Just a List of My Favorite Reads for the Past Year

Nothing in life, they say, is constant. I wholeheartedly agree but I have to make room for one exception. And that would have to be my voracious reading habits.

I’ve changed careers. Made and lost some friends. Lovers came, promised me the moon and a dozen lambs, under-delivered, blamed myself for unrealistically high expectations, and off they went —either better or bitter versions of themselves. Family members have left for good too. I’ve lost count of the number of cats who have chosen me as their human. I’ve experimented with going vegan, paleo, and consuming kimchi every day. I’ve changed my mind about a lot of things — from religion to my thoughts on minimalism to deciding between Backstreet Boys and N’Sync as the best boy band of the 90s. (For the record, I haven’t made up my mind yet).

Yet I have never changed my mind about books. Ever.

I used to wax poetic and philosophical about books without fail but for the past two years—around the same time that I began to favor non-fiction for fiction — I have been one lazy book pimp.

While I admit that my book slutting ( also known as reading more than one book at a time) ways are still unabashedly existent, I haven’t been pimping my favorites as of late. But I intend to change that now.

So here are my favorites for the past year and why you should go get yourself a copy too.

No Amazon affiliate links involved so you can tread your way through the list without thinking that I’m making money out of this. 🙂

1.  Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport

Confession: I am secretly crushing on Cal Newport’s mind and looks (look him up on YouTube now and you’ll see what I mean!).

Deep Work pushed me to go on a Facebook sabbatical for most of 2016. If you’ve tried everything to get things done but you’re still missing deadlines and not checking everything on your weekly to-do list by Friday, go give this book a read.

2. Everybody Writes, Ann Handley

Author Andrew Davis describes this book as the new Strunk & White and the new creative resource for a new generation.

He is on point.

If you’re still baffled what it’s like to write for the Internet (everybody does these days, right?) and curious about how you can use content marketing to your advantage, you will be eternally grateful to Miss Handley if you add this to your reading list.

3. I’m Not for Everyone. Neither Are You, David Leddick

I had no idea who David Leddick is until I came across this book by accident. I was about to buy Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art on Kindle and this book popped up in the Recommended section (or was it the Frequently Bought Together section, I can’t specifically recall).

The sampler text convinced me to add the title to my book purchases. And I’m glad I did. Every time I go through the pages of this book,  I imagine David Leddick giving out his sassy yet sensible bits of aphorisms when I find myself flooded with self-doubt and negative self-talk. Here are my favorite bits:

  • You can tell what a man is like by watching him walk away from you.
  • The world is like a classroom of children with their heads down on their desks being obedient. When you raise your head you discover there is no teacher.
  • I don’t mind losing battles as long as I win the war.
  • Never make a business call on Monday or Friday.
  • Do not get involved with someone expecting them to change.

4. The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield

Ah, Stephen Pressfield!  Coupled with Cal Newport’s book, I’ve successfully knocked down distractions ( I thought so) and regained focus because of this gem in overcoming the Resistance.

Curious about the Resistance? I’m not going to give it away so you’ll read it. Despite having a Kindle copy of this Stephen Pressfield gem, I even asked a friend to buy me a physical copy of the book when he went abroad (I can’t find a copy in local bookstores) because it’s that good.

5. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill

The only love that feels like love is the doomed kind. (Fun fact.)

This is one of those pieces of fiction that will remind you about the power of words, and how a story can make you feel a thousand type of overwhelming emotions at once. If you’re looking for catharsis by reading fiction, head on to your local bookstore and find a copy of this Jenny Offill masterpiece.

6. On the Move, Oliver Sacks

I’ve been an Oliver Sacks fan ever since I discovered him on Radiolab. His commentaries on how the brain works has fascinated me, and I wanted to learn about the life he lived when he died last 2015.

The man truly knows how to translate scientific facts and bits into beautiful prose. Figuring out his exact personality type while going through this memoir was also a delight for an armchair Jungian typologist like me. 

7. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness

I’ve read this book thrice and it never fails to send me to tears. Of course, it’s a sad story. But it’s not just the story. It’s the writing itself that will gnaw its way to you and scrape you raw. The book is labeled YA (for ages 12-19) literature but don’t let the label fool you.

8. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, Steve Krug

Usability and creating wonderful user experiences on the web may be a dull topic for many. Steve Krug, however, packed these subjects into an entertaining read.

So what does it means to have great UX? Don’t make your users think. It may sound like its magic but in reality, there’s a lot of tedious work behind the scenes of designing wonderful user experiences. This is a good primer if you want to delve into usability and you’re clueless where to begin.

9. Personality Type: A Practical Guide to Understanding Yourself and Others Through Typology, Lenore Thomson

I’m not done with this book yet but I’m already halfway into it, and I’ve been asking myself why I haven’t read this book sooner!

If you’re into personality types, MBTI, and Jungian psychology, Lenore Thomson wonderfully illustrates the different types minus the usual stereotypical descriptions that you’ll find online. You may have to orient yourself with the basic Jungian functions before you read this book.

10. Predictably Irrational:The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Dan Ariely

Have you always wondered how people make decisions? I do.

This book by behavioral economist Dan Ariely might not give you a straight answer on how people choose between what’s rational or not, but reading about his experiments on the subject is by turns entertaining and insightful.

Who would have thought that subtly reminding college students about the Ten Commandments before an exam would reduce the likelihood that they’ll cheat?

There you go. If you’ve stumbled upon this post, I’m curious about your favorite reads as of late. I would love to hear about them too!

Categorized as Books

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