Testing From The Mall

Developing a better reading practice was a huge accomplishment for me in 2016, and I’m happy to still be going strong two years later. I ended up reading 24 books this year (vs. 21 in 2017 and 37 in 2016). I know that counting books read is a silly metric, but there’s something satisfying in seeing proof that I’m still prioritizing reading in a meaningful way.

My note taking process didn’t evolve too much this year—I experimented with a new note-taking app, but ended up using Evernote again, writing up notes and sending them out to friends and family. My personal commonplace book is expanding nicely.

For 2019, I’d like to start a personal project around reading that doesn’t require me to read more to scale. This means no writing detailed reviews, posting things read to Instagram, or blogging. Ultimately this could look like some kind of app, focused on improving book discovery. I’ve got a couple of good domains sitting around, so my chronic domain hoarding may finally starting to pay off…

On to things I learned:

Information mediums influence the way we think, at a biological level.

The importance of memorization.

Sleep is one of the most important drivers of good health, and we fail miserably at getting enough of it.

When it comes to usability, don’t make me think.

“If you’re going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”

Use temporal landmarks to help you focus on the big-picture and achieving your goals.

You are the CEO of your own career and you need to “cultivate a habit of constantly questioning your work situation.”

“The beauty of a notebook is that it indulges provisional thoughts, half-finished ideas, unpolished sketches, and drafts for treatises not yet refined.”

“Put more wood behind fewer arrows.."

Time is not fungible—"all our activities are equivalent or interchangeable once they are reduced to the abstract currency of clock time” is an untruth.

“To be great, one must be a great writer."

“Chicken is boring. Chefs see it as a menu item for people who don’t know what they want to eat.”

The Anna Karenina Principle - “success actually requires avoiding many separate possible causes of failure.”

Embrace boredom and “learn to see [it] as an opportunity to find something interesting within yourself.”

“Embrace regular, thoughtful conflict as the basis of effective negotiation.”

"Nothing fails like success.”

Attention is precious and we should not part with it “as cheaply or unthinkingly as we so often have.”

2018 Reading List

The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

Only the Paranoid Survive by Andy Grove

Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Levels of the Game by John McPhee

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford