My 2015 Weekly Book Project

A little over a year ago I embarked on a journey. I noticed that I was listening to a LOT of podcasts: on my commute, at work, on the treadmill, cooking. I really couldn’t stop. What made me notice the frequency was the fact that I had finished the backlog of This Week in Startups and saw that I had a lot of empty time… So I decided to try Audible and began eating up books like they were candy, well, now I think they are – which is nice. In fact I noticed that my pace was roughly a book a week.

Last December I saw a post by Joe Hill, I can’t find it anymore. It’s possible that it was only in my head, but I could have sworn that he had posted all the books that he had read in 2014 and his goal had been a book a week. I can’t find it anymore, but this is the closest I could find to such a post. Inspired, I decided to try it myself and finish a book a week in 2015.

It looks like I’m not the only person who did such a feat-of-brain, Mark Zuckerberg just posted his new book every other week of 2015 challenge.

Some books took longer than a week. The Count of Monte Cristo was 5 minutes short of 47 hours, and Crytonomicon was 7 minutes short of 43 hours. So I staggered them over several weeks making sure to finish other books at the same time, sometimes extremely short books. A Shakespeare play typically is about 3 hours. However, I nonetheless finished a significant book each week.

Not everything I considered a book is technically a book, I decided to count a “Great Course” as a complete book, even though it’s a lecture series. In my humble opinion it amounts to the same.

Here are some fun stats about what I completed:

I completed a total of 82 books this year; you see the complete list below. That’s 1.57 books each week on average. In five different weeks I finished 3 books, in twenty different weeks I finished 2 books and in the rest I finished 1 book.

I’ve been fairly diverse in terms of which authors I read. I read 4 books by JRR Tolkien, 3 by William Shakespeare, 3 by Sam Harris, and 2 books by: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Hermann Hesse, and Homer. The remaining 66 were by different authors.

I read 41 nonfiction books, 30 fiction books, and 11 Great Courses.

I will NOT be continuing at this pace. I think Mark’s challenge leaves much more room for contemplation, but I don’t want to commit to a specific pace this year. While I’m pretty sure I can discuss pretty intelligently the list below, I wish I had retained more of the ideas.

This brings me back to the whole debate of whether bekiut or iyyun is better, from my yeshiva days. Bekiut is trying to finish a large amount at a quick pace, iyyun is study in depth. I personally believe that both are important. Context gives you a whole lot when studying in depth. You will miss important connections without vastness of knowledge, but that breadth will only get you so far.

I hope to go back over many of these books and do a whole lot more. But I’d like to start remembering the things I’m reading, discuss them. Savor them.

Having been inspired by Joe Hill, I decided to tie off the year with the book I hadn’t yet read of his, NOS4A2.

Other notable mentions: Last Song Before Night, is absolutely the top of my list. I’ve probably read it 5 times and am looking forward to revisiting those characters in new books and old.

I rediscovered my love for Shakespeare, it lends itself to being listened to, being made for the stage… and being Shakespeare. Such beautiful language.

And I found out that I love book, specifically autobiographies, read by the author.

Yes these are affiliate links, why not? You’ll notice that the links go to the Audible version, so here’s a promo to get 2 free books instead of the usual one free book promotion: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Without further ado, here’s the list. Books are linked via the title.

BeowulfSeamus HeaneyLiterature2015/01/02
Romeo & JulietWilliam ShakespeareLiterature2015/01/03
The Winter’s TaleWilliam ShakespeareLiterature2015/01/10
How the Stock Market WorksProfessor Ramon P. DeGennaroThe Great Courses2015/01/16
The Satanic VersesSalman RushdieLiterature2015/01/20
Waking UpSam HarrisSociology2015/01/21
SiddharthaHermann HesseLiterature2015/01/23
Beyond ReligionThe Dalai LamaPhilosophy2015/01/25
Breakfast at Tiffany’sTruman CapoteLiterature2015/01/26
A Rage in HarlemChester HimesLiterature2015/01/30
Zero to OnePeter ThielBusiness, Thought Leadership2015/02/01
The Fall of HyperionDan SimmonsScience Fiction2015/02/04
Good to GreatJim CollinsManagement2015/02/09
Thérèse RaquinEmile ZolaLiterature2015/02/10
The HobbitJ. R. R. TolkienFantasy2015/02/14
Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to MeditationProfessor Mark W. MuesseThe Great Courses2015/02/16
The Fellowship of the RingJ. R. R. TolkienFantasy2015/02/18
The Two TowersJ. R. R. TolkienFantasy2015/02/22
HookedNir EyalConsumer Behavior2015/02/23
The Return of the KingJ. R. R. TolkienFantasy2015/02/24
How ideas spreadProfessor Jonah BergerThe Great Courses2015/03/12
Money: Master the GameTony RobbinsBusiness & Money2015/03/20
How Google WorksEric SchmidtLeadership & Management2015/03/25
ScrumJeff SutherlandManagement2015/03/31
No Place to HideGlenn GreenwaldCivil Rights2015/04/07
I Am MalalaMalala YousafzaiMemoir2015/04/16
CryptonomiconNeal StephensonScience Fiction2015/04/20
And Then There Were NoneAgatha ChristieMystery2015/04/27
What I Learned From Losing A Million DollarsJim PaulBusiness & Money2015/04/27
Thinking About Cyber SecurityProfessor Paul RosenzweigThe Great Courses2015/05/04
How to listen to and understand great musicProfessor Robert GreenbergThe Great Courses2015/05/19
Elon MuskAshlee VanceMemoir2015/05/24
CaptivologyBen ParrConsumer Behavior2015/05/28
The Little PrinceAntoine de Saint-ExuperyLiterature2015/06/03
The Everything StoreBrad StoneLeadership & Management2015/06/04
Elements of JazzProfessor Bill MessengerThe Great Courses2015/06/11
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & ClayMichael ChabonLiterature2015/06/12
Being ThereJerzy KosinskiLiterature2015/06/18
Last Song Before NightIlana C. MyerLiterature2015/06/21
Mars Rover CuriosityRob Manning, William L. SimonSpace2015/06/23
BoldPeter H. DiamandisBusiness, Thought Leadership2015/06/30
The PrinceNiccolo MachiavelliLiterature2015/07/06
The Moral LandscapeSam HarrisPhilosophy2015/07/09
The Creator’s CodeAmy WilkinsonLeadership & Management2015/07/14
Classical MythologyProfessor Elizabeth VandiverThe Great Courses2015/07/22
Why We Are Wired To WorrySharie SpironhiHealth2015/07/23
Financial Literacy: Finding Your Way in the Financial MarketsProfessor Connel FullenkampThe Great Courses2015/07/28
Making Habits Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things Why We Don’t and How to Make Any Change StickJeremy DeanApplied Psychology2015/07/30
BanishedLauren DrainMemoir2015/08/05
The Virgin WayRichard BransonBusiness, Thought Leadership2015/08/11
The Count of Monte CristoAlexandre DumasLiterature2015/08/12
The 22 Immutable Laws of MarketingAl Ries, Jack TroutMarketing2015/08/16
Bird by BirdAnne LamottWriting2015/08/19
VagabondingRolf PottsLifestyle, Travel2015/08/25
The Glass Bead GameHermann HesseLiterature2015/08/26
The Art of LearningJosh WaitzkinMemoir2015/09/01
The Facebook EffectDavid KirkpatrickBusiness, Memoir2015/09/09
The Edge of UncertaintyMichael BrooksScience2015/09/11
FrankensteinMary Wollstonecraft ShelleyLiterature2015/09/14
The Art of Negotiating the Best DealProfessor Seth FreemanThe Great Courses2015/09/17
The InnovatorsWalter IsaacsonBusiness, Memoir2015/09/24
Scientific Secrets of Self ControlProfessor C. Nathan DeWallThe Great Courses2015/09/25
What If?Randall MunroeHumor, Physics2015/10/01
Wild SwansJung ChangMemoir2015/10/07
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola TeslaNikola TeslaMemoir2015/10/09
SuperbetterJane McGonigalApplied Psychology2015/10/17
Currents of SpaceIsaac AsimovScience Fiction2015/10/20
So You Want to Start a Brewery? The Lagunitas StoryTony MageeBusiness, Memoir2015/10/26
Call of the Cthulu and other storiesH. P. LovecraftFictionLiterature
A Midsummer Night’s DreamWilliam ShakespeareLiterature2015/11/12
Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic EvolutionNeil deGrasse TysonSpace2015/11/18
InfidelAyaan Hirsi AliMemoir2015/11/24
Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!Richard P. FeynmanMemoir2015/12/01
Alan Turing: The EnigmaAndrew HodgesMemoir2015/12/07
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s CourtMark TwainLiterature2015/12/09
Debt: The First 5000 YearsHistory, Economics2015/12/17
The History of Ancient EgyptProfessor Bob BrierThe Great Courses2015/12/22
The IliadHomerLiterature2015/12/22
Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A DialogueSam Harris, Maajid NawazPhilosophy, Sociology2015/12/24
The OdysseyHomerLiterature2015/12/28
NOS4A2Joe HillHorror2015/12/29

I’d love more discussion this coming year. So I plan on posting books as I start reading them so others can jump on board. Please comment if you’ve ready any of the books above, which, and what you thought.

Edit: 83, I got one more in before the year ended… Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankel – 2015/12/31