The Mental Pivot Newsletter: No.18

In this issue: The joy of reading lists, my 2021 booklist, and an assortment of new links.

I’m a big proponent of maintaining a reading list. Specifically, a list of books I plan to read in the future.

A reading list ensures that I’ve got a steady pipeline of interesting titles to dive into. It minimizes the downtime between books and gives me something to look forward to. I can’t tell you how much I dislike finishing a book only to spend the next week listlessly jumping from one Kindle sample to another trying to find something worth reading. The reading list solves this problem; it’s the antidote to aimless reading.

My reading list comprises no more than 20 titles at any given time. I prefer a list that’s manageable and well-curated. The list titles are each vetted or filtered in some way: strong word-of-mouth recommendations, authors that have been interviewed on podcasts (so I’m familiar with their core ideas or thesis), books that I’ve already sampled, and books that are strongly aligned with my current interests or themes. Doing this increases the likelihood of enjoyment and decreases the probability of abandoning the book.

I revise my list regularly—adding and subtracting from it. It’s fluid, not fixed. The start of the year is a great opportunity to wipe the list clean and rebuild it from scratch, something I managed this past week. Maybe it can inspire your reading list in some way. 

My 2021 Reading List:

Note: Titles are linked to Amazon for informational purposes only. I do not run affiliate links and have no financial stake in any clickthroughs.

If you have any reading recommendations, let me know. I’m always interested in adding to my reading list. 

Lastly, if you’re interested in diving deeper into my thoughts on reading and some of the ideas that have influenced me, I’ll refer you to a handful of articles from my blog:

Now onto the updates...

What’s New on the Blog:

1. My 2021 Theme, Habits and Objectives

A short piece on my chosen theme for 2021, thoughtfulness, and the practices and intentions that I am pursuing to explore that theme (and vice versa). 

2. Articles and Podcasts of Note (Week of 01/04/2021)

This is my weekly roundup of interesting links and internet finds. You can read the complete post on the blog, but here are the highlights:

Odds & Ends:

  • Chartr describes their content as “data storytelling.” All I know is that their weekly newsletter features oodles of compelling data visualizations and intriguing charts. I’ve filed this one alongside other favorites like Our World in Data and The Visual Capitalist

  • The Cambridge Coincidences Collection is a project run by Professor David Spiegelhalter (British statistician and author of The Art of Statistics). Users have submitted hundreds of curious coincidence stories—ostensibly to help with Speigelhalter’s research—that can be read online.

  • The New Yorker has a delightful 30-minute documentary on Eddie Goldfarb, prolific toy inventor. Goldfarb invented over 800 toys in a decades-spanning career. His best known inventions include the Yakity Yak Talking Teeth (aka “chattering teeth”), Battling Tops, KerPlunk, and Stompers (I have fond memories of the latter). He’s 99 now and as creative as ever.

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Alternatively, you can also read the full archive of posts, book notes and link roundups on my blog: