2020 In Books

During the first couple of years that I started reading, I would pick up books on a whim. I would pick a book I liked in the moment, read it, and then pick the next book I wanted to read in the moment again. This served me well for those years, because I was exploring, didn’t really know my own taste in books, and didn’t know what all was out there either.

Things have changed since then - I have not only read enough to be aware of my likes and dislikes, but have also acquired a rather large to-read list based on what I felt I would enjoy. This makes picking up my next book a task these days. I am constantly afraid there’s a book on my shelf reading which would make the most sense in life right now that I’ve forgotten about.

So I went through all of my to-read shelf, and I am going to lay out here the books I am going to read this year. I believe that by doing so I will not only spare myself the anxiety and the indecision, but also actually get through more books this year.

Talking about numbers: I started reading seriously in 2016 - I set the challenge to 12 books that year. 50 the next, then 30, then 50 again. 🤦 And this is how much I actually read during those years:


I left college in Jan 2018, and as I’ve become busier, it has been harder to read at the same pace. So this year, I am rebooting my pace with a goal of reading (drumrolls……) 12 books - same as what I read last year.

Which brings me to my final point - how did I choose what to read? I could not think of a method that would work every year, but here’s what I chose this year: I want to read to be inspired, informed, and educated. I have several goals for the year, and I’ve chosen the books I felt would make the best companions on the journey.

Alright, enough talking. Here’s the list. You can also view it on my goodreads.

  1. Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker: I actually already read this one in Jan and I’m so glad for it. Sleep is so often overlooked by otherwise perfectly health conscious people, because we discuss so less about it’s importance. Reading this has had a huge impact on how seriously I take sleep. You can read my review here.
  2. Your Brain at Work by David Rock: I’ve been trying to keep my plate uncluttered for some time so I can focus on things that matter. I want to read this to learn how focus and distractions work, and how I can make them work for me.
  3. You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham: I suck at maintaining sane financial habits. I’ve been using YNAB to track my finances, have taken a few of their classes, and I think I could learn a lot from their system.
  4. The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe: I’ve started and kept a steady meditation practice this year, and I want to learn how to get better at it. Since I primarily use Headspace for guided sessions, and like Andy’s tone, I’m gonna read this one.
  5. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek: Running had been one of my most rewarding habits - but I’ve let it fall apart as I’ve moved to a city with fewer running spaces (I loathe running on a treadmill). One of my goals this year is to get back on a consistent running practice. I hope to borrow some inspiration and strategies to help me get back on track.
  6. Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana: Again, this is to learn more about meditation from one of the most recommended beginner texts on the topic.
  7. The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner: This one is part of my efforts to know more about the history and the legends of the information revolution - in this case, the Bell labs.
  8. Dealers of Lightning by Michael A. Hiltzik: Another one on CS history - this time on Xerox PARC.
  9. The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder: And another one - on the development of the first 32-bit minicomputer. This one actually won the Pulitzer for Non-fiction.
  10. The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen: Mountains both fascinate and intrigue me. I’ve been on a couple of high altitude treks in the past two years, and I am keeping this book to keep me company on my next one - wherever it is. Besides, I’ve heard this book has some beautiful writing.
  11. How to Live by Sarah Bakewell: I’ve half-read At the Existentialist Café by the same author, and I cannot wait to read this one. This is a biography of Montaigne, and with the way Sarah Bakewell writes, I’m sure this one will be an inspiring and fun read.
  12. Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov: I’ve been wanting to read some Russian authors for quite some time, so I am starting with this one. Also, I wanted the year to end on fiction.

Phew, done. Such a load lifted from my shoulders.

I’m keeping these books as backups, in case any one of the above books fails me, or I have some excess time to spare:

  1. Books from the Buddha series, by Osamu Tezuka
  2. Political Ideals by Bertrand Russel
  3. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino