January 2021 Reading List

Hello everyone,

This is the first in what will become a monthly email detailing the books I’ve recently read and why you should read them. It’s inspired by a similar email the writer Ryan Holiday sends out once a month.

Reading is one of the most important acts you can do. For centuries, people have read to gain a greater understanding of the world and our place in it. People have died to defend their right and the rights of future generations to read.

You need to read to lead. It’s a common saying which stresses the importance of reading. It’s true. So much wisdom is contained in books. If we don’t read, we’re selling ourselves short.

My goal with these emails is to inspire you to develop a reading habit and come to love books as much as I do!

Without further ado, here’s my list for January

Antifragile - I’ve just finished reading this book, one which was I thoroughly enjoyed. The book is written by the philosopher Nassim Taleb. If you’re familiar with his work, then you’ll know what to expect. If you’re not, then you’re in for a treat!

Taleb is a unique philosopher, in that he looks at topics from a different angle to many. Mainly in regards to randomness and its effect on our lives. In Antifragile, he looks at how one can gain from volatility instead of being ruined by it. The book is fascinating and makes you question the way you lead your life and the way society is run.

It’s a challenging book, but all the best ones are. It wasn’t as groundbreaking as one of his other books, The Black Swan, but it opened my eyes to several concepts I’d not come across before!

Atomic Habits - Habits are easy to form but hard to shake. Most of us end up forming bad ones, but what if we formed good ones? How much of a difference would it make to our lives?

This is what James Clear set out to find in his brilliant book Atomic Habits. This is the number one book to read if you want to learn how to develop better habits. The beauty of the book is that Clear teaches you how to break down these habits to their tiniest part in order to make them easy to adopt.

I read this book in the best part of the day, so useful, was it. I can’t recommend it enough.

The Odyssey - I’d been meaning to start reading some Greek classics for several years now and I finally got around to it recently. I plucked for Homer’s Odyssey and I was not disappointed!

What’s striking about Homer’s work is how good the prose is. Even by today’s standards, it doesn’t feel dated. Remarkable considering it’s over two thousand years old!

The story itself is fantastic. It’s a page-turner, it will keep you hooked to find out what happens. in the end. There’s no doubt Homer mastered the art of storytelling. I’m sure this is one of the reasons his work has endured as long as it has. It’s also an illuminating look into the world of ancient Greece, and the morals you can learn from the characters.

Dictators - Given the recent events in America, this was a timely read. It’s hard to say how close Trump was to succeeding in his coup attempt, but the scenes were shocking nonetheless.

Reading Dictators, you realise that although this sort of thing has never happened in America before, it happened a lot in the twentieth century. The idea of Frank Dikotter’s book is to look at ten dictators from the twentieth century.

Among them are the usual suspects such as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, as well as others I’d never heard of before, such as Duvalier and Mengistu. It was interesting to learn how each of these figures emerged to become dictators and the measures they took to remain in place. It was striking how similar the methods were regardless of what side of the political aisle they were from.

That’s all for this month! Give these books a try and let me know what you think below, or if you have any recommendations for me. I’m always open to any ideas on what I should read!

Until next time,

Tom