Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Book recommendations from year 2020

Year 2020 is the year of the books for me. I read voraciously because I can't go to malls and I'm 'stuck' at home most of the time. But I'm secretly happy because that's exactly what I want to do most of the time - just blanket myself up, put a book on my lap, a pillow behind my back and read myself to sleep.


I read a total of 59 books, way exceeding my target of 52 books a year. I know, I have no life. Since I have the time, I also wrote down short summaries for all the books read. There are some worthy books have a much lengthier summary for my own records and learning purpose. 


In descending order of books read, here's the list:


59) The psychology of money - Morgan Housel

58) The almanack of Naval Ravikant

57) Network Effect - Martha Wells

56) Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory - Martha Wells

55) Exit strategy - Martha Wells

54) Rogue Protocol - Martha Wells

53) Artificial condition - Martha Wells

52) All systems red - Martha Wells

51) Manners begin at breakfast - Marie Chantal

50) Kappa quartet - Daryl Yam

49) X-men: days of future past - Alex Irvine

48) Lee Kuan Yew - Graham Allison/Robert D. Blackwell/Ali Wyne

47) Memoirs of an infantry officer - Siegfried Sassoon

46) Trollhunters - Guillermo Del Toro / Daniel Kraus

45) Too much and never enough - Mary L. Trump

44) Hidden girl - Ken Liu

43) The wandering Earth - Liu Cixin

42) Supernova Era - Liu Cixin

41) The weight of memories - Liu Cixin

40) Of ants and dinosaurs - Liu Cixin

39) Die with Zero - Bill Perkins

38) Beacon 23 - Hugh Howey

37) Hard choices - Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

36) Ultralearning - Scott Young

35) Opposite of Always - Justin A. Reynolds

34) Hard at work - Gerad Sasges

33) Tripping over the truth - Travis Christofferson

32) Goodbye, Things - Fumio Sasaki

31) Waste tide - Chen Qiufan

30) Currency war - James Rickards 

29) Funny, You Don't Look Autistic - Michael McCreary

28) Things my son needs to know about the world - Fredrik Backman

27) How to forge a frogman - Max West

26) Islands of Genius - Darold A. Treffert

25) The collected stories - R.A Salvatore

24) Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris

23) Boundless - R.A. Salvatore

22) The new "hidden hand" thread - compiled by Wes Penre

21) How to stop time - Matt Haig

20) Money wisdom - Christopher Tan

19) Maybe you should talk to someone - Lori Gottlieb

18) Maid - Stephanie Land

17) Art of simple living - Shunmyo Masuno

16) Wes Penre papers - 1st level of learning - Wes Penre

15) The man who solved the market - How Jim Simons launched the quant revolution - Gregory Zuckerman

14) Children of the Resistance series - Dugomier/BenoƮt Ers

13) Invisible planets - Ken Liu

12) Goh Keng Swee: A portrait - Tan Siok Sun

11) Don't fall for it - Ben Carlson

10) Win Bigly - Scott Adams

9) Can't hurt me - David Goggins

8) It's easy to cry - Subhas Anandan

7) The best I could - Subhas Anandan

6) Impractical uses of cake - Yeoh Jo-Ann

5) Loserthink - Scott Adams

4) The new case for Gold - James Rickards

3) Homerooms and Hallpasses - Tom O'Donnell

2) French kids eat everything - Karen Le Billon

1) Fundamentals of piano - Chaun C. Chang


As usual, I'll list down the non-fiction books that I think are great. You decide if you want to follow them up. Most of the books can be borrowed through e-book format from the great NLB accompaniment app Libby (not the NLB's official app).


1. Can't hurt me - David Goggins


This book is about channelling the shit that is happening in your life: all the anger, the injustice and the unfairness, and then funnel them into a motivating force to get better. This helped the author, at least for a while, but later he realised that channelling all the rage isn't going to work anymore. Hence he seeks a sort of contented peace towards the end of the book. The author's extraordinary life in which he overcomes all the obstacles is very inspiring. In the book, you'll see the major events that shaped his life, followed by lessons in which you can do to challenge yourself. Highly inspiring and teaches you how to suffer well. But who exactly is the author? He is the crazy dude who does pullups to break the Guinness record until his skin peels off but continues doing anyway. Or runs ultra-marathons once a week, something like that. 


2. Money wisdom - Christopher Tan


A collection of articles written by the chief of Providend, a fee-only financial advisory firm. I think the book talks about all aspects of personal finance, including insurance and investment. I learnt quite a few things reading it, to the extent that I went ahead to close the gap of long term care in my insurance portfolio by upgrading my Eldershield plan. Makes me want to really go and visit them, pay them a fee and see if I get my financial shits right before it's too late. Highly recommended. 


3. Ultralearning - Scott Young 



I can't stop recommending this enough. If I have to choose the one book to read in Year 2020, this will be the one. This book teaches you how to learn anything. It's the ultimate meta book on learning how to learn. This is one of the worthy books that I mentioned earlier and I made detailed notes in the link here. I expect that I'll be revisiting this book again and again whenever I need some tips and tricks to get through any learning obstacles in the future. 


4. Die with Zero - Bill Perkins



Another worthy book. This book changes my viewpoint on having a poor person's mentality to something more balanced. It's about not leaving excess behind and spending all that you want. I know I know how this sounds like. Doesn't seem fitting for someone on the journey to financial freedom right? But I promise it does make a certain sense. Not suitable for those who are spendthrifts in personality. Very very suitable for hardcore savers looking for another viewpoint towards frugality. Good quality of life, not necessarily materialistically speaking, is what the author is trying to convince us to do. And he convinces me.


5. The psychology of money - Morgan Housel



This book deserves a second or even a third reading. The author is a very good writer and it makes the lessons inside all the easier to assimilate. Each lesson starts off with a story (or two), so it is easier to relate to. Of the many lessons inside, a few stand out to me. The best lesson I've got out of this is that everyone is reasonable. It might not be for you, but it is for them at that point in time, so respect that. The second thing I got out of this is that we don't have to aim for the highest return, just reasonable will do. It'll be easier to sleep at night. Great book.


I read lots of fiction books. For those who don't know my story, I do not read fiction at all for many years. In fact, from after primary school until adulthood because I thought they are just stories. How silly. Non-fiction books teach one about life's reality and fiction books teach one about how to be a human. Both equally important.


For fiction books, I read a lot of books by one of China's sci-fi greats - Liu Cixin. Anything by him is generally good. Of the books written by him, Supernova Era, highly disturbs me. It's a chilling tale about how a supernova from light-years away gave off deadly radiation that killed off all adults on earth. The world is then governed by children. Will that kind of world be a world full of wonders and full of child-like innocence? In short, no. And it's a disturbingly strong no. 


Supernova era by Liu Cixin


Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Then when I was in the library, I chanced across a series of 6 books by Martha Wells named Murderbot Diaries. Oh My Goodness, it was so good. The Murderbot Diaries is written in the perspective of a part organic part inorganic security droid that called itself Murderbot. It hacked itself so that it doesn't have to follow the orders, and yet it cared way too much for the human clients that had hired it. The characterization of this part machine part human being is so good that it makes me want to read on and on and see what it is going to do. This has the potential to be a hit series in Netflix original production and I'm so glad to have chanced upon it. Serendipity. 


2020 is also the year that I started listening seriously to audio books and podcast. At first, it's a little strange, because I find that reading is faster and easier to absorb. But it's all a matter of getting used to this. Eventually it's quite good because I get to listen together with my wife, and possibly lead us to discuss related topics. Shared experiences are good, especially since reading is such a private experience. I expect myself to do more of this in year 2021.


Alright, that's all from me for now. Let me know if you have any good books to recommend me. Also let me know if you had read the books that I've listed here and agree with me that they are fantastic read. Live long and prosper.

8 comments :

My 15HWW said...

Thanks for the share! There's abit of overlap to what I have read, but definitely not the fiction. Will check them out, along with Chris' book.

Christopher Tan said...

Hi Thomas! Thank you so much for sharing my book. What an encouragement! Really appreciate it.

la papillion said...

Hi 15hww,

I've attached a more detailed summary on all the books I've read. The link is inside the post. If you can't find let me know. Can see if it suits you before reading haha

la papillion said...

Hi Chris,

Haha, no problems, it's really a good read :) You have this way of connecting to the masses, no matter how technical the subject matter is. Well done!

Christopher Tan said...

Thank you once again for your kind words!

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ts said...

Thanks for the recommendations! Maybe I can share one of my fav books of all time which I read last year, called "The Elephant Whisperer" by the late Lawrence Anthony. Non-fiction book :)

la papillion said...

Hi ts,

Thanks for the recommendations!