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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

A Personal Reflection On 106 Books Read In 2023

Updated: Jan 25

Rating And Thoughts On Books In Food, Psychology, Parenting, And More

In my previous post, I highlighted my top book picks from 2023. I shared aggregate statistics in that post. Now, I'll share my thoughts on every book I read in 2023. You'll find a list of 106 books in this post. Here is my 2022 reading list of 96 books.

First, I'll talk about my rating system, the "impact rating," which I use instead of a star rating. Then, I'll share my thoughts on each book I read and remember from 2023. I'll end the article with books I shortlisted and purchased but didn't finish reading in 2023.

My list of books is in this order:

  • 9 Books on Leadership and Management

  • 8 Books on Parenting and Family

  • 8 Books on Health and Wellness

  • 7 Books on Productivity and Time Management

  • 7 Books on Writing

  • 7 Books on Psychology and Mindset

  • 7 Books on Popular Science

  • 7 Books on Food and Cooking

  • 6 Books on Marketing

  • 5 Books on Understanding The World With Data

  • 5 Books on Scaling A Tech Company

  • 4 Books on Philosophy and Thought

  • 4 Books on Entrepreneurship

  • 4 Books on Career Growth

  • 3 Books on Sales

  • 3 Books on Consulting

  • 3 Books on Content Creation

  • 2 Books on Friendships and Community

  • 2 Books on Business

  • 2 Books on Self-Help and Personal Development

  • 2 Books on History and Culture

  • 1 Book on Product Management

  • Incomplete Reads

Collage of all book covers read in 2023.
Collage of all book covers read in 2023.

Impact Rating For Books, Not Stars

I realized that using the conventional star rating system could make my ratings appear objective. My ratings are not objective, they are subjective. So, I call it an “Impact Rating”. I give an Impact Rating to each book based on:

  • Change in my beliefs

  • Actions I took in my career or life

  • New information vs my previous knowledge

Each book is rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. A lower Impact Rating doesn't mean a book is poor in quality. For example, a book may have great content but I knew its content. Or, a book may have great content but I didn’t take any actions in my career or life from the book.

I did not write notes for the books where I had forgotten what I learned. You’ll find those listed without any notes or rating, and at the bottom of each section.

If you only want to see my top reads from 2023 and aggregate statistics, then see this post.

You can watch a video walkthrough of the statistics and book covers here.

9 Books on Leadership and Management

1. What Got You Here Won't Get You There: How successful people become even more successful (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I've read this book many times, despite its unattractive cover and unappealing title. It describes 20 behavioral mistakes common among professionals, particularly those who become successful executives, but face a ceiling to their growth due to interpersonal issues. The book clearly explains these challenges and offers practical solutions. I began using these solutions in my daily life.

2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this twice because it was really enjoyable and informative. The writing style was like a story, but it also explained the 5 dysfunctions of a team and the vital role a team plays in a company's success. Your initial team in a company is crucial, and trust is key, among other factors.

3. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): Although the military dialogues were irritating, the principles of extreme ownership were very valuable. For example, if there's anything that goes wrong around you, there is some part of the blame that you need to own up to, because you could have done something different.

4. Winning Minds: Secrets from the Language of Leadership (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I never knew the power of metaphors before this book. Metaphors are important to convey an undercurrent. When you compare something, you should pick metaphors that fit. Like, if you see your startup as a rocket, use words like 'take off' or 'adding fuel to the fire'. If you see a political party as a family, use different metaphors. Metaphors help people remember your ideas better.

5. The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I found this book very useful for engineering managers. I suggested my wife read it as she aims to advance from an engineer to an engineering manager. The book interestingly points out that engineering managers should remain technically involved.

6. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): This is a follow-up to the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team." It serves as a practical guide, which is great. I didn't need to apply it in practice, so I read it and set it aside.

7. Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I have been a part of Rand's leadership Slack group for some time. When I had the opportunity to read a book by the creator of the Slack group, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new side of him.

8. Principles: Life and Work (💡 1/5 impact rating): Although this book is really popular, I found it hard to read. One reason is Ray Dalio's use of correlation as causation. He talks about various cultural practices followed at his company. He also discusses the company's successes. However, some of these practices have been disproven in organizational research, particularly regarding employee motivation.

9. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action: “Start with why” seems to have become a well-known motivation phrase.

8 Books on Parenting and Family

10. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): This is my go-to book for strengthening my marriage. It delves into the common or potential missteps that couples may encounter and provides exercises to navigate those emotional challenges. The authors, Mr. and Mrs. Gottman, have conducted hundreds of thousands of hours of research on couples, forming the basis of their methodology.

11. The Family Firm: A Data-Driven Guide to Better Decision Making in the Early School Years (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I learned how to apply organizational best practices of management, planning, and decision-making in your family. Your family is also an organization where you want to put your best foot forward and use research backed approaches. Pairs well with the book Fair Play.

12. Potty Training in 3 Days: The Step-by-Step Plan for a Clean Break from Dirty Diapers (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this potty training book many times. I also made a detailed document about it. This document helped me and my wife potty train our kid in one weekend.

13. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I've read this book many times because I don't want to scold or punish my child, but I want to teach them good habits and discipline. This book has given me a framework for achieving this goal, and I use it daily.

14. How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen: A Survival Guide to Life with Children Ages 2-7 (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): This is my favorite book for understanding my relationship with my kid. I go through it every few weeks, especially when I come across new challenges in parenting. I have three books I really like about relationships: one for my relationship with my wife (Gottman), one for my relationship with my kid, and one for my relationship with myself (self-compassion).

15. The Daily Dad: 366 Meditations on Fatherhood, Love and Raising Great Kids (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): My friend from UCLA gave me this book, and it's been on my bedside table. I read a page of it every day. It helps me be more mindful. I make the best of my time as a parent with my child.

16. Fair Play (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): This book is an extension of the 'Family Firm' book. I found it while looking for ways to balance household tasks between my wife and me. I appreciate its approach to explaining the various unseen tasks at home. It made me more empathetic towards tasks my spouse does that I might not notice. It offers a framework for fairly sharing and owning tasks between my spouse and me.

8 Books on Health and Wellness

18. Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this book like a manual to help me improve my sleep. Improving my sleep was part of my 2023 goals. I often read it, focusing on specific chapters to tackle different sleep issues. The manual helps me stay on track with my yearly goal.

19. Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy and Rewarding (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): In Daniel Lieberman's book, he draws intriguing parallels between the natural activities of our hunter-gatherer ancestors and our modern lifestyle. He points out that exercises and healthy eating, once automatic for humans in their daily survival activities, now require deliberate effort, willpower, and discipline. I was particularly struck by the comparison of calories burned. A hunter-gatherer, who might walk 20 miles in a day, burns a similar amount of calories as a person leading a sedentary lifestyle today. This comparison clarified for me the importance of diet control in managing weight. Since not everyone exercises regularly, adjusting food intake is a more accessible change. The book emphasizes 'gathering and hunting' rather than 'hunting and gathering.' This is because our ancestors spent most days gathering, with successful hunts being rare. They derived the bulk of their calories from gathered foods like tubers, highlighting a significant aspect of their diet.

20. Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I was amazed by the extensive research in various fields. It shows that in any physical activity, be it a marathon, weightlifting, triathlon, or others, your mind is the key muscle, not your body. Training your body also means training your mind. It also raises a crucial question about the essence of sports. For instance, if a shoe boosts your speed by 10%, is that sportsmanship? Or do you consider it an artificial performance enhancers?

21. How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I found the book's narration irritating. The main part talks about the importance of a plant-based diet. But, its appendix was full of surprising learning. The book discusses small diet tweaks to improve sleep, digestion, fitness, or longevity. I cannot remember how this book differed from How Not To Diet. Both very similar names from the same author.

22. How Not to Diet (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I covered this above.

23. Ultra-Processed People (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): The book "Ultra Processed People" had its drawbacks, notably in its treatment of the weight gain associated with an ultra-processed diet. While it correctly identified that individuals tend to consume more calories under such diets, even when the macronutrient profiles are similar, it overlooked the broader implications of caloric intake versus food type. Additionally, the author's dismissive attitude towards those who read nutrition labels was off-putting. However, the book did excel in its clear categorization of food into four tiers: unprocessed, minimally processed, processed, and ultra-processed. The criteria defining ultra-processed foods and the arguments for avoiding them were well-articulated and logical.

24. Lies My Doctor Told Me: Medical Myths That Can Harm Your Health (💡 1/5 impact rating): I would not recommend this book because it makes you question so many health recommendations from your doctor. I learnt new facts around health and the importance of the "food as medicine" approach.

7 Books on Productivity and Time Management

26. The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I focus on efficiency and productivity. But, this book taught me about the importance of efficacy. Now, I set aside a three-hour block on my weekdays. During this time, I work on one main task. I don't take any meetings or other tasks in that time block. It helps me prioritize. It mentioned how priority was a singular, which means a singular focus. But, in recent years it has become a plural. Then, people have invented phrases like "top priorities."

27. Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): This book explained that stress is a good thing. Now, I feel ok with some stress because it shows I care about the results and it puts my mind in the right tunnel vision to achieve a goal.

28. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I remember a really extreme example. It's about deleting all your social media and email. Imagine this: You go off the grid, head to a cabin, and just focus on your work. Some people actually do this, but let's be real, it's not possible for most of us. So, we need to figure out different ways to focus and make our own space and time.

Reminder: I did not write notes for the books if I had forgotten what I learned from them.

7 Books on Writing

33. Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): This book offers guidance on enhancing writing in a business context, emphasizing brevity as a key element. Unlike academic settings, readers in business scenarios are not required to engage with your writing, making conciseness vital. I plan to apply the book's ROAM analysis framework to my writing. Additionally, I am considering integrating its recommendations into prompt engineering, adding another editing layer to my process with ChatGPT. Its iron imperative was to "treat your readers' time as more valuable than your time."

34. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): Every writer recommended this book as a guide. I recently read it and loved it. It found it to be a valuable resource that I will revisit regularly for guidance.

35. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): This book had more storytelling than tips on writing. But, as it's from a renowned author, I still found it interesting and picked up some useful tips along the way.

36. HBR Guide to Better Business Writing (HBR Guide Series) (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): The book taught concepts similar to Writing Without Bullshit. I liked its examples. It contrasted ineffective (not this, but this) and effective methods of communication. I realize I should first craft a preliminary summary for an article, ideally in 3 concise sentences. This will help me overcome writer's block and make me think of the readers. I plan to revisit this book for further insights.

37. First You Write a Sentence. (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I was fascinated by the concept of focusing on the 'quanta of a sentence' rather than on characters, words, paragraphs, or chapters. This book offered extensive insights into crafting effective sentences, an approach to writing that I found particularly engaging.

7 Books on Psychology and Mindset

40. Alchemy: The Surprising Power of Ideas That Don't Make Sense (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): This book countered the idea of data-driven decision-making. It pointed out you could have irrational ideas that might work. But, how do you persuade your boss to give you funding for it? I liked the case studies in it.

41. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I think Malcolm Gladwell's books are classics. I like how he reframes situations. Take the question of who is more likely to win between David and Goliath.

42. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): People think others are motivated by money and rewards, but they are motivated by intrinsic motivation and self-actualization. This book explains how most of us are motivated by our own goals, decision-making autonomy, and seeing the impact of our work, not just money.

43. The Happiness Hypothesis: Ten Ways to Find Happiness and Meaning in Life (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): One of my favorite books. It teaches about happiness and shares research on what makes people happy. I used what I learned to plan my year in 2023, make life decisions, and plan my weekends. 

44. Mindset - Updated Edition: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I read this classic book about growth mindset versus fixed mindset. Many other books refer to it. But, I've also read criticisms about the author's understanding of the research. This leaves me with mixed feelings. The book does teach popular jargon and examples for conversations, so it is helpful.

45. The Art of Learning (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): I picked up this book, thinking it would teach me learning tips, like How We Learn. But it turned out more like a memoir of someone skilled in chess and Tai Chi. It does offer tips on being a good sportsperson and a lifelong learner, yet I prefer books with more actionable advice.

7 Books on Popular Science

47. Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I liked reading about organizing stuff, whether it's socks, a filing cabinet, Google Drive, pots and pans, or more. I learned about applying Computer science algorithms like LRU, search, and sort methods in our day-to-day life. I also found problems like the traveling salesman problem and the secretary hiring fascinating - I am applying them when I want to discover new food cuisines.

48. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): This book taught me a lot about microbes' power. These single-cell organisms, bacteria, have been shaping evolution for millennia. We have many of them inside us. In fact, there are more bacteria cells in us than human cells. This makes it difficult to grasp what it means to be human.

49. Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I enjoyed the way the book explained relativity and quantum theory. I've read these concepts many times because I've loved physics since my school days. This book made these ideas clearer and easier to understand.

50. The Science of Everyday Life: Why Teapots Dribble, Toast Burns and Light Bulbs Shine (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I read this book multiple times because I found it fascinating. It's like an encyclopedia, but with a more cohesive, story-like approach, focusing on a few items instead of hundreds of facts.

51. The Selfish Gene (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I found it challenging to listen to this audiobook because it had two parallel narratives. One story was the original book, and the other was the author providing commentary on readers' feedback. But, I liked the content because it made me think of a new quanta for selfishness. Not people, but genes are selfish. So, I could align this book with "Humankind".

52. The Body (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I read interesting things about the body. But, over time, my takeaways from this book merged with everything else I have learned from other sources on science, fitness, health, and diet. I can't tell what I was unique information in this book.

7 Books on Food and Cooking

54. Off Menu: The Secret Science of Food and Dining (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I really enjoyed learning about non-chemical techniques that restaurants, grocery shops, and party hosts use to make their food more appealing. For instance, when food is served in round plates or red plates, it tends to taste sweeter. Having background music is a great idea, and it's best to have a mix of both new and old songs. I also discovered some interesting tips, like how ice cream is packaged, the importance of greeting guests as they enter your home by giving something in their hand, and the art of describing a dish to encourage faster consumption. These techniques can enhance the overall dining experience and make the food more enjoyable.

55. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): Every sentence was so full of information, I had to slow down to take it all in, often rereading. I switched between Kindle, audiobook, and paperback, using all formats. Sometimes, I keep the pages open when I'm thinking about what new dish to cook.

56. The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I really enjoyed this book. It taught me cooking in a way that makes sense to me. It uses a scientific method. The book does things like blind taste tests. It make hypotheses and then tests them. This helps find out what works and what doesn't. For example, if someone says, "Cook pasta in a rolling boil," this book will test different ways to boil pasta, cook chicken, blanch vegetables, and more. I learned so much from this book. This is a book I wish someone would gift me because its paperback is too expensive.

57. The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): The book mentioned the processing and sleight of hand done by grocery stores. The factory versions of raising chickens, prawns, and lobsters. How grocery stores sell you fresh fish at some places and old ones at other spots in their store. I found it fascinating and helped me more fascinated with stores. I also don't go for the "tonight's special" dish anymore.

58. Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I really enjoyed learning about cooking at the molecular level. It's fascinating to see the reactions and choices involved in cooking food in new ways. I get what the author is saying about how our cooking methods haven't changed much over hundreds of years. This rate of change is slow compared to changes in other areas. The part about mayonnaise stayed in my memory. The recipe usually asks for a whole egg, but if you think about it on a molecular level, you only need a drop of egg.

59. Food: A Cultural Culinary History (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I read this amazing history book about how different food items evolved. It was fascinating to see how cuisines changed from ancient to modern days across the world. I noticed something interesting: innovation in food in a country often happened when there was social stratification. This is because the richer people wanted to make their food in a more expensive and exclusive way. Another interesting point was about spices. When a cuisine at different times in history used spices, it showed that the country had trade ties. These ties could be through routes like the Silk Route to China, or to India or Sri Lanka. I learned a lot from this book about how food and society are connected.

6 Books on Marketing

61. The YouTube Formula (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): Last year, in 2022, I read a book on starting an e-commerce drop-shipping business and another on content creation. This year, I read a book on creating a YouTube channel from scratch to earn money. I liked how it focused on using analytics, understanding the algorithms, and the importance of thumbnails and titles. It helps me be more mindful on my Youtube channel.

62. Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I knew a standard and useful approach to positioning from my MBA. But this book pointed out why that was wrong and how to approach it instead. She mentions that many products don't have marketing problems but rather positioning issues. One way to know how to position your product is to talk to your customers and see how they describe it. Talk to sales prospects and see how they explain it back to you to understand the gap.

63. Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): This book said to first focus on creating the right product. Then, think about SEO. It's important to know why my users use my product. This helps me market it better.

5 Books on Understanding The World With Data

67. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World -- and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I was amazed to learn about the bias in Western countries. They often think their approaches to democracy, economy, and culture are the best. But this book showed me something different. It said most growth is coming from Africa and Asia, including India. This is close to my heart. I see India making fast progress, while Europe and America face recessions. This idea challenges my previous understanding. I used to think countries are stuck in their historical situations forever, like in "Prisoners of Geography." So I am confused.

68. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I understand two viewpoints before reading this book. First, project planning is loved by many, including organizations and governments. Second, we're bad at predicting the future. People often overrate the short-term effects of new tech like AI, and underrate long-term effects, like with the Internet. But, this book offered methods to get better at forecasting. To be more accurate. It also points out how vague language is used to cover up bad predictions. Like when someone says, "We have a strong hunch that there might be weapons of mass destruction".

69. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I really liked the many examples the author used. They showed how bias against women happened in history. They also explained how this bias could happen in a system based on merit or data. This is because the data comes from the past. In the past, there was a lot of bias against women. The examples helped me see this clearly. Even healthcare was skewed for centuries by assuming women are the same as men just with different reproductive organs. Even Apple watch was launched without any period tracking functionality.

70. Calling Bullshit: The Art of Scepticism in a Data-Driven World (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): Even when people show data or give recommendations based on data, they might mislead you. This can be accidental or on purpose. For example, "statistically significant" or a "percentage increase" can sound more impactful than it is. An increase in the death rate by 100% could mean it went from 0.01% to 0.02%. I learned to be more skeptical when I look at data. I try to find problems in the data gathering, analysis, and synthesis. But, my human biases amplify my skepticism. I am more likely to question data that opposes my viewpoint.

71. Optimal Illusions: The False Promise of Optimization (💡 1/5 impact rating): I picked up this book because it promised to expose the flaws in capitalism's interest in optimizing the world and maximizing productivity. I thought it would help me reduce my desire for perfection. But it didn't make a compelling case for me. I understand we should have slack in the system to withstand shocks or black swans. We can make our systems anti-fragile. But, I did not feel compelled to change anything in my life.

5 Books on Scaling A Tech Company

72. Upstream: How to solve problems before they happen (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): The Heath brothers have written amazing books. This book explained we should understand the root of a problem, not just treat the symptoms. For example, using a "5 Whys" analysis or changing processes after an incident in a tech company. But, there's a challenge with these upstream solutions. It's hard to know of problems that did not happen because of your upstream solution. It is difficult to measure their benefits, so motivating people to do upstream fixes is tough. Take the Y2K issue as an example. Experts thought it would be a huge disaster. A lot of work went into preventing it, and only minor problems happened. It's tough to measure the impact of this work. People downplay it, saying Y2K wasn't a big deal. We value those who react to emergencies more than those who prevent them. Consider 2 policemen. One stands before a sharp bend, making people drive carefully and saving lives. The other stands after the bend, collecting fines, but more accidents might happen. The first policeman prevents problems, but his impact is less visible.

73. Phoenix Project: A Novel About It, DevOps, And Helping Your Business Win (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): This book explained DevOps, project planning, and organizational challenges in such a fun story way, that I read it many times.

74. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I've read the same book many times this year. It challenged many common beliefs about work. The book covered work-life balance, performance evaluation, interviewing, 360-degree feedback, project planning, and OKRs. It turned these ideas upside down. I knew about some of these issues before, but this book tied them together.

75. The Voltage Effect: How to Make Good Ideas Great and Great Ideas Scale (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): The book effectively illustrates its points with examples of products or companies that initially succeeded with unscalable strategies, but faced challenges upon scaling. One well-known example is a high-quality schooling experiment in Chicago. The book also includes several examples from the tech industry, demonstrating the complexities of scaling in different contexts.

76. Scaling People: Tactics for Management and Company Building (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): Although there were a lot of helpful engineering management tactics, I didn't need to use those now. So I skimmed through this book.

4 Books on Philosophy and Thought

77. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this book two times. It blew my mind because it discusses our limited life span and so limited time. This means I have to make the best choices each day, each week. I need to say no to many things. I should spend more time with my family and less on other things. I won't sacrifice family time for money, career, or public appearances. This is important to me.

78. The Good Life (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this book twice. It shows how important family and friend relationships are for your health and long life. The book is about a long study, over eighty years, on hundreds of people. Most people, 83%, stayed in the study from start to finish. My wife and I love this book. We're thinking of using some ideas from it. It gave me new energy to make friends in our new home in Ireland.

79. Discipline Is Destiny: The Power of Self-Control (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): The book argues that living a disciplined life leads to greater freedom, not less. The book was quite lengthy and included numerous examples from Greek philosophy. I'd like to revisit it, but it felt overly long.

80. The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change your Life and Achieve Real Happiness (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): The book's conversational format made it difficult to read, but a more traditional format might have been even less engaging. I learned several new ideas, including the concept that all problems are essentially interpersonal. The book also highlighted the value of being open to criticism and unpopularity as a way to build confidence.

4 Books on Entrepreneurship

81. The Lean Startup (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): I like the concept of 'innovation accounting' from this book, which introduces a framework for cost-benefit analysis in experimental work. This concept stood out for me. The other concepts from this book are well-known like the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and testing for market demand rather than technical feasibility.

82. The SaaS Playbook: Build a Multimillion-Dollar Startup Without Venture Capital (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): I think this book is for developers. It teaches lean startup methods. It also shows that you don't always need venture capital for a startup. I read business concepts similar to what I learned in my MBA. So, I didn't learn much new from it.

83. Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): It had similar tips as Rob Walling's podcast.

84. $100M Offers: How To Make Offers So Good People Feel Stupid Saying No (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): Alex shared many personal anecdotes and some valuable business advice. One primary point he stressed is making an offer that your prospects cannot refuse. To achieve this, provide a lot of value to your audience or prospects for free. When you've done that, provide even more value. By offering substantial value, your prospects are more likely to choose your paid services.

4 Books on Career Growth

85. The Pathless Path (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I discovered this book after listening to Lenny Ratchetsky's podcast featuring Paul. This resonated with my detour from a traditional career ladder over the past one and a half years. Like Paul, I also started with product skills and then shifted to product consulting and content creation. I find energy in writing and creating videos, and I enjoy product consulting projects. Like Paul, I'm currently outside the traditional career path. I'm thinking about where my path is leading me and where I can apply the skills I'm learning. If you want to think about a career path outside the traditional definition of career paths, this book is for you.

86. The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): My wife and I read this when she joined a new company in 2023. It helped us think of how she can find product-market fit in her career.

87. Designing Your Life: Build the Perfect Career, Step by Step: For Fans of Atomic Habits (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): At this juncture in my career, as I consider my next steps, I found this book particularly timely. It outlined steps to shape my career path in the desired direction. Some of its content resonated with the career training I received during my MBA at UCLA Anderson, such as conducting informational interviews, building a network, and securing referrals for new opportunities. I plan to revisit this book and methodically work through its activities.

88. Strategize to Win: The New Way to Start Out, Step Up or Start Over in Your Career (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): Despite this book’s focus on career growth, I did not find it actionable.

3 Books on Sales

89. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Persuading, Convincing and Influencing Others (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I used to dislike sales and prospecting for consulting. Reading this book helped me realize everyone is always selling something. It's not always about money. Sometimes, I want someone's attention. Other times, I want to persuade them. This could be convincing my spouse to choose a particular restaurant. Or, it could be talking my boss into letting me take a day off.

90. Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): This book explained that sales is about relationship building. It's a long game. Help everyone. Help your sales prospects. Even if that doesn't make you money that day.

91. Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): I enjoy books by this author because he explained the nuts and bolts of the sales process. I lack knowledge in this area, but it's crucial for me as a solo consultant.

3 Books on Consulting

92. Book Yourself Solid, Third Edition (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): This book is another excellent resource for building your solo consulting business. I found it helpful, although I primarily followed David Fields' approach from a different book.

93. The E-Myth Contractor: Why Most Contractors' Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): Work on your business, not just in your business. I applied a mix of this book and Built To Sell book to delegate tasks in my business and review my progress in different business functions.

94. Oversubscribed: How To Get People Lining Up To Do Business With You (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): The book discussed a strategy for setting prices that doesn't necessitate working 80 hours a week to earn a substantial income. It emphasized identifying a niche, creating content to establish thought leadership, and gradually raising prices to maintain fewer clients while still achieving significant revenue. But I didn't finish the book because it is similar to "Key Person of Influence," which I read last year. I also found that the strategies outlined in both books wouldn't be relevant for my consulting business until I reach an annual revenue of $200,000.

3 Books on Content Creation

95. Content Operations: How to Build and Scale Your Content Ops (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): When I met Emilia earlier in 2023, I was amazed by her deep knowledge in SEO and content marketing. Content marketing is not a solo job. It needs lots of experts. Emilia showed whom to find, how, and how to connect the dots between them in her book. I implemented this in my work and for a consulting client.

96. The Steal Like an Artist Audio Trilogy (💡💡 2/5 impact rating): I read the book "Steal Like an Artist," but I quickly forgot what I learned. It didn't seem very insightful to me. One thing I remember is that if you want to write, you should read a lot too. Another point was about copying artists. If you copy one artist, people see you as a copy of that artist. But if you copy from 10 artists, you're seen as original. The book also said to share how you create things, not just what you create. It talked about the importance of being a content creator. Nowadays, it's easy to share your thoughts and put yourself out there because the barriers are low.

2 Books on Friendships and Community

98. The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I read this book and it was a great next-level supplement to "The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings" by Nick Gray. It got me thinking about the purpose every time I invite friends. I learned to arrange all parts of an event to meet that purpose. For example, is your wedding about honoring your parents' contributions? Or is it a celebration of your love with friends? Another thing is deciding who to invite for a lunch get-together. Think of the purpose to decide whom to invite. Think of the difference between a cocktail party, a formal dinner, and more.

99. Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family, Friends and Colleagues (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I was moved by this book towards making more effort for a relationship with my parents and in-laws. I learnt a lot of frameworks and tips from this book. I will re-read it to act on it.

2 Books on Business

2 Books on Self-Help and Personal Development

102. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever (💡💡💡 3/5 impact rating): It showed me how to organize shirts on hangers. It made me think about what items to fold and what to hang. I learned I need to take out all items of the same type first, like kitchen utensils or my clothes. Then, I should decide what to keep. After that, I decide where to put each item. I appreciate breaking down a big job into smaller serial tasks. I'm now more open to discarding items.

103. Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (💡 1/5 impact rating): This book felt like a bunch of podcasts. I didn't like this format. But because Tim Ferriss is famous, I bought it when it was on sale.

2 Books on History and Culture

104. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I was fascinated that geography, not democracy, politics, or the economy, drove past wars and drives future military spending. Countries have their own geographic strengths and weaknesses, which affect their sense of security. Russia was invaded about every 33 years. So, they take proactive steps, which include invading other countries. Countries often desire a year-round warm water port. This is because armies and air forces have limits on how far they can operate from their own country, unlike the Navy. This confused me because it suggests we will remain in this hierarchy of power, whereas Factfulness suggests the opposite.

105. The Irish Identity: Independence, History, and Literature (💡💡💡💡 4/5 impact rating): I am settling down in Ireland, so I wanted to learn more about it. I learned about its history, including the Vikings, Scottish monasteries connection, British colonization, and more. I saw parallels with India. For example, the British made it derogatory to speak in Irish or follow Irish traditions. They trained a class of Irish people to rule over others.

1 Book on Product Management

106. Deploy Empathy: A Practical Guide to Interviewing Customers (💡💡💡💡💡 5/5 impact rating): I always wanted to write a book like this. But then I found Mitchell Hansen's "Deploy Empathy." It amazed me. I'm happy I didn't try to write such a book. Her book is way better than anything I could have done. It shows you how to really interview your customers. Still, I find it tough to suggest this book to others. Many think they know how to talk to people. But talking is different from understanding your customers' needs and desires. This book has psychology explanations that help you internalize its tips. Then it has tactical tips that are actionable.

Incomplete Reads

There are the books I shortlisted, purchased, but haven't finished reading:

Aggregate Of These Books

You can watch a video walkthrough of the statistics and book covers here.

You can see my top reads from 2023 and aggregate statistics on these books in this post.



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