Year in review: 2017 — Books, Buddhism, and Backpack

Adit Gupta
Dec 29, 2017 · 6 min read

And we’re done with 2017! Already? This year went by like the new Tesla Roadster! I still remember writing my last year’s review with a list of ambitious but doable resolutions for this year. I decided to achieve the following this year:

— Make new things (Focus on smart home)
— Become super fit and reduce that body fat percentage
— Better financial management
— Read more books
— Start writing stories again

The first resolution did not work out. Though my home has a security system, two Echoes, and a couple of smart lights, none of them have my contribution whatsoever (except losing some money, of course).

I achieved some fantastic results for my second resolution but lost the momentum in second half of the year. :(
To my delight, I have aced the last three like a boss! :D

Let’s deep dive into the flashback to know what I missed and achieved this year.

Books

Talking about books, this was one hell of a year! I read more books than I’ve read in any year of my life. The number, for quantitative purposes, is 51. Leaving this vanity metric aside, it was more about the quality and diversity of books that I read this year — philosophy, history, science fiction, fantasy, horror, classics, Hindi literature, and Buddhism. I thoroughly enjoyed every single of them. Here’s the entire list of books that I read this year. You can also find me on Goodreads.

Books I read in 2017

Philosophy was the most significant discovery for me this year. I had a short-term existential crisis this year with numerous questions around success, failure, destiny, religion, and the meaning of life. Here are some of them:

1. How do you define a successful life? What is the ultimate goal of my life? What will be my legacy? Should I be even concerned with it?
2. Are people destined to do something? Is there even anything called as destiny?
3. Do I need a religion or school of thought to define virtues?
4. What happens to the knowledge acquired in a lifetime? What do I do with it? What will come out of it? Is it just for mental gratification, fame or something beyond that?

There’s nothing new about these questions. People have been asking them for ages, and numerous philosophers have answered them since the Milesians. Though there’s no definite answer to these questions, I felt enlightened after reading the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Camus and Confucius. I also enjoyed reading the philosophy of Mill about Liberty and how an individual’s thoughts get repressed if they do not align with the prevailing ideas of the society. Nietzsche’s aphorisms were also a delight to read. Some of my favourite ones:

I will continue to read philosophy in the coming year with more focus on Hegel, Kant, Descartes, Socrates, and Plato.

Buddhism

In our society, an individual is born into a set of customs, traditions, ideas, and beliefs based on a specific religion and geography. We are usually not encouraged to question them. They are just there — engraved in stone and to be followed by your heart and mind. You can choose to follow them, and that’s perfectly fine. However, rejecting them is not that simple in most cultures. Thankfully, I come from a background where it’s okay to have different ideas and beliefs. Though I’ve always been fascinated by Buddhism, I never took it seriously until I got an opportunity to read and know more about it this year. To be honest, my trip to Sri Lanka was the trigger behind the rejuvenated interest in Buddhism. Though I’m yet to join a sangha, I read quite a few books on the topic and attended a few sermons. Most of what I’ve read and understood so far is not only in-line with my personal beliefs but has also helped me in becoming a better human being. The goal is not to become a monk but a better individual for my family and the society. I hope to continue on this path in the coming year and will try to publish a more detailed post on my experience with Buddhism.

Backpack

We traveled a lot this year! And by lot, I mean every quarter! Our travel destinations included Sri Lanka, Goa, Mysore, and San Jose. To be honest, each place deserves an article. But as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! So, here are some of the photos from our travel this year.

Sri Lanka

Goa

Resolution

While 2017 was all about discovery, exploration, and learning, I believe 2018 will be action-packed with a lot more focus on sharing knowledge and shipping new products. Here are my resolutions for 2018:
1. Publish more articles
2. Start a design podcast
3. Become super fit and reduce that body fat percentage
4. Launch UX Assist 2.0
5. Read 30 books

I’ve already begun working on these resolutions to build up the momentum for 2018, and I hope to accomplish them just like this year.

I hope to share many more experiences and insights with you in the coming year. Till then, enjoy the party on 31st and have a happy new year!! :)

Adit Gupta

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