There are 4 standard options for today. I don’t have a good “best of” list to share. I suck at predictions. And I already shared how I feel about resolutions. 🤷♂️
That leaves me with one option: Books.
Here’s my book list from 2020.
I tried to read older books this year. I don’t think that I’m yet skilled or patient enough to go all the way back to the great books. I did manage to pick-up 13 books that are more than 30 years old. Still, about 1/3 of the list is modern non-fiction (i.e. not old at all). I feel like most of the social pull from co-workers, Twitter, etc is toward newer books… and I think that’s ok!
Finally, here are the 5 titles that I’ve recommended the most:
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character (1985). Inspiring, hilarious, and thought-provoking biography of Richard Feynman. He set the highest bar you can imagine for curiosity.
How to Read a Book (1940). This might seem like an odd title, but it landed for me this year. It’s useful as a meta book about reading books. But more importantly, all the frameworks apply to any exercise in structured thinking or analysis.
Poor Charlies Almanac (2005). The deep simplicity of Munger’s philosophy on business and life. As someone who tends to over-complicate, this book is just what I needed. There is a lot written about Munger, but the “Almanac” goes deeper in unpacking his principles and wider in collecting his speeches and writing than anything else I’ve read.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974). These kind of philosophy books are hard to recommend. I know it’s hit and miss. We each need the right book at the right time. But this one worked for me in 2020. I enjoyed the narrative style and I’ve come back to the Pirsig’s exploration of “quality” many times. Warning: Took me two passes to feel like I “get it” and expect it will take 2 more.
Business Adventures (1969). Bill Gates said that this is his favorite business book of all time. Each chapter stands on it’s own, so this is a great one to sample. I love learning from modern role models, but the stories from businesses and markets in the 60s can still apply today.
I hope this list gives you one book idea for 2021.
What books did you enjoy the most in 2020?