Books I read in 2020

I realised that I have left this blog empty for the entire year of 2020. There’s no one to blame but myself for choosing to prioritise other activities over populating this blog. I console myself by giving me a pat on the back as I prioritised fruitful activities in 2020.

In the year 2020 I chose to re-skill myself in the cyber-security domain. I thought cyber-security is a growing industry, and it’s importance was further made evident during the months where Covid-19 disrupted how everyone lives and works. Covid-19, as the key impetus for digital transformation in many industries, showed how useful tech is. With more use cases, there are also more potential for abuse and hence the need for cybersecurity.

I read a total of 9 books (as far as I can trace back), of which four (or five?) are cyber-security related books. The one that straddles between cyber and non-cyber is on “Mastering Go”, for me to pick up the syntax of programming in Go Lang. A very interesting read, although I have yet to do any programming in Go. On the other hand, despite no books clocked for Python, I began programming in Python to automate tasks for productivity. I had read websites for Python instead.

I also learnt to stop books when I didn’t feel like continuing, instead of pushing through half-heartedly. Two books fall into this category: (1) The Power of Agency and (2) Why are we yelling – the art of productive disagreement. This doesn’t mean the books are not a good read or are useless. I find that some authoring styles do not fit well for me to learn and understand, and let’s face it, some books have content we probably have been exposed to through other books we read previously. Hence there isn’t much reason for us to continue books if we don’t find any additional value.

One of the books I read which was rather interesting was on “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson. I recall how it introduced a concept that seems to suggest that the pursuit of positivity is an inherently negative journey, while the acceptance that life has negativity is positively liberating. I also find myself questioning whether I should be bothered about some events in my life, and it serves as a periodic reminder to re-think. re-evaluate and drop f*cks given. Life is too hectic to give a f*ck about everything; there are people who deserve that time and attention instead. Family for example. I recommended the book to a friend who reads widely, and I would recommend this to anyone who wants to find a book to read. It is an easy read, and won’t take too much of your time.

The final book I read in 2020, and concluded on 2 Jan 2021, was “Bitcoin Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich. Originally I had expected the book to go deeper into Bitcoin, but the book reads like an account of what has occurred that lead two individuals to put millions into Bitcoin and that led to them becoming Billionaires. I fast-tracked through many parts of the book as I wasn’t interested in the details of what happened in their lives, but it was an easy enough read for me to find the main points. I grew interested in Bitcoin because a fellow colleague who knew more spoke to me about it. In the past, I thought Bitcoin was a fad and probably a bubble. I knew I didn’t know enough, so I did not go into it. The mistake I made was not learning even after knowing I did not know enough. Hence I am catching up on my knowledge in crypto-currency.

Moving forward, there are a few books which I thought I wanted to read in 2021. I thought I could perhaps list them here, and see how many I eventually clocked in 2021.

  1. Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske
  2. Mastering Bitcoin: Unlocking Digital Cryptocurrencies by Andreas M. Antonopoulos
  3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  4. When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  5. The Code of an Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani
  6. Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christians
  7. Mastery by George Leonard
  8. Discipline Equals Freedom by Jocko Willink
  9. Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

(1) and (2) were recommended by a colleague, and I see it as an extension of my Bitcoin education.

(3) to (9) were recommended in various Medium articles. Over the years my reading list has changed. Initially I started on numerous productivity books, then management books. Couple of years ago I read some Data Analytics, but still focusing on books that teach me soft skills for work (management AND productivity). In 2020, I focused on books that give me knowledge for hard skills. In 2021, I thought I would read widely and expose myself to different topics instead. That is why I thought of adding (3) and (9) to the list.

The list is not all on my reading list though. However I thought that I shouldn’t be too ambitious, and try for a more achievable nine instead.

This isn’t a New Year’s resolution. Those never ever worked for me. I think I should keep reading simple, and it is more fun that way. Fun also means I will be more likely to achieve it.

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