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How is it February already?! Going with the mantra of “better late than never”, here are some of my favorite books from 2022.
I read 59 books in 2022, which is in line with my recent trend of reading around 60 books per year. In the previous four years, I’ve read 61, 73, 100, and 94 books, respectively. 2018 and 2019 were amazingly productive in this respect. It is an open question for me to figure out the reasons and replicate them going forwards.
Here are some of my favorite books:
The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, by Erin Meyer One of the most impactful books I read in 2022. Anyone who is multi-cultural or works in a multi-cultural work environment must read this book. The book examines how our cultural backgrounds impact our behavior in business environments. Great read!
Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away, by Annie Duke Another highly impactful book for me last year. I loved the framework of using the “expected value” as a guide every time I decide on continuing versus quitting. Another new-to-me perspective was how grit could lead us astray as it pushes us to continue sub-optimal endeavors.
Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths This book has been on my reading list for a few years. I’m glad I finally got the chance to read it. As a software engineer, I was familiar with most algorithms, yet I still found the coverage insightful. All the algorithms presented in the book are valuable strategies applicable to our daily lives. For instance, I never thought of going to a new restaurant as an explore vs. exploit problem, yet now this is the default way I think about such decisions.
Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track, by Will Larson The Staff+ engineer’s role has a different flavor in every company I’ve worked at. In most cases, the responsibilities are not defined explicitly, making it even more challenging (especially for new hires). This book is a good overview of the various flavors of the Staff Engineer role. The second half of the book is a set of interviews with other Staff+ engineers across multiple companies, which is a valuable set of benchmarks for other Staff+ engineers.
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday A good reminder of the Stoic philosophy. Everyone will have to deal with some problem at one point or another. However, two different mindsets to confronting the same problem (i.e., becoming overwhelmed or striving to find workarounds or alternate approaches) often lead to predictable but vastly different results. The audible narration by the author was perfect.
The Last White Man, by Mohsin Hamid Everything by Mohsin Hamid is a must-read, and this book does not disappoint. It tackles complex topics like racism and the metamorphosis of society. However, the relationship in the book between a father and his changing son is particularly touching. This relationship was a vital part of the book for me, and the author handled this beautifully. Mohsin’s writing style is incredibly fluid and poetry-like, which makes this an easy favorite.
The Mistborn Saga, by Brandon Sanderson I’m cheating here a little bit, as this entry includes the nearly half a dozen books in the series (all of them are great!). My son started this series, and I decided to re-read it with him. This series is one of my all-time favorites, so I enjoyed revisiting this universe. I highly recommend this to fans of fantasy who have yet to read this series.
Termination Shock, by Neal Stephenson Neal’s work is incredibly well-researched, and I always learn something new when reading his books. Technically, this book is science-fiction, yet it is closer to scientific fact. Some of the technological ideas in the book are already becoming real in 2023.
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke The book starts very slowly, and as a reader, it takes a while to make sense of the environment. However, the reader is amply rewarded for their patience in the book’s first half, as Susanna progressively reveals the universe and the layers of the story. Overall, a fascinating premise that’s executed well.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab Beautiful writing and the story of a Faustian bargain spread over several centuries. The story has a romantic subplot, but I wouldn’t call it a romance novel.