Why I Read 40+ Books in 2018

Old Book Store Sign

I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. so I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.

- Warren Buffett

In 2018, I read 44 books – a healthy mix of science fiction and fantasy, mindset and entrepreneurship. I enjoyed each and every one, but that’s typical for me. I love to read.

I’ve been waiting since February to share this list since that’s when I had the idea to quantify how many books I read for the first time in my life. So, I’m very, very excited to bring you tips on how you can increase the amount you read, as well my favorite books from this year. Also, weirdly enough, this is probably the first year since the first Harry Potter book was released in the US in ‘98 that I haven’t read at least one of those books all the way through. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! (I am 100% an adult, I swear.)

How You Too Can Read a Ton in 2019

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Warren Buffett

So, I read 44 books. I’m also in two online courses – one to up my email marketing skills, and another to help me start a new business (which I’ll go into later). And, I read a ton of news articles each day – from politics to tech to the latest social media features.

Do I read Warren Buffett’s 500 pages a day? Probably not.

Do I think reading is crucial for my personal and professional growth? Absolutely.

Looking to up your reading in the New Year? One thing you can do is keep track. I was at 38 books until the last few weeks of 2018 and decided to get up to 40 to get that nice round number (then I hit 44 because I neglected to list a few books through the year).

I’ve been a voracious reader since I could first sound out words, something my parents must’ve enjoyed as I read every single sign aloud whenever we drove anywhere. For a short time in middle school, I tutored a younger kid in reading. That necessitated a huge shift in how I read – it’s not everyone’s favorite thing.

Curate your curiosity. Then, finding the media you love will be easier.

Start small: keep a book on a topic you love with you at all times, but don’t get hung up on how you consume it. Listen to podcasts or books-on-tape if that’s easier for your morning commute. Read on an e-reader or your phone if you can’t fit a hardcover into your bag. (I personally love my Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s survived for like 5 years). Grab a magazine in the doctor’s office. Read something trashy on the beach. The mere act of reading will make your smarter – even if it’s not a classic.

My elementary school principal told us he always had a book on him. And then, he would reach into his jacket pocket and pull out a paperback. It was magical as a kid. And I think about that a lot – I always have a bag with me for my medication and emergency injection and a bottle of water. Adding a book (or 3) is a simple way to help you read more. There are tons of times during the day when you have to wait, whether it’s for the subway, the doctor, or on the toilet when you’re hiding from your boss.

Also, libraries are the coolest so don’t forget to check them out. I can download books to my phone for free from the local library.

Most importantly, find the things that you love. Books and articles and magazines that intrigue you. I believe many non-readers just haven’t found the topic or author that really speaks to them.

Top 3 Business Books

My favorite non-fiction books are primarily for business growth and personal productivity.

  1. The 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss
    - This made a huge impact on my thinking this year and was the start of some of my most productive (and risky) work. It’s vital to success and happiness that you take measured risks that get you out of your comfort zone, and this book helped me work smarter rather than harder. (Though I do have some reservations which I talked about here and here.)

  2. You Are a Badass - Jen Sincero
    - I don’t go in for woo-woo spiritual stuff. Still, I believe that motivation and being open to opportunity keeps your eyes on the lookout for the next big thing for your career and your life. Sincero helps you get past the internal barriers to success. Believe in Universal Intelligence, or don’t. The key is crushing your excuses, then getting out of your way.

  3. Rework - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
    - I love the guys behind Basecamp. They know how to run a nimble business that takes full advantage of lean start-up models. Rework is a quick read with punchy, actionable tips to help you create the life you want to live by creating a business you love.

Top 3 Fiction Books

  1. An Unkindness of Ghosts - Rivers Solomon
    - This has become one of my all-time favorite books. A generation ship is making its way across the stars, yet the deck and work assignments follow much of the structured inequality that we see in our current economically and racially stratified society, plus antebellum notions of slavery.
    - Frankly, this deserves another bullet point because its fascinating intersectional analysis on race, gender expression, sexuality and wealth.

  2. The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula LeGuin
    - Another fascinating sci-fi about gender, conflict and culture – and what makes us human. It took me awhile to get to this book because I’m not an Earthsea fan (I know, I know.)

  3. A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab
    - As a history buff – I almost majored in history in college – I find London utterly fascinating. I mean, I like in New York City which has a rich, colorful history. But, London? Its history goes back ages. I love what Schwab created with her system of magic, and the suspense is killer.

Here’s my full 2018 list in chronological order:

A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab
Luck in the Shadows - Lynn Flewelling
Traitor’s Moon - Lynn Flewelling
The Alchemist - Michael Scott
Shadows Return - Lynn Flewelling
The White Road - Lynn Flewelling
Contagious - Jonah Berger
Dust of Dreams - Steven Erikson
The Sword of Shannara - Terry Brooks
The Elfstones of Shannara - Terry Brooks
An Unkindness of Ghosts – Rivers Solomon
Jhereg – Steven Brust
Yendi – Steven Brust
Teckla – Steven Brust
Taltos – Steven Brust
The Dungeon Master's Guide - Dungeons and Dragons
Monster Manual - Dungeons and Dragons
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe, and Everything - Douglas Adams
So Long and Thanks for All the Fish - Douglas Adams
Tomb of Annihilation - Dungeons and Dragons
The Tortle Package - Dungeons and Dragons
Mort - Terry Pratchett
Volo's Guide to Monsters - Dungeons and Dragons
The 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss
Soul Music - Terry Pratchett
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes - Dungeons and Dragons
The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula LeGuin
Grit – Angela Duckworth
Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook – Gary Vaynerchuck
Snuff – Terry Pratchett
Hooked – Nir Eyal, with Ryan Hoover
Court of the Air – Stephen Hunt
Kingdom Beyond the Sea – Stephen Hunt
All Marketers Are Liars - Seth Godin
Interview with the Vampire – Anne Rice
The Ring of Winter - James Lowder
You Are a Badass - Jen Sincero
Amberlough - Lara Elena Donnelly
You Are a Badass at Making Money - Jen Sincero
Rework - Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Purple Cow – Seth Godin
Soulless – Gail Carriger

My goal for 2019 is 50 books - not much of a stretch goal for me as I just joined a gym and will be adding books-on-tape to the mix. Where I am pushing myself in 2019 is to make my online course business successful. Reading books helps me succeed and helps me relax. But, I primarily do it for pleasure – that’s the real secret.

What media you consume can tell a lot about you. Go forth and READ!

What are you reading, and what does it say about you? Tell me on Twitter at @TomBasgil.

Remote WorkTom Basgil