Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 in the eyes of the books I've read

I blogged about my book challenge here. Essentially, it's for me to read 1 book per week, for 52 weeks, summing up to a grand total of 52 books per year. The last time I succeeded in this challenge was way back in 2008 where I managed 55 books that year. Most of the time, it's just 30 odd books, which is about 1 book every 4 days.

I also shared that the main purpose of this challenge is not to squeeze as many books as possible. It's really to ensure that I've a commitment to make to myself to read widely and never give up on books that are unappetizing for the first few chapters. There are many gems that only reveal themselves perhaps half way through the book, so by throwing away books without completing them, it seems I'm not giving them a fair shot at impressing me.

Below are the list of books that I've read in 2014, arranged in chronological order (book 1 is the first book I've read, book 52 is the last) As usual, I'll highlight a few books that I think are really the power-reads for the year 2014.

1) The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho                              
2) How to fail at almost everything and still win big - Scott Adams                            
3) E-Squared: 9 DIY energy experiements that prove your thoughts create reality - Pam Grout
4) Quiet: The power of introverts - Susan Cain  
5) Outliers - Malcom Gladwell                  
6) The Wolf of wall street - Jordan Belfort                          
7) How to read a book - Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren                  
8) The Android's Dream - John Scalzi                    
9) Predictably Irrational - Dan Ariely                      
10) Beyond Outrage - Robert B. Reich                  
11) Redshirts – John Scalzi                          
12) Superpowers - David J. Schwartz                    
13) Luka and the Fire of Life - Salman Rushdie                  
14) An unknown world - Jacob Needleman                        
15) Good Omens - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gailman                          
16) Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett                          
17) An illustrated book of bad arguments - Ali Almossawi                            
18) The world until yesterday - Jared Diamond                
19) The art of thinking clearly - Rolf Dobelli                        
20) The Forgotten Highlander - Alistair Urquhart                              
21) The Victorian Internet - Tom Standage                        
22) David and Goliath - Malcolm Gladwell                          
23) The book thief - Mark Zusak                              
24) The Companions - The Sundering, Book 1                    
25) The Godborn: The Sundering, Book 2                            
26) All Bad things - Stephen Blackmoore                              
27) The Earth Transformed - Mike Stackpole & Nathan Long                      
28) City of screams - James Rollins                          
29) The Blood Gospel - James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell                              
30) I will teach you to be rich - Ramit Sethi                          
31) The science of getting rich - Wallace D. Wattles                        
32) The total money makeover - Dave Ramsey                
33) The Rosie Project - Graeme C. Simsion                        
34) Damned - Chuck Palaniuk                  
35) Man vs Markets - Paddy Hirsch                        
36) The Richest Woman in America - Janet Wallach                        
37) Gone fishing with Buffett - SeanSeah                            
38) The Big Short - Michael Lewis                            
39) 30 second economics - Donald Marron                        
40) Buddha - Deepak Chopra                    
41) Apocalypse - John Michael Greer                    
42) What your school never taught you about money - Dennis Ng                          
43) The romantic economist - William Nicolson                
44) The secret lives of litterbugs - M.A.C. Farrant                            
45) The Rules of Money - Richard Templar                          
46) Allison Hewitt is trapped - Madeleine Roux                
47) Flash Boys - Michael Lewis                  
48) Secrets of the millionaire investors - Adam Khoo/Conrad Alvin Lim                  
49) Belle - Paula Byrne                
50) Everything is bullshit: Priceonomics authors              
51) Millionaire teacher - Andrew Hallam                              
52) Boomerang - Michael Lewis   

This year I included a few fiction in the list as well. They are just too good to not recommend. Not in any order of importance,

I'm sure everyone heard of Dilbert, but not everyone knows the story of Scott Adams, the creator of that comic strip. What I found good about this book is the idea of creating a system to ensure that you win rather than setting goals. Setting goals means that you're going to fail everyday until you hit the set target, but having a system means that you're always working towards an end game. That's the most important take away for me from this book. It's really an easy read because he's quite a good writer. Funny too :)

I can safely say this book transformed my life! In books like "The secret" or even Antony Robbin's books, you can see them talking about how you can shape your reality by believing in something so much that it becomes reality. Well, this book shows you in 9 steps how to do so. I like it that they start off with small experiments (that you should do!) and gradually get bigger and grander. I was always very amazed when the thought that I wrote out, with all the dateline for it to appear, really does appear, but you have to train your mind to clarify your thoughts so that the right frequency gets sent out. For the first few experiments, I wrote down that I wanted to see a yellow bird, within 24 hours. I'm thinking of a particular yellow bird that flies around my HDB precinct and you can spot them occasionally. In the first 23 hours, there's nothing. But in the last hour, I really saw a yellow bird. Not the real bird, but Birdie from Macdonald's! They are promoting their last toy or something for their happy meal and I saw the yellow bird from the newspaper! I know, it's not the same as what I had in mind, but that hooked me. Progressively, I set higher and harder challenges for the universe to help me, like having xyz students, having xyz income, having xyz savings. All of them exceeded beyond my expectations so much that this year is the best year of my entire 10 yrs of working in my line. I came from a pretty bad position in 2013, so this seriously kickstarted my drive and reset my thinking. I couldn't recommend this book enough and I will read it every now and then to reinforce what I've learnt. If you want to read this, you must try out the activities!

I'm an introvert and will always be. From this book, I learnt a lot about people of my type. Introvert doesn't mean that we're not sociable or shy, it just means that we derive energy from introspection and reflection, unlike being an extrovert where they derive their energy from interacting and mingling with people. This book also highlight how an introvert can use his/her own personality to make a difference to the world where extroverts rule. For one thing, being an introvert makes me a better listener. Perhaps that's why I blog - it's to release my inner voice and have a space to air my thoughts in an otherwise crowded extrovert world.

When I like an author, I'll try to read all his/her series. This will give me a broad range of his works and to better appreciate any relationship between the books. John Scalzi is one of these authors that I constantly go back to for sci-fi reads. I've read a lot of sci-fi books and I'm really really wow-ed by the plot. It's like those Ender's game moments where the world you no longer knew the world around you. It's that mind blowing. Not for everyone - only for sci-fi fans.

This is highly academic and not very readable, and it definitely benefited from my practice of not stopping until I finish a book from cover to cover. The book is actually very enlightening because it shows how traditional society differs from our modern society. Things that you took for granted considered weird just 20-30 yrs ago. For example, in certain parts of the world, kids from traditional society are treated exactly as adults, except they are discounted because of their smaller size. They are allowed to play with knives or practically wander around exposing themselves to all kinds of dangers. Why? They are treated as adults, so they are responsible for their own actions. It's not surprise for the authors to see young kids with burnt marks and scars from their mistakes. Another example is how traditional society handles conflict. If a person makes a mistake, his entire tribe and family and immediate friends are liable to pay for it. We're talking about 30-50 people and above here! They have different ways of resolving conflicts but the ultimate aim is to ensure that they can continue living in harmony. Now, that's something we can all learn from.

6) The Rosie Project - Graeme C. Simsion

I read this book because it's in a book list by Bill Gates. Actually, it's recommended to him by his wife. I really find this book humorous and's literally a page turner for me. Good books have this ability to transcend your reality and make you see the world in a different person in a different role. Rosie project did exactly that and lets you see the world in the eyes of a person with Asperger syndrome. Just trust me. Read this book if you have to read one fiction this year, and you won't regret it.

7) The big shot, Flash boys, Boomerang - Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis. Ever since Liar's Poker, I was hooked by his style. He has this ability to explain seemingly complicated things into something easily accessible, and best of all, in a humorous way. The big shot is about the subprime and how it came about. It's a riveting read. I didn't know I can be excited about reading CDO, subprime, mortgage dicing and slicing, but I did. Flash boys is about HFT - or high frequency trading - on how a fraction of a second is so important that people are willing to pay tremendous amount of money to screw other people. Lastly, Boomerang is about the author going to different financial whacked country, like Iceland, Greece and Ireland, to find out about the 'national character' of their people, in order to understand why people do what they do when they have a godzillian amount of money flowing into their pockets. Same crisis, but each country reacted in different ways because of this difference in their national character. I realised I love reading history, specifically the history of financial disasters. If you love it too, you must read Michael Lewis's books. It's really very accessible.

There you go! This year, I've a hard time compiling the list of books that I want to recommend to readers. It's because almost all the books are so good. Special mentions goes to Malcom Gladwell's Outliers and David & Goliath. I also didn't include Janet Wallach's The richest woman in America, which is about Hetty Green, the witch of Wall street. I'm very fascinated with historical figures especially when they have something to do with finance. Sean Seah's Gone fishing with Buffett and Dennis Ng's What you school never taught you about Money are also good reads since it's one of those rare books that deals with local finance. 


B said...

Thanks for listing. I probably will take this as a reference to future readings.

Michael lewis liar poker is a good one that got me addicted to his style as well. Ive never read the rest of his books but looks like I must now.

Keep on reading for readers :)

la papillion said...

Hi B,

You should read - it's really good. He is very good at explaining complex things to layman.

Sure, the challenge is always on going. 52 books a year!

Richard Ng said...

LP : Looks like you really are a fast reader. I've read a number of the books listed (like Outliers, Millionaire Teacher, Man vs Markets and some of them are still in-progress ;-))

Too bad my speed of reading is slow but the speed of forgetting is fast, so, ultimately I might not recall a lot of things that I've read! lol

Just curious, do you pick the book randomly or base on any recommendation by friends/papers?

Enjoy the new book challenge in 2015 and beyond!

ladykiller said...

Nice work. I'm bookmarking this page for reference when I need to look for new things to read. 52 books a year is a solid accomplishment. Improves writing ability apart from expanding horizons and stocking your brain with fun facts to charm people at dinner parties.

la papillion said...

Hi Richard,

I don't think I'm a fast reader. Those speed readers will finish like 1 book per day. That will spoil my reading experience.

Most are random, because they are borrowed from the library. I'll just go to the library and see which book jumps out to me. It's a very fun activity for me, because most likely the books are what is on my subconscious mind. I borrow about 3-4 books, and chances are that most will be view points around a central theme.

Recommendations from friends, I will note it down. I actually have a list of books waiting to be read and those list keeps increasing. Sometimes, I'll find out what other people are reading, and I'll take some of their booklist.

That's why I put out this list of books. It'll help others like me who don't know what to read :)

la papillion said...

Hi LK,

Yes, indeed it'll improve my writing ability. There's also a thing about reading - it provides brain food so that I can blog about something. I noticed that if I don't read, like during my peak seasons, I don't have things to blog about. Since blogging is therapeutic to me. reading is the same too.

You might want to take note of this page too:

It shows the links of previous years of book recommendations :)

LVP said...

Wow, thanks! I got one of your recommended book - Quiet, sitting quietly on my shelve... Hopefully I will get it read by year end! and that would make me complete at least 1 book this year! hurray!

la papillion said...


It's really a good book, esp if you're an introvert or wants to know a introvert better :) In a world of extroverts, it takes an introvert like the author to enlighten others :)

SMK said...

Beware what you feed your mind. Lol

your thoughts become your actions.
your actions become your reality.
Your reality become your destiny.

good list.

la papillion said...


I agree with you :)

This year's list of books read is one of the best I've had. Maybe it's just the sheer number of books read, so I necessary had to read more widely and hence selected more than a fair share of good books.

RetailTrader said...

Thanks LP, that's a really good list and I've added some of the books to my "to-read" list. I always fail at the "read X books in a year" endeavour and want to ramp it up for 2015! In fact I'm going to start now lol

la papillion said...

Hi retail trader,

Haha, thanks! I do hope ur list include at least some of Michael Lewis books :)

Reading x books per yr is just a matter of pacing. I know I have to read about 1 book every wk, on average, to hit 52 books a yr. So that's my pacing. Break down into weekly, and allocate time :)

Anonymous said...

No "50 Shades of Grey"? ;)