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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

Measuring a year in books: My 2022 in review (Inspired by Spotify)

Updated: Jan 25

What can you learn in a year? Can you find out what you learned from your watch or read history of the previous year?


What would 2022 in review look like after reading 2 books each week?


I never cared to do a year in review. Not until I read Adam Fishman’s hot take that one should not copy Spotify and do a year in review. Once the expert said, “don’t do it”, I had to try!



Reading history of the previous year illustrated as a Spotify-style year in review with a bookshelf full of books.

Thumbnail credits to Business Insider for the Spotify illustration, Image by upklyak on Freepik, and www.remove.bg for transparency. I’ve visualized the books in the video below.


Aggregated Statistics


I purchased and read 96 books totaling £633 ($762) last year. That’s equivalent to spending $14 each week to read (and re-read) 2 books each week. Audiobooks were the most convenient for me, so I preferred those over ebooks or paperback. I used the Alexa app to read ebooks aloud, as described here. I used Audible to listen to audiobooks.

A challenge in the data is it does not show the books I re-read a dozen times. It also doesn’t segregate books I purchased but didn’t complete reading.

Split of books purchased by spend and count across formats and months of the year

I see 3 spikes.

  1. The first spike in my spending on books was in April 2022, coinciding with my career sabbatical.

  2. The second spike was in June 2022, when I started my consulting venture, Spark Creative Technologies. You can see a visual of my early expenses here. The books then were about building an agency, building a consulting niche, and networking.

  3. The last spike was in Oct-Nov 2022 when I drank from the fire hose while consulting a client. I learned about marketing, customer research, content operations, and SEO during those months to help my client increase their organic traffic.


Titles of the Books

word cloud highlights guide and business as most common words

I created a word cloud of the most common words from the titles of the books using a word cloud generator. The most common titles included “guide” and “business”. Ok, so I was mostly reading books to learn stuff, including business. Taking a broader lens led to another word cloud, shown below. I created it using Wordart word cloud generator. It seems I read about guides to life, business, love, and food. The book titles emphasized “learn” and “more” - so the book titles also suggest learning and gaining more knowledge.

I read about guides to life, business, love, and food

Tagging the Books


I took help from a freelancer from Fiverr to scrape data for all these books to enable further analysis. It gave me this kind of dense information with summary, description, titles, and multiple genres of each book.

dense tables with summary, description, titles, and multiple genres of each book.

Each book was tagged to multiple genres. The combination of those highlights my read of non-fiction, business, and self-help genre. These highlights are apparent from the titles themselves! Does that suggest you can judge a book from its cover (or title)?


Let’s look at the 4 areas from earlier:

  1. Non-fiction: 92% of all books I read were tagged as Nonfiction

  2. Business: 84% tagged as Business

  3. Guide: 66% tagged as Self Help

  4. Love and Life: 63% tagged as Psychology and 50% as Personal Development

word cloud of the genre of books or content I read the most shows majority were nonfiction, business, and psychology

What do these 99 books claim to cover?


Looking at the descriptions of these books, the top words chosen by these authors include

  1. Busy

  2. Make

  3. Learn

  4. Time

  5. People

  6. New

  7. One

  8. Way

  9. World

  10. Life

 word cloud showing the most used words from the book descriptions are Busy, Make, Learn, Time, and People.

Did I read a lot of overlapping content? I will apply the Pareto principle to see whether most words repeat in the descriptions. If that shows a high cumulative percentage in a few words, then there is a high overlap.


I used Browserling and more data cleanup to look at the amount of text in the descriptions covered by just a few words. 80% of the content of all the descriptions was covered by 40% of the most used words, not by 20% of words.

What does this mean? There were 12,485 words in the descriptions after removing stopwords. There are 4,167 unique words. 80% of the combined descriptions, i.e., 10,000 words, were covered by 1,700 of the most used words. Instead, I would consider it a heavy overlap if 800 words covered these 10,000 words in the description.

Checking the 80:20 rule or Pareto principle by seeing the amount of all descriptions covered by the top most used words

Expectation vs. Reality of the Data Analysis


Above sections cover all the data analyzed for my year in review. The analysis process was a lot more tiresome than I expected. I’ve visualized the processes as 2 flowcharts below.

expectation vs. reality of analyzing data to synthesize a summary or visualize the data. Specifically for exploring the reading history of books

Some books I enjoyed in 2022

  1. The Black Swan flummoxed me and changed my perspective on many things. One change in perspective was in choosing books to read. I reduced reading biographies and success stories after this. Noise added further bolstered changes stemming from The Black Swan.

  2. I liked 2 books on building relationships with a wide circle of friends. Have you ever found networking events or meetups hard? Awkward? This Sh*t Works gets super tactical in helping you succeed at any such event. Still feels awkward? The 2-Hour Cocktail Party agrees that meetups are poorly organized. Instead, it teaches you the N-step process to host an amazing meetup at your home. While minimizing expense, time spent, and social hesitation. How to Win Friends & Influence People helped round up relationship-building skills.

  3. The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients walked me through common potholes in building my consulting business, Spark Creative Technologies, while Built to Sell helped me think of the exit strategy for my business. Fanatical Prospecting and Key Person of Influence pulled me in opposite directions for my business. Should I focus on sales or marketing? I charted my business functions in Organizing and Scaling my business as a solopreneur.

  4. How We Learn and Atomic Habits covered ways to improve a skill, schedule my time, and read books.

  5. Consider the Fork and The Gut gave my foodie and nutritionist side a lot of enjoyment. See Metrics vs Nature: Ranking Proteins on my approach to nutrition.

  6. Deploy Empathy and Continuous Discovery Habits were instrumental in improving my customer research skills, which helped in my client consulting projects. I got to write more on UXR in How to Use Metrics and Signals to Track Customer Experience.

  7. A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled, Storyworthy, and Self Compassion taught me about being mindful in my daily life and finding story-worthy moments in any day.

  8. I quote How the Internet Happened a lot since it covered dozens of well-known Internet companies in depth.


I used Gandr.io to create a book cover collage.


Complete List of books


I’ll end this article with the complete list of books. I used Clideo to make a video of my book covers.


Here is a list covering most of the books:

  1. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

  2. 7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher

  3. A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled

  4. All Marketers Are Liars

  5. Ask Your Developer

  6. Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the Science of Adult Attachment Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love

  7. Bad Science

  8. Breakthrough Copywriter: A Field Guide to Eugene M. Schwartz Advertising Genius

  9. Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential

  10. Built to Sell

  11. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

  12. Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value

  13. Delivering Happiness

  14. Deploy Empathy

  15. Do the Work

  16. Eat More, Live Well: Enjoy Your Favourite Food and Boost Your Gut Health with The Diversity Diet. The Sunday Times Bestseller

  17. Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life

  18. Fanatical Prospecting

  19. First Bite: How We Learn to Eat

  20. Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

  21. Fooled by Randomness

  22. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

  23. How the Internet Happened

  24. How To Talk: Siblings Without Rivalry

  25. How to Win Friends & Influence People

  26. How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens

  27. How Will You Measure Your Life?

  28. I Never Knew That About London

  29. Invention

  30. It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences

  31. Key Person of Influence

  32. Letting Go of Anger (Second Edition)

  33. Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products

  34. Misbehaving

  35. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (Portfolio Non Fiction)

  36. Night School

  37. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame

  38. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t

  39. Noise

  40. Normal People: One million copies sold

  41. Nudge: The Final Edition

  42. Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right (Oh Crap Parenting Book 1)

  43. One Million Followers, Updated Edition: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days

  44. Outcomes over Output: Why Customer Behavior Is the Key Metric for Business Success

  45. Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Revised and Updated)

  46. Platonic: How Understanding Your Attachment Style Can Help You Make and Keep Friends

  47. Plays Well with Others

  48. Positive Imaging

  49. Rage

  50. Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

  51. Rip It Up

  52. Scientific Advertising: 21 advertising, headline and copywriting techniques

  53. Self Compassion

  54. Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

  55. Storyworthy

  56. Stumbling on Happiness

  57. Switch

  58. Ten Drugs

  59. Ten Times Happier

  60. Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation (Strategyzer)

  61. The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings

  62. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

  63. The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry

  64. The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"

  65. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

  66. The Book of Joy. The Sunday Times Bestseller

  67. The Carbon Almanac

  68. The Coddling of the American Mind

  69. The E-Myth Revisited

  70. The Family Firm

  71. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

  72. The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

  73. The Goal

  74. The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building

  75. The Hero with a Thousand Faces: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell

  76. The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom

  77. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever

  78. The Magic of Thinking Big

  79. The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You

  80. The Power of Moments

  81. The Power of Regret

  82. The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners

  83. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

  84. The Unicorn Project

  85. Think Like a Freak: Secrets of the Rogue Economist

  86. Thinking, Fast and Slow

  87. This Is Not A Diet Book: A User’s Guide to Eating Well

  88. This Shit Works: A No-Nonsense Guide to Networking Your Way to More Friends, More Adventures, and More Success

  89. Uncanny Valley: Seduction and Disillusionment in San Francisco’s Startup Scene

  90. What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture

  91. When to Rob a Bank: A Rogue Economist's Guide to the World

  92. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?


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