Favorite Books of 2019

Atomic Habits

I really enjoyed this book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to work on something that requires a lot of effort. By establishing tiny, incremental improvements in our lives, the benefits will accumulate and grow, like a financial investment. Eventually the investment will reach a critical point, and you will see a massive change. The author, James Clear has an interesting solution on how to form a habit, you want to make a daily task super easy. For example, if you are trying to be a more consistent writer, your initial goal would be just sitting down to write for two minutes every day until you’ve established a habit. Only after you’ve made it your habit to write a little bit daily, can you progress to increase the difficulty of the task..

The entire book is full of many other great techniques and stories. After implementing the author’s suggestions in my own life over the last month, I can already tell that they work better than pure motivation. There were many days when I didn’t feel like performing the task at all, but by just telling myself that it’s super easy and it would take just a few minutes, I was able to complete it. I’m looking forward to continuing to work on building my habits, and if my writing habit works, I will report on the progress.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

This book was highly recommended by Tim Ferriss on his podcast, and it quickly became one of my favorites. Stoic philosophy provides ancient wisdom that is still relevant today. It explains that without a coherent philosophy of life, humans are more likely to default to pleasure maximization and distractions that will lead to squandering time, or worse, pursuing something that would not fulfill us in the end. Because Stoic philosophy is based on logic, a lot of it makes sense and does not require you to believe in something abstract or intangible.

Stoics believed that the key to happiness is to prevent ourselves from taking for granted things that we already have. Because a lot of human unhappiness comes from a desire to have more, if we practice appreciation for all the things we worked so hard to get, we can trade desire for enjoyment. In addition to being grateful, another technique would be to imagine losing the things that we already have. This would also make us appreciate our existing situation and not take things, relationships or our health for granted.

Another great piece of wisdom that I really enjoyed was the importance of setting achievable goals. Achievable goals mean, if I play a tennis match, winning the match would be outside of my control, and therefore would not be an achievable goal. Why? Because I cannot control my opponent or the environment; for example how good of a player she is, or if the sun is in my face. Rather than focusing on winning the match, my goal should be to play at the best of my ability, whichis something I could certainly achieve. By setting achievable goals, we prevent ourselves from getting disappointed and as a consequence discouraged and frustrated. In Stoic philosophy achievable goals are also called internal goals, versus external goals something that I don’t have control over.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did and that your life will be more joyful and fulfilling.

C++ Crash Course

After more than a decade of working with managed, high level languages, I needed to work on a cross platform project written in C++. I quickly discovered that it was hard to find a good reference on modern C++ without it being too overly complex or having to learn previous versions first. This book filled the gap that I had, and I would highly recommend it to any experienced programmer picking up C++ for the first time.

Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza

I give this book honorable mention because after reading it, I was able to consistently bake great tasting and looking bread. I love my carbs and a lot of times bread bought from the store does not satisfy me. If you’ve never baked bread, it is a great exercise where you can step out of your comfort zone and practice your beginner’s mind. It was also fun learning about the fundamentals of bread baking, with its different flower types, fermentation, and hydration.

bread picture