It is that time of the year again!
I looked back at what I read this year to reflect upon the time spent doing what I love doing the most. I try to set a Goodreads reading challenge to have a rough yearly reading target, with a mix of genres I like and stuff I am curious about and want to learn more about.
Never have I ever…completed the reading challenge hah! As much as I would like to, and possibly exceed it, life or something else gets in the way. To look at the positive side of things, maybe I’m setting higher targets for myself..which is a good thing. Right?
I have seen other people on social media talk about this as well. I too felt I couldn’t read as much as I used to this year. Why?
2021 was the year when we all came out again (supposedly), back to our normal lives. The normalisation did take place to an extent, and the extra time you think you had on your hands last year (that you spent reading or just… doom-scrolling your social media) was allocated back to other tasks.
A divided ‘mindshare’
I think about this a lot. I consider reading as high quality leisure, which takes up some amount of your mindshare if you’re actively engaged and absorbing what you read. Especially in times like these, where you spend much more time in front of a screen, it gets even harder for you to actively engage your mind with your book. Even if you really want to.
The mindshare (which is fixed) is increasingly being divided into other sources of high quality leisure with so much content out there now like podcasts, blogs, twitter, newsletters. Maybe books are increasingly being allocated less and less of it.
Changing life patterns
Believe it or not, our life patterns have changed quite a bit since all this started in 2020. Two years is a long time to start living like its a new normal. You’re not travelling to work anymore. So a lot of the reading that happened on that train or that bus ride to work is just..gone? It feels like you have to find pockets of time during your never-ending day to make progress on that book. And when you do find time, you want to step out and take a breather from those four (or more) screens constantly harvesting your undivided attention.
This is our new normal and like it or not, a lot of this is not going away.
Now here are the books I read, and some other long reads I really enjoyed this year:
Reading about the dotcom boom and bust after the kind of years we have had since 2020 in the markets helps put everything in the context. History might not repeat, but it does rhyme.
A fantastic read on WW2, and insights on how Churchill led the fight, his power to spell-bind the nation and how the Kingdom dealt with it all.
A riveting true story of spy espionage of the Cold War era, the story of a KGB agent defecting to the West and his fight to get out of the Kremlin.
A book about developing a Range in life, in learning and everything else. A generalist in a specialised world. I also wrote about it here.
A humurous read on what the troves of online information and social footprint (thumbprint to be precise..) can reveal about our identity. There’s a lot that can be discovered just via the powerful Google search engine.
The fifth one in one of my favorite fiction series. It was a long read and plenty of characters. So if you do read this one, make sure you’re actively reading it to keep track of all them.
The first in my long list of Steinbeck’s stories I want to read. A wonderful story about friends, greed and life of five paisanos in the Tortilla Flat.
A great read on how to generate investment ideas, create your thesis and do the deep work to pick winning companies to bet on. I’ll be using plenty of ideas from the book in my investing work and on this blog.
My customary annual Reacher read. For those who do not know the character, the trailer for the Amazon Prime TV show is out. As far as this book goes, it wasn’t the most thrilling storyline in the series. But some parts definitely remind you of the classic Reacher, menacing, principled, coffee loving man never turning away from the wrongs that can be set right.
It takes you through the different eras of harvesting our attention, hooking us in and different ways of reselling it. An insightful read for the world of social media where advertising is the core of the biggest companies in the world.
Retail, rent and things that don’t scale – Benedict Evans – Scaling ecommerce is not a technology problem, its a retail and logistics problem
How to Think for Yourself – Cultivating independent-minded thinking
Own the Internet – The bull-case for Ethereum, explained
The Kelly Criterion – Quantitative Trading – Applying the Kelly-criterion in investing and trading
Rules, Truths, Beliefs – Some rules, Truths and Beliefs
The Observer Effect – Tobi Lütke – Tobi Lutke’s day, principles and how he sees the world
Roger Federer: ‘You cannot be alone at the top’ – An old interview with the one and only
So what’s in store for 2022 ? Hopefully, more books, more reads and more Atomic ideas!
Have a great rest of 2021.
The Atomic Investor