I enjoy the annual routine of reflecting on my year’s reading as the Holidays approach. Throughout the year I choose books depending on my interests, trips, state of mind, curiosity, or findings. Checking back on my Goodreads log revives those moments and is a good summary of my year in books. This year is special as I went through many changes, profound reflections, and a mindful resetting of my interests and priorities.
In 2022 I’ve read like never before. Sixty books throughout the year (that’s 16,423 pages, or 45 pages per day. You can see it’s not a monumental effort, only a matter of consistency) The first half of the year was particularly intense, as I found myself with the time to dive into a much-needed soul-searching exercise. During 2022 I’ve read 43 non-fiction and “only” 17 fiction books (my lowest ratio since I started counting). I’ve read 46 books in English and 13 in Spanish (more than ever), plus my first full book in French in decades. 1/3 of my readings were by women authors. I’ve read books on history (4), politics (2), economics (4), biographies (2), business (3), and startups (2), but by far the biggest theme this year for me was about healing, personal journeys, overcoming depression and difficult times, acceptance, forgiving, and preparing for “the second half” of my life. I read 16 different books to help me navigate the storm, and I can say that after many years of reading giving substance and texture to my life, this year this habit literally saved me. I am thankful to the writers, the traditions, the hours of therapy, and all the recommendations by good friends that threw light into my life when it was much needed.
This is a year of unique learning and growth. And I can’t be other than filled with gratitude. My gratitude to friends and family, to teachers and mentors, to my children, to my wife. And my gratitude to books and those who write them. May our pursuit of knowledge, of understanding, continue and set the course for richer lives, kinder relations, inclusive progress, preservation, and the joy of achieving well-lived existences, making the lives of others, and our whole world, better, one word at a time.
These are my top ten readings of 2022:
Business and Startups
1- The Power Law — by Sebastian Mallaby | A must-read for anyone in the VC industry. A good reminder of the history of the asset class, its cycles, and the fundamentals that have built powerhouses while others have come and gone with the recurrent hypes.
2- Speed & Scale— by John Doerr | From an authority in venture capital (Kleiner Perkins has such an impressive history behind it), a blueprint for achieving net-zero emissions. A good complement to Bill Gates’s book on the subject, it centers on actionable OKR and slices the problem in a brave attempt to give direction and consensus on what needs to be done to tackle the biggest problem of our generation.
3- Build — by Tony Fadell | A fresh approach to entrepreneurship, following Marc Andreessen’s shout to build things, emphasizes execution and gives candida advice for those wanting to start something for the right reasons.
1- On Time and Water — by Andri Snaer Magnason | one of my favorites in a long time. A spectacular writer, able to fill with poetry his reflections on climate change and COVID (“the great pause”). “Your time is the time of the people you know and love, the time that moulds you. And your time is also the time of the people you will know and love. The time that you will shape. Everything you do matters. You create the future every single day.”
2- Radical Acceptance — by Tara Brach | “Spiritual awakening is the process of recognizing our essential goodness, our natural wisdom and compassion”. The book I needed at that moment. I basically highlighted every single page.
3- Slouching towards Utopia — by J. Bradford Delong | A well-documented review of economic history in the twentieth century. The more I read, the more I admire Keynes and am puzzled by how we’ve relegated him to a controversial place in history.
1- The Morning Star— by Karl Ove Knausggaard | A strange novel, from a fantastic Norwegian writer. A meditation on death, Knausggaard’s ability to describe the most simple events with a poetic, simple voice reminds me of Proust, with a postmodernist tone.
2- Corazón tan Blanco — by Javier Marías | We have recently lost the most talented novelist in Spanish of his generation. Read everything you find on Marias, starting with this one, his most lauded novel. Then you’ll want to read the rest of his works.
3- Lessons — by Ian McEwan | A long novel about the life of a British middle-class man, introspecting about his childhood traumas, his marriage, world affairs, and his own achievements. Not for everybody, but I enjoy these types of books, with complex, deep characters and few events.
When Things Fall Apart — by Pema Chödrön | “Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don't get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit”.
As 2022 comes to an end, I take time again to reflect on what I went through, my learnings, my growth, and my new goals. May this post inspire you to read more, explore ideas beyond the conventional, extract yourself from echo chambers, and promote the advancement of ideas. As for 2023, I have a couple of new goals: read more classics (I’ve recently started “The Magic Mountain”, by Thomas Mann, and read at least three books in French (I’ll report how it went in a year).