Update from the editor: Hi, I'm the editor. This thing right here was a nice experiment. Well, to be frank, it was me masturbating to the fact that I read a lot. I still do. 2019 I didn't read as much as 2018 (30ish books compared to 51), but I am back on track reading a book a week in 2020. But writing this page is too much hassle, for too little value. I also don't use Goodreads or anything else any more. I just read, write notes in my commonplace book and that's it.
So, this page can basically be archived and deleted and burned and stomped to the ground and dumped in a ditch like old Atari cartridges. If you ever want to have book recommendations, drop me a mail.
If enough people do that, I start a newsletter, then a podcast about the newsletter, and then a book about the podcast about the newsletter.
Goal: 20 books
ISBN: 178125091X | Genre: Psychology | Recommended: Yes
This is the first book I read by Robert Greene (I own three more). I liked this book a lot. If you care about long-term skill development (and finding your Life's Task), you need to read this one. Though I have to admit, the best part was the different small anecdotes of famous "masters".
Essential Zen Habits
ISBN: 098334471X | Genre: Productivity | Recommended: Instead of Atomic Habits
I backed this book on Kickstarter a couple of years ago, but only came to read it this year. A lot of ideas are very similar to what you would read in Atomic Habits. So frankly, reading one is more than enough. If you like the scientific approach, read Atomic Habits, if you prefer a Zen-like approach, read this one.
If you are a lazy fuck, read both.
Happy: Why More or Less Everything is fine
ISBN: 0552172359 | Genre: Psychology | Recommended: Not really?
Happy is intended as an antidote to the claims self-help "gurus" and especially the "positive thinking" movement. While I enjoyed it, I don't think anyone needs to read it? It's a weird one.
ISBN: 9780747263746 | Genre: Fiction | Recommended: Gaiman is always a yes
I love Gaiman. Seriously! How the fuck can one single person have such a vivid fantasy. American Gods is a great read, mainly because all these different mythologies play a significant role. Maybe, I need to start watching the TV show.
Do the Work
ISBN: 1936891379 | Genre: Productivity | Recommended: I don't know
I have to admit: while writing this, I can't remember what this book was about. I gave it four stars on GoodReads, but don't remember why.
ISBN: 1524762849 | Genre: Biography | Recommended: FFS, yes. You have to
If 21 Lessons made me want to get into politics, Thirst made me want to get into activism. This book made me rethink a lot of things. Maybe one of the most important books I read so far.
ISBN: 1847941834 | Genre: Productivity | Recommended: Yep
A lot of people I follow recommended this one. It's good. It helps you with your daily habits, good or bad. It does a great job to lay down the framework of how habits are formed, with some insight and strategies.
The Mind Illuminated
ISBN: 1781808201 | Genre: Spirituality | Recommended: If you are into meditation
If you are into meditation, and I don't mean the hipster-kind of style, you need to read this. It's a difficult read and kinda feels like something you would study at university. But it helped me get better at meditating.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
ISBN: 0525512179 | Genre: Politics | Recommended: Definitely
If Harari's Sapiens is all about the past and Homo Deus all about the future, 21 Lessons is all about the present. While reading it, I had this weird feeling that I wanted to get into politics and change the world for the better. (N.B: I will never get into politics.)
ISBN: 1405934131 | Genre: Mythology | Recommended: Hell, yeah!
I loved this. Stephen Fry is an awesome author and the Greek mythology an excellent subject. I definitely need to get "Heroes" too.
Principles: Life and Work
ISBN: 1501124021 | Genre: Business | Recommended: Yes, especially if you run a company
I never heard of Ray Dalio or Bridgewater before. But this book kept being recommended by different people I follow, so I had to give it a shot. And I liked it for the most part. The book is divided into three sections: One on Dalio himself, one his life principles and one on his work principles. I liked the first and second part the most. The third isn't really for me as I don't run a company and don't intend on doing so.
The Little Book of Talent
ISBN: 1847946798 | Genre: Self Help | Recommended: Yeah, kinda.
This was enjoyable. Fast read, took me less than two hours to go through. Good reminder, but frankly: A blog post would have done it too.
Bird by Bird
ISBN: 0385480016 | Genre: Writing; Memoir | Recommended: Yep!
This book is probably on every book list for writers. So I had to read it. And I liked it — a lot. Even though, it's targeted to fiction writers I still got something out of it. But I have to admit that I am not as depressed and as suicidal as this book thinks I should be? Why are so many creative people often sad?
ISBN: 0141986387 | Genre: Minimalism | Recommended: Not really
I am honest; I can't remember what this book tried to tell me. I know it had to do with minimalism but in the end, nothing was new. I know the benefits, I know what steps I have to do. But in the end, nothing changed, and I didn't start cleaning up. I guess there are better books on minimalism out there.
The 4 Pillar Plan
ISBN: 0241303559 | Genre: Health | Recommended: Fuck yes!
This is probably the best book about a healthy lifestyle I have read. It teaches how to focus on four things: how to relax, how to sleep, how to eat and how to exercise. Everyone should read this.
A Mind for Numbers
ISBN: 039916524X | Genre: Science | Recommended: Hell, no. Except if you're still a student.
Wow, this is the first book I couldn't finish. While I thought this was a book on how to understand math, it teaches how to learn. Probably interesting to students but not for me.
A Guide to the Good Life
ISBN: | Genre: Philosophy | Recommended: Yes, as a starter
Again, Stoicism. This is probably one of the most approachable books on the topic. It goes through the central teachings and distils them for the modern world. I'd read this as a starter and then dig into the different philosopher's.
ISBN: 0062018205 | Genre: Psychology | Recommended: Yes
This book is great. I haven't read "Thinking, Fast and Slow" yet so I can't compare the two. But this book thought me a lot. Worth the read if you care about behaviour. (And you should.)
Letters from A Stoic
ISBN: 0141395850 | Genre: Philosophy | Recommended: Take your time
By now, you should have realised that I am into Stoicism. So I had to read Seneca. While not as approachable as Aurelius' Meditations, I can still recommend this to beginner's. But take your time to understand it.
Brave New World
ISBN: 0099477467 | Genre: Fiction | Recommended: Yes, but read "Island" too.
A classic I haven't touched before. I understand why this book is considered to be one, but I liked Island by Huxley way more.
Ego is the Enemy
ISBN: 1781257027 | Genre: Philosophy, Psychology | Recommended: Yep, especially for the anecdotes.
Another Ryan Holiday. This goes hand in hand with The Obstacle is the Way. I liked it, as I do for most things Holiday created, but the best part was all the anecdotes.
South of the Border, West of the Sun
ISBN: 0099448572 | Genre: Fiction, Japanese Literature | Recommended: I think so?
I don't know how I feel about this one. I rushed through it trying to get to the end to figure out what was about to happen. And in the end, my reaction was mere "huh?". I think I like it? And I think I like Murakami? Need to read more books to be sure.
The Obstacle is the Way
ISBN: 1781251495 | Genre: Psychology, Philosophy | Recommended: Yes, as a start
Yep, I like Ryan Holiday. This book is an excellent start for people who want to get into Stoicism but use it as a base and follow it up with books like Meditations and Letters from a Stoic.
ISBN: 1781257663 | Genre: Entrepreneurship, Business | Recommended: Definitely, if you are a creator
If you are a creator not trying to hack the system and get rich fast, read this book. Seriously. It's that good. I may incorporate some things into my blog empire.
Man's Search for Meaning
ISBN: 1846041244 | Genre: Philosophy, History | Recommended: Yes
This is the first philosophy book I read in a while that is not about stoicism, though it's recommended by Ryan Holiday, the author of Daily Stoic. Good book, great message, fuck the Holocaust.
ISBN: 1784703931 | Genre: Science, Anthropology | Recommended: Hell yeah
Get Sapiens, read it, then get Homo Deus and read that one too. It's well worth it, and I frankly can't wait for Noah Harari's next book.
The Summer Book
ISBN: 0954221710 | Genre: Scandinavian Literature, Short Stories | Recommended: Yep
The Summer Book was just too sweet. A collection of short stories featuring a child and her grandmother. By the creator of the Moomins. Buy it if you like fiction and nostalgia.
My Morning Routine
ISBN: 0241315417 | Genre: Business | Recommended: Not really
This book is not for me. It is similar to Daily Ritual but in interview-form. It didn't click for me, and I think the blog-format is better suited for this kind of things.
ISBN: 0393356183 | Genre: Mythology, Short Stories | Recommended: Fuck yes
I read this after finishing the newest God of War. I had a thirst for more Norse Mythology and Neil Gaiman, who by the way is one of my current favourite authors, gave me what I craved. Though I wonder if I somehow spoilered myself for the next couple of God of War games?
ISBN: 0241217296 | Genre: Science, Psychology | Recommended: Yes
This is a book is excellent especially for workaholics who think that you should sleep when you're dead and that resting is a sign of weakness. It made me relearn how to rest and how to use my downtime the best way possible.
The Myth of Happiness
ISBN: 014312451X | Genre: Science, Psychology | Recommended: No
I didn't like this book. Maybe I already read all of it somewhere else, but I found the book utterly dull. I rushed through it and was happy when I was done. Frankly, I am writing this weeks later and can't even really remember what it was all about.
How the Marquis Got his Coat back
ISBN: 1472235320 | Genre: Short Story, Fantasy | Recommended: Yes
A super short read by the same guy who wrote "Fortunately, the Milk" (Neil Gaiman, he also wrote American God's). I read it in less than an hour and was entertained. I have two other books by Gaiman on my reading list. Soon.
Fortunately, the Milk
ISBN: 0062224085 | Genre: Children's Book, Fantasy | Recommended: Fuck yes
This is a children's book, but it's damn fantastic. The story is short but funny with a Dr Who kind of vibe, and the drawings are perfect. If you want to get back into reading and need something fast and easy, pick this book.
The Daily Stoic
ISBN: 1202221777 | Genre: Philosophy, Stoicism | Recommended: Yes
This is a very peculiar book as it isn’t meant to be read in one day. There are pages for every day of the year, and the idea is to read them on a daily basis and think about the meanings. I read it in a couple of days though, and now I am reading a page a day while adding my notes to the book itself.
ISBN: 1782116613 | Genre: Science, Psychologly | Recommended: Yes
I bought this book during a trip to Milan after finishing all the books I packed. Every chapter was some revelation on how the brain works and why it does why it does. I wonder why I didn’t learn these things during biology class. The book is btw by David Eagleman, the same guy who wrote Sum.
The Longevity Diet
ISBN: 1405933941 | Genre: Health, Nutrition | Recommended: Yes
This isn't the first book about nutrition I read, probably not even the last one but the best one yet. It was so good, and I followed that fasting mimicking diet for five days. And I plan to make it a regular thing from now on.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
ISBN: 1782119892 | Genre: Philosophy, Stoicism | Recommended: Yes
When felt like a combination of Night Owl, Daily Rituals and some productivity book. A recipe for a great book. When made me realise and accept that I am a hardcore night owl and that I completely ignore my chronotype by waking up at 5.30am on weekdays. And that I am should switch when I tackle my to-do list. Creative tasks in the morning, deep focus work in the evening. And don't ever visit a doctor between 2 and 4 pm - ever.
ISBN: 0812968255 | Genre: Philosophy, Stoicism | Recommended: Yes, yes, yes!!!
I have to be honest. At times I had to reread whole paragraphs twice to understand them fully. It‘s not the most accessible book I read this year, but it‘s maybe the book that got me thinking the most — so many words of wisdom. I now understand why so many successful people (e.g. Bill Clinton, Alexander Pope, Goethe) loved this book. This will be a book I‘ll reread several times this year. And the next year. And every year starting today. BTW: If you read this, get the translation by Gregory Hays.
ISBN: 0349411905| Genre: Management, Productivity | Recommended: Yes
I liked Deep Work although it doesn't offer anything new. Everything in the book should be "common sense". But knowing is not the same as living. In the first part of the book, Newport explains exactly what "Deep Work" is. In the remaining part, he explains how to implement "Deep Work". I will make some changes to my day-to-day work. And if you are curious but don't want to buy a book yet, Newport was a guest on the Ezra Klein show.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
ISBN: 0099590085 | Genre: History, Philosophy | Recommended: Yes, definitely
A brief insight into the history of humankind, which is not that brief after all but explains the world and its history in detail and taught me a lot. It confirmed many of my ideologies. Sapiens is at its best when the author starts to dip into philosophy. Should, in my opinion, be read in every history class. Homo Deus is now at the top of my reading list.
Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
ISBN: 1782392335| Genre: Fiction, Mystery | Recommended: Yes
My first novel of the year (and the first one in ages) and I finished the book in one sitting. There couldn't have been a more suitable one for me right now: a book about books and the influence of technology with a pinch of "mystery", nerd humour and a lot of Google.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
ISBN: 1847674275| Genre: Fiction, Short Stories | Recommended: So much yes
My first fiction book of the year and it is such a good one. In Sum, David Eagleman writes over 40 possible scenarios for"something" after death. Almost every story had something fascinating about it. And some of the stories would have been excellent Black Mirror episodes.
The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
ISBN: 0062449923| Genre: Nonfiction, Psychology | Recommended: Nah
Maybe it's because I've only recently read Money and Sense or maybe Schwartz repeats himself a lot, but at times it seemed to me as if I'd read it all before. There were some pearls hidden here and there and in the vacuum it's a good book. But it was a bit too repetitive. But nothing wrong in itself, repetition strengthens knowledge. Or something like this.
Night School: The Life-Changing Science of Sleep
ISBN: 1447264835| Genre: Nonfiction, Health | Recommended: Yes
Okay, this book has fascinated me to the very end. I am very interested in sleep and have always been a great fan of power naps. In Night School, the author talks for a long time about the advantages of good sleep and how dreams can be used to improve one's"waking life". After 100 pages I started to go to bed much earlier. Great book, important subject! Bye, I'm napping.
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google
ISBN: 0593077903| Genre: Nonfiction, Tech | Recommended: Hell no
The Four doesn't tell anything new, especially not to geeks who are already heavily involved with Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. The book explains in the mediocre first part how the four companies became successful - even though Galloway wrote more about the New York Times than about Google (he was on the board of directors of the NYT). The second part, on the other hand, didn't matter. Galloway explains here how you can learn from the Four to become successful yourself. But what bothered me was this feeling that the guy was too involved and because he wasn't (is?) taken seriously, wrote this book. And wanted to make a name for himself. Over and over again. Like he's afraid no one's paying attention. Fun Fact: He writes in the book that this is, in fact, his greatest fear.
Dollars and Sense
ISBN: 0062699563 | Genre: Nonfiction, Economy | Recommended: Yes
One sentence stuck in my mind while reading summarises my opinion about Dollars and Sense pretty well: The book is excellent, but an asshole. It made me very aware of all my incompetence and irrationality regarding money. It may be time to reconsider my relationship with the mammon.
How Not To Die
ISBN: 1509852506 | Genre: Nonfiction, Health | Recommended: Yes
Okay, the book is targeted more towards Americans who, if you believe the author, don't even know what vegetables look like. Also, the book is probably less meant for me, as I already live vegan. I still liked it though. Above all, I now know what happens when you have Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. And to what extent nutrition can reduce the risk of contracting various diseases. And although I am always a little cautious when studies are cited, How Not To Die is the best I have ever read about nutrition.
ISBN: 1447271475 | Genre: Nonfiction, Biography | Recommended: Yes but no but yes
I like all the insider stories, but in the end, the book only showed me how important it is to have a routine. And to drink a lot and take drugs. But I might skip that one.
Born To Run
ISBN: 1861978774 | Genre: Nonfiction, Health | Recommended: Only if you like running
It took me a while to warm up with the book. The beginning was a bit long and I didn't really find the story of this Tarahumara race exciting. What I liked better, however, were the descriptions of why we should be running. Thanks to this book I learned how to do it properly. I really did not go running more often though.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
ISBN: 0751565350 | Genre: Fiction, Phantasy | Recommended: Fuck no
Whoa, where do I start? I didn't like The Cursed Child at all. I have no problem with the fact that the book is actually just a script. It's more the content that bothers me. The book reads like a bit better-written fan fiction. Why are already finished stories taken up again? Why is it thought that after all these years Voldemort has an interest in human desires? And have the authors really forgotten what the seventh book is about?
ISBN: 0099477777 | Genre: Fiction, Philosophy | Rating: Recommended: Yes
I think Aldous Huxley has the potential to be my new favorite author. At least after reading Island, I am very interested in learning what else he has written. All the ideas that went into this book may have changed my worldview a little. Combining elements from Buddhism and modern science. Could work!
ISBN: 3518366823 | Genre: Fiction, Philosophy | Recommended: Yes
The first German book in years. Siddharta is one of those works I would have liked to have read (and understood) as a young person in order to incorporate some of the principles into my everyday life. At least now I have time to absorb some of the wisdom. By the way, I find it extremely interesting that Hesse created a better Buddha than the historical Buddha.
ISBN: 1490313370 | Genre: Nonfiction, Job | Recommended: Probably though I didn't like it that much
The idea of Choose Yourself is clear: The industrial revolution is over, we are all just gears in one huge machine and can be replaced at will. We have to do something about it, invest in ourselves and at best follow Altuchers advice. I found some passages of this book worth reading. In general, however, the reading bored me. I had a huge break between some chapters. And I am a binge reader.
PS: The (beautiful) Japanese word "Tsundoku" (積ん読) means acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without ever touching them again.