Bookshelf Chronicles: 2023 Edition

A list of books I read in 2023 along with a short review and a recommendation.

Bookshelf Chronicles: 2023 Edition
Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

We are near the end of this year. I read a few books as part of my reading goal. I am presenting a list of what I read, along with a short review and recommendation for them.

Recommendation level guidelines:

  1. Mostly a waste of time. Read the summary instead.
  2. Worth reading. But have low expectations.
  3. Good to read. But you won’t miss out much if you don’t.
  4. Can significantly change the thinking process. Must read.
  5. I will read some chapters from this book over and over again. 

Die with zero 
by Bill Perkins

This book is a nice guide about trading money to get other resources and experiences to optimize our happiness. A reminder that money on its own does not have any value. It is just meant to be a medium to exchange to get other things. Carefully chosen statistics back the arguments to make them more convincing. The writing is quite engaging as well. 

Recommendation level: 4/5.

So good they can’t ignore you 
by Cal Newport

This is a book about career. The book starts with a controversial argument saying that “Follow your passion” is bad advice. In most cases, the passion is not pre-existing but rather built over time. It analyzes what makes a fulfilling career and how to get it by building career capital (skills, connections, and more). A book highly recommended for undergraduate students.

Recommendation level: 4/5

Eat that frog 
by Brian Tracy

This is a book about how to avoid procrastination. There are a few tricks presented in this book that are useful. But overall, this should have been a blog and not a book.

Recommendation level: 1/5

80,000 hours
by Benjamin Todd

Another book on career. Has a systematic approach to evaluating different career options by impact, opportunity to gain career capital, job conditions, and personal fit. There are tips about how to build connections and apply for jobs. Some numbers presented in the book seem outdated, but still worth reading. 

Recommendation level: 3/5

Think like a monk 
by Jay Shetty

Honestly, I did not expect this book to be good. Jay Shetty shares his experiences on what it was like to be a monk. How he learned to control his emotions, analyze careers, and approach relationships. I really liked the chapters on fear and relationships. The book is quite engaging. 

Recommendation level: 5/5

Take your shot 
by Robin Waite

A decent book about growing business. It takes us through an example of a golf coach and shows some guidelines for approaching service-based businesses (including regular jobs).

Recommendation level: 3/5

Who not How 
by Dan Sullivan

A book on delegation. I did not fully resonate with all the ideas presented in this book. But some ideas made a lot of sense. For example, we should consider delegating a task if we often procrastinate over it. This is a sign that the task is important but we are neither experts nor interested enough for this task. Delegating it would free our time to do more interesting things. In my opinion, the book is a bit stretched. 

Recommendation level: 2/5

The E-myth revisited 
by Michael E. Gerber

A great book on building startups. The lessons are also very applicable in day-to-day life, even if you are not considering starting a new business. The key takeaway is to create systems for repetitive tasks and focus on improving the systems. This helps avoid emotional interference and effective delegation when needed. A very well-written book.

Recommendation level: 5/5

Rich dad’s cashflow quadrant 
by Robert Kiyosaki

A sequence to Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert. The key takeaway is that our main income should come from large businesses of investments and not from jobs or self-employment-type businesses. The book is focused on convincing people to learn more about business and investment skills and changing their mindset around them.

Recommendation level: 4/5

The intelligent investor 
by Benjamin Graham

Very old book. Written by the coach of Warren Buffet. I read a version with the main text and some commentary by Jason Zweig after each chapter. Frankly, the commentary is way easier to understand than the original content. It has lessons on approaching investments for lazy investors and those who want to spend more effort. It started getting a bit advanced for me after 60% of the book. I may pick it up again later to finish it.

Recommendation level: 3/5

The art and business of online writing 
by Nicolas Cole

I wanted to get some writing tips. It has many. But the book is focused on writing to get paid. This is not something I care about at this moment. So left it halfway. 

Recommendation level: 2/5

101 questions to ask before you get engaged 
by H. Norman Wright

The irony is that I read this book after getting divorced. By the way, there are two books with the same title. I read the one by H. Norman Wright. There are some very important questions that I did not ask before getting married. But, not all questions in this book are good. It is a short book, so I recommend someone about to get married to glance through it. 

Recommendation level: 2/5

by Yuval Noah Harari

I reread part of this book after a long time. It is a history of humans. Very well written. We can learn many things about our current behaviors by glancing backward. It touches all major things in our lives, including religion, politics, money, health, etc.

Recommendation level: 5/5

Books I am currently reading

Think and grow rich
by Napoleon Hill (20% finished)

I don’t know why this book is so hyped. Partly makes sense, but I am unlikely to finish it.

Recommendation level: 2/5

I will teach you to be rich 
by Ramit Sethi (30% finished)

Ramit has kept it simple and focused on very basic, money-related habits. The key idea is to identify what our rich life looks like and start living it by managing our money (i.e., spending more where we care and cutting costs where we don’t.)

Recommendation level: 4/5

Thinking fast and slow 
by Daniel Kahneman (50% finished)

This is a superb book, but I am reading it very slowly. I started reading this around December last year and still haven’t finished it. Daniel Kahneman has won a Nobel prize for his research and put his learnings into this book. A must-read, especially for all students starting their research journey.

Recommendation level: 5/5

Algorithms to live by 
by Brian Christian, Thomas L. Griffiths, and Tom Griffiths (10% finished)

Have just finished two chapters so far. So, I am holding on to give recommendations. But I liked what I read.

Recommendation level: TBA

My favorites

Video: Running effective meetings (Tim Ferriss)

Quote: "It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so." — Mark Twain