Note taking is overrated. Underlining key passages, scribbling insightful observations in the margin of library books to amuse a future stranger—we get it, you read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—the colour-coded set of highlighters, etc. This kind of thing is very cute, and at the risk of offending my favourite productivity pornographers, almost certainly misses the point…
Last year I finally cracked my goal to read 100 books. After completing the challenge, I decided that I wasn’t going to get too hung up on the number this year.
Sure enough, I dialled it back: I only got through 56 books in 2019, which feels a little disappointing.
But having looked through my list, I realised that this was still a great year for quake reading. As always, it was agonising trying to choose between a worthy field, but I’ve winnowed it down to my top 10.
These are the books that blew my mind, made me howl, or filled my notebook to overflowing. In no particular order:
We’ve established that there is no such thing as cosmic justice: it rains on the just and the unjust alike. But over the course of a lifetime, we at least vaguely shuffle in the direction of getting what we deserve. The goal of this post is to get us from ‘vague shuffling’ to ‘slightly-more-purposeful ambling’.
If you want to get lucky, the usual advice is that you have to be prepared, and then wait for opportunities. This is not very helpful.
Instead of wandering aimlessly and hoping for the best, we can use a simple framework to figure out which opportunities are worth pursuing.
This is the filter I run over pretty much every decision these days. It’s called the optionality approach…
There’s a stomach-sinking moment of realization that comes in every reader’s life: you’ll run out of years long before you run out of books. Like the monstrous hydra, every title struck off your reading list spawns three more to take its place. The unread piles glowering at you from the bedside table only grow larger. So many secrets, so little […]
This is normally my favourite post to write. But now I have to somehow pick out the highlights from 100+ contenders. Most of these books were curated and recommended by Deep Dish readers and other people of impeccable taste. I already knew they were going to deliver. And they did!
After much internal debate and killing of darlings, I’ve managed to narrow it down to the top 10. These are the books that blew my mind, made me howl, or filled my notebook to overflowing. In no particular order:
Mostly when I read a book, I’m looking for the cute little ‘aha!’ moments. I write ‘em down in my notebook so they can never escape. Sometimes a book also touches me emotionally, and it’s nice to be reminded my blackened heart still beats. And in most cases, that’s the end of it—I turn the last page, and my brain keeps merrily ploughing along the same well-worn tracks as ever.
But every once in a while, I come across something really wild. Gray matter lurches and heaves, while the few remaining brain cells huddle under the kitchen table. Neural pathways are destroyed and rebuilt. When the tremors finally stop, nothing looks the same. My meat-computer has been jolted out of its old familiar ruts, and into a new and unfamiliar area of idea-space. I am shook…
It’s been another self-indulgent year of funemployment for yours truly, which means I’ve had the time to read as much as I want; basically cruising around the library with my mouth open like some sort of bibliophilic basking shark. Since most people don’t have this luxury, I hope I can provide a small public service in filtering out the tastiest morsels that have passed through the bristle-like gill rakers encircling my giant, unhinged jaw…
Being the kind of person who gets antsy if any spare moment is left unfilled, I can’t believe it took me so long to dive into the magical world of podcasts. All that dead time, now brimming with life! It’s kind of trippy that you can be buying bog roll at the supermarket while an astrophysicist sits in your head and explains how black holes work. A vast ocean of knowledge and entertainment is available at the push of a button, and is 100 PER CENT FREE. Here are my top picks.
In my former life, I enjoyed a great deal of schmoozing. There were many long lunches at fine restaurants, champagne in business class served by the CEO of the airline, and corporate boxes at the sportsball. I’ve also spent weeks barely moving my carcass from a tropical island hammock except to skin up a joint or get another bottle of wine. I would be lying if I denied that all of these things are tremendous fun. On the other hand, they don’t tend to lead to much lasting satisfaction, losing their flavour as quickly as an over-chewed piece of gum. The best things in life really are free…
As a small human being, I made fortnightly trips to the public library with a garbage sack slung over my shoulder. Not a tote, not a grocery bag; a big ol’ garbage sack. Short stories, novellas, comics, teen fiction, non-fiction – all of it disappeared into the sack’s insatiable maw.
Goodreads just informed me I read 65 books this year. That’s miles away from my goal – which was to crack triple figures – but it’s still been a hell of a good year. About two thirds of the books I read were really good. From those, I’m skimming off the absolute crème de la crème to recommend to you.