TL;DR — I managed to read what I consider an ideal number of books this year. An average of a book a week, discounting two weeks for the times when finding the time to read is hard. Some of the books I picked up this year made me think about them till long after I put them down, and those are the ones that I enjoyed the most. Here they are (in no particular order) from among the books mentioned below:
Below are all the books I read this year. As one might have expected, I deviated a lot from the reading list I set for myself at the beginning of this year. So this year, I have decided not to create a pre-decided list for 2018. I have some books on hold at the Seattle Public Library and after I finish with those, I'll go with the flow.
In the list below, I liked the ones marked with an asterisk (*), and am happy to talk about any of them. For the books that you don't see reviews for, it's fair to assume that they didn't leave a permanent mark on me. I have also mentioned my rating for the book (out of 5).
1. Unshakeable (Tony Robbins): This is book is a long way of saying that for most investors, Tony Robbins recommends what Warren Buffet preaches:
- don't put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your financial assets by investing in different market sectors and different global markets.
- stay in the market instead of trying to time the right time to get in and cash out
- prefer index funds over actively traded funds
- pay attention to management fees and hidden charges
- the power of compounding is magical
If you already know the above information (which you very well might if you're picking up books like these), then the value of this book is not net new information but rather reminders of investment principles like the above.
Benjamin Graham's "Intelligent Investor" provides similar information and is the holy grail for value investors.
All that said, the reason I gave this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads is because there are chapters in this book where the author digresses a lot and becomes more of a life coach than a financial coach. These chapters tend to go on for longer than expected and takes away from the other parts of the book!
2. Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Why Everything You Know About Success is (Mostly) Wrong* (Eric Barker):
Pretty good book. Barker references other books I read in 2017: Grit (Angela Duckworth), Deep Work (Cal Newport), Triggers (Marshal Goldsmith), and all of them are good books individually.
Since I had read the works he references, my experience with this book might be different from readers who haven't. For me, a lot of what Barker said was a summary of what I had read earlier, with relevant stories. It served more as a refresher of information than providing completely new information and at this time of the year, worked well to jog my memory about previous books that I had read earlier in 2017.
If you haven't read Grit, Deep Work or Triggers -- I recommend those as well!
3. The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization?* (Carl Frey, Michael Osborne): Unless you are interested in the math behind how the authors calculated the probabilities of a job being computerized, what you will mostly want to look at is the table at the end where the authors list jobs ranked by chances of them being computerized. It's interesting, though probably best taken with a pinch of salt.
4. Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment (Robert Wright)
5. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason (Sam Harris): There's a lot of rhetoric but the logic used by the author doesn't always hold up to scrutiny. Also, although Harris tries to be impartial to different monotheistic religions, his bias against Islam is palpable. He makes a statement about how female honor killings mostly happen in Muslim populations while that's simply not true. Orthodox Hindu traditions have a long history of honor killings and acid attacks. Not only does Harris disregard those, he uses rhetoric to imply that he's looked at other religions and found Islam to be the greatest culprit, even for this specific scenario.
Overall, it's an engaging rhetorical read but not the most convincing argument.
6. Leaders Eat Last (Simon Sinek)
7. Viral Loop (Adam Penenberg): This book doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a history of events and companies that went viral? Is it a book about what causes things to go viral? Is it a book about challenges with online security? It's not clear. The narrative doesn't flow too well either. The author starts something (E.g. how Facebook became viral), and concludes by diving deep into a completely different territory (E.g. how the information we put online creates different security risks), without really tying the two things together.
It's a fine read as a collection of stories about different viral phenomenon but don't expect to learn any fundamental knowledge from it.
8. Contagious: Why Things Catch On* (Jonah Berger): I am going to borrow a review from a friend because he says pretty much what I have in mind for this book, though I rate the book a little lower than he does.
9. The Fabric of Cosmos: Space, Time and the Texture of Reality* (Brian Greene): This book is really long and by the end it's hard to keep track of all the scientific progress that has happened over the centuries. The author does a great job in presenting the material in a chronological and comprehensible manner. If you're into astrophysics and space, this book is very approachable and still has a lot of detail.
10. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World* (Cal Newport): Last year, one of the books I read that made a significant difference in my life was "Better than Before" by Gretchen Rubin. This year, I think it'll be this. The author does a good job writing succinctly about how to train oneself to focus deeply, it's benefits and counter arguments that one might hear. I like the fact that the author points out the cases where it might not work. It makes the whole thing seem fully thought through and well scoped.
I'm going to order a physical copy so I can flip through it as needed. One straight read won't be enough to bring the strategies into practice.
11. The Lean Startup* (Eric Ries): This is a book I keep coming back to! I read this the first time in 2012 and then again in fall 2017. Any startup founder should go through this, I believe this is one the fundamental books for modern day entrepreneurship.
12. Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built* (Duncan Clark): Interesting account of Ma's journey and Alibaba's rise as one of the world's biggest internet giants.
13. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (Jonathan Haidt)
14. The Beatles* (Hunter Davies): The foreword is too long. It's as if you're reading a book about the book about the Beatles. Once you get past that, what follows is a very interesting history of the Beatles! Any music lover, and definitely any Beatle fan, will like this biography.
15. The Story of Music* (Howard Goodall): This should be retitled The History of "Western" Music. The author alludes to south Asian and easy Asian music a few times but never provides any details. As someone who studied south Asian classical music for almost a decade, I can tell the book misses some important historical figures given how old those musical cultures are.
That said, for western music it does a great job of providing a historical timeline of how music evolved.
16. Clapton: The Autobiography (Eric Clapton): Not the best written and most of the book goes through his absurdly long journey of drug and alcohol abuse. However, if you're among those for whom "Clapton is God", you have to read this. This book puts context behind his best music, enriching them with a new found flavor.
17. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (Yuva Noah Harari): It's a shame that I've to rate this a 3 instead of a 4. This book is a ramble. Everytime the author makes a good point, the impact of it is lost in pages and pages of rambling about the same thing. It's like he started talking and wrote down everything he said. The book could have been 50-60% it's size without losing any useful prose or drama. Homo Sapiens was great; this doesn't live up to the same standard.
18. Elon Musk: SpaceX, Tesla and the Quest for a Fantastic Future* (Ashlee Vance): It is a very interesting behind-the-scenes look at one of mankind's top modern innovators. Vance does a commendable job at presenting her opinions, unbiased of Musk fanboy-ism while also not being blindly critical of futuristic ideas.
19. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging* (Sebastian Junger): Junger tackles the tough subject of PTSD in veterans, taking the reader from where societies were to where they are headed. The book is concise and thought provoking.
20. Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators and Icons Accelerate Success (Shane Snow)
21. Hamilton: The Revolution (Lin Manuel Miranda): A fantastic behind-the-curtains look for what is one of the most ground-breaking Broadway shows!
22. The Invincible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us (Christopher Chabris)
23. Milk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)
24. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo): I am a pretty organized individual and hate accumulating things I don't need. However, this book seems quite actionable for those who are actively trying to de-clutter.
25. Why We Work (Barry Schwartz)
26. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike* (Phil Knight): One of my favorite reads of the year; and I don't say this lightly. The last book I read that I liked this much was Zen and the Art of Motorcyclr Maintenance. Maybe I'm biased because of the stage I'm currently at in my life and career, and the questions I'm grappling with but I whole heartedly recommend this book to everyone. Whatever you're doing, it'll find a way to inspire you.
27. The Innovators* (Walter Issacson)
28. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning* (Peter C. Brown)
29. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind* (Yuva Noah Harari): After reading this book, it is easy to see why it is so highly recommended by one and all. Harari blends in religion, anthropology, sociology and every other aspect of human life that you can imagine to write a stirring, and yet well researched, narrative of humankind and how we have reached where we are today.
30. Grit: Passion, Perseverance and the Science of Success* (Angela Duckworth)
31. Future Crimes* (Marc Goodman)
32. Do You Think What You Think You Think? (Julian Baggini)
33. The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life (Chris Guillebeau): This book seems like a ramble. It doesn't match the title and the author gives a bunch of random examples while trying to say how to choose a fulfilling life quest. However even then, his views are haphazard. For example, he says that "lose weight this year" is not a good goal because it isn't specific enough. Totally agreed! However his example to show what an improved version would be is NOT:
- lose 12 lbs this year OR
- lose 1 lb each month of this year etc.
Instead his example of an improvement for a specific goal is "win a race against a kangaroo while riding an ostrich." I guess that is specific but throughout the book he talks about fulfilling quests and how the quests should be meaningful and impactful others. Yet, as noted above, many of his examples are meaningless, without explanation and do not conform to his theories. This is not too say all examples in the book are terrible. Some of the quests mentioned are really cool but they are distanced enough that the book could easily be shortened to a blog post instead. The authors journey to all countries sounds really interesting and I have not read other books by him but I wouldn't recommend this particular book to anyone.
34. Spy the Lie: Three Former CIA Officers Reveal Their Secrets to Uncloaking Deception (Phillip Houston)
35. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants (Malcolm Gladwell)
36. The Second Machine Age* (Erik Brynjolfsson)
37. The 48 Laws of Power (Robert Greene)
38. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration* (Ed Catmull): The title makes the book seem duller than it is! This is a great read that follows the journey of Pixar from creation of the company to its (almost) present day and has some great highlights of Steve Jobs' impact on the animation studio.
39. Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts* (Marshall Goldsmith): The one thing that I has stuck in my mind from this book is the following argument by Marshall: The job you do needs to bring you happiness and be meaningful to you. If it brings you happiness but isn't meaningful, you will feel like you're wasting your time. If it is meaningful to you but doesn't bring you happiness, you will feel like a martyr.
40. My Stroke of Insight (Jill Bolte Taylor): I would give it a 3.5 if Goodreads would allow that. The book starts off really well but gets very philosophical and mystical in the last third. Given how factual and scientific the first 2/3 of the book is, it's an unexpected change. It gets hard to separate facts from the authors own political and social views.
41. The Industries of the Future* (Alec Ross)
42. Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi): The author could have said the same thing in half the pages, if not less. He provides good examples in some cases but the book is too verbose and drags a fair bit. Also seems a little braggy in certain section though that is often countered by the author exposing his previous vulnerabilities.
43. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right* (Atul Gawande)
44. The Elephant in the Room (Jon Ronson)
45. A Spy's Guide to Thinking (John Braddock)
46. Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts (Dan Lewis)
47. Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Takes Five Minutes or Less (S. J. Scott)
48. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy (Thomas Stanley)
49. Questions for Ada* (Ijeoma Umebinyuo): An extremely powerful and thought provoking book of poetry. It is raw, painful and has depth that can leave you breathless.
50. The Asterix Collection* (Goscinny and Uderzo): This was my fun read of the year where I re-read Asterix comics on plane rides as breaks from the other books I was reading. The humor is on point and the characters are as joyful as ever. Highly recommend to all French comic fans!
Emotions are running high so I am trying to be as coherent as possible in this post! I woke up this morning and saw this article from CNBC on my newsfeed: Gun stocks jump after LV mass shooting.
I felt sick! 58 people are killed and hundreds injured by a lunatic and the market's reaction is to reward gun companies in anticipation of more sales before a gun law is passed?! Okay, I know it makes rational sense and that markets are run by the fundamental laws of supply and demand. It still sickens me to think that someone woke up this morning, saw the news of the shooting and figured the best move to make would be to buy some RGR and AOBC.
I don't want to be an utter hypocrite. In a parallel universe, if a self-driving car had fallen off a bridge or slammed into a wall and killed a family of six, I would have probably sold off some automotive and semi-conductor stocks fearing a crash (that's the market I understand better). It is when I realized that, that it made me really sick! I am a part of this "rational market." How do we live with ourselves in a world where on hearing about the loss of lives of fellow citizens, we react by prioritizing maximization of personal economic gain?!
There is a slight difference in the above example that I haven't (yet!) found myself thinking of buying stocks of companies related to autonomous cars every time there is a terrorist attack by a driver mowing a truck into a crowd of people. I don't want to get there. In my opinion, there is a slight difference between stopping losses vs making profits from tragic news, but I don't want to be thinking of stopping losses first either!
I don't have a solution to this, and I don't know if there is one. This is a question that has been around since the World Wars, if not earlier. I am not proposing we move to communism (no!) but it pains me to think that we have decided to live with such a market! I enjoy understanding market theories and, by working in a capitalist society, am directly contributing to the growth of the same.
Can we not come up with a better way in which we rank lives of our friends and families over profits? Doesn't even saying the previous sentence out loud make you question everything?
Edit (10/10/17): As you might have gathered by now, this post was not very thoughtful and was me ranting that morning in wake of the horrible tragedy at LV. However, it did prompt some great discussion online that provided me with a different perspective. A summary of the discussion is captured in the two comments I show below.
You've probably read too many self-motivation and goal-setting articles already, so I am going to try and keep this short. Let me start by telling you what this is not about:
So now that I have addressed that, here is what this is about. It is common knowledge that a key ingredient in being able to do something meaningful, achieve something great is the step of concrete goal-setting. So far in my short (compared to industry experts) lifespan, I believe that is correct. Setting the right goals and expectations goes a long way in allowing us to recover from failures, and trudge along on the path that leads to where we want to be. But what happens when we get there? Do we stop? If not, where do we go next? The answer is easier if we have a higher order goal.
E.g. let’s say you aren’t much of a runner. In fact, two years ago you didn’t run at all but in summer 2015, you set a goal that you are going to run a marathon by summer 2017. You started training for it and this year you did indeed run a marathon (congratulations!). What do you do now? You have achieved what you set out to do so you could stop. Let’s say you like running now and want to keep doing it but where do you go now? Do you set another goal of running another marathon in summer 2018 and start training for that? And maybe so on for every year? Setting similar goals repeatedly is one way of getting around this problem.
Another way, is to set your initial goal as “make running a habit.” This interesting thing happens when activities become habits, they require no willpower from us. E.g. brushing your teeth. Although your parents might have had to force you when you were a toddler, brushing your teeth requires no thought now (hopefully). You do it every day (ideally twice a day) and at no point do you have really push yourself to get it done. It’s just something you do. What if more activities in your life could become like that?
Let’s take the running example again. What if your initial goal was to run for thirty minutes every day? Doesn’t matter the distance, you just have to do it for 30 minutes but you must do it every day. Here the goal is centered around doing it daily instead of being centered around a one-time event (e.g. running a marathon). Turns out this makes an enormous difference! If you do manage to run every day for 30 minutes, there will come a point within a few months where you won’t have to think about it at all. You will be running every day and not running for a few days in a row will feel downright weird. Once you do form this habit, you can run without a specific goal just like you brush your teeth.
Of course, you can set a specific goal whenever you want. E.g. some days you can set a goal to run 6 miles within those 30 minutes. You aren’t running in anticipation of a one-time event so at no point will you get an incentive to stop. Eliminating that incentive to stop is the most crucial part of this endeavor. If you want to go run a marathon now, that’s an additional something you can train for but once the marathon is done, you fall back on your old habit of running for 30 minutes every day.
There are additional benefits of this approach. I, like many others, think that we have a finite store of daily will-power. We might be able to increase or decrease our amount of willpower with time and training but on any given day, it’s finite. This means that it decreases as we use it throughout that particular day. Now, if we reduce the number of things that require us to tap into our store of will-power, we can save it for other challenges that we might face.
E.g. if running is a habit now, I don’t need to tap into my store of will-power to start running at the end of my work day. Instead, I can save it for the day when I want to stretch myself and run for an extra hour. Or, if after the run, I am deciding between drinking water and drinking coke (take the water)!
If you have followed along this far, then there is a fair chance you are interested (even if you don’t agree) with what I am saying. So, let me tell you how I employed this in my personal life. When I graduated in 2015, I wanted to start reading for pleasure again. I set a goal to read 52 books in 2016. It was a lofty goal, but I imagined it would stretch me outside my comfort zone and I would learn a lot on the way. Now I do like to read. The hard part for me wasn’t the notion of reading but more the fact that I had to read that much within a year.
Halfway through the year, I had only finished around 22 books and it was stressing me out. At that time I was also reading some books on habit forming. It was then that I realized that even if I did manage to read 52 books that year, I was definitely not going to do it again. I was not having fun, it felt too rushed. There was always something else to get started on before I had the time to digest what I had just finished reading. However, if I could make a habit of reading for an hour daily to an extent that it became a part of who I was then I could keep reading for as long as I was alive. When calculated over my remaining lifetime, that would definitely equate to more than the 52 books I could possibly read in one year. It would also leave me with willpower to do other things.
I ended up reading 31 books in 2016. However, by the end, if I didn’t read for few days in a row it felt like I was missing something crucial. In 2017, at the end of September, I am on my 37th book already. Turns out we get better at doing things as we do them repeatedly. So now, I am a faster reader by simply reading daily.
I employed the same approach with exercise. I increased my frequency of exercising from 3-ish days a week to 6-ish days a week. Some days I worked out harder, just like the days where I read more pages, but I made sure to get some exercise in almost every day. Maintaining a daily schedule meant that I didn’t have to think about going to the gym (or whatever form of physical activity I wanted to do). Now it’s just a normal part of every day.
The practice of not setting a one-time goal with an end date made all the difference! In 2017, I have put my willpower to use on other things (and I didn’t have to let go of reading and exercise!). I started taking online courses on machine learning and by the end of this year should be able to finish at least two, and hopefully three. I started going to more tech meet-ups in the area to meet other people in the industry. I still have a long way to go on both, and at least the meetups won’t become a habit because they aren’t scheduled that frequently (not all things need to be habits). However, I am excited to find out how much I can learn if I can create a habit of watching one 20-minute lecture every day!
This post turned out to be way longer than I was expecting to write so I will stop now. Hopefully this helps you with goal-setting and habit forming; feel free to hit me up with questions!
Why would you want to car camp?
I have always wanted to try living in a car; that was actually the primary reason I bought an SUV as my first car. The idea of being able to have a home away from home that would work with minimal recurring setup in almost all weather conditions is something that has always appealed to me. However, I was cognizant of the fact that I was going to be living in a busy city with limited parking so the SUV I bought is a 2002 Toyota RAV4, which is a small SUV and not a vehicle regularly used for sleeping inside. It has the regular options one would expect like 4WD, a limited low range gearbox and a spunky engine but no locking diffs or growling V8; and for an SUV, is fairly low on internal volume. So for almost a year and a half I toyed with the idea but finally in spring 2017, I decided to go for it and see if making a camper out of an old RAV4 would actually work.
I had to start with convincing Stefanie, which took some work. We were already working on a project to create an entryway table for our apartment and were in the process of staining it when I decided we should go buy the material for this project the same day. My dad was arriving the week after to stay with us for 10 days and we also had to make our apartment suitable for living before that. The secret sauce of convincing her was letting her imagine waking up in a field full of sheep after camping overnight in the field inside our car (it worked).
Once Stefanie was onboard, she wanted to see what I was talking about so I built a tiny cardboard model explaining what I wanted to do. We would have to take the rear seats out obviously but even then the length of our car was too short for me to sleep straight. I needed at least 6 inches more. The way to obtain that would be to push the front seats as far as they would go and recline them forward. Then a raised platform could be unfolded to get a length greater than 6 feet. A non-folding platform wouldn't work because when the car is being driven, the seats need to be pushed back and reclined the normal way. Here is the model with a whiteboard diagram that I drew to explain this to Stef (click/hover on images to see full photos and captions throughout this post):
Stefanie thankfully realized that storing that big a platform in our apartment was going to be a huge pain, so we figured we could solve that by breaking up the platform into multiple boxes. The boxes could be placed together to create the platform and when not in use, the modularity would help in storing them. The fact that they were hollow would also be useful since we could put other stuff in them and then put them away; also good for the car since we would be able to store our camping gear under our bed.
After all this planning (which took around an hour total), we decided it was time to go to Home Depot and get the materials needed. Our entryway table had been stained and was drying at this point.
The next two days were a lot of measuring, wood-cutting, measuring again and screwing. Our studio resembled a wood shop; thankfully our bed is on a loft else we would have had to sleep on a bed covered in wood dust! However, after a weekend of tired wrists and multiple trips to Home Depot, our camper was almost ready! Over the weekend while we were making the bed, I had also gotten us the only campground reservation I could find for the coming weekend. It was at Deception Pass, about two hours from Seattle. Our plan was to drive right back to our apartment if things didn't work out for some reason. Due to my existing summer travel schedule and campground reservations calendar, the next opening for us would have been mid-July at the earliest so we were set on giving it a go right the weekend after, just before my dad got here.
Everything fit in the car, as you saw in the video above, so our measurements had worked. It was mostly going to be a test of how comfortable it would be for two fully grown adults. Our SUV was the smallest setup by far in that park, with giant RVs and trailers all around us!
Turns out it's not bad! We had brought really warm sleeping bags and lots of blankets and pillows. The wood was harder than we thought under our backs (moving on from dorm mattresses to adult-life mattresses had made us soft) but next time we are going to put in a memory foam topper on top of the platform and we think that will solve it. It was all worth it because we woke up bleary-eyed in a misty forest, all warm and cuddly, next to this!
Update - Below is a video of what it looks like with a memory foam mattress. We camped for two nights in Oregon to watch the solar eclipse in summer 2017 and it was really comfortable. We couldn't feel the wood at all and slept really well (and of course, the total solar eclipse was glorious)! Below is a quick video of what the inside looks like with a real mattress inside.
So there you go -- camping in a small SUV is definitely doable and quite fun! It does take some amount of initial planning and work. As long you as you take the right measurements, the method I have outlined here should work for any car that is large enough to fit you. Measure more number of times than you think you need to; because building something that doesn't fit is literally the worst. Hit me up with questions (if any), let me know if this inspired you to go camp and enjoy the outdoors!
As we all know now, Top Gear Season 23 was a disaster. Chris Evans ruined the chemistry that the famous trio of Clarkson, May and Hammond had built up. So to no one's surprise, all fans were eagerly waiting for the release of The Grand Tour and to see the boys back in action.
As 2016 came to a close, viewers were finally rewarded with one of the most anticipated shows of the season; and it was quite the release with the opening scene reportedly costing a record $3.2M, making it the most expensive TV scene ever! However, as the episodes released every week, as an old Top Gear fan I noticed something missing. This missing piece was hard to place -- the show had some great cars, ridiculous stunts and the banter that fans had always enjoyed. Clarkson was still ridiculous, May had somehow managed to get even older and Hammond more American. The show was shot beautifully with 4K HDR cameras at some of the most beautiful locations in the world. The part with the celebrities that everyone skipped on Top Gear was finally gone (though it was replaced with an equally stupid Celebrity Brain Crash which was more of a poke at BBC than actually enjoyable content). The beach buggy special was the usual Top Gear two episode road-trip format with customized cars so:
And yet, in classic Clarkson-May-Hammond style, it went quite wrong! Just that this time it wasn't that funny. The boys are car journalists at heart, talking about cars is what they do best. Sure they have their peculiarities -- Clarkson is mad about power(rrr), James' is best when reviewing the Dacia Sandero and Hammond when he's behind a old-school Shelby GT500. Yet, when they are behind the wheels of their favorite cars, their joy is clear enough to move hundreds of millions of viewers. And that is what has been missing from the new show!
There were a few really good films, like the historical film on the Ford GT40 and Clarkson's reviews of the new Aston Martin Vulcan and the Alfa Romeo 4C but the remainder of the show (which was a whole lot) was just banter without real content. Top Gear rose to fame because of the irreplaceable chemistry of the trio and yet overdoing that bit is what is costing The Grand Tour. It's unclear what the banter is about in the new show. During the beach buggy episode, for example, the boys had nothing to be visibly excited about because we never saw them building their cars. They could have bought them off the shelf, for all we know. The trio are fantastic hosts and yet the lack of emotional connection with their primary tools-of-trade creates a distance between them and the viewers they are serving.
Top Gear, at its best, was a car travel show with beautiful drives in old, new or battered cars. What was never missing was each host's absolute love for the car they were driving. The new Top Gear (Season 24) is getting back some of that charm. Matt LeBlanc is an complete petrol head (like Clarkson) and his charisma is bringing the show back to its former glory slow and steady. The chemistry between LeBlanc, Harris and Reid, though nowhere close to the former hosts, is slowly starting to gather momentum. Sadly, on the other hand, The Grand Tour is a very expensive tower with no solid foundation.
LeBlanc is successfully bringing back the soul of Top Gear. Clarkson needs to create one for The Grand Tour...
This is what I have for the current year. I will probably deviate a fair bit as the year goes on. An up-to-date list is always available on my Goodreads profile.
TL;DR — My top 3 recommendations (in no particular order) from among the books mentioned below:
I re-started reading for pleasure starting the last quarter of 2015 (turns out adult life gives you a lot more time for that compared to college). I read the following books over this year. I liked the ones marked with an asterisk (*), and am happy to talk about any of them.
Below are some of the books I read in the last quarter of 2015, a few of which I was a huge fan of:
If you’re interested in what I am thinking of reading in 2017, I have started making a list here.