2018 Reading List

Back

2018

I stated this year with a goal to read 12 books. That was a realistic goal, but it still required some discipline and planning throughout the year. Unfortunately I did not reach it, but I still went through 11 books, which is definitely more than I would have without any commitment.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I was avoiding this book for long enough, since I'm not a fan of the genre. While definitely a book of it's time, it still presents relevant and helpful techniques and examples without sounding pretentious. If you're gonna read a self-help book, then why not the original one?

The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. At 886 pages it's an ambitious pick when you only have a month for a book. Not once did I regret it. It's a complete history of the nuclear weapon from early 20th century up to it's first use. Unapologetically detailed, yet gripping and personal. My second favorite book in this list.

Pokalbiai su Algimantu Čekuoliu. A bunch of transcripts from a long-running weekly TV program. Some of the essays did not age well for obvious reasons. While A. Čekuolis is somewhat of a cult personality in Lithuania, his insights are a bit of a mixed bag. According to the author, he only presents the facts. The problem with that is his fact checking, which is not very dilligent. As an example, he cites "The Heartland Institute", a well-known conservative think-tank as an valid source when talking about global warming and implies that there's an actual uncertainty whether we're in a man-made global warming or not, when in reality there isn't any reasonable doubt in scientific community. Easy and entertaining read, but at the end of the day it's just a bunch of opinion pieces that should not be taken as serious investigative journalism.

Artemis by Andy Weir. I really, really enjoyed The Martian, but it was clear from the beginning that Andy is not a great writer. His lack of skill was easy to mask with action and extensive knowledge of real-life Mars exploration. Unfortunately, lack of skill is not easily masked in Artemis, as it requires much more world-building. Quite a few boring or even cringe-worthy moments while establishing characters, but Andy is back in his strong suit when the action picks up.

The Panama Papers by Frederik Obermaier, Bastian Obermayer. A recounting of the largest data leak in history. A good look into the world of the rich and powerful. Could've been shorter on grandstanding :)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. It's my first Hemingway novel and I simply loved it.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Many great portraits of fascinating people crossing paths in 1920s Paris. Made me nostalgic for a time and place I was never a part of. Also made me wanna go back to Paris :)

Melo ekonomika by Aušra Maldeikienė. A bird's eye view of Lithuanian economic policy since the fall of USSR. I enjoyed it - main points are well-reasoned, while writing style is entertaining. I learned something new about wild 90's in Lithuania.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh. My favorite this year. Brutally honest and heartfelt view into a world most know nothing about.

Discourses and Enchiridion by Epictetus. I gave up on this book, even though I pushed through more than 75% of it. I've already read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius in 2017 and enjoyed it - elegant and effective writing style, timeless and unpretentious ideas - everything a go-to book on stoicism should be. "Discourses" is supposed to be the next step in stoic literature, so I picked it up. Unfortunately I did not find anything new or compelling in it. Mostly it's repetetive, complicated ramblings for concepts that are famously simple. My asessment is not completely fair, as this is not a book, but a collection of letters, but then again, Meditations were also just a personal diary, written without any intention to be published.