I was just inspired by this newsletter from The Whippet to be more diligent about cataloging. She was answering a question about her “personal knowledge management,” which is a process for managing and organizing all the stuff you’re working on, usually related to research projects, but something she might need for the newsletter she prepares. She explains some cool mind-mapping ones that are popular, but that she mostly uses a system of lists, folders, and excel in a very linear way. She talks about how she already has a non-linear style of thinking that creates associations laterally, so she benefits from having a more structured system.
Same. Saaaaaammmeeee. I have tried and failed on many occasions to catalogue all the things I come across so that I can reference them later, and always seem to fail to return to it. This blog has been one of the most consistent ways for me to do it, even if inconsistently. I believe that I reflect longer on all the things I’ve come across, they’ll last longer. And wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe it’s not been about you this whole time at all.
a-hem. So here are the books I’ve read in the first half of 2022.
I took a long work break to be sad and mope, and did a lot of reading during that time.
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
Second behemoth book in the Stormlight Archive series. Continues to be good, but I can’t keep reading them because then I’d only finish like 3 books in a year.
Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers
I really like Dave Eggers. This book made me think “how are fiction writers so creative? I don’t understand.” This was one of the rare things I listened to at normal speed (instead of 1.25x) because I wanted to catch all his descriptions:
“And there was Ana. Only five and a constant threat to the social contract”— isn’t that a great description?
This wasn’t even my favorite book by him. I haven’t read it since high school, but I loved A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
The Four Winds by Hannah Kristin
This is a really solid fiction book! It’s about people getting displaced by the drought/dustbowl and finding themselves struggling to make ends meet on California farms which lack work rights (coughUNIONScough)— and eerily feels oh-too relevant today.
Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
This is a book of poetry, but I really wanted to read this book after reading his fiction previous book last year and thinking it was so beautiful. I still struggle with poetry, but it was still beautiful. “Amazon History of a Former Nail Salon Worker” hit hard. You can hear some of it it in this interview.
Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Klara and the sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
I listened to an interview with the author and wanted to read their book. The interview talks about how so many people are scared of death and avoid acknowledging it, often leaving a mess for their family after they pass away—creating more heartache and stress during a difficult time. I mean, that’s not all they talked about, but that resonated with me and I’ve known families get torn apart over someone’s will or interpretation of their wishes because it wasn’t laid out.
Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 2 – The Pillars of Civilization by David Vandermeulen and Yuval Noah Harari
I read their book, but I really enjoyed the graphic novel version! I kept telling my partner facts from the book as I read. I should probably also read Volume 1 too.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patric Radden Keefe
UMMM OMG WHAT. How did we let the world come to this. This book was such a thorough history of the Sackler family who have been peddling pain killers for decades.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My writing teacher was a student of Strayed’s and I had the impulse to read her book as a nice break. I really liked it. I’ve described it as “a women’s life is falling apart and she decides to hike the PCT (a 2,650 mile Mexico-to-Canada trail) with no previous experience.” If you’re an avid hiker and want to get some hot tips—this book is not for you. If you want to hear someone’s story and also it’s pretty naturey, you might like it. And yes, it totally made me want to go hiking. Apparently there was a Wild-effect where the number of hikers increased after the book and movie came out.
Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century edited by Alice Wong, multiple essays
These were great! I’m so glad I got to hear these perspectives. I recommend this book for anyone who works or lives with people (everyone).
A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020 by David Sedaris
David Sedaris is probably my favorite writer. These were just his diary entries and they were so funny and good. I admire him so much.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
You know I’m spiraling when I pull out Frankl for the third time.
Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth about Lies about Indians by Darrel Dennis
I wanted to learn more about Indigenous People specific to Canada for work and this was a helpful light-hearted primer (well, like darkly light-hearted). It’s complicated!
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily & Amelia Nagoski + Come as You Are By Emily Nagoski
Someone recommended Burnout to me and I found it helpful so I read Emily’s other book too. They’re both practical and researched.
Give and Take by Adam Grant
Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist and someone that a podcast that I listen to mentions a lot, so I follow him too. I was like “I should actually read his book instead of just liking some of his instagram posts.” I didn’t know he was an organizational psychologist or that it would be so business-y—BUT I did actually find it really helpful. In some ways, it helped me think about my burnout in a way that more productive than the Burnout book because I think I get especially discouraged when I have to work and it’s not helpful, which he talks about in the book. Honestly, it helped me think about what it might look like if I actually tried stepping into a leadership role instead of hiding.
I think all designers and people who work on products should read this book.
Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment by Daniel Kahneman
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? by Julie Smith
On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Radical Candor by Kim Malone Scott
Design for Cognitive Bias by David Dylan Thomas
Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella Meadows
A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide by Cyd Harrell
^ I like the podcast and have listened to it for years, but I don’t recommend the book. They chose to just put in a bunch of low-fi illustrations and I WISHED I could just see the things they are talking about! Without the color at least audio, it was pretty frustrating. That said, I often told my partner about the fun facts I learned.