52 Books in 52 Weeks

My goal in 2021 was to read 52 books. An average of one book per week.

Throughout the pandemic I found books to be a refuge from the difficult times. I believe that I broadened my perspective through these chapters and pages. Admittedly, I won’t remember most of the details from most of these books. But I do believe that books become a part of you; a small fragment of your character.

Below is my list of books read in 2021, accompanied by my favourite quotes and passages.

Never Split the Difference
Chris Voss

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of negotiation.

Noise
Daniel Kahneman

Judgment is not a synonym for thinking, and making accurate judgments is not a synonym for having good judgment.

Shoe Dog
Phil Knight

The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone. Say goodbye.

The Vinyl Cafe Celebrates
Stuart McLean

I know that my lamp and I share this fundamental fact: neither of us is really necessary in this big wide world of light. But bidden, or unbidden, we are here nevertheless. Here by the grace of some big unknown thing. And while we are here, we will shine when we are called to, and do our best to shine as brightly as we can, shining away until the dark morning when someone will forget to turn us on.

Twentysomething
Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig

It’s true, you can’t do it all. And maturity, arguably, means coming to that realization and admitting that it’s time to start making choices and closing a few doors.

The Charisma Myth
Olivia Fox Cabane

Being charismatic does not depend on how much time you have but on how fully present you are in each interaction.

Six Easy Pieces
Richard Feynman

First figure out why you want the students to learn the subject and what you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense.

The Last Lecture
Randy Pausch

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century
Yuval Noah Harari

Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.

The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood

A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.

Catch-22
Joseph Heller

Why are they going to disappear him? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense. It isn’t even good grammar.

Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget. There is nothing magical in them, at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

Leonardo da Vinci
Walter Isaacson

Above all, Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it — to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.

Policing Black Lives
Robyn Maynard

Black residents of Ontario are ten times more likely to be shot by the police; they are nearly one-third (27 percent) of all the deaths caused by police force and make up over one-third (34.5 percent) of all deaths caused by police shootings, despite being only 3.6 percent of the Ontario population

American Gods
Neil Gaiman

People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe. And then they will not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjurations. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe: and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen.

The $100 Startup
Chris Guillebeau

Convergence represents the intersection between something you especially like to do or are good at doing (preferably both) and what other people are also interested in. The easiest way to understand convergence is to think of it as the overlapping space between what you care about and what other people are willing to spend money on.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
Eric Jorgenson

Basically, if someone is using a lot of fancy words and a lot of big concepts, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about. I think the smartest people can explain things to a child. If you can’t explain it to a child, then you don’t know it.

The Lean Startup
Eric Ries

I believe “entrepreneur” should be considered a job title in all modern companies that depend on innovation for their future growth.

Man’s Search for Meaning
Viktor E. Frankl

Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.

Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace

You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.

The Metamorphosis
Franz Kafka

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.

The Road
Cormac McCarthy

People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didnt believe in that. Tomorrow wasnt getting ready for them. It didnt even know they were there.

Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes

Although we know the end of the maze holds death (and it is something I have not always known — not long ago the adolescent in me thought death could happen only to other people), I see now that the path I choose through that maze makes me what I am. I am not only a thing, but also a way of being — one of many ways — and knowing the paths I have followed and the ones left to take will help me understand what I am becoming.

And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie

Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.

No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy

You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.

When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi

Throughout college, my monastic, scholarly study of human meaning would conflict with my urge to forge and strengthen the human relationships that formed that meaning. If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?

The 4-Hour Workweek
Tim Ferriss

It is far more lucrative and fun to leverage your strengths instead of attempting to fix all the chinks in your armor. The choice is between multiplication of results using strengths or incremental improvement fixing weaknesses that will, at best, become mediocre. Focus on better use of your best weapons instead of constant repair.

Work Won’t Love You Back
Sarah Jaffe

Neoliberalism tried to sell us on freedom not from work but through work.

The Ride of a Lifetime
Robert Iger

Sometimes, even though you’re “in charge,” you need to be aware that in the moment you might have nothing to add, and so you don’t wade in. You trust your people to do their jobs and focus your energies on some other pressing issue.

The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro

Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in — particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.

The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemmingway

You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.

The Backyard Adventurer
Beau Miles

Go back to doing something, anything, silencing the self-talk while digging, or cutting wood, or wielding a hand slasher as though you’re a medieval warrior. Either way, do something intense enough to stop thinking about anything other than what you’re doing.

White Fragility
Robin DiAngelo

Because racism does not rely solely on individual actors, the racist system is reproduced automatically. To interrupt it, we need to recognize and challenge the norms, structures, and institutions that keep it in place. But because they benefit us, racially inequitable relations are comfortable for most white people. Consequently, if we whites want to interrupt this system, we have to get racially uncomfortable and be willing to examine the effects of our racial engagement.

Blood Meridian
Cormac McCarthy

The man who believes that the secrets of the world are forever hidden lives in mystery and fear. Superstition will drag him down. The rain will erode the deeds of his life. But that man who sets himself the task of singling out the thread of order from the tapestry will by the decision alone have taken charge of the world and it is only by such taking charge that he will effect a way to dictate the terms of his own fate.

Don Quixote
Miguel De Cervantes

Fortune always leaves a door open in adversity so that it can be remedied.

Cat’s Cradle
Kurt Vonnegut

Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before,” Bokonon tells us. “He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque

We are forlorn like children, and experienced like old men, we are crude and sorrowful and superficial — I believe we are lost.

Eat & Run
Scott Jurek

You could carry your burdens lightly or with great effort. You could worry about tomorrow or not. You could imagine horrible fates or garland-filled tomorrows. None of it mattered as long as you moved, as long as you did something. Asking why was fine, but it wasn’t action. Nothing brought the rewards of moving, of running. Sometimes you just do things.

The Way of Kings
Brandon Sanderson

If we do nothing with the knowledge we gain, then we have wasted our study. Books can store information better than we can — what we do that books cannot is interpret. So if one is not going to draw conclusions, then one might as well just leave the information in the texts.

Goodbye, Again
Jonny Sun

Reaching a state of calm and accepting that all that you’ve done with your time on earth is enough, because it must be enough, because it is all that it will ever be.

Switchers
Dawn Graham

Targeted Career Goal + Hard Work + Unknown Factor = Success The “unknown factor” in this equation is luck, timing, contacts, or something else altogether. You might not find that reassuring because it means your future depends, in part, on something beyond your control. But to succeed, you must both work very hard and have faith that the unknown factor will come along if you persist.

East of Eden
John Steinbeck

Perhaps the best conversationalist in the world is the man who helps others to talk.

David and Goliath
Malcolm Gladwell

Courage is not something that you already have that makes you brave when the tough times start. Courage is what you earn when you’ve been through the tough times and you discover they aren’t so tough after all.

Think Again
Adam Grant

Throw out the ten-year plan. What interested you last year might bore you this year — and what confused you yesterday might become exciting tomorrow. Passions are developed, not just discovered. Planning just one step ahead can keep you open to rethinking.

James Acaster’s Classic Scrapes
James Acaster

Reminding me that none of the adults in my life really know what they’re doing and that I too will never really figure anything out.

Tortilla Flat
John Steinbeck

What pillow can one have like a good conscience?

Can’t Hurt Me
David Goggins

It won’t always go your way, so you can’t get trapped in this idea that just because you’ve imagined a possibility for yourself that you somehow deserve it. Your entitled mind is dead weight. Cut it loose. Don’t focus on what you think you deserve. Take aim on what you are willing to earn!

Cannery Row
John Steinbeck

Being at ease with himself put him at ease with the world.

Dune
Frank Herbert

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Theory of Fun for Game Design
Raph Koster

Based on my reading, the human brain is mostly a voracious consumer of patterns, a soft pudgy gray Pac-Man of concepts. Games are just exceptionally tasty patterns to eat up.

The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life
Alex Trebek

I just enjoy the moment I’m in. For me, life is a whole experience, not just a series of isolated moments. It’s like submerging yourself into a warm bath rather than sticking your toe under the faucet. It’s the totality of life.

The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway

Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.

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