2022 Book Challenge

My 2022 reading list. I’ve been sucked into Netflix over the last couple of years. Time to get back into the books.

January

Cover of 'Wild Nights' by Pheobe Smith.
Wild Nights
Pheobe Smith
3 January 2022
People sometimes ask me why I wild camp. What's the point? Where has it taken you? And I tell them that it takes me anywhere I want to go, because having all I need on my back, being totally self-sufficient, means that my journey is limitless.

This is the first book that I've read from Phoebe Smith. I enjoyed it and was inspired. As a newcomer to Britain this has given me lots of ideas about what's possible (and sometimes even legal). It's given me a few ideas for challenges of my own, like • Lighthouses on mainland Britain (a few of these were ticked off by the author) and • White Horses of Britain (the hill figures, not the pubs!).

Cover of 'The Road to Little Dribbling' by Bill Bryson.
The Road to Little Dribbling
Bill Bryson
22 January 2022
But then that's the thing about London. It does a lot of things supremely well and gets hardly any credit for it. So let me say right here, I think London is the best city in the whole world. I know it doesn't have New York's electricity and edgy dynamism or Sydney's harbour and sandy beaches or Paris's boulevards, but it has more of almost everything else that makes a city great — greenery, for one thing. Nobody realizes it, but London is one of the least crowded cities on earth. New York has 93 people per hectare, Paris 83, but London just 43. If London were as densely populated as Paris, it would have a population of 35 million. Instead what it has is parks — 142 of them — and more than six hundred squares. Almost 40 per cent of London is green space. You, can have all the noise and bustle of a metropolis, then turn a corner and hear birdsong. Perfect.
I spotted a space in a layby and darted into it with an abrupt and daring manoeuvre that prompted six or eight other cars to honk their horns and flash their lights in a spontaneous gesture of admiration.

After Notes From A Small Island I didn't think that Bill Bryson would have more to say about Britain. I was wrong. Lots of ideas for new places to visit (and avoid).

February

Cover of 'The Business Survival Kit' by Byron Cole & Bianca Miller-Cole.
The Business Survival Kit
Byron Cole & Bianca Miller-Cole
10 February 2022
Cardone also advises that, within your marketplace, you need to have the goal of becoming omnipresent. So ask yourself this: if people haven't heard of you, why not? And if they have heard of you, what are they hearing? Apply your energy to building a strong, credible and accurate presence.

This is a very readable book.

However, I did not find much in it that I could actually apply in my life or business. The advice was too high level for me, where I am actually looking for something more granular.

When the authors started talking about the "Law of Attraction" they completely lost me: in my opinion that's just New Age nonsense. But, of course, it might well work for others.

Cover of 'The Brotherhood' by Stephen Knight.
The Brotherhood
Stephen Knight
24 February 2022

Perhaps what constitutes an "explosive exposé" has changed since the 1980s? I found this a compelling reading, but not as shocking or revealing as I had anticipated. The book delves into the influence of the Freemasons on various aspects of society (police, politics, religion and law), focusing principally on Britain. There are details. Lots of details. The volume of research that must have gone into it is impressive.

Cover of 'Linchpin' by Seth Godin.
Linchpin
Seth Godin
30 March 2022

This book is packed with inspiring and motivational nuggets. Here are some examples:

Those are the only two choices. Win by being more ordinary, more standard, and cheaper. Or win by being faster, more remarkable, and more human.
Bullet trains in Japan run fast and on schedule without a centralized switchboard. It turns out that pushing decision making down the chart is faster and more efficient.
So now, having learned from machines, organizations are applying the same logic to people. Letting people in the organization use their best judgment turns out to be faster and cheaper—but only if you hire the right people and reward them for having the right attitude. Which is the attitude of a linchpin.
First, understand that your competition has been building a faceless machine exactly like yours. And when customers have the choice between faceless options, they pick the cheapest, fastest, more direct option. If you want customers to flock to you, it's tempting to race to the bottom of the price chart. There's not a lot of room for profit there, though. You can't out-Amazon Amazon, can you?
In a world that relentlessly races to the bottom, you lose if you also race to the bottom. The only way to win is to race to the top.
When your organization becomes more human, more remarkable, faster on its feet, and more likely to connect directly with customers, it becomes indispensable. The very thing that made your employee a linchpin makes YOU a linchpin. An organization of indispensable people doing important work is remarkable, profitable, and indispensable in and of itself.

The author identifies the most motivating aspects of a job:

  1. Challenge and responsibility
  2. Flexibility
  3. A stable work enyironment
  4. Money
  5. Professional development
  6. Peer recognition
  7. Stimulating colleagues and bosses
  8. Exciting job content
  9. Organizational culture
  10. Location and community

And I agree with most of those.

I enjoyed this book, but it took a while to finish. I suspect that this is because it's written as a series of short, independent sections, each of which makes sense in isolation. This means that it's a great book to pick up, read for a bit, and then put down again. However, I never really got engrossed.

May

Cover of 'The 80/20 Manager' by Richard Koch.
The 80/20 Manager
Richard Koch
1 May 2022

I was skeptical about this book at first, but after I got into it I found that it had a lot of useful advice.

The body of the book is broken down into ten approaches to becoming an 80/20 manager:

  • The Investigating Manager
  • The Superconnecting Manager
  • The Mentoring Manager
  • The Leveraged Manager
  • The Liberating Manager
  • The Manager Seeking Meaning
  • The Time-Rich Manager
  • The Simplifying Manager
  • The Lazy Manager
  • The Strategic Manager

I found interesting ideas in each of these sections. However, no single approach would work for me. I'll cherry-pick a selection of concepts and applying them in my own 80/20 Frakenstein's Monster Manager.

Cover of 'The Negotiation Book' by Steve Gates.
The Negotiation Book
Steve Gates

This is a topic that I'm interested in. But I didn't finish the book. It just feels like an advert for the author's company, The Gap Partnership.

June

Cover of 'Trading Options For Dummies' by George Fontanills.
Trading Options For Dummies
George Fontanills
1 June 2022

I read this book as background information for a consulting project. It was interesting to learn how these instruments work. I had not appreciated the potential complexity behind options trading. The book covers a lot of ground and I don't think it would be possible to assimilate even a fraction of that in a single reading.

Cover of 'Madhouse at the End of th Earth' by Julian Sancton.
Madhouse at the End of th Earth
Julian Sancton
4 June 2022

I was completely unaware of this expedition. The book provides fascinating back story for a few of the key players in polar adventure, notably Roald Amundsen and Frederick Cook. Although I don't feel that the adventure was on the same epic scale as that of Shackleton, it still makes for an engrossing read.

August

Cover of 'The Forager's Calendar' by John Wright.
The Forager's Calendar
John Wright

I can't claim to have strictly "finished" this book. But I did consume large portions of it. It was an entertaining and informative resource.

November

Cover of 'Common Ground' by Rob Cowen.
Common Ground
Rob Cowen
5 November 2022

It took me far too long to finish this wonderful book. I was grabbing just a few pages per day. Today, battling with insomnia, instead of getting up to work, I settled down to finish it. I was not disappointed.

As a relative newcomer to England, and living for the first time in a semi-rural environment, there was so much in this book which resonated with my feelings and experiences.

December