My 2016 Book List: Let my Year in Books Inspire You as Well!

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Here is my 2016 book list of books I’ve carried through completion and thoroughly enjoyed, with random, rambling annotations:

Books with * = well read, well worn, well kept

Books with ** = SUPERSTAR

  1. *The Unpublished David Ogilvy by David Ogilvy, Joel Raphaelson
  2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  3. Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann: Recommended by my friend Nick McClish; Hans Castorps take on life in a sanitorium is hilarious and may I say, morbidly magical.
  4. *Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  5. *How Proust Can Change Your Life by Marcel Proust: I bought this at the Strand bookstore for $2 and it opened me up to the world of Proust. Guys, $2 + tax can indeed change your life for the better.
  6. *In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust: This book changed my life, but if you are a grammar N*** or someone who considers brevity a virtue, then this is not that life-changing book for you.
  7. *Bible (NIV): For my spiritual and moral feeding – I hold this very close to my heart, always, for the truth of the Lord breeds the purest of love, knowledge, kindness, goodness, forbearance, joy, and peace.
  8. ** Leonardo’s Notebooks edited by Anna Suh: my eyes were burning from the amount of manuscript notes I had to read that he created; can you believe that someone with a non-classical education has over 20,000 notes in total of mind-blowing studies and findings found through sheer observation and experimentation? Wowzers.
  9. Chaos Monkeys by Antonia Garcia Martinez: hilariously scathing, and very tell-all by nature, a book on the going ons of the SV tech world from the eye of one man who managed to get acquired by or work for some top companies. A peer and Director of Salesforce who I recently met told me this is much like the HBO series: Silicon Valley, so for those who liked watching that, you ought to take a chance on this.
  10. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli: I never got to read this in school, but all of a sudden I had the urge to read this now and on Machiavelli’s thoughts on acquiring, conquering, managing, and losing principalities/power/people. Pretty relevant, I’d say.
  11. The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller: talks a lot about the moralistic brothers of the church vs. brothers who’ve gone wild and then returned to the folds of God – really cool and enlightening read on the hypocrisy of institutions like religion and even more importantly, why it’s even more necessary to stay steadfast in your faith in God.
  12. **Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan: I had been exposed to surfing this year through a man I loved, and naturally became curious as to the intensity of adoration felt for this specific hobby by him and by many other friends. Finnegan explains the surfing life perfectly, and I am totally hooked – theoretically speaking.
  13. *Blood, Brains, and Beer: Autobiography by David Ogilvy
  14. **Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen: recommended by my friend David Kong. I enjoyed it and as a Jane Austen fan, really glad I got to read another stellar work of hers!
  15. Ein Mein Manifesto by Eric Jarosinski
  16. **Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
  17. Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths: My older sister had this on her Audible.
  18. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport: because I enjoy reading Cal Newport’s blog and was deeply changed by his book Deep Work. This is an earlier book of his, and I have noticed that his prose here is not so pithy, but still to the point. It serves its purpose.
  19. **Team Genius: The New Science of High-Performing Organizations by Michael Malone and Rich Karlgaard: because I wanted to make the company I worked in at the time better.
  20. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington
  21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: Recommended by my dear friend, Victoria Wong! It’s one of her favorite books. Funny story: There was a time when I was quoting this book, and a friend had asked me who the author was, when I replied, “Mila Kunis” with the sureness of a cock. I was deservedly embarrassed.
  22. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein
  23. Who Needs the Fed by John Tamny: I picked this book up because my younger sister works at the Fed, and I am always down to read a book that will enlighten me more on the activities of loved ones.
  24. Virtual Billions: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins Behind the Rise of Bitcoin by Eric Geissinger: The book in its entirety wasn’t engaging, but the first couple chapters were amazing in detailing the foundations of Bitcoin & its network, and the influencers * all the the ants involved in this crypto currency ecosystem.
  25. The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane: written for the layman, it reinforces wise mental hacks that are necessary to live both in optimism and be successful.
  26. Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff: A book picked up in an effort to aid my parents when they become of age.

Things I’ve started or am looking to read in 2017!:

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: I’m reading this one to get to know my younger sister better. She is a big fan of Tolkien.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky: I’ve only read the first few chapters, and so far the story lines of the characters introduced and families are absolutely ACE! The complexity! The depth! The scandal! Recommended by my good friends: Sewon Yang and Max Heering.

Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man by Martin Kemp

I wish the world the biggest growth it’s seen yet this 2017.

Bises,

Soo

Trying to Abstain from Social Media, 2016

This is my second week of trying to abstain from all social media, and I have been failing gloriously.

I can’t seem to take my hands away from clicking that app icon.

I have uninstalled apps only to reinstall them. I am finding reasons to go back to Facebook or Instagram, because my mind tells me I have to share this one insight or reach out to this one person, or share this one thing, the message or communication of which [I apparently believe] can only be served through the means of “x” Messenger chat device.

I’ve turned off notifications, giving myself what I thought an acceptable and reasonable amount of distance and constraint.

I am a victim of connectivity.

How have I, along with potentially many of my peers found ourselves to be this way?

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A month ago, I finished reading a book called Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, written by Cal Newport. It unpacks the professor’s studies on deep work and deep work’s place in our modern world of connectivity.

As Newport shares mind-opening insights in regards to facilitating deliberate practice and deep work, he questions whether social media and its perceived benefits are truly beneficial to one’s life and proceeds to ask us all to contemplate on whether it actually inhibits our ability to do significant and qualitative work.

In my support for his argument on social media not being beneficial, I am not claiming that one must do everything and justify it solely for its industriousness, its productivity level, or its potential for adding value to our society (That’s where the case for pleasure comes in, for pleasure’s sake.). However, his arguments were compelling enough to give me pause and think deeper about this waves arms around situation.

So, inspired as I was, I decided to embark on a personal project to apply the claims and suggestions I found to be relevant for my life.

For October, I set for myself the goal of abstaining from using all modes of social media for a month. I haven’t not tried this out before, but the cool thing this time in re-embarking on a [Social] Media diet was that Cal Newport’s proposal for  quitting social media suggests we mentally approach this trial period as a means for observation, rather than see it as a time in which we make the drastic decision to quit forever and live a Luddite life for the rest of our lives.

I’ve outlined for you some salient notes that I found key to embarking on this low-commitment period of self-exploration—it’s already yielded some valuable personal insights for me and hopefully you will find this helpful to you too:

Allez vous!

Cal Newport suggests the following guidelines for measuring the value of our connectivity:

“Set a 30 day goal for self-imposed network isolation. After those 30 days, “ask yourself the following two questions about each of the services you temporarily quit:

  1. Would the last thirty days have been notably better if I had been able to use this service?
  2. Did people care that I wasn’t using this service? (p. 205)”

“The Any-benefit Approach to Network Tool Selection: You’re justified in using a network tool if you can identify any possible benefit to its use, or anything you might possibly miss out on if you don’t use it.” How do you perceive the value of the tools in your life in relation to this?

After two weeks of following his suggestions, I came to certain, undeniable revelations about myself. I determined I have a very dependent relationship with certain media devices. I also apparently have more of a lack of self-control than I had previously thought (whether this characteristic is exacerbated from being a millennial or being genetically pre-disposed, I do not know). And most importantly, I’ve realized just how distracted I could be as opposed to seeing how focused or not distracted I was. This project was intriguing to me because although I’ve long developed a wariness towards the effects of technology and its byproducts, I was seeing things in a whole new light thanks to Newport’s tips & tweaks.

Ending notes: 

Sometimes, social media tools are very necessary to me, and I find Instagram in particular as a very enjoyable way to spend some portions of my day. But is the amount of time I dedicate to these platforms truly necessary, and ultimately even healthy for me et mon existence as a huuuman?

That is something for me to continue thinking about.

For more, hit up Cal Newport’s post on September 21 on quitting.