In 2022 I read 31 non-fiction and 15 fiction books. (You can find the list of titles here.)
I didn’t make a list of the books I wanted to read in 2022. Instead, I’m keeping a long list of interesting titles and every time I finish a book, I scan through the list and select four or five books that I might read next, and choose one. This way I’m not constrained to a list built at the beginning of the year, and I can include new book recommendations.
This year I’ve tried to ask myself before starting a book: What questions do I expect answered by reading this book? Or put another way, What do I expect to get from this book? This is not always easy to do, but it has been very useful for me to discard books or go for some difficult ones like Infocracy: Digitization and the Crisis of Democracy, by Byung-Chul Han.
That said, I find it challenging to decide what to read next. I dread books with too many anecdotes or stories to illustrate a point. Also, some books may have been best published as a long blog post instead of a 300-page book. For example, I enjoyed Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein, many of the examples used in the book are stories that go on for pages and pages.
Also, this year I’m planning to re-read some books like, for example, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.
I still resist reading summaries from pages like getAbstract. At most, sometimes I use those summaries to decide if a book is worth reading.
I kept to my system of reading at least 25 pages every day. Sometimes I skipped reading for several days. In retrospect, this happens when the book I’m reading loses interest, which is a signal I should be faster at dropping books that end up not being relevant to me.
One such book, for example, was The Networked State, by Balaji Srinivasan. The book has a lot of positive reviews and the author has quite a reputation and has been interviewed in important podcasts. Many people on the Internet are talking/writing wonders about the book. So I kept going through the book even if most of what I read seemed to me disconnected from reality, to say it gently. I should just have dropped the book.
Besides non-fiction books, I’m usually reading one novel in parallel. Most of the novels I choose are fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and sometimes historical fiction. Although I know that novels are valuable per se, I read fiction mostly for disengaging my brain and relaxing,
I’ve kept the habit of taking notes of all books non-fiction books I read. This helps me focus and increases my retention to the point that I no longer consider reading anything worthwhile without taking notes.
After finishing a book, I end up with a summary of the main points of the book. Ideally, I should process the notes after finishing the book to extract notes for my Zettelkasten, but I’ve rarely done this post-processing in 2022.
As an experiment, this year I polished and published some of my notes.