Archive of posts with tag 'reading'

Books of 2022

January 4, 2023 • #

This year I got to several books that have been on my list for years, excited to finally dig into them.

Here’s the full list, with my favorites ⭐️ starred:

Where Is My Flying Car? ⭐️ Where Is My Flying Car? by J. Storrs Hall Published: 2021 • Completed: December 12, 2022 • 📚 View in Library

Weekend Reading: Readwise's Next Chapter, Reviewing Revolt of the Public, and the Helicopter State

September 17, 2021 • #

📚 The Next Chapter of Readwise: Our Own Reading App

Great to see this evolution of Readwise to enter the “read-later” app space. None of the options out there seem to be thriving anymore (Pocket, Instapaper, etc.), but some of us still rely on them as essential parts of our reading experience.

The Readwise team has been moving fast the last couple years with excellent additions to the product, and I can’t believe they were also working on this for most of 2021 along with the other regular updates....

Kindle Cloud Reader

September 16, 2021 • #

I use the Kindle desktop app a fair amount, usually for going back to books I’ve already read for reference, or to review highlights and make notes. It’s always been a pretty bad application, with a strangely dated interface and extremely rare updates, but lately it’s gotten unusable. Maybe it’s unstable on the M1 Mac mini. It now crashes constantly and corrupts the local data, requiring purge and reinstall to fix it.

Instead of fighting with it, I went back to their Kindle Cloud Reader, a web-based version of the same Kindle client that Amazon’s kept around for a decade....

Goal Progress: November

December 1, 2020 • #

We had a hurricane blow up part of a week of productivity around here, but I still limped along with some middling progress on the year’s goals. I’m behind the targets this year late in the game, but I’m still happy with the results. I can still close the gap on the running target, at least.

I’ve been thinking about an idea Patrick O’Shaughnessy wrote about recently on “growth without goals” — setting up systems to be able to pursue and achieve personal growth without having hard numbers on a scoreboard. Using...

Goal Progress: October

November 1, 2020 • #

October is over already?

At this rate, it’ll be New Years in no time flat.

Anyway, let’s check in on the 2020 goals:

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 534.25 miles 543 miles 650 miles -8.90
Meditation 1070 minutes 2607 minutes 3120 minutes
Reading 23 books 25.07 books 30 books -2.07

I made middling progress in areas, like some better runs in the first couple of weeks. Felt good to have some overachieving progress. But then we did a week out of...

Goal Progress: September 2020

October 1, 2020 • #

For the month of September:

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 484.26 miles 488 miles 650 miles -3.69
Meditation 1070 minutes 2342 minutes 3120 minutes
Reading 19 books 22.52 books 30 books -2.52

Good news is I closed the deficit a bit on the running goal, even though it didn’t feel like a particularly productive month there.

COVID makes time fly and crawl simultaneously, through some sort of perverse time distortion. There were just no notable events this month to break up...

The Antilibrary

September 17, 2020 • #

In The Black Swan, Taleb raises the concept of the “Antilibrary,” using author Umberto Eco’s personal library of tens of thousands of books as an example. Here’s Shane Parrish on Taleb:

A good library is filled with mostly unread books. That’s the point. Our relationship with the unknown causes the very problem Taleb is famous for contextualizing: the black swan. Because we underestimate the value of what we don’t know and overvalue what we do know, we fundamentally misunderstand the likelihood of surprises.

I have no intention of physically...

Readwise and Roam Research

September 8, 2020 • #

If I tracked my time spent in software tools, I’m pretty sure over the last 8 months Roam and Readwise would be top of the list.

All of my writing, note-taking, idea logs, and (increasingly) to-dos happen now in Roam. Since getting serious with it around the beginning of the quarantine, I haven’t used any other tool for writing things down.

I discovered Readwise about a year ago and it quickly entered routine use. My backlog of meticulously-kept-but-underused Kindle highlights was immediately made valuable through Readwise’s daily reviews....

Goal Progress: August 2020

September 1, 2020 • #

Another month down of quarantine life.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 426.44 miles 435 miles 650 miles -8.08
Meditation 1070 minutes 2086 minutes 3120 minutes
Reading 19 books 20.05 books 30 books -1.05

Outside of widening our circles a little from shelter to family and one or two friends, we’re still spending most of our time at home or in outdoor activities.

The start of Elyse’s kindergarten over the last couple of weeks really put a dent into anything other than...

Readwise, Books, and Spaced Repetition

August 7, 2020 • #

In his piece “Why Books Don’t Work,” Andy Matuschak made a strong case that books are a poor medium for knowledge transfer. Even with the most advanced book experiences today (like digital ebook downloads to a Kindle), if you took away the digital e-ink screen, a reader from the 16th century would still recognize books as no different than what they had. We’ve added digital on-demand access, dictionary lookups, and the ability to have a library in your pocket1, but the fundamental model for conveying...

Goal Progress: July

August 2, 2020 • #

A quick touch on progress for July. I can’t believe it’s already been 5 months since the beginning of the pandemic.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 371.27 miles 379 miles 650 miles -8.05
Meditation 1070 minutes 1821 minutes 3120 minutes
Reading 17 books 17.51 books 30 books -0.51

Nothing that notable this month. Steady upkeep on the running goals, but the summer time in Florida is brutal. Really restricts the scheduling if you can’t do early morning or late evening exercise.


Library Notes

July 20, 2020 • #

Jumping off from my Friday post on literature notes, I’ve taken the first step here in what will hopefully become something more meaningful over time.

I just finished up filtering back through all my highlights and notes on Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works over the weekend. Part of what this process helped me figure out is a standard model for organizing literature notes by section, so if I publish the complete notes, they’ll be browsable by part and chapter of any book I have notes for.

Book notes

All I’ve...

Literature Notes for the Library

July 17, 2020 • #

With the last several books I’ve read, I’ve been trying to force myself to work through and document literature notes for my highlights, key ideas, and takeaways from books. Using a process (that perhaps I’ll one day go through in greater detail here) in Roam, I’ll scan through all of my highlights and write up notes on the content, editing it into my own words and phrasing. One of the goals of this process is to increase retention and recall, and as Sonke Ahrens

Book Light

July 10, 2020 • #

I do most of my nighttime reading with my Kindle, but lately I’ve been reading a couple of books that don’t exist in ebook format. I actually do prefer reading paper books as an experience, but I still favor the ebooks especially for highlighting, but also for the obvious benefits of portability and availability.

Most of the clip-on book lights out there are clunky and annoying. Years ago I had something called a LightWedge that was pretty clever, but too expensive, fragile, and heavy for regular use.

I went out looking for a simple,...

Goal Progress: June

July 1, 2020 • #

These updates during the quarantine are weird. In some ways time feels like it’s standing still, in others it feels like it’s flying by. Every day feels mostly the same. Even though some has opened up in our area, we’re still basically in isolation from friends.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 317.49 miles 324 miles 650 miles -6.62
Meditation 1070 minutes 1556 minutes 3120 minutes
Reading 15 books 14.96 books 30 books +0.04

It wasn’t that interesting of a month from...

Audiobooks and Engagement

June 16, 2020 • #

Recently Nat Eliason started a thread on the subject of audiobooks, and how much lower comprehension and retention is when listening versus reading:

I know where he’s coming from here. I probably consume half my books in audio form, and on certain dimensions here I would agree. My general pattern is very selective in what I’ll choose to listen to instead of read...

Goal Progress: May 2020

June 1, 2020 • #

Just a quick update this month. With the pandemic still going, lockdown in a state of unknown non-committal from any authority, and the madness going on around the nation the past week, all of this seems kinda trivial. I’m sure we’ll power through past it, but I’m just doing my best to keep the habits going. I’m still fortunate to get to plow forward mostly unimpacted by it all.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 257.89 miles 272 miles 650 miles -14.58
Meditation 1070 minutes 1308 minutes 3120 minutes

Goal Progress: April 2020

May 1, 2020 • #

April was the first full calendar month of COVID lockdown. In the beginning of the month I started getting comfortable with the working-from-home setup. I have a decent desk setup and a large master bedroom-slash-office space, which until early March I’d barely used since we moved in. It’s gotten a workout now for 2 months of all-day work. I’ve got one of these adjustable desks that’s nice and wide, with plenty of light in the room, so aside from the zero separation between work and life zones, it’s not too bad.

In this past week though the strain is...

Current Reads

April 29, 2020 • #

I recently added to my Library section to include the books I’m currently reading. At the top of the page now I’ll be including books in the rotation. You’ll notice that I’m always reading multiple things at once. Usually the batch is either a) modal: I’ve got something on Audible, a paper book, maybe a couple e-books, or b) type: nonfiction, fiction, etc.

Currently in progress:

Goal Progress: March

April 1, 2020 • #

So March has wrapped, probably the longest month we’ve had in many years.

The shake-up in schedule, work-life patterns, and disruptions in everything from kids, to family, to day-to-day activities played absolute hell with my progress on goals.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 141.04 miles 162 miles 650 miles -21.01
Meditation 860 minutes 778 minutes 3120 minutes +82
Reading 6 books 7.48 books 30 books -1.48

Let’s start with the “okay” news. On the meditation front I’ve been doing alright, but made...

Goal Progress: February

March 1, 2020 • #

A quick update for February. No big revelations or movements on goals, just slight progress.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 97.76 miles 107 miles 650 miles -9.09
Meditation 600 minutes 513 minutes 3120 minutes +87
Reading 4 books 4.93 books 30 books -0.93

I’ve struggled with building longer meditation sessions into my routine. I think the only way it’s going to happen is if I can get a pattern of sitting down in the morning before the kids are up. At night...

Readwise and Instapaper

February 27, 2020 • #

Discovering Readwise a few months ago caused me to resurrect my long-dormant Instapaper account. Instapaper was my go-to “read later” service, but I also used it as a general bookmark archive. After a while I’d fallen into only using it for the latter, which then made me go back to Pinboard since the single function of bookmark tagging is its specialty. I’m still using Pinboard heavily to archive interesting things, but I’ve found a new use for Instapaper with Readwise’s integration.

Readwise’s main feature is to sync all of the highlighted passages from your...

Kindle Features and Areas for Improvement

February 12, 2020 • #

The Kindle launched in 2007, making ebooks accessible as a format not only because of a compelling device, but also a marketplace for content. Suddenly most books were available instantly for $10 a piece. No more trips to the store, expensive hardcovers and paperbacks, and importantly, no more paper taking up shelf space. As much as I love the Kindle, I have a growing list of gripes about the experience. Like with John Gruber’s recent post on the iPad, criticism comes from a place of love for the platform, and a disappointment with how...

Goal Progress: January

February 2, 2020 • #

The first month of 2020 is already in the books. 31 days blew by already?

It’s been a rollercoaster of a first few weeks, with some vacation at New Years, shot out of a cannon with a reinvigorated team at work, a trip to Miami, and a trip to Jacksonville.

I already fell behind on the targets with all that’s been going on. Once I can fall into a better rhythm with some normalcy in the schedule (which should be happening over the next couple weeks), I think I’ll be fine to catch up.


Reading Metrics

January 9, 2020 • #

Since I began tracking my books in a spreadsheet in 2018, I’ve got a bunch of data I can now look at on my reading habits.

One thing I took a stab at was a “duration chart” that could show the reading patterns over time, based on when I started and finished each book.

Book reading durations

Using this stacked bar chart style, you can see which books I stalled out on and put down for long periods. Not a judgment on those books’ respective merits, more of a criticism of...

Kindle for Mac

December 8, 2019 • #

Periodically I want to read on my computer, particularly when sitting at my desk. Amazon publishes a web app called Cloud Reader for reading Kindle books, which emulates pretty closely what their mobile apps look and feel like.

I found out they’ve got a full desktop client also, which seems they’ve had for years but I never discovered or tried it out. It turns out to be one of the better applications for reading ebooks I’ve seen, even though Amazon clearly hasn’t cared about it in years (if they ever really did).


Goal Progress: November

December 1, 2019 • #

This was a busy one. Between the All Hands earlier in the month and the week off for the holidays, those are brutal to maintaining the routine (though great to get a break and spend time with both workmates and family, respectively).

Here are the stats with one month left to go:

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 574.02 miles 457.53 miles 500 miles +120.53
Meditation 3503 minutes 3340 minutes 3650 minutes +163
Reading 51 books 45.75 books 50 books +5.25

Once I...

A Twitter "bestof" List

November 11, 2019 • #

The only content feeds I regularly peruse anymore are my RSS subscriptions and Twitter. I’ve been trying to pull away a bit more from looking at Twitter so often. This is a common problem these days that people are responding to in much different ways. You’ve got folks like my co-workers Bill & James coming at it with a sanitization strategy, trying to clean up their feeds in various ways. Then you have those on the “Waldenponding” end of the spectrum (like Cal...


November 3, 2019 • #

A while back I started a text file for logging the best quotes I run across. I put up a page to document those here publicly. No sense in keeping good stuff to myself when I can share my favorites.

A few highlights:

“It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.”


“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

F.A. Hayek

“Argue as though you are right, but listen as...

Goal Progress: October

November 1, 2019 • #

The big achievement this month was the culmination of the half marathon training, ending October by finishing my first one.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 520.12 miles 416.44 miles 500 miles +103.68
Meditation 3208 minutes 3040 minutes 3650 minutes +168
Reading 47 books 41.78 books 50 books +5.22

The other notable movement was surpassing the 500 mile goal, which happened on this run and I didn’t even realize it at the time. I was able to knock out the mileage...

Goal Progress: September

October 1, 2019 • #

In September the training push continued for the half marathon. I did a personal record 88 miles in the 30 days, for an average of just about 3 miles per day the whole month. Somehow I’m not dead yet, but the aches and pains were there to prove it.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 460.88 miles 373.97 miles 500 miles +86.86
Meditation 2893 minutes 2730 minutes 3650 minutes +163
Reading 42 books 33.66 books 50 books +8.34

I think I’ve got the...

Goal Progress: August

September 1, 2019 • #

This month I made a concerted effort to kick it into a higher gear with the running. Mid-month was the start of the Strava training plan I’m going to try and follow for race preparation.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 372.51 miles 332.88 miles 500 miles +39.63
Meditation 2563 minutes 2430 minutes 3650 minutes +158
Reading 36 books 29.96 books 50 books +6.04

The longer mileage is feeling good. I wasn’t sure what to expect when doing longer times with only single...

Goal Progress: July

August 1, 2019 • #

I had surprisingly good results on goals this July given how much was going on all month.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 300.57 miles 290.41 miles 500 miles +10.16
Meditation 2270 minutes 2120 minutes 3650 minutes +150
Reading 33 books 26.14 books 50 books +6.86

On the exercise front, I was able to get the same quantity of runs in even though we started out with the holiday weekend, which always makes sticking to patterns and habits challenging for me. Plus all...

Goal Progress: June

July 1, 2019 • #

So that’s a wrap on the month of June. This was my best month so far in terms of a consistent plan and feeling more productive with staying on target. Even with an out-of-town trip to visit the Cape and Jacksonville for a few days, which threw a brief wrench into the running plan, I was still able to climb enough above the target line get to my highest mark so far.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 253.54 miles 247.95 miles 500 miles +5.59
Meditation 1920...

Weekend Reading: Satellites, Antilibraries, and Libra

June 29, 2019 • #

🛰 How to Profit in Space: A Visual Guide

Fantastic visualizations from the WSJ team. Shows the history of satellite expansion divided by country, year, and orbits, both LEO and geosynchronous. A great use of maps for storytelling.

📚 The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books are the Most Important

This is a concept pulled from Taleb’s The Black Swan, which I recently enjoyed. As he notes, the antilibrary can function as a reminder of how much...

The Reading Diet

June 26, 2019 • #

Books are one purchase I don’t restrict my spending on. I’m not a big buyer of “stuff” in general, but I don’t hesitate at all about my money going to reading. I do try to be circumspect to not overwhelm myself, and to limit that spending to ones that I’m highly interested in and likely to read. I tend to think along the same lines as Shane Parrish here (and, by extension, Charlie Munger):

Books contain a vast amount of knowledge and knowing what most other people don’t know is how I...

Goal Progress: May

May 31, 2019 • #

For the second half of the month I got into a good rhythm with every-other-day running. I was even able to push almost 5 miles beyond the pace target to end the month. I started running with the kids again in the jogging stroller, which I haven’t done really at all since Elyse was little (2015-16). It’s good because it gets them out of the house, adds some cargo to push for additional workout, and gives Colette a nice break if I take them when I get home at the end of the day.


Goal Progress: April

May 1, 2019 • #

I was able to stay on track this past month toward my 2019 goals.

Activity Progress Pace
Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 164.51 miles 164.38 miles 500 miles +0.13
Meditation 1285 minutes 1200 minutes 3650 minutes +85
Reading 19 books 14.79 books 50 books +4.21

We’re still in the throes of prepping our old house for sale, so between that and work at the new house, that’s occupying a good bit of time. I have a goal to have the house listed in the next...

Goal Progress: March

April 1, 2019 • #

Month three is in the books. A seriously eventful month for us, so I’m surprised I was able to stay ahead of the curve.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 123.65 miles 123.29 miles 500 miles +0.36
Meditation 975 minutes 900 minutes 3650 minutes +75
Reading 15 books 11.1 books 50 books +3.90

We closed on the new house on the 15th, had an out-of-town trip to Jacksonville right after. Plus there was...

Goal Progress: February

March 1, 2019 • #

We just crossed month number two of the year, so here’s another pulse check on how I’m tracking against some personal goals for 2019. I’m tracking on all fronts, slightly better positioned against the pace marks than I was at the end of January.

Activity Progress Pace Goal Plus-Minus
Running 84.06 miles 80.82 miles 500 miles +3.24
Meditation 660 minutes 590 minutes 3650 minutes +70
Reading 10 books 7.27 books 50 books +2.73

With meditation practice I’ve widened my plus...

A Resurgence of Email

February 27, 2019 • #

Email is seeing a resurgence in an age when everyone’s been crying that email is dead. The comeback is not so much as a tool for intra-office communication (though it’s still alive and well in most organizations, Slack has overtaken email in ours), but as a publishing medium.

Newsletters have become a popular means for connecting with readers, helping publishers (and especially independent writers) cut through the noise that pervades social media channels. The constant feed of non-stop, clickbait-ish content makes it hard to cut through that waterfall with deep analysis or thoughtful writing.


Goal Progress: January

February 1, 2019 • #

This is the first year I set some goals on a few things. I’ve never been strongly goal-oriented, so I thought I’d put some stuff down to hold myself accountable and see if it helps build some healthy habits into my routine. Also, I thought it might be fun, as long as the goals were aggressive but attainable.

For the month of January, here’s how things stack up with each area. We’ve got my progress in the first column, the pace mark I should be at to keep on target, the total goal, and “plus-minus” is where...

Nonfiction Reading Patterns

November 18, 2018 • #

My nonfiction interests have evolved quite a bit. When I browse what’s new, recent, or recommended I find most of it uninteresting. I now find myself picking up books I wouldn’t have attempted several years back; I’d have been too intimidated by their length or complexity.

But now I’m comfortable with those and interested to visit “first principles” on whatever the topic is. Rather than reading current takes on economics, I’d prefer to pick up Adam Smith, Hayek, or Keynes. Instead of modern political writing, I’ll go for Locke, Hamilton, or Burke.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy contemporary...