What I read in 2017

Putting out my fourth annual reading list means that it’s officially a site tradition. That same year I also started really using Audible, which has been life-changing (no exaggeration) for the commute and chores like laundry. Their current signup promotion is two free audiobooks, which is awesome.

  1. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy
  2. From Medicine to Mogul by Dr. Draion M. Burch (truly as bad as it sounds)
  3. The Good Creative by Paul Jarvis
  4. Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams
  5. Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach (would be a better blog post)
  6. Get Smart by Brian Tracy
  7. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  8. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (fun premise wears out gradually)
  9. Chaos Monkeys by Antonio Garcia Martinez (funny, scathing view of silicon valley; great audiobook)
  10. Gateway by Frederik Pohl (awesome classic; swept every SF award back in 1978)
  11. The One Thing by Gary Keller (big bestseller but really a great one-liner that completely falls apart. Summary? Focus on one thing to get better results)
  12. The Best Small Fictions 2015 (one of the Nanoism stories I published and subsequently nominated made it into this anthology, which was awesome)
  13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling
  14. Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  15. Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
  16. Deep Work by Cal Newport (literally one of the only self-help books I think is actually really worth reading. Newport is a CS professor and just gets it.)
  17. How to Create a Mind by Ray Kurzweil
  18. Physicians: Money for Life by Dennis Postema (so bad)
  19. Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (you might be better off re-reading the original)
  20. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (The only decent treatment of the Norse canon outside of Marvel comics?)
  21. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  22. Spaceman by Mike Massimino (the audiobook is narrated by the author; being in space sounds fascinating)
  23. When the Air Hits Your Brain by Frank T. Vertosick Jr.
  24. On Writing by Stephen King
  25. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
  26. Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  27. The Great Courses: Money Managing Skills by Michael Finke
  28. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty (about the mortuary business, odd stuff)
  29. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton
  30. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson
  31. The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
  32. Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss
  33. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  34. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
  35. Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein (this was what YA looked like in 1953)
  36. Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
  37. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (I thought this was an important read)
  38. Armada by Ernest Cline (fun—not as good as Ready Player One, but you could tell that going in. Wil Wheaton does a great narration on both)
  39. A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #2)
  40. A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (Shades of Magic #3—great trilogy)
  41. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (best speculative fiction writer of all time?)
  42. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman (obvious insights that yet no one implements effectively in their lives)
  43. Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
  44. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  45. The Doctors Guide to Eliminating Debt by Cory S. Fawcett
  46. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  47. 10% Happier by Dan Harris (makes you want to do a 10-day vipassana meditation retreat)
  48. White Sand by Brandon Sanderson
  49. The Doctors Guide to Starting Your Practice Right by Cory S. Fawcett
  50. Stephen Colbert’s Tek Jansen by people other than Stephen Colbert
  51. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  52. Practice Perfect by Erica Woolway, Doug Lemov, and Katie Yezzi
  53. The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth
  54. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel and national book award finalist)
  55. Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
  56. The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner
  57. Things Might Go Terribly, Horribly Wrong by Troy DuFrene and Kelly G. Wilson
  58. I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
  59. Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
  60. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  61. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
  62. Goodbye, Things by Eriko Sugita
  63. Barbarian Lord by Matt Smith
  64. Pilot X by Tom Merritt
  65. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  66. Artemis by Andy Weir (fun—not as good as The Martian, but you could tell that going in. On the plus side, the audiobook is narrated by Rosario Dawson)
  67. Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  68. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clark (won the Hugo and Nebula back in 1973; I read this as a kid but it almost felt new again)
  69. On Power by Robert Caro
  70. The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clark (the space elevator! won the Hugo and Nebula back in 1979)
  71. The Doctors Guide to Smart Career Alternatives and Retirement by Cory S. Fawcett
  72. Ubik by Philip K Dick (Do Android’s Dream of Electic Sheep [i.e. Bladerunner] may be Dick’s least weird book. Ubik is definitely not—it’s very very odd.)
  73. Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
  74. The Mongrel Mage by L. E. Modesitt Jr. (I have a soft spot for the Recluce series and its magic of order and chaos since I started reading them as a kid. That said, his editor needs a much heavier hand. If you could Find+Replace every instance of the word “sardonic” out of the book it would instantly be pages shorter.)
  75. The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday (one translated passage of ancient stoic philosophy per day for a year)

The only classics I read this year where classic SF novels from the 70s. Oops.

As a doctor who writes, I try to read most of the books written by docs for other docs. I think I’m going to stop soon.

As research for the site and my second book, I’ve also now read pretty much every book on “physician finance.” These are mostly terrible, and I hope I’m mostly done with that subgenre forever.

The self-improvement/lifestyle stuff is also mostly background for some future site writing and as a genre is really fluffy. Of the lot, Deep Work by Cal Newport was definitely my recent favorite. Even then, one of the issues with literally everything ever published in this vein is that the vast majority of it can not/does not apply to doctors (at least outside of those with substantial academic time) or anyone who is forced to bill time for money instead of creating an outcome, product, or other deliverable. Every book is really talking to creative professionals, “entrepreneurs,” and cubicle drones.

My copy of Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer just arrived, so that’s going to need to happen early in 2018 for sure.


Abdul Jabbar 01.21.18 Reply

Huge fan of your blog, was wondering how you get so much reading done? And do you buy actual paperbacks, or more iPad/Kindle versions of the books? Would love to read more, but find myself time strapped or lacking concentration to get some casual reading done.

Ben 01.21.18 Reply

I usually read a little bit of fiction from an actual physical book every night before bed. I read a lot of (often nonfiction) ebooks on my phone (I try to limit my media consumption, so if I’m playing on my phone, there’s a good chance it’s a book). And then I listen to Audible in the car when I’m not with my son or when I folding laundry etc (most of the really horrible short self-help stuff is stuff I listen to and not actually read).

The numbers are particularly high this year as I did lot finance and productivity reading as research for writing projects. That stuff is generally both short and very fast to get through. It’s also mostly not worth reading!

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