I’m a sucker for alliteration.

Plus, starting at 20 for 2016 and not really thinking through logistically… well, that didn’t work out.

So taking what I learned from last year’s challenge I tweaked my approach to how I tweak and order my 2017 books.

By the way: my year starts somewhere between February 1 and March 1. January is all the rage for resolution setters, but this year, I chose to test and refine my goal-setting approach. So I had all of it in “first draft” by January 20 or so, and a near-final draft by ~ February 20.

Year-long or lifelong commitments and goals shouldn’t be set or taken on lightly, so I felt this was right for me. We’ll see how it goes.

2017: My Approach

Pick the right mix of books. Last year, there was dense; business; design; and classic. Not really any “real fiction” other than two, and one of those two was a swap in for a business book.

When picking the right mix of books, don’t worry about the order of reading outside of trying to maintain a balance. I can read more than one at a time and have the storyline or plots stay straight (hello, bookworm since age 4…), so as long as I focus on balance, the rest will take care of itself.

Also, use Goodreads to track better…because sometimes I forget that normal human beings (which, ha-ha-ha at that concept) don’t read 15 books at a time.

If I don’t finish the list, make sure the balance is reflected in the books I finish. It’s not the number that matters. Just the balance.

17 for 2017: The List

  1. Henry David Thoreau’s Journals
    These are his masterpieces in a form original to how he wrote them. It’s selection from his journals that hasn’t been arranged in a specific manner by a publisher since his original writing. Another honors literature throwback, of sorts – my junior year we read Walking, and my teacher at the time, Mr. Dayton, schooled us on the fact that none of us were capable of walking as Henry David Thoreau intended.
  2. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
    This version, similar to Thoreau’s journals, is closer to what was originally written by the author then what modern publisher is have created. It is the original scrolls, I’m not sure how that’s going to impact my first read of the book, but it felt worth it to go authentic instead of adapted in any way.
  3. The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac
    To the children in the innocent it’s all the same.
    One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
    If those quotes alone aren’t enough to make me want to read something by Jack Kerouac, the fact that Nate truly believes that this is a must-read is enough to convince me. I did make sure that this was one of the ones he wrote before he was in too much of a drunken stupor to be comprehendible.
  4. Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
    Thinking Fast and Slow has been on my list since I read about it on the Ted.com blog back in 2015. I bought it sometime that fall, and made it through the first three parts, then loaned it out to my friend Nathan (“the other Nathan” as he’s called in my house) in exchange for Zero to One. Needless to say, he won in that trade, and I have yet to get past chapter 2 of Zero to One.
  5. Dear Father, J. Ivy   done!
  6. The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
  7. Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut   done!
  8. The Bookshelf on the Corner, Jenny Colgan   done!
  9. The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, Jeffrey Rosen
  10. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell   done!
  11. The Odyssey, Homer
    Sorry Cho (my freshman honors literature teacher), but even though that was a book we read and dissected in class, I spark noted the shit out of it. I regret that now, and want to give it the attention it deserves. For masterpiece of literature that sparked so much in modern and traditional media, it’s almost like a prerequisite to appreciating the full value of stories that root their plot from Homer’s tales.
  12. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman   done!
  13. Redirect, Timothy Wilson
  14. Hamlet, Shakespeare
  15. Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard
  16. Repetition, Søren Kierkegaard
  17. Resilience, Eric Greitens   done!
  18. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  19. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Russ Roberts
  20. Louder than Words, Todd Henry
  21. The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zandor 
  22. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  23. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  24. Mistborn trilogy, Bryan Sanderson

I know, I know, the list is at 24 books…but technically, some are carryovers from 2016.

For what it’s worth, technically, that list is 30. I didn’t know Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was part of a five-book series. Oops.

I knew the Mistborn trilogy was a trilogy; the addition of that was actually rooted in a conversation with my brother. I was looking for good reading that wouldn’t suck me in too deep all at once. That’s one (3) I plan to mix in with the tougher reads.

So – I mean, with the back burner, trilogy, and apparent quintet, it’s certainly well over 17.

Carryover from 2016 represented on the above list

  1. Resilience, Eric Greitens   done!
  2. The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  3. How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Russ Roberts
  4. Louder than Words, Todd Henry
  5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Back burner from 2016, carryover (that I probably won’t get to)

  1. Zero to One, Peter Thiel
  2. Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
  3. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson

So, this year, I chose the first five by January 7. Then, as I (literally) agonized over my list, I ended up with ~5-6 buckets. I probably could have reduced them to about 2-3, but ran with the list instead of allowing planning to impede action.

Book Categories

  • (H) Harder: with focus, I may be able to do in a few efforts / attempts, or at least get solid chunks fully digested. Patience is key here. And the right frame of mind.
  • (D) Dense: tread lightly, slowly, and with patience. These will take true dedication but I need to prioritize the time to realize the gains from reading them. Run concurrently with others.
  • (S) Series: split’er up with the hard and the dense.
  • (F) – Fast / higher chance of absorption: the science fiction, business small dives, and a few literary classics fall here. Theoretically they’re books I can start and finish in a single surge.
  • (I)  Interactive: requires thinking and doing. Only one falls here, and I’ve been working on it for a year and a half. But, it’s been worth it.
  • (R) – Rougher reads: And time. Have patience. It also includes books that are easy to fly through and read, but I need to take additional time and brain energy to really digest how I can translate what I read and directly apply it within my day to day and world around me.

Here’s that list again, with the categories labeled:

  1. (F)  –  Henry David Thoreau’s Journals
  2. (H)  –  On The Road, Jack Kerouac
  3. (F)  –  The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac 
  4. (D)  –  Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
  5. (F)  –  Dear Father, J. Ivy
  6. (D)  –  The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
  7. (F)  –  Sirens of Titan, Kurt Vonnegut
  8. (F)  –  The Bookshelf on the Corner, Jenny Colgan
  9. (H)  –  The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, Jeffrey Rosen
  10. (H)  –  The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
  11. (D)  –  The Odyssey, Homer
  12. (F)  –  A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  13. (H)  –  Redirect, Timothy Wilson
  14. (H)  –  Hamlet, Shakespeare
  15. (R)  –  Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard
  16. (R)  –  Repetition, Søren Kierkegaard
  17. (H)  –  Resilience, Eric Greitens
  18. (F)  –  The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  19. (H)  –  How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life, Russ Roberts
  20. (I)  –  Louder than Words, Todd Henry
  21. (H)  –  The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zandor 
  22. (F)  –  One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  23. (S)  –  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  24. (S)  –  Mistborn trilogy, Bryan Sanderson

So there were only a few dense picks. I included more in my back burner,, but because I know that the end game is to distill the density and truly grow my brain, starting slower here will lead to less overwhelm.

Progress on 17 for 2017

But – I’ve finished six so far on the list, and one in the back burner category, which isn’t a bad start.

…And have read well over 20 additional books not on the list 🙂