Five books from 2023

- 5 mins

In 2023, I unintentionally rediscovered a lost habit — the joy of reading. A habit that, in all honesty, was not part of any plan but unfolded organically throughout the year.

A few years ago, I thought it was time to up my reading game. I switched gears from breezy fiction to the serious stuff, thinking I was ready to “graduate” in my reading game. I wanted to be a bit of a book snob, only reading intellectual, hardcode, serious books… but guess what? That plan backfired. Instead of reading more, I found myself reading less. It felt like I never had time for reading anymore, and my highbrow book choices were making things worse, not better.

Then, one day in January last year, I couldn’t find a physical copy of a book I wanted to read and had to resort to an audio book. Surprisingly, it changed everything. Suddenly, I was listening to all sorts of books. I was the kind of person who’d argue that listening to books was borderline sacrilege but there I was enjoying books while doing household chores, commuting to work, during workouts, and crazily enough, even when swimming (thanks to my trusted bone conduction earphones).

Slowly, over the year, I clocked in over 20 books, defying my own expectations. Now, as we kick off 2024, I’m on a mission to continue this delightful habit. But hey, I’m not here to brag about numbers; I’m here to share a few special books that changed my perspective, challenged my thinking, and taught me a thing or two. So, here we go…

"The Almanack of Naval Ravikant" by Eric Jorgenson

This book is a captivating guide that transcends conventional wisdom, offering profound insights into both wealth and happiness. Expanding on Naval’s famous tweetstorm “How to get rich without getting lucky”, this almanac serves as a map for navigating the complexities of life. It’s a treasure trove of practical advice on self-discovery, generating wealth, and being happy. This book isn’t just a guide; it’s a roadmap to a more fulfilled and purposeful existence, making it a must-read for anyone seeking a holistic meaning of “success”.

My favorite quote from this book:

“A happy person isn’t someone who’s happy all the time. It’s someone who effortlessly interprets events in such a way that they don’t lose their innate peace.”

"Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens is an intellectual rollercoaster that takes readers on a journey through the vast landscape of human history. The author weaves a compelling narrative that explores our species’ evolution from ancient ancestors to modern civilizations. The book challenges conventional beliefs, and has stirred quite a few controversies. Rather than relying on this as a “fact-book” to expand my knowledge, it became a “thinking-book” helping me contemplate my understanding of the world. This thought-provoking masterpiece leaves a lasting impact on the way we perceive our own existence.

My favorite quote from this book:

“There are no gods, no nations, no money, and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.”

"Zero to One" by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

“Zero to One” is a manifesto for entrepreneurs, urging them to innovate and create rather than imitate. The book delves into the philosophy of building a successful startup by emphasizing the value of uniqueness and monopolistic advantages. Thiel challenges conventional business wisdom, encouraging readers to think differently. One of the first contrarian questions in this book “What truth do very few people agree with you on?” has been my go to conversation starter igniting profound conversations with friends, family, and colleagues. This book is a blueprint for anyone aiming to go beyond the ordinary rather than following existing norms.

My favorite quote from this book:

“If you can identify a delusional popular belief, you can find what lies hidden behind it: the contrarian truth.”

"Complications" by Atul Gawande

“Complications” offers a sneak peak at complexities inherent in the world of medicine. This was one book that opened my eyes on a field that I have very little knowledge on. Gawande, a skilled surgeon, takes readers on a journey through the challenges, dilemmas, and unexpected moments in the field of healthcare. The book delves into the intricate nature of medical decision-making, shedding light on the uncertainties that doctors face and the profound impact of their choices. It underscores the importance of a continuous improvement and the acknowledgment that mastery is an ongoing process. Gawande’s reflections on the human element in complex systems resonate across disciplines ‒ I can see a lot of advice in this book being applicable to my day to day work in technology!

My favorite quote from this book:

“Skill, […] can be taught; tenacity cannot.”

"Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins

“Can’t Hurt Me” was a great way for me to end the year. This book is about an extraordinary journey of resilience and self-discovery. David Goggins, a former Navy SEAL, shares his inspiring life story, pushing the boundaries of physical and mental endurance. Goggins’ emphasizes on embracing discomfort and conquering adversity, making this book a powerful guide for anyone striving for personal transformation. This book is not just a memoir; it’s a call to action to achieve greatness.

This book is filled with quotable lines page over page. Some of my favorite quotes from this book:

“I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done”

“The most important conversations you’ll ever have are the ones you’ll have with yourself.”

“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.”

“Denial is the ultimate comfort zone.”

Aaaand, that’s a wrap! If you’re into book talk or have some recommendations, shoot me an email. You can also check out all the books I have finished here.

Happy reading, everyone! 👋

Sandeep Raju Prabhakar

Sandeep Raju Prabhakar

Writes about technology, software engineering and other things that interests him.