Fifty Books in Six Months (So Far)

The magnificent author Jean Luis Borges.

I like to give myself annual challenges. Last year I set out to write a blog post every day for a year. After the success of that project I set my sights on something equally as intellectually enriching. For 2017 I would read 100 books.

I came to this number because I saw quite a few people who set 50 as their goal and I have become increasingly competitive in just about every pursuit I value.

As of today I’m halfway there and 13 days ahead of schedule. There’s no particular guiding theme behind what I read. I own and frequently purchase books that are both old and new. I seem to have a habit of reading personal development books, but I enjoy fiction and memoir more. Interestingly enough, I think I’ve read more female authors this year than in any before it.

I spend time with a lot of books on business, writing, editing, and marketing because it’s my career and I believe you should be constantly increasing whatever skills put food on your plate, a roof over your head and ammo in the magazine. I stumbled into a pretty good career and now that I’m making a fairly substantial income (for me), I aim to become world class.

What humans do in extreme situations is of some interest to me, which is why I really enjoy war and addiction books.

If someone gives me a book to read, I’ll usually bump it up to the top of my list, though I don’t often follow up on suggestions unless the person is also a writer or an equally heavy reader. Another frequent influence on my list is my podcast, Scary Thoughts. Most of the philosophy and criticism I’ve read in the last year eventually shows up on the show.

A lot of people seem to think this is a brutally difficult goal, but it’s really not. It takes an average of a book every 3.65 days. Some books are shorter, some are longer. If you spend a little time in the morning and don’t watch Netflix at night, you could do this too. I have a brutal train commute thanks to my new job, which will give me even more opportunity to rip through pages.

I feel like I’ve learned more in the last six months than I did in my entire undergraduate course load. That line in Good Will Hunting about how you could get a better education than a Harvard one for some library late fees is legit. I actually wish I didn’t have such a fetish for owning books so I could enjoy just borrowing books. I’d save a ton of money.

In case you’re interested, here’s the list of what I’ve read so far (most recent first):

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
  • A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
  • The Content Code by Mark W. Schaeffer
  • Extreme Ownership: How Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  • Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
  • Chief Marketing Officers at Work by Josh Steimle
  • Men, Women and Chainsaw: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol Clover
  • Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free by Cody Wilson
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life by JL Collins
  • The Like Switch: An FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over by Jack Scaefer, P.h.D. with Marvin Karlins, P.h.D
  • The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  • What Doesn’t Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude, and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutionary Strength by Scott Carney
  • Crush It! Why NOW is the Time to Cash in On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
  • The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trial Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  • Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smalville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison
  • Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson
  • Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  • Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess
  • So Sad Today by Melissa Broder
  • Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanne Clarke
  • A Long Slow Screw by Eugene S. Robinson
  • Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors by George W. Bush
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  • Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore
  • Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • Lunatic Heroes: Memories, Lies and Reflections by C. Anthony Martignetti
  • Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
  • How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
  • Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Ursula Nordstrom
  • Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • I Remember the Last War by Bob Hoffman
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susanne
  • Conversations with Capote by Lawrence Grobel
  • Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters by Major Dick Winters
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
  • Becoming a Barbarian by Jack Donovan
  • The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley, P.h.D. and William D. Danko, P.h.D.
  • True Allegiance by Ben Shaprio
  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
  • Kamikaze:  A Japanese Pilot’s Own Spectacular Story of the Famous Suicide Squadrons by Yasuo Kuwahara and Gordon T. Allred
  • Hard-Core Life of My Own by Harley Flanagan
  • The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz







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