My 2020 “Slow” and “Quick” Reads

So I have kept up my reading this year (obviously). In fact, I have so far completed 24 books, or roughly 9500 pages. I gobbled up some of these books very quickly; others I slowly digested, or paused and came back to. In general, I don’t rush myself through books. If the information is new or particularly challenging, I give myself time to absorb it. Sometimes the books that take the longest are the most enriching.

Here is some commentary on a few of my “slow” and “quick” reads from this year 🙂 :

MY 2020 “Slow”* Reads”

  • “Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible,” by Alan Rusbridger (just finished yesterday!). This is an excellent account of the UK “Guardian” editor-in-chief’s 18-month journey learning to play Chopin’s G-Minor Ballade at the piano. The book is a beautiful inspiration for anyone who wants to take on a challenging personal project. On the flip side, it brought back a slew of ambivalent feelings as I recalled my own Classical Music piano study days. I repeatedly put it down for days at a time, yet ultimately, reading it was a truly enriching experience.
  • “Edison,” by Edmund Morris. This is an eye-opening account of Edison’s many technological achievements (as well as a few blunders), but it has one glaring problem: it is written backwards! Each section covers a decade of Edison’s life, followed by a section starting twenty years before in a previous decade. I put this down for a month before really getting going because the format bothered me so much.
  • “The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself,” by Daniel Boorstin. This book was an engaging survey of technological, linguistic, and scientific innovation from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. The content was brand new to me so I took my time taking it in (for instance, I learned about the many problems seafarers once had accurately pinpointing longitude, in the absence of accurate scientific instruments). Also, the Pandemic started when I was reading this, thus I was quite distracted for awhile. Once I got back into it, it proved completely worth it.
  • The Four Pillars of Investing,” by William Bernstein. I don’t recall for sure how long I took to read it, perhaps because this was back in ancient times… before the Pandemic sounded the quarantine bell and normal life disappeared. However, I remember relishing the book, so I took my time.
  • “Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon,” by Dr. Joe Dispenza. This insightful and uplifting book expanded my view of our abilities to create our experience. Yet it was my first time reading Joe Dispenza, and I found I needed a lot of time to process what I was reading. A slow drip for sure, one I was very appreciative of.

And now My 2020 “Quick” Reads:

  • “The Investor’s Manifesto: Preparing for Prosperity, Armageddon, and Everything in Between,” by William Bernstein. I read the follow up to his “Four Pillars of Investing” in one weekend. Yep, gobbled it up like turkey dinner. No doubt, a combination of eagerness and familiarity with the subject.
  • “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens. I read this excellent novel (which we got at the library) over about a week. My wife? She read it over in about 3 days.
  • “Bag of Bones,” by Stephen King. I read my 600th (or that’s how it feels) Stephen King book in about a week. I’ve been a Stephen King fan since I was a teenager, yet I haven’t enjoyed a Stephen King book this much since I read “11.22.63” about eight years ago.

As a footnote, I will say that the year is not over! More books await me. Whether “slow” or “quick,” long live reading!

*By calling something a “slow read” I am merely saying that I took my time with it, not that it wasn’t interesting or valuable! In fact, the books I listed under “slow” reads were among the most impactful ones for me this year.

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