What I read in 2016

The little one is a bit older and I had marginally less call this year, but I also had to take the boards in June, so reading time definitely benefitted from the flexibility of ebooks on the phone and the magical powers of Audible. Overall, it was a better reading year than 2015.

  1. The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth (fun language romp)
  2. Stoner by John Williams (quiet, understated, lovely)
  3. The Buddha Walks into a Bar by Lodro Rinzler
  4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (of course I cried)
  5. Corsair by James L. Cambias
  6. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert (Pulitzer winner)
  7. The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein (1970s sci-fi, not the band)
  8. The Bogleheads Guide to Investing by Mel Lindauer, Taylor Larimore, and Michael LeBoeuf
  9. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  10. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by The Oatmeal
  11. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson (The Reckoners #3)
  12. Medical School 2.0 by David Larson
  13. Pay Yourself First by David Hurd and James Hemphill
  14. Changing Outcomes by David Hurd and James Hemphill
  15. The Cartel by Don Winslow (incredibly gruesome but so good)
  16. Physician Finance by KM Awad
  17. A Doctor’s Basic Business Handbook by Brandon Bushnell
  18. The Year They Tried to Kill Me by Salvatore Iaquinta (to me, the new House of God)
  19. So You Got Into Medical School…Now What? By Daniel Paull
  20. Why Medicine? By Sujay Kusagra
  21. Broadcasting Happiness by Michelle Gielan
  22. Bream Gives Me Hiccups by Jesse Eisenberg
  23. The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson (Wax & Wayne #1)
  24. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  25. Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley (audiobook perfectly narrated by John Hodgman)
  26. The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  27. My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
  28. What They Don’t Teach You at Medical School by Dr. David Kashmer (still feel like that’s the wrong preposition in the title…)
  29. What if? by Randall Munroe
  30. Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (Wax & Wayne #2)
  31. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (so depressing)
  32. A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton (this was surprisingly fun)
  33. The Earth Moved by Amy Stewart (apparently earthworms are really important)
  34. Drinking Water by James Salzman (really wanted this to be like Kurlansky’s Salt or Cod, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good)
  35. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  36. The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel
  37. Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald
  38. The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson (long before we demoted Pluto, we used to think there was a hidden planet Vulcan. Weird!)
  39. Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang
  40. The House of Wigs by Joshua Allen
  41. The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson (Wax & Wayne #3)
  42. The Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee (well-deserved Pulitzer winner)
  43. Bricking It by Nick Spalding
  44. The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (between the two, Emperor is better)
  45. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling
  46. The Element by Ken Robinson
  47. The Thirteen Word Retirement Plan by Stephen Nelson
  48. Student Loan Debt 101 by Adam Minsky
  49. The 4 Percent Universe by Richard Panek
  50. Simple Sabotage by Robert M. Galford, Bob Frisch, and Cary Greene (the pdf of the CIA’s declassified original field manual that inspired it is better).
  51. As You Wish by Cary Elwes
  52. Mistborn: Secret History by Brandon Sanderson
  53. The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Huge winner, great novella)
  54. The Medical Entrepreneur by Steven M. Hacker
  55. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
  56. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  57. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (just lovely)
  58. Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  59. The Wealth of Humans by Ryan Avent (smart writing about technological innovation and societal change)
  60. TED Talks by Chris Anderson
  61. Medium Raw by Anthony Bordain
  62. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  63. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (was really great as an audiobook)
  64. How to Think About Money by Jonathan Clements
  65. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  66. Ready Player One by Earnest Cline (fun homage to classic video games and 80s culture masquerading as a novel)
  67. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Classics I visited included a Tale of Two Cities, The Jungle, and Animal Farm, which were all super depressing. I continue to wonder why I read any of the pop-psych/inspirational/self-help type books given that they are all approximately the same and should nearly always be an essay or two and not drawn out to book length. I also read a bunch of short finance, med student, and doctor books for research/blog purposes, which were almost all meh.

On the fun side, I did catch up on most of Brandon Sanderson’s books while waiting for Patrick Rothfuss and George RR Martin to finish their next books. Now I have to wait for Sanderson’s third Stormlight book as well, which won’t come out for another year (and the last book in Mistborn Era 2 is like two years away).

Did love The Alchemist though. Just a beautiful, lovely little story. And every doctor should read The Emperor of Maladies.

Approaching the radiologist

Rewind. Time for the Jedi Mind Trick. I held the films out. “This patient isn’t an operative candidate. I don’t know if you could even biopsy this mass. It’s really in there.” I prayed his ego would take the bait. The radiologist turned and snatched the films from me then threw them up on the lighted wall on his left. “Oh yeah, I can hit this, no problem. I’ll do it tomorrow, about 9.” And that, folks, is the Art of Medicine.

From Salvatore Iaquinta’s very funny internship memoir, The Year THEY Tried to Kill Me. The closest thing to a modern The House of God since…The House of God.

Nanoism in the Washington Post

Very fun: Nanoism, a few tiny stories, and I made an appearance in the Washington Post yesterday in an article about Twitter’s planned/rumored character-limit change.

For what it’s worth, while the type of fiction I’ve purveyed is only fun within a predominantly constrained system, for people who write Twitter fiction differently, the ability to say more probably wouldn’t be much of an issue (say, those writing in the longitudinal first person like a digital diary of someone surviving a zombie apocalypse).

What I read in 2015

Between the birth of our first child in April and by far my busiest call year of residency, 2015 was shaping up to be an abysmal year for pleasure reading. Ultimately, the saving grace was the combination of my much-lengthened daycare-related commute with Audible (the free 30 day trial/two free audiobooks via that link got me completely hooked). Audible is fantastic, and it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s changed our lives. Dead time in traffic or folding the laundry is no longer the dreary waste of time it used to be; it’s a chance to “read” (okay, listen). Even with Audible, I still ended up with fewer books than I read in 2014 (and this year’s list is padded with some pretty short stuff).

  1. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson (Reckoner’s #2)
  2. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner (Mortality Doctrine #1) (Not as good as The Maze Runner, which while entertaining, wasn’t all that good either)
  3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (changed how I fold all of my laundry)
  4. Yes Please by Amy Poehler (wife’s choice, meh)
  5. The White Coat Investor by James Dahle (re-read)
  6. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (wife’s better choice)
  7. The Martian by Andy Weir
  8. 1984 by George Orwell
  9. Walk the Sky by Robert Swartwood and David B. Silva
  10. Sapiens by Yoval Noah Harari (like Guns, Germs, and Steel, but less rigorous and much broader in scope)
  11. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (so depressing)
  12. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
  13. America Again by Stephen Colbert (funny, but not as good as I am America)
  14. The Art of Money Getting; or, Golden Rules for Making Money by P. T. Barnum (old, kinda fun, free, my highlights here)
  15. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (may be an anthem for working women but perhaps should be read by men just as much. And then one should expand the ensuing mindfulness to include every group and minority you can think of).
  16. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  17. This Is Water by David Foster Wallace (the book version of this short essay is pretty much a fluffed out graduation present. The original essay is still available online for free.)
  18. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (so good)
  19. Hiroshima by John Hersey (the ethics of the atomic bombings in World War II was something we discussed in history class, but this follows the stories of several survivors of the attack. It’s harrowing. I’ve never read anything like it. It’s much more digestible in book form, but the New Yorker released a big chunk of it free online for the 50th anniversary.)
  20. Super Mario by Jeff Ryan
  21. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  22. Why We Make Things and Why It Matters by Peter Korn
  23. The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker (actually a very fascinating pop-sci discussion of modern food breeding and technology)

A few books make the list from my wife’s Audible choices. There are also a couple of classics that I somehow hadn’t read before, but I’m going to keep trying to do that every year to make up for only pretending to read the assigned books in high school. Here’s to a lively 2016!

Life Lessons from P. T. Barnum

You may not be familiar with P. T. Barnum, but you’d probably recognize the 19th century showman’s longstanding legacy: the Barnum & Bailey circus. In 1880, he also published the self-help/personal finance book, The Art of Money Getting; Or, Golden Rules for Making Money, which contains essentially everything you’ve ever read in a blog or book about the topic (in old timey English, for bonus points). The book is available for free on Kindle, but here are some of my favorite life lessons: Continue reading