Wednesday, December 9, 2015

My 12 (out of 12) Books of 2015

This past year was mostly one to forget. But one highlight was actually accomplishing my New Year’s resolution to read one book a month. My goal was to read at least half an hour a day, which I would do on my lunch break at work. After I was laid off, I would try to read at least an hour a day, which I did most days. Some days I would skip, others I would read 2-3 hours. Most of the books I chose to read were ones I heard about over the years and finally decided to read. Others were autobiographies of people I admired, and some were recommended to me by family. The following is a list of the 12 books I read along with some thoughts about them (in no particular order):

1. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

My favorite quotes:

"All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence."

(Paraphrasing) "If you are unhappy with a situation, you have three options: change the situation, leave the situation, or accept the situation."

2. The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

My cousin had the first two books Gladwell wrote, so I started with those and ended up reading all of his books this year. I don’t agree with everything he says and some of his arguments are weak, but I’m a fan.

3. Blink – Malcolm Gladwell

Great book that explains how we think, why we think the way we do, and the ramifications of it all.

4. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

Probably my favorite of his books. I’d recommend this one to read first to someone who has yet to read his stuff. But then again, my sister (who I borrowed it from) never finished it because she thought it was boring.

5. What the Dog Saw – Malcolm Gladwell

Some great stories. A few, like the Cesar Millan profile (which the book was named after), were disappointing. Inspired the next two books I will be reading, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

6. David & Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell

His worst-reviewed book, but I liked it a lot.

7. Demian – Herman Hesse

My mom’s favorite book (other than the Bible). She says it showed her how to live life. One thing that really spoke to me – never show fear, especially of other people.

8. The Alchemist – Paulo Coehlo

I was afraid I was going to be disappointed by the high expectations I had of it (I see quotes from it in inspirational/motivational Instagram posts all the time). It didn’t blow me away, but it satisfied me.

9. Call Me Ted – Ted Turner

A personal hero of mine. I enjoyed it, but kind of disappointed he only wrote two sentences about the time he owned World Championship Wrestling.

10. Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger

A few years ago, 60 Minutes profiled him while he was promoting this. I didn’t think very highly of him at the time (I didn’t like him as governor and this was shortly after the whole love child scandal), but I still found him to be very likeable. When I got the book in the mail and saw that it was over 600 pages, I thought, “Oh God, what have I done?” I don’t think I had ever read a book that long before. I definitely felt accomplished when I finished it.

The definition of a self made man, I thought he was just going to brag about how great he was the whole time. But he also acknowledges he had help from several people and fortunate circumstances along the way.

11. Notes of a Dirty Old Man – Charles Bukowski

The book that inspired my favorite book of last year, Hyena by Jude Angelini. Some good stories, some not so good, but he puts it all out there. I admire him for that, and it’s something I try to do as well. The most explicitly honest book I’ve read.

12. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka

I’m cheating a little on this one. I still had The Complete Stories of Franz Kafka from when I had to read The Metamorphosis in high school but never did. It’s still technically a book because I know you can buy The Metamorphosis by itself. But I understand now why Kafka is required reading – he’s probably the most descriptive writer I’ve ever read. I read a few of his other stories, but I couldn't finish all of them because the descriptiveness of his writing was so exhausting it felt like I was taking a reading test. But I got the point.

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