Wherein I put words into my head…
Here’s my annual list of the books that accompanied my daily dose from various internet sources. If you’re curious, you can also see my lists from 2022, 2021, or 2020. The links below lead to pages where you can choose various online retailers if you want to purchase; I earn an affiliate commission on some purchases.
In the order I finished the books:
- The Art and Business of Online Writing: How to Beat the Game of Capturing and Keeping Attention by Nicolas Cole. This was a recommendation from Ali Abdaal for anyone who creates online material, written or video. Cole found a lot of success writing on Quora and then leveraged that into becoming a prolific online writer for various publications. He offers a good breakdown of his process along with his opinions on what leads to online success. Some of the material seemed familiar and some of it provided a fresh take I hadn’t thoroughly considered. I don’t know I’d recommend it quite as strongly as Ali did, but if you’re looking to solidify what you publish online and find some traction, it was a good (fast) read.
- Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube’s Chaotic Rise to World Domination by Mark Bergen. As someone who has been building a YouTube channel since spring of 2022, it was interesting to read some background on the platform that went more in depth than the headlines we saw in the tech press. It was interesting to read about the various twists and turns that made YouTube what it is today. A lot of the friction came (even recently) from YouTube as a piece of the Google and Alphabet soup. If you’re into YouTube, you might find the history interesting, but there won’t be any actionable takeaways.
- Thriving on Overload by Ross Dawson. I first heard of the author via his podcast when Marshall Kirkpatrick was interviewed. The theme of Dawson’s work is around how we can individually be successful in a world where we’re surrounded by more information than ever. I found the book to be a fast read, and Dawson lays out a framework for making decisions around what information to consume and how to be effective in using that information for growth. Highly recommended to anyone who works with their brain.
- Extra Focus: The Quick Start Guide to Adult ADHD by Jesse J. Anderson. As someone with a just-a-couple-years-ago ADHD diagnosis, I’m always up for learning about how, in theory, I might be able to have a smoother life. Some of the material here was information I’d already seen in many places, but I appreciated his fresh perspective on ways to find motivation and energy for things that seem to be obstacles for those of us with neurospicy minds.
- The Laws of Creativity by Joey Cofone. Who said that creativity can’t come from something tangible? This book works through a set of postulates that Cofone feels have served him well as a designer. Each law is the basis for a short chapter illustrated with an example and then Cofone’s more general thoughts. While I found the book interesting, and the advice was solid, I didn’t really learn anything new that I hadn’t heard from various other sources in the creative worlds. This might be a great book for a young or aspiring creator but I found it didn’t offer me much growth.
- Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam Savage. While I was only a casual, infrequent watcher of Mythbusters, I have a lot of respect for the positive, open energy that Savage shares as a maker. This was an easy read that recaps his take on creativity, inspiration, iteration, and his experiences as someone with decades in the creative world.
- Dream It! Do It!: My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms by Marty Sklaar. What can I say, I’m a Disnerd, and when a copy of this book was among the things I was cleaning out of my parents’ house, I decided to read it before passing it along as a donation. I enjoyed both his insider’s perspective on the Disney design process, but also some general thoughts on creative work that apply far beyond theme parks.
- Clear Thinking by Shane Parrish. I’ve been a longtime ready of Parrish’s Farnam Street blog, and this book encompasses the same themes, influences, and models that he’s written extensively about over the last several years. Thinking… reasoning… decision-making… this book touches on them all, with the author citing the various folks who have influenced his thinking over the years and from who he has pulled suggest of wisdom. If you’re into metacognition, you should check this out.
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. The second Isaacson biography I’ve read (the first being Steve Jobs), this was quite a lengthy tome. I’m a fast reader and some chapters were half-hour endeavors. Franklin’s life certainly had a variety of stories to tell, but I felt that Isaacson could’ve used more judicious editing to tighten things up. Portions of the book were a bit of a slog, and the length of this book is a factor in why my overall book count was down last year.
What did you read in 2023? What did you think of it?