52 Books in 2020

Samia Haimoura
Jan 21 · 3 min read

Here is what a recent conversation between myself and a potential landlord looks like (You’re probably wondering how is this related, but hold on for a second):

Me: How far is the ride to my office from your place?
Her: There is a tram that gets you there in 35 min […], but a shorter way would even lead you there in 15, provided you don’t mind the transfer.
Me: Cool. 35 min sounds terrific.
Her: I’m surprised you pick the longer route.
Me: Yeah. That means uninterrupted reading.

That’s right, I decided to dedicate more of this year to uninterrupted reading.

Why am I doing this?

*Curiosity I am an obsessive learner and a curious individual by nature. I like to explore different topics, whether it’s history, philosophy, math, science, psychology, tech, art — you name it. In fact, I find a wicked pleasure in drawing abstract models and connecting the dots across different disciplines.

*Creativity While I used to be ashamed of being the jack-of-all-trades and the master of none when I was younger, I have started to reap the benefits of interdisciplinary knowledge especially when called upon in problem-solving tasks. I find modern work and modern tasks to be increasingly complex, which begs for more creative ways of solving them, drawing upon different disciplines and places where we least expect, or do not expect the answer to stem from.

*Focus I am constantly overflooded with news, weekly newsletter, articles shared by friends here and there, and whatnot. While I do not mind the occasional added value of a good read, I find the value extracted from this practice to be disproportial to the amount of sifting through the useless information online. Additionally, fearing to miss out has caused my focus to dwindle down, and myself to read substantially less (paradoxically) and jump around to other reads before I am even done reading. I find this to be disastrous to have a good grasp on subjects which mastery we wish to undertake, if not completely nefarious for one’s mental health and stability, because not only does it affect us in this situation, but it also spills out on other aspects of our lives (including socially).

*Less Ego There is no one finish line for learning. I’m never done. Being a lifetime student in the quest of knowledge is not just a humbling experience but also a necessary one for anyone seeking improvement and purpose.

How realistic is this goal?

I’m obviously not realistic, and this is mainly due to the fact that while this means I’ll have to read 1 book/week, I’ll have to do so while balancing a full-time job, side projects, personal commitments and exercise, not to mention time to have fun & travel.

But I intentionally set this goal to one book a week, which seems to be unrealistic but not impossible, with James Cameroon’s words in mind:

“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” — James Cameroon.

So what does success look like?

I’ll follow John Doerr’s approach to evaluating goals & objectives (aka. Objective Key Results) through color coded, percentage-range assessment. If I manage to hit 70% mark and above, meaning 35 books and beyond, I’ll consider it a success given the various commitments I have today, and perhaps new ones that’ll come up sometime throughout the year.

If I manage to fully reach my ultimate goal, I’ll most certainly be proud, but this would also mean that my goal was not ambitious enough — upon which I might push the boundaries again next year. *wink*

Parting thoughts

For accountability, I’ve decided to share books I read along the way here. But in order not to flood my medium channel with stories every week, I’ll keep a running list of the books I read below in addition to my take on it.

Hopefully this will provide value-adding perspective, and inspire other people to read “unchartered” books, visit or re-visit others, or simply start reading in an age of overstimulated attention.

Samia Haimoura

Written by

Tech Entrepreneur @SEON, Data Science/AI Consultant, Duke University - Fuqua grad ‘19. Blogging @ gradientdissent.org.

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