When I was a kid we’d make regular trips to the library during school holidays and I’d pick up a stack of new reading material each time. Sometimes I would get through six or seven books in a week, and although I have no idea what they were (other than every Hardy Boys adventure ever written, and a good chunk of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series), I’ve no doubt that reading expanded my mind in a way that no other medium can.
I’m glad of this, because reading as a kid is the first of author Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules for Writing:</p>
When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else. </p>
But somewhere along the line of adolescence I lost the reading bug — probably around the same time I quit playing the piano — and it wasn’t until the past couple of years that it has come back again.
How come? I’m not sure. Buying a Kindle (the Paperwhite model) has certainly made it easier to buy and read books. On the bus, on the tube, in the dark — places I didn’t use to do much reading.
Beyond the change in technology, another contributing factor was having to update this blog. The more I’ve written the more I’ve felt like reading. Fuel to stoke the fire, I guess.
And on top of all that, I’ve also started reading in the early morning from time to time, as well as before I flick the light off at night.
So, here is what passed before my eyes in 2013.
It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s as much as I can remember sitting here in the grey pre-dawn light on the last day of the year.
Books I read in 2013
Hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, chess addict, author. His Twitter profile reads “For some reason, I’ve turned myself inside out and all my guts have spilled onto my blog” — and he’s not kidding. If you need a kick up the backside to help get your plans of the ground, read this book.
I Was Blind But Now I See
Everything I Know
The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith
How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul
More of an instruction manual than a book, if you’re feeling trapped by your career as a graphic designer, you need to check this out.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable at meetings, parties or other gatherings, this book will help you work out what makes you tick. (Tip: it gets a little dull in the middle, but keep reading because the last third of the book is full of ‘Ahhh, that’s what is going on’ moments).
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It
“I’ll tell you the secret,” he said, “I thought I was going to die. I was just lying in bed and couldn’t move, I had a high fever, and was in too much pain. I really thought I was going to die. Finally, I just started saying over and over again, “I love myself.”
The Small Army Strategy
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch
The Power of Now
Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life
I used to drink at a pub in Glasgow named after Bukowski’s alter ego Chinaski. It had a huge painting of a pot-bellied man with a woman on his arm (based on the photo on the right) which put me off reading his books until now. Which was a huge mistake. If you only try one new author in 2014, make it this guy.
The Hydrogen Sonata
Iain M Banks
Set in an incredibly rich vision of the future that puts Hollywood sci-fi to shame and where artificial intelligences live alongside various humanoid species, this is the last in the Culture series that Banks wrote before losing his battle with cancer in June.
Possibly my favourite novel, reread for the third time this year.
The Complete Short Stories Of Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea
+ whatever paperbacks I read and didn’t keep a note of.
Looking back at this list, I’m definitely going to try and read more non-fiction in 2014 — it makes for much better bedtime reading, and has a habit of throwing up fresh perspectives on things, no matter how old the book in question is.
What were the best things you read this year?
Posted to life in 2013.