Books of 2017

At the beginning of this year, I made a kinda-sorta resolution to try to read a book every two weeks. I did not do that. However, I ended up reading that number of books I wanted to (a little more actually — 28 woohoo) so I guess weekend and travel reading binges work. I wanted to share my reading list for the year (listed and grouped according to mostly arbitrary categories) and my top five favorites!

Top 5 favorites!

(not in any order)

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah:

You know those moments when you are laughing even though there is nothing humorous about what you feel? This book is one of those moments the entire time. Trevor Noah writes about the hard and many times tragic stories throughout his childhood in a way that punches you with emotion and comedy together. I felt horrified, shocked and sad and hopeful and awed. I also fell in love with his mom (damn, she is an amazing woman).

From stories about crushes to playing fetch in the park to domestic abuse to hustling in the slums, every story not only gives you a look into the crazy and inspiring life of Trevor Noah but also opens up a new world with a wholly different society, culture, discrimination system and difficulties. It makes you think twice about and question all the givens and taken-for-granted’s in our society and our own lives. Absolute must read and I can guarantee that some of the sentences in this book will be quotes that ring in your ears much later.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald:

I have no idea why I had not read this before, but I had clearly missed out on one of the most beautifully written books of all time. The Great Gatsby has been lauded for decades by thousands of people, so I will keep my review short: I was filled with wonder and delight at the ethereal quality of the prose, the complexity of the characters and the timelessness of the ephemeral emotions in the story. Also, it’s just fun to get lost in the glamour of the jazz age and Gatsby’s infamous parties. Just read it; it’s so worth it.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi:

I am grateful for the existence of Paul Kalanithi. I am grateful that he wrote this book. Paul Kalanithi is a neurosurgeon at the top of his career who gets diagnosed with cancer. He writes this memoir as he struggles with his illness. He dies before he can truly complete the book. It was published as it was when he left it after his death by his wife. The book is so pure and raw, and Paul’s childhood stories, adventures, ambitions and fears bring him into our own reality and as you want to read more and spend more time with this person, the book ends. It doesn’t end with some epic heart-warming conclusion; it just ends — mid-story — when Paul couldn’t write anymore and dies shortly after.

This book left an emotional footprint in my heart that I will carry with me.

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman:

Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel prize in economic science (yes, you read that right…), uses years of research findings to explain how our mind works. The book starts with explaining the two systems that drive our thoughts and cognition and then goes into how we use these systems. He talks about various heuristics we use in daily life and decisions, how overconfidence plays a big part in our lives, how we make choices, and finally ends with how we think about our own life. It’s a profound book that is packed with intellectual insights and surprises and quite a lot of eureka moments.

This is not a really a self help book but it does a better job at helping you help yourself than most of those. It gives the theory and frameworks needed to better understand the problems and solutions most self help books address. Kahneman also directs this book to organizations that can use the findings about our thinking to create better structures.

This book is definitely the most useful and transformative for my own life. I use Kahneman’s insights to better understand my and others’ actions and most of all, the stories of my own life.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Professor Yuval Noah Harari:

I’m a huge history geek. Seriously. I used to read my history textbooks end to end. On one hand, this seems like another history book (which it is) and on the other, it is a set of completely mind bending insights into how and why human history happened and more importantly, what being human (specifically homo sapiens) even means. It’s a book not necessarily about the what’s or even the why’s of human history; it’s about the how’s. How did we, without greater physical or even mental (no, we weren’t the biggest brained animals) abilities than other species come to be the absolute rulers of this planet? How did science start? How did money become the universal connector and communicator across space and through time? Harari talks about humans greatest (and maybe only?) strength is our collective imagination that allows us to create structures and concepts such as the USA government or money or Christianity or Google that allows us to organize and accomplish things that no other species could. Harari connects dots from biology, culture, history and technology to explain our history, our present condition and what he thinks our future will look like.

Another note: Homo Deus, Harari’s next book, delves more deeply into the future of our species and is also totally worth the read. It talks about our next goals and how technology will transform not just our activities but our values and even religion.

Reading List

(❤ by books I recommend)

Books about the world and things:

A short history of nearly everything ❤
Thinking, Fast and Slow ❤
Modern Romance ❤
Sapiens ❤
Homo Deus❤ 
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Real stories:

When Breath Becomes Air ❤
Born a Crime: Stories from a south African childhood ❤
Letters to a young poet

Non real people stories:

Crazy Rich Asians
The alchemist ❤
Turtles all the way down ❤
Rosie Project
The Girl on the Train ❤
1984
It Ends with us ❤
The Great Gatsby ❤
Before We Were Yours 
All five of the released Song of Fire and Ice books by George R.R Martin ❤(Game of Thrones, Clash of kings, Storm of Swords, A feast for crows, A dance with dragons)

Poems:

Milk and Honey ❤
(really need to read more poems in 2018)

Personal Development

Rising Strong
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck ❤
How to win Friends and Influence People
What I wish I knew when I was 20

Here’s to hoping 2018 will be filled with as much reading and let me know if you have any recommendations!