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New Year, New Reading List

Stack of books

In 2012, I read more books than usual. According to my calculations (powered by my Goodreads profile), I finished 22 books. Surprisingly, my selections were a perfectly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Here’s a quick inventory of recommendations for others who are interested in business, technology, communication, and creativity.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain — Whether you think you’re an introvert or an extrovert doesn’t matter. This book changed the way I think about personality and communication, and its impact on how we work, learn, create, and socialize.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James Pennebaker — Yes, this book is about linguistics and psychological research, but don’t let that deter you. It’s well-written and interesting, and I feel like I’m much more aware of “stealth words” in my own speech and writing.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon — Perfect jolt of inspiration on a weekend afternoon. It’s short and engaging, and provides some essential encouragement for developing creative habits. (If the quick read leaves you wanting more, the author has great blog, Twitter, and Tumblr posts that continue to explore the concepts in the book.)

Instant: The Story of Polaroid by Christopher Bonanos — Even if you’re not into instant photography, this glimpse inside Edwin Land’s empire is worth reading. Polaroid’s innovation (and demise) is equal parts instruction manual and warning label for all types of companies. You’ll find yourself looking at today’s tech industry a little differently after reading this book.

Cooking Solves Everything: How Time in the Kitchen Can Save Your Health, Your Budget, and Even the Planet by Mark Bittman — As much as we obsess over food, we often forget how much our most basic habits an decisions impact our daily lives and the world around us. Serving suggestion: Enjoy this long essay with fresh-brewed coffee and a home-cooked Sunday brunch.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan — This delightful novel is beautifully-written, and sparked some enlightening discussions about the future of publishing and books. Also, the cover glows in the dark, which is awesome.

Just Kids by Patti Smith — A simply amazing memoir. Read it for gritty NYC history and a glimpse inside the 1960s-1970s art scene; you’ll never again catch yourself whining about how hard it is to be a creative person or an artist.

My modest goal for 2013 is to read 24 books, which works out to two per month. These are a few of the titles on my reading list, so far:

You can keep tabs on what I’m reading throughout the year (short articles, books, and everything in between) by subscribing to my weekly email newsletter and following my updates on Goodreads.

What’s the best book you read in 2012? What’s on your list to read in 2013? Hit me up on Twitter at @storiesandideas to share your book recommendations.

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  1. April Finnen says:

    Great list – I see a few here I’ll be adding to my personal library, including Cooking Solves Everything (how did I miss that one?). I loved Quiet; it finally helped me understand myself after all these years!

    I read several great books in 2012, but one of the most memorable was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. To say it’s a story of a cell line doesn’t do it justice. It’s also the story of a woman, a family, a disease, ethics (or not) in medical research, and the beginnings of the biotech industry. I loved it, and it started me down a medical reading path, which also included The Emperor of All Maladies (a hard, but worthwhile read) and several books about infectious diseases. Currently reading Beating Back the Devil by Maryn McKenna; it’s about the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

    • April, you’ll love Mark Bittman’s essay! I also want to read Henrietta Lacks … it’s been on my list for a while now. I hear nothing but awesome reviews.