My 2017 Reading List

A few years ago I realised that I was not reading very many books. I owned a Kindle, but wasn't a heavy reader. Most of the print books I bought stayed unread on my shelf.

I think my lack of interest in reading was due to having little time (we had young kids), and a heavy reading burden for work (lots of technical materials). I preferred to relax with a good TV show or movie instead.

But my interest in reading was re-ignited in 2015 when I started listening to more audiobooks. That year I left my job and started working full time for myself, so I cancelled the Audible subscription (because my commute disappeared). And apparently, I read few books on my Kindle as well, according to Goodreads (I don't think I tracked in Goodreads much during 2015).

That's despite ordering a Kindle Oasis in 2016, to try and make it easier to read in the dark (my original Kindle had no backlighting).

During 2017 I tried to return to reading, and intentionally made an effort to consume more books. I re-activated my Audible subscription, and set myself a general plan to listen to audiobooks while I was exercising, driving, or doing chores around the house, and read business and other non-fiction books on my Kindle. I can't listen to business books without stopping frequently to take notes; not very convenient when driving.

It seems to have worked out well. Here's my reading list for 2017, in no particular order.

Kindle eBooks

  • Stalin's Hammer: Cairo (Axis of Time, #5) – I'd read previous books in the Axis of Time series, and this one came free through a promotion or giveaway. Unfortunately I think I skipped over #4 in the series by mistake. Even so, it was a fun read.
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – This book has topped the Amazon charts for 2017, and I could see why. It starts out strong, but the last third of the book was a bit flat for me.
  • Michael Jordan: The Life – Ever since I read The Jordan Rules, I've wanted to know more about my favourite basketball player of all time. The early chapters of this book slog through a deep history of the Jordan family, and then Michael's childhood. It's important for context, but I think it also could have been shorter. That's a sentiment that stayed with me throughout the book, often feeling that the author lingered on matters well after the story had been thoroughly told. Still, a good read if you're a fan. Not a kids book though. There's some heavy topics in there.
  • The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work – I've been fascinated by Automattic (the company behind WordPress) and their 100% remote workforce, and this book tells a good story as well as providing great insights into remote work and company culture.
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – This book delivered several breakthrough ideas that have changed how I approach work and deal with distraction. I made a lot of notes on my Kindle, and hopefully I'll have a more detailed review written in the near future. It's a dry read in parts, very academic and analytical, but well worth it.
  • The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better – Along with Deep Work, this book delivered some of the most important insights that have helped me to understand myself and those around me. I've been recommending this book to anyone who'll listen.
  • Ready Player One – I broke my “Kindle is for non-fiction” rule by reading Ready Player One while we were away on a short holiday. You can read my review here.
  • Work Less, Make More: The counter-intuitive approach to building a profitable business, and a life you actually love – I met James at a conference last year and ended up sitting at the same table for dinner. He has an interesting story about how he's built the lifestyle he enjoys today. The book gave me some good perspectives on business problems that I've been having, but it's too early to say whether the changes I'm masking have been effective.

I'm pretty happy with getting through 8 titles on my Kindle, but I think I can do better in 2018. Ideally, I would read one non-fiction book per month. They don't all need to be business books; I am also a fan of history and other non-fiction genres. Ultimately, I think that reading more will come down to keeping my Kindle closer to me at all times, and using it to fill idle hours more than I use other things like my phone, iPad, or staring blankly into space (the value of which I learned from Deep Work).

Audiobooks

  • Killing Floor: Jack Reacher 1
  • Die Trying: Jack Reacher 2
  • Tripwire: Jack Reacher 3 – As you can see I went through a little Jack Reacher phase. I enjoyed all three books. They're well narrated, have good stories and plot twists, and I will likely return for a few more Reacher books this year.
  • Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts – I broke my “don't listen to audiobooks about business” rule for this one, and paid the price. I frequently had to stop and make notes in OneNote, or pause the audio to preserve a thought until my next stop. This is a good book about how to create products and business that last for a very long time.
  • Old Man's War: Old Man's War, Book 1
  • The Ghost Brigades: Old Man's War, Book 2 – I'm going through a sci-fi phase right now, and enjoying these John Scalzi stories. I'm nearly finished book 2 right now. I might try another series after this, and come back to Scalzi's universe later in the year.

Listening to fiction when I'm running and doing housework is going great. According to my Audible yearly summary email, I listened for 3863 minutes, Monday was my favourite day, and November was the month I listened the most.

Most fiction audiobooks clock in at between 10 and 20 hours, which is about the same amount of time I spend each month running, driving, waiting in my car outside our kids school, and cleaning the outdoor decks and pool. If I smash through a book faster, or it's a short title, I have a few extra Audible credits up my sleeve to spend anyway.

I read no physical/print books in 2017, but I do have a copy of Betaball waiting to read.

To kick things off in 2018 I've started reading Remote (another book about remote work). I've also started a personal challenge to run every day for the first 30 days of the year, so that should eat up the rest of Ghost Brigades and get me through the next part of the series as well.

I'm always looking for new book recommendations as well, so if you have any for me please feel free to leave a comment below.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

By Paul Cunningham

Paul is a an author, blogger, and online trainer living in Brisbane, Australia. He was the founder of Practical 365, a former Microsoft MVP, and is a Pluralsight trainer. Say hi on Twitter.

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