a book a week — 2017

I challenged myself to read 52 books in 2017 — it was about a book a week, but in the fall I missed a few weeks, so I had some catch up to do in December. My goals were to get improve concentration, and to learn a little bit about a lot of different fields. Anyways, here are some of my favorites, what I’m looking forward to reading next year, and the entire list.


The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

This book, at times, made me uncomfortable, but this man’s story was mesmerizing. I couldn’t believe how different Rob’s experience at Yale was to mine, and Jeff’s. I was angry by the end of the story, and upset that the Ivy League wasn’t able to save Rob. Then again, it made me think; can and should an education really “save” someone?

The Feast of the Goat

This book was slow at first, but by the end it was gory, complicated, and really fun to Google what was happening in the book compared to the real life of Rafael Trujillo, the “goat” and previous dictator of the Dominican Republic. The novel was really dark, and some things that happened to the characters were disturbing. I loved the real characters mixed with the fictional ones — it was thrilling history and a great read.

Coming Apart

When reading this book, I thought a lot about where I had lived and how that influenced where I went to school, how I thought, what I bought, etc. There’s a quiz in the book to determine how thick your “bubble” is — a bubble of wealth, education, and elitism. I lived most of my life in a SuperZip of education and income, yet not all of it (just check out the differences between 60564, 77494 and 19702), and the SuperZip concept explains how different my experiences were in these places. White America, and everything outside of my bubble, made a lot more sense after this book.

Other Recommendations

Besides those three, I would also recommend Life of Pi, for a thrilling tale that makes you question the truth, Modern Romance, for some actual practical advice on dating and relationships and the paradox of choice, Hillbilly Elegy, for as people state, “why Trump won,” Reset, if you want to be angry about the state of women in VC/tech, The Hard Thing About Hard Things for a few lessons on starting a company and how to deal with challenges, and The Reluctant Fundamentalist for a story told through a unique point of view. Most of the books I read were really great, but these were some of the ones I just couldn’t put down.

What I Didn’t Read

I tried to read books written about a bunch of different places — I hit the US (a lot), India/South Asia, Spain, Latin America, the UK, France, Japan, North Korea, Iran, and a few other countries. Notably, I missed literature written about China and Russia. I’ll definitely pick up some titles from there for 2018.

Takeaways

It was really easy to read books when I put them on my phone, because instead of instinctively going to Facebook when I was bored, I would instead pull open my book.

There are a lot of awesome eBooks out there, and a lot of them are free through Yale’s library (OverDrive, for example).

I missed out on some of the longer books I wanted to read because I was bound to this arbitrary “book a week” guideline, and I couldn’t reasonably finish a 600/700 page book in a week. I could have divided a book in that case, or picked a more reasonable metric (i.e., pages read in a week), but I decided to keep it simple this time around.

I’m going to do it again! I learned SO much, and it was a really great use of my time. So, let me know if you have any book suggestions in the comments! Happy 2018!

Entire List

1. The Orphan Master’s Son — Adam Johnson
2. An Unaccustomed Earth — Jhumpa Lahiri
3. The Da Vinci Code — Dan Brown 
4. Interpreter of Maladies — Jhumpa Lahiri
5. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist — Sunil Yapa
6. The Shadow of the Wind — Carlos Ruiz Zafón
7. When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalanithi
8. Ficciones — Jorge Luis Borges
9. 1984 — George Orwell
10. Milk and Honey — Rupi Kaur
11. Life of Pi — Yann Martel 
12. The Feast of the Goat — Mario Vargas Llosa
13. The Tartar Steppe — Dino Buzzati
14. Don Quixote Book 1 — Miguel de Cervantes
15. Eat Pray Love — Elizabeth Gilbert 
16. The Catcher in the Rye — J.D. Salinger 
17. Love in the Time of Cholera — Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
18. Modern Romance — Aziz Ansari
19. Girl on the Train — Paula Hawkins 
20. Memoirs of a Geisha — Arthur Golden
21. Hillbilly Elegy — JD Vance
22. The Time Traveler’s Wife — Audrey Niffenegger
23. Reading Lolita in Tehran — Azar Nafisi 
24. All the Light We Cannot See — Anthony Doerr 
25. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace — Jeff Hobbs
26. The God of Small Things — Arundhati Roy
27. The Monk and the Riddle — Randy Komisar
28. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind — Yuval Noah Harari
29. The Defining Decade — Meg Jay
30. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — Jonathan Safran Foer
31. Not That Kind of Girl — Lena Dunham
32. 13 Reasons Why — Jay Asher
33. Cracking India — Bapsi Sidhwa
34. ‎Robinson Crusoe — Daniel Defoe
35. ‎Lives of Girls and Women — Alice Munroe
36. ‎Translations — Briel Friel
37. ‎Reset — Ellen Pao 
38. ‎Wide Sargasso Sea — Jean Rhys
39. ‎The History of Mary Prince — Mary Prince
40. ‎Waiting for the Barbarians — J.M. Coetzee
41. The Other Boleyn Girl — Philippa Gregory
42. Midnight’s Children — Salman Rushdie
43. Grit — Angela Duckworth
44. Venture Deals — Brad Feld
45. Being Mortal — Atul Gawande
46. ‎The Hard Thing About Hard Things — Ben Horowitz
47. ‎Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman — Haruki Murakami
48. 1491 — Charles C. Mann
49. ‎The Reluctant Fundamentalist — Mohsin Hamid
50. ‎The Buddha in the Attic — Julie Otsuka
51. ‎Coming Apart — Charles A. Murray
52. ‎The Big Short — Michael Lewis