42 Books, 21,200 Pages, 5,508,000 Words

We've hit the end of 2021! What a year. One thing you might not know about me is that I'm a big New Years resolution/goal setter. Each year in December, I reflect on the year and set new goals. Most of the time I actually accomplish (or at least come close to finishing) these goals. In 2021, one of the goals I had was to read at least one book a month. Growing up I was a huge reader, I'd sit for hours reading and love every minute of it. My post-high school life though became busy and reading for pleasure had taken a backseat. I wanted to change that in 2021 and I did! I over accomplished my goal... I read 42 books. That's 21,200 pages or 5,508,000 words!

Favorite Series of 2021?

The Dresden Files is my favorite series that I read this year. I hesitate to say that after reading 7 books of The Wheel of Time (WoT) series, but in my defense, I read books 7 - 10 this year and those have been the weakest part of the series. I picked up the Dresden Files because I needed a quick break from WoT and wanted something quick and light-hearted.

I enjoyed so many things about this series. While the characters deal with depressing and dark scenarios, Harry's humor keeps the story light. I love the wizard/detective partnership that Harry and Murphy have going on. I like that the story pulls myths and stories from several cultures and religions and combines them into a single world where they all live together.

One of the reasons why I liked this series so much was that I was reading it at the same time as WoT and the differences between the two filled a void I was missing in WoT. For example, although there is a larger storyline going on across the Dresden Files, I can read each book individually and be completely satisfied with the story. However, in WoT, you have to stick through several books with no satisfying conclusions to make it to a large payoff later on. Also in Dresden Files there are reoccurring characters you need to keep track of but the character interactions are 100 times more complex in WoT. Not to mention in WoT you have to pay attention to the characters' descriptions to pick up who is doing what and when and that can make things difficult to pick up on.

Least Favorite Book of 2021?

This category isn't super fair because, if I don't like a book, I usually don't finish it. The two books that come to mind for this category are A Random Walk Down Wall Street and Ready Player Two.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

Personal Finance is very fascinating to me and isn't my core skill set (I'm a Software Engineer by trade). I read three finance books this year to learn more about this space. This book was really interesting but was the hardest to get through. I had to force myself to get through some of the chapters. It felt like we could have cut the book down to a fourth of the length and still got all the main points. That's my only critique. The lessons taught I think are valuable and this book is still worth a read.

Ready Player Two

While I enjoyed Ready Player Two, I thought that it was just a watered-down repeat of Ready Player One. The plot didn't have any crazy twists or turns. I felt like the characters lacked the depth that they had in the first book. I didn't enjoy the pop culture references nearly as much as I did in Ready Player One. That said, the nerdy side of me has fallen in love with the world Ernest Cline created, and I happily enjoyed another adventure there and I'd still read a Ready Player Three if one came out although I think at this point Cline has milked Ready Player One further than he should of.

Most Recommended

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will To Lead

Lean In has been the book that I have recommended the most to family and friends throughout this year. It has come up in many of our normal conversations and I think that everyone should give it a read. It discusses the biases that both men and women have towards women in the workplace. It includes great career advice, that applies equally to men and women. It talks about how in a marriage both partners have equal responsibility and worth together to build their life, take care of their home, and raise children. Encouraging women to enter the STEM field is important to me and I am always encouraging those around me to look into it if they have that interest and I love the focus on that in this book as well.

SciFi - Project Hail Mary and The Martian

The hype around Project Hail Mary is real! I read this book in two days. I couldn't put it down. I liked how there was a lot of science and experiments in the book (yes, duh it is Sci-Fi) but Andy Weir does a great job of making sure the reader understands the science and why it's important to the story. Also, I feel like most apocalyptic Sci-Fi books I have read (spoilers upcoming...) don't usually have a happy ending for Earth.

The DevOps Hand Book and The Phoenix Project

Thanks to reoccurring book clubs at work, I usually add two or three books related to software engineering to my list. This year I read the DevOps Handbook and reread the Phoenix Project. These books are great. One of the things that I have loved about working at SimpleNexus is our commitment to using modern software engineering practices. The DevOps principles taught in these books are our guiding principles. We continuously make and deploy small code changes. With 65 developers we deploy on average 12 times a day, and our time from commit to code fully rolled out in product is under an hour. I could go on and on, but this engineering department has set the bar high when I look for future jobs. I recommend these books to anyone who works in a company that ships software.

Full List of Books Read in 2021

  1. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
  2. The DevOps Handbook by Gene Kim, Jez Humble, Patrick Debois, John Willis
  3. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  4. Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track by Will Larson
  5. The Count of Monte Cristo (Abridged) by Alexander Dumas
  6. The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
  7. The Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
  8. The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy
  9. Project Hail Mary
  10. The Martian
  11. The Dresden Files (The 19 Primary Books)
  12. Dragonwatch Series (5 Books)
  13. A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing
  14. The Wheel of Time (Books 7-13)

Next up in 2022

  1. I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works
  2. The Wheel of Time (A Memory of Light and New Spring)
  3. Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations
  4. The Unicorn Project
  5. Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow
  6. The Licanius Trilogy
  7. Cytonic
  8. Death's End
  9. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
  10. The Lost Metal
  11. Scythe