2 books behind schedule. But “2” is just a number, right? You cannot “quantify” books. Setting up a goal of number of books is utterly naive. There are books you want to revisit over and over no matter how big. There are also books you simply cannot make yourself to go through, no matter how small. This journey is about finding these kind of books and sharing the knowledge and process.
Someone on Quora recently asked What is the most important skill to develop in algorithms? Here is my response.
The tale of two lists
2016 started on a high note. I am certainly enjoying the audiobooks. Having set up a few categories to read from this year, I am more determined than last year to cover a broader set of topics.
I highly recommend setting up two important lists: The read list and the hack list. If you are a new reader, just get reading. 1 book in a year is immensely better than 0 but once you are reading 4-5 books in a year, you will start to love it. By the time you can do 20 or more books, you will need to prioritize what you read. Similarly, the hack list helps you prioritize your personal projects. If you have not deliberately undertaken and completed a small personal project, I would suggest just commit to one and do it. Once you realize your potential (and everyone has boatload of it), you will want to do more. Once you are able to do more predictably, you will have to plan where those precious hours go.
Here is my read list 2016 (here is read list 2015). Here is my hack list 2016 (without any method to madness). I’ve started the hack-list this year so it is not very well structured and I have yet to see how it pans out at the end of the year. An experiment I am excited about.
The tale of two advantages
I have realized two advantages: The commuter advantage and the weekend advantage.
I think having a commute is a double edged sword. It is an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time. The commute (2 hours every weekday) is not terribly tiring if I get enough rest while at home. It does give an advantage of 2 hours to myself, undisturbed (mostly, not counting the screeching of the trains). This allows me to pursue personal projects and learning but it is also taking away 2 hours that I could otherwise spend with family or at work (both of which have an appetite for more). I guess I have to spend more time in coming days in time-budgeting. My health initiative suffer greatly because of this.
Similarly, the weekend advantage is a self realized one. You could spend it binge watching netflix, traveling around, lazing around or just sleeping. Or, if you are like me, you can spend it with family in the daytime and coding/learning in the night time.
Science & Space Travel
- Astronaut’s guide to life on earth ★★★★★
- Starman (In progress)
- The future of mind ★★★★★
- Hooked ★★★
- The last question ★★★★★
- Girl on the train (In progress) ★★★★
- The confidence Gap ★★★
- Way of the seal (abandoned) ★
- Creativity Inc (In progress)
- Happiest toddler on the block (abandoned) ★★★
Statistics and Data science
- Signal vs Noise ★★★
- Python data-science essentials (continued) ★★★★
- First course in design and analysis of experiments (continued) ★★★★
- Completed “personal and family financial planning“
- Started “Interaction design” specialization
- Patio herb garden (not started) – sigh
- Let’s Hack Book (shelved – will come back to it later)
- Grocery planner app (to be started)
- From the hack list, lots of smaller projects.
For those interested in working in the US, here is a timeline I followed. YMMV.
Oct 2014 – Dec2014
Dec 01 2014 – Jan 01 2015
Job application/preliminary HR screening interviews.
Jan 15 2015 – Jan 31 2015
Telephonic Interviews/online tests/peer-coding (2-3 different screenings)
Feb 15 2015 – Feb 25 2015
B1/B2 visa application / travel arrangements for onsite interview
Mar 01 2015 – Mar 02 2015
Flight to SF
Mar 03 2015 – Mar 05 2015
March – 4X – Onsite Interviews (flights + 2-3 nights fully funded with meals reimbursements)
Mar 07 2015 – Mar 10 2015
Mar 15 2015 – Mar 22 2015
Document submission to lawyer
Mar 31 2015 – Apr 01 2015
Petition for work permit submission
May 04 2015 (~)
Petition selection / result
August 25 2015 (~)
Petition approval notice
Sep 4 2015 (~)
I-797 Approval doc
Sep 10 2015 (~)
I-797 and other documents package
Sep 14 2015
Sep 20 2015
flights, protractor, funds arrangement
Sep 29 2015
Sep 30 2015
land in SF
Oct 01 2015 – Oct 10 2015
Oct 12 2015
first day at job
2015 was a good year for reading. It was also one of the most challenging year I have had so far. From changing houses 3 times, finding a new job and moving thousands of miles away from home country, it was far from a “year on the couch”™. Quiet the contrary!
But don’t most busy people have the most time to do most of the things they want to?
At least that is the motivation for reading so many productivity books.
Every year I setup a read-list for the next year. I also setup a “read-list-inbox”. All the recommendations I get throughout the year (from the books I am already reading, from other people, from blogposts, etc.) go into read-list-inbox. From the read-list-inbox I prioritize books and put them in read-list. The priority is based on what I want to learn in the year. I will write later on some learning themes I follow.
80% of my reading is thru audiobooks, 15% on the paperbacks and 5% on my laptop.
Please note that these are not absolute ratings. These are my ratings and how I feel about the book and whether I found it useful, entertaining, mind-opening and recommend worthy to people who are similar to me. For example I have already read so much on personal discipline and productivity that I didn’t find anything new in “Eat that frog”. It may still be a nice book. Similarly, I find Nasem Talib’s tone a little over the top for my taste and hence I didn’t like Antifragile. It may have been a good book.
From 3 books in 2013, 5 books in 2014, I was able to go thru 20+ books in 2015. 2016 looks promising and I hope to double that number while improving on the quality I extract from these books.
Here is the list of books I went thru in 2015.
★★★★★ (Books I love and highly recommend)
- Animal Farm
- The hard thing about hard things
- The innovators
- No excuses: Power of self discipline
- 7 habits of highly effective people
- As we may think
- Think like a freak: Authors of freakonomics offer to retrain your brain – Steven D. Levitt
- The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle
- The organized mind: Straight thinking in the age of information overload – Daniel J. Levitin
- Becoming Steve Jobs
- 4 hour work week
- The compound effect
- The whole brain child
If you have read or are currently reading any of these books and want to have a discussion, feel free to find me on facebook or drop me an email at [zakishaheen-at-me-dot-com].