Throughout January 2022, I managed to read 5 books, which is perhaps one of my most productive months when it comes to reading.
Here is a quick summary of what I thought of each book and also how I managed to read so many (5 is a lot for me!).
How Did I Read 5 Books in One Month?
I run 6 days a week, and my ritual is to listen to Biographies during my runs. I will usually run for approx 30 mins, and will listen to most books on 1.5X.
This is how I was able to listen to The Storyteller, NOFX & Benjamin Franklin throughout the month.
I gave myself the goal of physically reading The Almanack 0f Naval Ravikant in 2 weeks, and then set another goal to read How to Take Smart Notes in the last 2 weeks.
So perhaps more accurately, I listened to 3 books and physically read 2 in Jan.
Summary of the Books I read in January 2022
- Storyteller by Dave Grohl – ⭐️⭐️
- NOFX – The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories by NOFX – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- How to take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Storyteller by Dave Grohl – 2 Stars
After reading WILL by Will Smith in December 2021, I recall seeing Dave Grohl’s Storyteller book. I was 13 or 14 when Nirvana hit and it was part of my musical evolution from the big-hair, glam-rock of Guns & Roses, to the earthy, angst-fuelled grunge styles of Nirvana, Pearl Jam & Sound Garden, eventually maturing(?) into being a 15 year dedication to high-energy late-90’s punk rock.
In 1996, I was living in Japan as an exchange student, approx 16 years old, and I was 7 months into my 12 months stay in Japan. I was starting to get a little home sick which was amplified by the undesirable living conditions I was in. I was staying at a dairy farm (I grew up on a Dairy Farm so it was the last place I wanted to be) and was expected to get up at 5am each morning to help them shovel cow slop out of the undercover cow shed. When I got my hands on Foo Fighters first album, the music offered me some solace & a distraction from the super-fast punk rock music I was listening to. So it’s safe to say I have fond memories throughout my teenage years, peppered with Dave Grohl’s influences.
When I saw his book, my curiosity was peaked, and I assumed that it would likely be as ‘wisdom-filled’ as WILL by Will Smith
TLDR: Storyteller is an interesting read for anyone that wants to know more about Dave’s life. I didn’t find that it contained any summarised wisdom about his experiences, instead, it was just a collection of stories about his own experiences. This makes even more sense now as I think about the book title.
I gave it 2 stars because I was hoping for more, but if you love Dave Grohl, I can see why others would feel like they get a peak into his psychology and thought-processes and might give this 4 or 5 stars.
NOFX – The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories by NOFX – 3 stars
Since getting into personal growth, in my early 30’s I stopped listening to punk rock music as much as I used to, so when this book came out about one of my favourite punk bands, I was interested, but never enough to sit down and read it…until now.
What made me choose to read this was just acknowledging that I could likely read it, whilst running, therefore using my running time to explore my curiosity about what the band discussed in this book. It was a ‘low-effort’ approach to reading.
Years ago I read the Slash (from Guns & Roses) book, the Motely Crue book, so I had some expectations on what ‘band-related’ books could be like. This book was more interesting simply because of how it was written – Each band member would write a small chapter following a similar linear timeline, often mentioning details or stories or truths that had never been told to other members in the band until now. It was like some parts were confessions about past discretions, that, I assume, they hoped were forgiven due to the decades of time that had passed and that fact that they were all still good friends and reasonably wealthy now due to their music success.
TLDR: The NOFX book is not something I would recommend to anyone unless they already have an interest in the band, and I’d also warn them of some dark stories that are discussed, as some members outline some traumatic things they saw and experienced, but the book does give some explanation to some of their more popular songs.
I gave this book 3 stars because it’s entertaining, gave some interesting context to some of the subjects of the songs that I’ve liked for 20 years or so, and was really only to satisfy my curiosity, rather than to learn anything valuable from it.
Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson – 3 Stars
In all honesty, I this is the book that I read with the least amount of attention being focused on hearing every word. I’d put this book on as I was winding down for the night, with a 30 min sleep timer, and some mornings I’d jog whilst listening.
When I say ‘read’ this book, it’s probably using the term ‘read’ loosely, but of the parts that I do remember, it provided deeper insight into the genius nature of BF during a time when he faced so many prejudices, and lack of understanding held by his peers, and so it was inspirational to hear how he addressed many of these challenges.
TLDR: I often fell asleep whilst listening to this, but what I did hear of it, was inspiring and valuable to discover how he addressed many of the challenges he faced during the 1800’s. 3 stars…but I rate this loosely as I might have overlooked the additional value within the book.
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant by Eric Jorgenson – 4 Stars
This book came recommended to me from a group of Start-Up Entrepreneurs, and prior to this I had never heard of Naval Ravikant. To be honest, the name of this book didn’t inspire me, but I couldn’t ignore the recommendation and what seemed like a cult-like following for this uniquely named person.
This book isn’t written by Naval, but it’s a collection of his discussions and interviews and twitter posts, pulled together into a succinct collection of wisdom-filled core messages about Wealth and Happiness.
Naval is arguably one of the most successful, modern day investors, having invested in over 200 start-ups, including 10 which began unicorns (exceeding a value of over $1 billion, e.g. Uber & Twitter.)
The book is split into 2 sections; First is Wealth & Business and the second is Happiness. It’s an amazing book filled with ‘cut-through-the-BS’ advice, that whilst it does lack detailed specifics on the tactics to use, it clearly covers the guiding principles to follow and use as your ‘compass’ in both business and personal life.
It’s clear to see why Naval has achieved so much success with his ‘down-to-earth’ approach for seeing what really matters the most in life.
TLDR: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a great book for anyone that is serious about building wealth and happiness in their life, with a tendency to explore the infinite possibilities that technology offers. This book is like a condensed handbook for life, in the wise words of Naval, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the last 15 years.
How to take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens – 4 Stars
I chose to read this book, based on a message from The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, which said, “Learning to Learn Better will help you succeed faster”.
Upon doing research on the best books on learning how to learn, this book kept appearing. I’d heard of Slip Box before from Ryan Holiday, and had previously researched using Notion App as my Personal Knowledge Management System, so I was curious to learn the Zettelkasten method in it’s purest form.
The Zettelkasten, which is german for ‘Slip Box’ was made famous by a prolific writer & researcher by the name of Luhmann, who wrote over 50 books in his life, and had many finished manuscripts published even after his death. The source of his productivity, according to him, was the Slip Box.
This book contains a lot of detailed explanations about how to use the Slip Box and why it’s so effective, but my critism of this book, was that I found some parts difficult to grasp and conceptualise. Maybe that’s my own preferred learning style getting in the way, but for me I found I was convinced of the value of the Slip Box, but the explanation of how to specifically use it required more attention and I even supplemented my lack of understanding with watching a few youtube videos on the topic also.
I’m excited to start building my Slip Box and report back sometime later.
TLDR: How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens is a great book for anyone that has aspirations to write a book or articles, but who also wants to think better and more creatively. Some parts are a little abstract and could have been improved with a few visual diagrams, but aside from that, it’s a great book for people looking for a system to make them more productive with producing written work.