Year In Review

01 Jan 2016

Category: life

Tags: life

My New Year's resolution for 2015 was to read a book a week. I was successful in doing this in total, even though I did not follow a linear path. [Later edit] I had a graph here which I generated based on the data and I have since replaced this with its own page showing the data over time. See here for all of the various graphs and tables.

As you can see if you look at the graphs on that page, each bar represents the books I read in a given month starting in January 2015 where I read 7 books, and ending in December where I read 9. I had a couple months where I did not manage to finish a book, even though I was usually reading during that time. My peak books finished per month was 9 which happened twice, in July and December. As part of this blog, I have a script I use to generate the skeleton of a post, but I also use it to generate some data about the books I've read using the tag system that I settled on. Here is the summary data:

Total count: 54

By month:
2015-01: 7
2015-02: 5
2015-03: 5
2015-05: 5
2015-06: 7
2015-07: 9
2015-08: 1
2015-10: 2
2015-11: 4
2015-12: 9

business: 1
crime: 9
fiction: 38
history: 7
introversion: 1
life: 2
military: 12
nonfiction: 16
past: 1
personality: 3
play: 1
relationships: 2
scifi: 12
sex: 1
society: 4
thriller: 11

bad: 2
okay: 12
good: 29
great: 11

I learned a few things during this process. One is that it is difficult to really rate books because some books are really good along one dimension while others lack that entirely. Do you consider something that you enjoyed reading to be a great book simply because you enjoyed reading it? Or is there some more objectivity to your subjectivity? For instance, the series by Brad Thor that I have been reading is very enjoyable for me to read. However, I know that a literary critic would never give those books high praise for the elegance of their prose or the complexity of the narrative. Hence, while I thought they were good in the sense of my own enjoyment, I would call them bad in terms of literary quality. At the same time, just because something is overly complex, if I do not enjoy reading it, then I consider it to be bad. I do not care if everyone in the world is buying and loving a particular book, or if some critics call it a tour de force, if I do not enjoy it then I do not consider it to be good. However, while I may have to work through a book because of the complexity, that can add to the value and make me like it even more than something that is just a quick and easy read.

I also learned that the most important thing for me to be able to read a lot is to choose the right books to read, and not to get bogged down with the desire to read certain books because they are classics or must reads. It is okay to work some of those in, but whenever I tried to read things like that back to back, I was inevitably frustrated. Furthermore, I enjoy fiction, so I found that choosing non-fiction was even more of a delicate process. I really had to pick the right books and read them at the right time with enough cushion between them that I needed to keep from getting stuck.

Aside from just reading this year, I also had a few slightly larger life changes, none of which I really want to write about just yet. I am no longer working at Flexport, I chose to leave somewhere in the middle of the year. I learned how to ride a motorcycle and bought one later in the year.

We will see where the next year takes me, I have a few ideas and hopes, but ultimately I have learned to be pretty fluid and follow the path that seems natural at the time given my higher level thoughts as guidance. I certainly plan to keep up reading a book a week as I found a lot of value in it and I got to read a lot of interesting things. I felt that my mind was always in a better place the more I was reading, and I could feel myself getting slightly less sharp when I took time away from reading. In addition to this, I am probably going to try and work on some goals related to fitness as even though I trained pretty hard for and raced a half ironman in June of this year, I still have been pretty random about my training and I want to get into more consistent habits.

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