
- Horrific storms and natural disasters
- War, or the imminent threat of one
- Mass shootings
- School violence
- Animal attacks (e.g. sharks, bears, lions, etc.)
And the list goes on. It’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that the world is a lot more dangerous, unsafe, and scarier than it’s ever been.
If you subscribe to the premise that the world is a more dangerous place, you should grab a copy of Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Rosling takes a measured, fact-based approach to show that the world is not as dangerous as the media would lead us to believe. Using numbers and statistics, he shows us that the world has never been a better and safer place than it is today.