I finally get to post my third summary edition of a year's worth of reading (for reference, here's the first year and second year). From April 2015 to March 2016, I've managed to read, and learn from, a total of 74 books. That's 217 in total since becoming truly free to pursue.
I can't believe I've just wrapped up three years of what I consider hard-core reading. I love diving into so many exciting topics and it gets even better when I get to draw connections between subjects and ideas I previously thought unrelated.
An unexpected benefit of all this reading and this blog is how the two have come together. Through Free to Pursue, I've found the opportunity to not only share what achieving and living FI means and offers, but also to help put great new ideas I stumble upon out there in a meaningful way for the vast majority of us who would never manage to get through so many books. Whether you've been moved to read one of my book recommendations or have benefitted from some of the "lightbulb moments" I've shared, I always appreciate hearing the information put forward in these and regular posts are useful. I often feel you fuel me more than the other way around.
I finally read Pirsig's Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this year and I'm grateful I did. It was so powerful, it's one of the rare books I decided to make a permanent part of my library.
It helped me understand why I've learned more through self-education than I ever did in structured learning. It turns out you learn more when there's no external driver to your accomplishments, just your appetite to discover. Grades and set curricula tend to kill the appetite for learning. We seek direction from the outside and just try to "get through" the learning process, as opposed to thrive within it.
When we're free to explore, driven only by our curiosity, the information sticks. It sticks because it's interesting. To us. Now. Not only that, but satisfying our curiosity in one area usually makes us aware of other topics that might interest us just as much, if not more.
The result is that my reading list grows exponentially. For every book I read, ten more titles seem to end up on the list. Of course, I will never get through them all, as interests change, the recency effect often dictates choices in the moment and, well, there are only so many hours in the day and one can only read so much.
As an aside: If you want to get a sense of the insights I've gained from becoming an avid reader, you may want to check out this post.
The books below represent the full list of what I've read cover to cover this past year. If they become favourites, then they either fuel some posts or they appear on a list of book recommendations. I know I can offer more in this area and, if you have suggestions on how you'd like me to organize recommendations, I'm all ears. For now, my list of Top 12 Life-enhancing Books is the best place to start.
I abandoned more books in this third year than in any other (these books don't make the list). I think this "book sampling" helps me better understand where my interests lie and what type of writer I most enjoy. Plus, with such a large reading list, I'm not going to invest in a book that doesn't captivate my interest. If feels too much like school and the material doesn't stick anyway because I just can't get lost in it.
The 74 books I did manage to finish this past year, despite a schedule that's been more full than the previous two, included a number of topics, namely money (finance, investing, economics, the wealth gap), health and wellness (food and exercise), and philosophy and psychology (happiness, culture, learning and shopping vs minimalism). I also managed to increase my consumption of works of fiction and memoirs and/or autobiographies to a dozen books. I'm rediscovering that books offer insights into the human experience in ways we rarely share directly with one another and these insights are as, if not more, powerful than learning about the world around us.
Sources for My Ever-growing Wish List
As introduce above, there's no set method to how I choose what I'll read next, really. I depend on recommendations from F2P readers, fellow bloggers, podcasters, conference keynotes, writers, friends and family.
I have the following people/sources to thank for suggestions that made it on the list below: Eric Barker, Raptitude, Stacking Benjamins, Austin Kleon, and The Escape Artist. I also tend to follow the book recommendations of authors whose books I enjoyed, so many of those listed early in the year lead me to books later in the year. Other sources of inspiration include Ted, documentaries available on Netflix and Vimeo, The School of Life, a conference I attended every September and "further reading" ideas and references within books I'm currently reading.
The desire to research a topic I want to write about on this blog also drives my reading choices. My eagerness to attempt to offer well-informed commentary lead me to read and write about pharmaceuticals, urban living, balance, investing, thinking and the impact of lifestyle.
I do also appreciate the suggestions I receive from family, friends and F2P readers (thanks Daniel and Haddie for suggestions for the the coming year). Any way of narrowing down the myriad of reading options available is always helpful because, no matter how voracious one's appetite, there's simply no way to read it all. Though, I admit that I've learned the hard way to ask what else someone has read and enjoyed when they choose to recommend a book. Context is everything.
A Year of Books
Here is the past year's reading list, in all its glory, from earliest to most recently read. The book covers you see are my top picks of the past year.
Apparently, this year was a bit different. I started off reading far more than in later months. Early 2016 has been a very busy time and, though I still read roughly a book a week, that's hardly in line with my usual pace. We'll see how the 2016-2017 stretch goes.
- The Power of Patience by M. J. Ryan
- Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
- A Million Bucks by 30 by Alan Corey
- Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness by J. C. Herz
- The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money by Carl Richards
- Why Am I Always Broke? How To Be Sane About Money by Albert Ellis and Patricia A. Hunter
- Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
- Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer
- The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
- Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) by Bill Gifford
- A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born to Do by Thomas Moore
- When The Sleeper Wakes by H. G. Wells
- Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
- Click: The Magic of Instant Connections by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
- Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine by John Abrasion, M.D.
- The Human Zoo by Desmond Morris
- Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
- Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries by Peter Sims
- How to Be Free by Tom Hodgkinson
- Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
- The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School by Neil Postman
- Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark In Human Achievement by William Duggan
- The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers by Katharine Greider
- How to Watch TV News by Neil Postman and Steve Powers
- Dietland by Sarai Walker
- Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet by Ryan Mitchell
- A Little House of My Own: 47 Grand Designs for 47 Tiny Houses by Lester Walker
- Jay Shafer's DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses by Jay Shafer
- The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living by Mark Boyle
- Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America by Dan Savage
- Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel
- The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser
- First: What It Takes to Win by Rich Froning with David Thomas
- The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need by Juliet B. Schor
- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman
- More Than Money: Questions Every MBA Needs to Answer by Mark Albion
- Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict by Avis Cardella
- The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
- The One-page Financial Plan by Carl Richards
- Think, act and Invest Like Warren Buffett by Larry Swedroe
- Stop Chasing Influencers by Kimanzi Constable and Jared Easley
- That Sugar Book by Damon Gameau
- The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
- Affluenza by Oliver James
- Leap by Tesa Vigeland
- Microshelters by Derek Diedricksen
- The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
- The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young
- Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill
- On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
- The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die by John Izzo, PhD
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
- BAD Or, the Dumbing of America by Paul Fussell
- The Hungry Spirit by Charles Handy
- To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
- Why We Work by Barry Schwartz
- Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing by Jamie Holmes
- Why We Do What We Do by Edward L. Deci
- Give and Take by Adam Grant
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
What's Up Next?
I'm likely going to be into strategic thinking, education and behavioural economics and psychology for a while, with an additional sprinkling of fiction (inspired by To Kill and Mockingbird and The Little Prince this past year, what powerful reads!) and "how stuff works" topics, likely inspired by How We Got To Now.
CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT I'M READING NOW?
Having a peek at the sidebar to the right is the best way to see what I've recently read and where I'm headed next. I usually update it every week or so, depending on how many books I manage to devour. A word of caution though, some of my "Currently Reading" ends up being trashed in favour of better selections if they can't keep my interest. I'd suggest going with "Just Finished" instead to know what I've enjoyed and likely what I'll be writing about next in the coming weeks/months.
Related to "Just Finished", I couldn't have chosen a better book to finish this latest 12-month stretch. I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi in a single day because I just couldn't put it down. It's a must read for anyone wanting to learn from a man who sought to understand how to live well by finding purpose and meaning, from his childhood to the every end of his all-too-short life.
Kalanithi has rekindled my appetite to explore the classics. Somehow, many of these works—which inspired him to live his best life—explore the human condition to greater depths than most modern works. Maybe time to ponder was a more valued part of life than it is today.
What about you? Anything in the list above you loved? Hated? I'd appreciate hearing what you've found to be some worthwhile reads...and what to avoid!
And, if you have any questions about the titles above, drop me a line or leave a comment and I'll be sure to respond.
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