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Reading The Next 93 – A goal for 2017

December 18, 2016

Looking back on 2016, I think there are many accomplishments to be proud of. Speaking in front of 1800 at re:Invent is a specific highlight, but there is something else that is even more magnificent in my eyes. This past year saw my awakening to reading.

OK, I could read before. But I read for information, to learn something specific. This year I read for fun. Reading became something I enjoyed. And even better, this year was the year I discovered the power of the Public Library. Yes, I had been to libraries before, but I did not love them like I do now. Today my local library is the Connolly branch of the Boston Public Library system and in a few months I will be able to start using the library almost across the street in Jamaica Plain (it’s been under renovation since we moved in to the neighborhood). I am so excited.

This year I think I read about 50-60 books. Before, the average for the year might be 1 or 2. But I couldn’t tell you what most of this year’s books were. Sure, “Fire in the Valley” and “Deep Work” stick out in my mind. So does the amazing story of a possible CIA agent captured in the Iranian revolution called “Off the Radar”, written by his son. Yes, those stick out, but the rest are mostly gone. Boston Public Library has a feature that will record your checkout history, but it doesn’t work. GoodReads has an integration with the BPL app, but its a manual step that I forget to click. I need to get better at this.

So that is a goal for 2017. The goal is to write a little summary of what I read. This will force the memory to last a bit longer than it does today. And the corollary goal is to read the books that I have. Sure, the library will continue to tempt me with stories and facts but I have my own library that I have neglected for years. So I have created a list of books that I want to tackle for 2017. Some are books that are currently checked out from the library, others are books we own. Some came from me, others from my wife. Some I have read a few chapters of, others have sat unopened for decades. I intend to read them. All of them?? I don’t know. But I would like to review this list in a year and see how I did. So here is the list for the me of 12 months forth:

Books that my wife and I have checked out right now that I am eager to read

  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb – Richard Rhodes
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. – Ron Chernow
  • Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education – Ken Robinson
  • Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill – Candice Millard
  • Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions — David Quammen
  • The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King – Rich Cohen
  • How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking – Jordan Ellenberg
  • A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra) – Barbara Oakley
  • The Lost Art of Finding Our Way – John Edward Huth
  • The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life – John Le Carre
  • Pirate – Clive Cussler
  • Superforcasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
  • Craft of Research – Wayne Booth
  • HBR on Innovation – HBR
  • The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell
  • Books we own and I want to reread

  • Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content – Mark Levy
  • The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography – Simon Singh
  • Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World – Cal Newport
  • Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg
  • # Books we own, I have tried to read, but never finished
  • Black Tulip – Alexandre Dumas
  • The Anatomy of Error: Ancient Military Disasters and Their Lessons for Modern Strategists – Barry Strauss
  • Arabian Sands: Revised Edition – Wilfred Thesiger
  • Long Way Down – Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
  • Enders Game – Orson Scott Card
  • Hyperion – Dan Simmons
  • Books that we own but I never tried

  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End – Atul Gawande
  • The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel – Michel Faber
  • Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker
  • Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software – Steven Johnson
  • Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston – Michael Rawson
  • Moor’s Account – Laila Lalami
  • Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business — Charles Duhigg
  • The Paying Guests – Sarah Waters
  • Papercuts Anthology: What Happened Here, Volume 1 – (our local bookstore)
  • Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World – Peter Wohlleben
  • Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway – Doug Most
  • Power of One: A Novel – Bryce Courtenay
  • The Winter People – Jennifer McMahon
  • The Writers Portable Mentor – Priscilla Long
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking – Rebecca Solnit
  • Innocent Abroad: Life-Changing Trips from 35 Great Writers (Anthology) – John Berendt, Dave Eggers
  • Oregon Trail: A New American Journey – Rinker Buck
  • Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson
  • The CS Detective – Jeremy Kubica
  • Books that came from me before marriage but I never read

  • The Land That Time Forgot – Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • A Year in Provence – Peter Mayle
  • A Tramp Abroad – Mark Twain
  • Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before – Tony Horwitz
  • The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures – Dan Roam
  • The Selfish Gene – Richard Dawkins
  • A Study of History, Vol. 1: Abridgement of Volumes I-VI – Arnold J. Toynbee
  • Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel – David Guterson
  • Stuff: The Things The World Is Made Of – Ivan Amato
  • The Friar and the Cipher: Roger Bacon and the Unsolved Mystery of the Most Unusual Manuscript in the World – Lawrence Goldstone, Nancy Goldstone
  • Ever Since Darwin – Stephen Jay Gould
  • Lead the Field – Earl Nightingale
  • A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper – John Allen Paulos
  • Mediterranean Winter – Robert D Kaplan
  • Our Man in Havana: An Entertainment – Graham Greene
  • The Hotel on the Roof of the World: Five Years in Tibet – Alec Le Sueur
  • The Koran
  • Herodotus: The Histories
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization – Thomas Cahill
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume I – Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Connections – James Burke
  • The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox: Mending the Gap Between Science and the Humanities – Stephen Jay Gould
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel : The Fates of Human Societies – Jared M. Diamond
  • Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia – Paul Theroux
  • Rendezvous with Rama – Isaac Asimov
  • The Razor’s Edge – W. Somerset Maugham
  • The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
  • The River War – Winston S. Churchill
  • Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life – Twyla Tharp
  • God: A Biography – Jack Miles
  • Books that came from Toni before marriage but I haven’t had a chance to read

  • Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition) – Michael Michalko
  • The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
  • Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature – Steven Pinker
  • The Big Picture: Reflections on Science, Humanity, and a Quickly Changing Planet – David Suzuki, David Taylor
  • A Short History of Modern Philosophy: From Descartes to Wittgenstein – Roger Scruton
  • Spook Country – William Gibson
  • Secret History – Donna Tartt
  • From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History – James Smith Pierce
  • Geek Love: A Novel – Katherine Dunn
  • Flight Behavior: A Novel – Barbara Kingsolver
  • Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck – Chip Heath
  • Mere Christianity – C. S. Lewis
  • Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
  • Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life – Robert Fritz
  • House – Tracy Kidder
  • How the Mind Works – Steven Pinker
  • Propeller Island – Jules Verne
  • Whew, thats a lot of books. I think if I tackle half of these plus a few dozen others I find at the library as I go, I will be quite happy. If you would like to follow along with my progress, I started using Libib to track this stuff:

    Find Matt online: