Here is something I think (hope) most of you can relate to.
As a child, you spent countless hours curled up in your reading nook, completely immersed in one fantasy world or another.
Chasing down villians. Cheering on heroes. Crying at injustices.
There simply wasn't a more enjoyable way to spend your time.
And when you finally thumbed the last page,
the closure was so beautiful you couldn't help but to give it a silent ovation.
Yet, there you were, already looking forward to get started on the sequel.
Or a new series, perhaps?
It was such a wonderful time, really.
In classes, I couldn't resist the temptation to sneak in a few pages when the teacher wasn't looking, because the hero is at the final-face-off with the villian.
Even at home, I would bring a book while I sat on the potty, usually resulting in Mom concerned voice at the door, asking if I was alright because I'd been in the loo for half an hour.
As gadgets came along, books took a back seat. The sound of ruffling pages became less of a daily occurence, replaced by the notification ringtone. Trips to the local bookstore became much less frequent, as I travelled between Netflix and Instagram, infinite entertainment at my fingertips.
Why I'm Doing This
For the longest time, I'd hoped to start reading consistently again. I acknowledged all the benefits of reading and even scoured the internet for articles/podcast that gave advice on developing reading habits.
In 2020, I finally took action.
As a way to keep myself accountable (and because reading is on brand with the website/newsletter🤭), I decided to keep track all the books I read throughout the year.
In this 📚 2020: Books In Review article, I want to share with you all the books I read this year. The good, the bad and everything in between.
By the way, quick plug. Follow my Goodreads profile if you'd like to get my take on certain books as I read them.
As usual, here is a Table of Content that will help you navigate through this article and find the sections that interest you the most. If you are looking for the tools I used to help with this habit or a particular book review, feel free to skip right ahead!
With that said, let's get into 📚 2020: Books In Review.
Books I Read in 2020
2020 Bookshelf Composition
Total Number of Books : 18
- Number of Fiction : 7
- Number of Biographies : 5
- Number of Non-Fiction : 6
Books Based On Category
- Racism : 4
- Entrepreneurship : 6
- Creativity : 3
- Self-improvement : 4
Top 5 Favorite Reads
In this section, I cover my top 5 favorite reads of 2020.
These 5 books constitutes of:-
- 1 absolutely stellar fiction
- 2 books on Entrepreneurship/Self-Improvement
- 2 remarkable autobiographies
1. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
This is undoubtedly my favorite fiction of 2020. I started off the book on my Kindle but it was so captivating I resorted to the audiobook version of the book just so that I could listen to the book on x2.6 speed when I couldn't read (doing chores, at the gym etc). The moment I finished the audiobook, I hopped onto Netflix to watch the movie spin-off just to relive the entire storyline again. I think there is way more to the story than the post-apocalyptic virtual world, Oasis. It reflects on quite a few social issues as well. Absolutely amazing. Probably going to revisit both the audiobook (Will Wheaton's narration 👌) and the movie in 2021.
2. Show Your Work - Austin Kleon
I've done my fair share of raving about Austin Kleon's Show Your Work throughout the year. I constantly reference it in my weekly newsletter and attribute it as one of the things that got me starting this personal website. This book is a really short read, just shy of 70 pages. However, I took my time with it and allowed the key concepts to sink it. If you are planning to read this book, I would highly recommend that you take notes on the margins and highlight as you go along. I read this on my Kindle but I plan to buy the physical copy of the book as well just because it was such a good read. And because the book is square which looks quite cute.
3. Anything You Want - Derek Sivers
After reading 'Show Your Work' by Austin Kleon, I started to take a particular interest in quick but good reads. I scoured the Internet and came across this book. As the title of the first chapter suggests, this book is indeed 'Ten years of experience in one hour'. This book is barely 60 pages and it takes just under an hour to read it. Yet, it provides lessons that you can apply in all areas of life for decades to come. Although the subtitle says : 40 Lessons for the New Kind of Entrepreneur, I doubt there's anyone who would find none of the 40 lessons applicable in their life in any shape or form. Read my full review here.
4. Becoming - Michelle Obama
This book was such an enjoyable read. Michelle's warmth and wit shone through in this book as she candidly recounted her childhood experience as well as her improbable path to the White House. One of the things that really interest me was her style of writing, which remained consistent throughout the book. Her narration of her childhood experience in South Side Chicago was just as humble and graceful as when she recounted her experience in the limelight as First Lady. Definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good read, especially young, aspiring girls because frankly, there isn't many people I would rank above Michelle Obama as an inspirational figure.
5. Born A Crime - Trevor Noah (Favorite Read)
Hands down, favorite read of 2020. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and it is fantastically narrated by Trevor Noah himself. It was an 8 hour track and I got through the entire audiobook in a single day while I was doing Mathematics Problem Sets. Inspiring story of how a kid who grew up in South Africa without a father and an abusive step-father made it in life despite countless obstacles that was placed in his way. There was even a part that was basically packed with entrepreneur tips. I really don't see anyone who wouldn't derive value from this book. Absolutely phenomenal stuff.
Here is another take on Trevor Noah's Born A Crime by Ezzaty Hasbullah.
🚀 Reading Tools
- Readwise - The single reading service that supercharged my highlights and notes organization across the various content I consume
- Audible - Maximum utility when it comes to increasing the number of books I read. While I may look like I'm in the zone and getting a good pump at the gym, more often than not, my earbuds are playing Stephen Fry's Harry Potter series instead of blasting hardcore gym music.
- Goodreads - Organizes and tracks all the books I've read throughout the year and provides me with reliable recommendations for my next read.
- Kindle - Allows me to store hundreds of books on a single device and helps me read way more because its just such a delight!
- Blinkist - A fantastic app that distills the world's best-selling non-fiction books into bite-size summaries of the key ideas that you can listen to or read in fifteen to twenty minutes. Whenever you have a spare few minutes you can hop onto the app and you can read and listen to Sapiens or Atomic Habits. Blinks also crucially come in audio format. So, if you're like me and want to listen to stuff at double speed while you're at the gym you've got the option of doing as well.
Enjoyed this 📚 2020: Books In Review?
Check out my other 2020 In Review articles below.
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* a short article on a few life lessons I've picked up/productivity method I'm experimenting within the week
* links to the favourite contents I consumed that week
* a question to ponder on for the week (or a challenge if I'm feeling cheeky!)
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