My Fall Reading List: 2016. What Are You Reading?

My Fall Reading List: 2016. What Are You Reading?

When fall arrives, my brain turns academic. Here are my picks for this Fall!

 

1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

 

 
This 832-page of a doorstopper needs to be conquered! With me being obsessed with Hamilton, the Musical, it’s only natural and responsible to actually read the biography, the source of the musical’s inspiration.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.
 

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”
 

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804. Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

 

2. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

 


 
Gawande is one of my favorite authors. After his book, Better, inspired the Anatomy of Excellence essay–my most popular post this year–I’m determined to read every book he has written.

The modern world has given us stupendous know-how. Yet avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the law, the financial industry—in almost every realm of organized activity. And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely. We train longer, specialize more, use ever-advancing technologies, and still we fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling argument that we can do better, using the simplest of methods: the checklist. In riveting stories, he reveals what checklists can do, what they can’t, and how they could bring about striking improvements in a variety of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all kinds. And the insights are making a difference. Already, a simple surgical checklist from the World Health Organization designed by following the ideas described here has been adopted in more than twenty countries as a standard for care and has been heralded as “the biggest clinical invention in thirty years” (The Independent).

 

3. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal

 


 
Some leadership lessons from the military.
 

What if you could combine the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant organization?

THE OLD RULES NO LONGER APPLY . . .

When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, he quickly realized that conventional military tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. The allied forces had a huge advantage in numbers, equipment, and training—but none of that seemed to matter.

TEACHING A LEVIATHAN TO IMPROVISE
It’s no secret that in any field, small teams have many ad­vantages—they can respond quickly, communicate freely, and make decisions without layers of bureaucracy. But organizations taking onreally big challenges can’t fit in a garage. They need management practices that can scale to thousands of people.
 
General McChrystal led a hierarchical, highly disci­plined machine of thousands of men and women. But to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq, his Task Force would have to acquire the enemy’s speed and flexibility. Was there a way to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network? If so, could the same principles apply in civilian organizations?
 
A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW WORLD
McChrystal and his colleagues discarded a century of conventional wisdom and remade the Task Force, in the midst of a grueling war, into something new: a network that combined extremely transparent communication with decentralized decision-making authority. The walls between silos were torn down. Leaders looked at the best practices of the smallest units and found ways to ex­tend them to thousands of people on three continents, using technology to establish a oneness that would have been impossible even a decade earlier. The Task Force became a “team of teams”—faster, flatter, more flex­ible—and beat back Al Qaeda.
 

BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD

In this powerful book, McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to countless businesses, nonprofits, and other or­ganizations. The world is changing faster than ever, and the smartest response for those in charge is to give small groups the freedom to experiment while driving every­one to share what they learn across the entire organiza­tion. As the authors argue through compelling examples, the team of teams strategy has worked everywhere from hospital emergency rooms to NASA. It has the potential to transform organizations large and small.

 

4. Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

 


 

“While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, I’ve found that history is also made by individuals who fought their egos at every turn, who eschewed the spotlight, and who put their higher goals above their desire for recognition.” —from the prologue
 
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
 
Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to his­tory. We meet fascinating figures such as George Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all reached the highest levels of power and success by con­quering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.
 
In an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion, the battle against ego must be fought on many fronts. Armed with the lessons in this book, as Holiday writes, “you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.”

 

5. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull 

 

 
Learn creativity from the world of Pixar!
 

From Ed Catmull, co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios, the Academy Award–winning studio behind Inside Out and Toy Story, comes an incisive book about creativity in business and leadership—sure to appeal to readers of Daniel Pink, Tom Peters, and Chip and Dan Heath. Fast Company raves that Creativity, Inc. “just might be the most thoughtful management book ever.”
 
Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about how to build a creative culture—but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”
 
For nearly twenty years, Pixar has dominated the world of animation, producing such beloved films as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, WALL-E, and Inside Out, which have gone on to set box-office records and garner thirty Academy Awards. The joyousness of the storytelling, the inventive plots, the emotional authenticity: In some ways, Pixar movies are an object lesson in what creativity really is. Here, in this book, Catmull reveals the ideals and techniques that have made Pixar so widely admired—and so profitable.
 
As a young man, Ed Catmull had a dream: to make the first computer-animated movie. He nurtured that dream as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah, where many computer science pioneers got their start, and then forged a partnership with George Lucas that led, indirectly, to his founding Pixar with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter in 1986. Nine years later, Toy Story was released, changing animation forever. The essential ingredient in that movie’s success—and in the thirteen movies that followed—was the unique environment that Catmull and his colleagues built at Pixar, based on leadership and management philosophies that protect the creative process and defy convention, such as:
 
• Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
• If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
• It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
• The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
• A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.

 

To see the books I read this summer, check out my Summer Reading List. Also see my Best Books of 2016 (mid-year review).

 

 

Lessons Learned One Year After Blog Relaunch

Lessons Learned One Year After Blog Relaunch

In June 2015, I relaunched my blog after a 2-year hiatus. It was a soft launch, because one, the domain name had existed for years un-utilized, and two, I didn’t know which direction to go with the blog, hence no big reveal.

 

Since then, my approach to blogging has evolved drastically, a compound effect of the decisions I had made. As someone who advocates oft reflections, I intend to share some, maybe unsolicited, but hopefully useful lessons learned during this past year. If you’re a blogger and writer, I’d love to hear if you agreed, commiserated, or disagreed with any of these points.

 

 

  1. Finding a Focus Starts with Asking Questions

 

The backstory: I spent the first 6 months after the launch finding a focus. Previously, my blogging approach covered eclectic topics on the things I experienced–travel, food, silly experiences, personal reflections, and essays. But, personally, there was something unsatisfying about this format. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, and I even enjoyed other blogs of this nature, but when I looked at my own posts, I knew there was a category that, when read, gave me most satisfaction. More on this below.

 

The blog relaunch was then an opportunity to do something different and ask different questions. For me, the question was this: What is the single umbrella theme that I want my blog to have? Just one. 

 

This question set me off on a journey. I simply started blogging, because only action would bring answers to said question, and if you saw the posts between June and December 2015, you would still see the sporadic nature in themes and topics. I was experimenting.

 

What did I experiment on? Initially, it was to test people’s responses–which posts would have more readership, wider audience engagement, page views, etc. It seemed like the most natural metric to use. But as I observed responses over those posts, one thing troubled me: the ones that were more popular were not the ones I would want to be the most popular.

 

I realized then that the real experiment was on myself. How did I feel about my posts? And I surely had different reactions to them. Faced with contradicting results, I had to make a choice: Which types of posts should I do and which should I abandon?

 

In the mean time, I also explored the blogosphere, reading websites and blogs of writers that I admired and respected. I discovered that my favorite kinds of blogs had dense and thoughtful entries, well-written pieces by people who devoured books. They were the self-learners, perpetual students, and wisdom seekers. It was almost like finding a tribe, as I resonated with this way of life.

 

Lesson Learned: Ask questions. Blogging, or intentional creative efforts of any kind, is a craft. It’s a design exercise–not just graphically, but internally, a design of content. It takes effort and prodding and questionings. What do I want my creation to look like? How do I iterate to find out what I want? If the question doesn’t get asked, a journey doesn’t get discovered. And if things don’t get measured, they don’t get improved.

 

  1. Doing Work I’m Most Proud Of

 

I found out that I was most satisfied when people read my thoughts rather than life updates, or rants on paper towels. These were usually long essays with messages that I’d like to send to the world, sharing what I had learned from books, people, and experiences.

 

So, should I write things that I knew had attracted readers in the past, or should I write things that I was truly proud of?

 

I decided on the latter one: to only produce things I was proud of. 

 

What did this decision mean? It meant dropping travel updates from the blog, since I never intended this site to be a travel blog, nor a food blog. I used to blog about scrapbooking or random meet ups with friends. Dropped those too. I supposed this was what it meant to focus. What stayed on the blog was one of the constants in my life: books.

 

Now, a larger percentage of this blog, if not entirely, revolves around books, packaged mostly in an essay format. Naturally, this genre overlaps with blogs that I admire. I frankly want to emulate what they have done, but also remain distinct, which is easy to do since I have different sets of interests and reading selections.

 

I can confidently say that I’m proud of the posts published since the beginning of this year. I say proud in the sense that there’s immense pleasure when thoughts germinated in the head find their expressions in the published words. It’s incredibly satisfying.

 

Lesson Learned: You can choose what you want to work on and how you want to create. Don’t underestimate the power of choices.

 

  1. Audience: Lose Some, Gain Some

 

As a result of this pivot, I lost readers. I mentioned that in the past these types of posts didn’t get as much attention, so I probably lost quite a number of readers. It was natural, but still not fun to go through. But I made a decision and this came with it, so I made peace. Some, though, remained.

 

I focused on writing and thinking better, learning more systematically, and reading more intentionally. It was probably the harder way to blog, hours and days spent on a single post, but I enjoyed it, so much so that it was probably abnormal. As ideas and thoughts mounted, they created a compounding effect that produced more thoughts and ideas, more than what I could keep up in writing. New questions emerged and new searches began. I started writing essay series, since one post was not enough to express the whole thought. The series on worldview—Between Jerusalem and Athens—and on excellence and learning were my personal highlights of the year. They were dense, but they were a labor of love.

 

As it turned out, this type of content could find its audience too, in fact, in wider scope than friends and family. More importantly, the ones who visited the blog stayed longer. This was incredible to find, because truthfully, this was the audience I wanted. The ones that would stay reading long essays, these were my kind of people! I’ve come to respect this audience, goading me to do even better work to honor the time they spend on this blog.

 

Lesson Learned: The saying goes, if you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one. Dare to reach just a few, and maybe the few will turn out to be not so few after all.

 

Books

  1. No More Hiatus

 

I’ve maintained a personal blog since 2008. For some reason, I thought I could take a break some time in 2013, and I went on a 2-year unintentional hiatus. I said unintentional because blogging became one of those things that drifted away as I let other things took priorities. The result: nothing good.

 

I heard Brené Brown once said that the suppression of the creative energy inside us was a dangerous thing. I used to think, Dangerous, really? That’s a strong word, isn’t it? But then I thought about my life happiness vis-à-vis blogging (blogging = proxy for reading and writing), it couldn’t be truer. Imagine all of those focused hours on crafting and creating essays, channeled out as negative energy toward those around me (ask my husband). It was ugly. Something felt missing. I needed a purpose, something to expand my world.

 

When I finally decided to read and write again, all of these suppressed energy found their outlet.

 

It was weird how that worked, and this was all new personal discovery. Now, I know that reading and writing are so essential to my being that I can’t afford to do without them. Thus, I’m purposed to not take any extended hiatus from blogging, for my own sake.

 

Lesson Learned: Got to find a positive outlet to your creative energy.

 

  1. From Hobby to Priority

 

It’s hard to find time in an adult’s life for a hobby, but you always find time for a priority. Knowing how important blogging is for my happiness, I now carve out hours to work on the blog on a consistent basis. It occupies my thoughts and it’s part of my schedule, even when I don’t feel particularly inspired. The discipline of sitting down and writing is necessary and rewarding, because I always end up finding something to write on, even if it’s just crappy stuff in my notebook.

 

The time to blog is a matter of decision. I always find time to do what I want to do, and if I don’t get to do something, there’s a good chance I don’t really, really, want to do it in the first place. On another note, to be consistent, I have also started changing my words in saying no to things. I try to prevent myself from saying “I don’t have time” and replace it with, “I can’t make that a priority right now.” It feels more honest.

 

If blogging were my hobby, I probably would never have time for it. But now, it’s a priority, hence the time is found.

 

Lesson Learned: Decide whether what you want to do is worth making into a priority. Then commit.

 

  1. More Lessons to Learn

 

The blog has evolved to a certain shape right now, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the end. After all, it’s only one-year old. Part of it being a priority means putting the time and money into it (yes, gotta have some skin in the game). I’m learning from people who have created substantive content in the world and there are areas that I need to improve. I’m taking Jeff Goins’ Intentional Blog course and I’ve invested in software to help me gain skills to evaluate my own work.

 

It’s a continual learning approach, always tweaking, tinkering, and measuring. It’s about perfecting a craft and loving the process more than the results. I guess I am an engineer after all.

 

“Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life.” – Hope Jahren

 

 

Such is the tale of my first year after relaunching my blog. Do you resonate? What have been your experiences thus far? Let me know!

 

How My Reading Habits Change

How My Reading Habits Change

Back in January, I shared my goal to read differently this year, which is to read for understanding and wisdom, and not pursue a statistical target. It is now the end of the first quarter (!), so I thought I’d share updates on how my reading habits change because of this goal.

In short, reading slowly has been more transformative than I thought it would. These are the 5 shifts I’ve noticed in my routines this year.

  1. Scribbling in books

As my reading decelerates, I produce more notes on the margins and in my notebook. I have more conversations with the authors, asking questions and analyzing their arguments, essentially taking this advice to heart:

Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; if not, you probably should not be bothering with his book. But understanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher. He even has to be willing to argue with the teacher, once he understands what the teacher is saying. Marking a book is literally an expression of your differences or your agreements with the author. It is the highest respect you can pay him. -Mortimer Adler

I love the organic experience of writing down thoughts with pen and paper, which naturally pulls me towards paper books rather than their digital counterparts. Considering how costly this can be, I’ve started buying used books, though admittedly, I’m conflicted when there are already highlights and notes in them. It feels like the book isn’t completely mine. In any case, these marginal notes render the books very personal to me since they now contain the author’s and my thoughts combined, and I would be hard-pressed to let them go.

 

  1. Writing more in general

As thoughts are left to simmer and sink in my mind longer, I find myself producing more materials to write as well. If you’ve been following this blog, it would be quite evident to you how certain books inspire my writing (see below). I find this incredibly satisfying: the authors’ thoughts mingling with my own and bearing fruits tinged with my individuality. This is the creative process, in essence.

The process of building mental models from reading also leads to the writing of series of interconnected articles, since some thoughts are too wide in scope to cram into one article. I’m looking forward to growing this skill further.

 

  1. Taking notes while listening to audiobooks

Since I want to absorb as much as I can from the books I consume, it becomes impossible for me to listen to audiobooks casually. I have to really engage my mind and take notes during the narration to feel like I don’t miss anything. This is partly because I’m not an audio learner, so this is not the ideal format for me at this point. I’m going to keep experimenting, though, and see what works.

 

  1. Re-reading/re-skimming books

Once I finish a book, it now stays on my desk for a few weeks to counteract the out-of-sight-out-of-mind experience I tend to fall into. It’s nice to be reminded of the book’s key ideas just by glancing at it. But also, I skim my hand-written notes again and re-read sections that I’ve marked. This proves really helpful in deepening the book’s impress on my mind, something akin to a sedimentation process. I feel like I grasp it better on the second or third walk-through. The book also remains on my desk if there’s an essay cooking in my buzzing head, since some thoughts require a long conception time before they can be verbalized coherently.

 

  1. Synthesizing multiple sources

I’m practicing the art of synthesizing knowledge in a more intentional way this year, growing, cataloging, and organizing my growing mental library. Some of you know and have subscribed to the newsletter I started in January where I share articles, books, podcasts, videos, etc., that inspire me (sign up here if you’d like to get these in your inbox). It’s an evolving project, but I’d like to curate things more thematically going forward, creating narratives out of various materials based on their key ideas.

It turns out, this reading orientation hasn’t slowed my speed too much. Surprising, but I’m going to continue to not focus on the numbers. One thing I still need to develop, though, is a system to collect quotes and notes from different books and various media. How do you integrate different sources of information and your personal notes in one location? If you have suggestions, please let me know!

 

That’s all for the updates. If you’re interested, I keep an up-to-date reading list on my Goodreads profile. Just for kicks, below are the connections between the notable books I’ve read in 2016 and the articles you see in this blog (click on the + signs to expand).

Reading for Wisdom: Going Back to the Basics

Reading for Wisdom: Going Back to the Basics

​​Some years, my goal would be to read a certain number of books by the year’s end. Since I’m motivated (obsessed) with numbers, this target would propel me to read through a variety of materials at a good pace. However, because I’m motivated (obsessed) with numbers, the same target can also drive me a little crazy.

 

For example, if I set a 50-book goal in a year, I’d be calculating the number of books to read per month (4.167), week (0.962), and day (0.137, assuming a non-leap year), and constantly evaluating myself each day/week/month on whether I’m behind, ahead, or on target. It becomes a continual chase where once I get behind, the accumulated numbers (and adjusted daily targets) would haunt me every day.

 

Last year, I started without a book goal and enjoyed a variety of quality books at a leisurely pace. Whoever whispered in my ear that I should start calculating towards the end of the year was a true disruptor. I could hardly resist the temptation to calculate, so I did and discovered that I was consuming books at a pretty good speed. Naturally, what followed was to set a target for the year’s end. Lo and behold, my reading then turned into a bit of a chaos. I noticed I was choosing books less carefully, reading those I otherwise wouldn’t just because they were shorter or easier. You see, if you have a speed-related goal, then reading a long book would be detrimental to that goal. Yet many of the best publications, those with substance that can enhance understanding are lengthy and should be consumed at a slower rate.

 

In “The Paradise of the Library“, James Salter wrote of Jacques Bonnet (writer of Phantoms on the Bookshelves),
One often hears the expression “I couldn’t put it down,” but there are books that you have to put down. Books should be read at the speed they deserve, he properly notes. There are books that can be skimmed and fully grasped and others that only yield themselves, so to speak, on the second or even third reading.
There is much wisdom in this. While I practice a form of variable-speed reading already, this quote insinuates of a much slower pace and of repeat reading that would yield a full grasp of the subject material. I don’t usually do this except for a very select few.

 

Based on that wisdom, I’m abandoning a book goal this year. I want to be free from chasing numbers, to take my time, enjoy, and digest what I read.

 

Instead of a number, my reading goal this year would be of a different focus. It is to internalize the subject material by practicing and incorporating them in real life, and to synthesize knowledge into its larger context. I’d like to work on my mental models; where do books and thinkers align with respect to each other, what is the appropriate context in which the suggested thoughts apply or don’t apply, etc. All of these would require a slower pace of reading and thinking, including re-visitations to the books I’ve read in the past.

 

In short, I want to not only gain knowledge, but also wisdom, the ability to contextualize knowledge and use them in a practical sense.

 

To this effect, my first book in 2016 is How to Read a Book, a classic guide from 1940 by Mortimer Adler that outlines the principles of reading books intelligently. Incidentally, Adler also wrote in the preface,
One constant is that, to achieve all the purposes of reading, the desideratum must be the ability to read different things at different–appropriate–speeds, not everything at the greatest possible speed… [This book] deals with the problem and proposes variable-speed-reading as the solution, the aim being to read better, always better, but sometimes slower, sometimes faster.
The preface promises a great deal more, the many ways readers can enhance their art of reading books. From reading the first few pages, I can tell the book will deliver. You’ll hear more about this book in future posts, I’m sure.

 

What are your 2016 reading goals? Share and comment below! 

 

 Photo credit: Johnny Loi Photography

2015 in Review

2015 in Review

2015 was a very full and eclectic year. I had new beginnings as well as re-starts to older interests. These were the highlights of 2015.

 

Life Events

I got married in 2015. Pretty significant life event, I would say. Along with it also came the lessons on how to be part of a team instead of being a free-roaming single person, a start of a lifelong journey. I also grew a lot professionally, leaning in a la Sheryl Sandberg, networking, gaining new skills, and all that good stuff. It’s continuous learning all around!

Books

As mentioned in the Best Reads of 2015 post, I got to a good reading pace again after slowing down for 2 years. But more than that, I experimented with different genres and topics this year to explore a wider selection than I normally would. As a result, I gained a clearer understanding of my niche and interests, and I’ll be reading with more focus on certain topics in 2016.

Blog Revival

When I read, I write; that’s just what happens. Hence, I revived my blog (new domain too) this year, which felt great! I’m very happy about this and looking forward to producing more substantial content in 2016. Some highlights from the blog below are included below.

New Things Tried

Audiobooks – I was a late and reluctant adopter, but since my commute stretched after marriage, I decided to give audiobooks a try. While I still prefer reading with my eyes, audiobooks have been a great addition to my life habits. Incidentally, 3 out of 5 of my best reads in 2015 are audiobooks. I also tried scuba diving for the first time, which was a bit scary. But I’m determined to conquer the fear; I want to get certified in 2016. Last but not least, 2015 was also the first year I earned pay through writing. The earning was nothing significant, but the fact that I earned it was a new experience! I love writing with or without pay, but I’ll see how this can go further in 2016.

Travel

I had 4 summers in 2015: Hawaii in February, the actual summer, Indonesia in October, and Mexico in December. I spent a lot of vacation time in the ocean, which made me happy.

 

 

Most Popular Blog Posts in 2015

 

1. Why I Love Being an Adventist

I’m glad that this one turned out on top, as it touched a core essence of my identity. The post actually produced a little movement, as other people wrote similar articles on their experiences. This piece was also picked up by The Compass Magazine, which is still running a series of articles submitted by people around the world to this day. The culmination of this post for me happened at GYC, where I got to share more elaborately on why I love being an Adventist. I hope the ripple effects continue on.

 

2. Why I Love Being an Engineer

Again, I’m glad this one came second, as this too touched an important part of my identity.

 

3. Mosquitoes

Once in a while, I try some humor writing. It was actually surprising that this post got quite popular.

 

4. The Paper Towel Problem

Similar like before, also surprised this one got traction.

 

5. Engineering With Soul: A Spiritual Dimension to Work

One of the pieces I’m most proud of this year. See more below.

 

Posts I’m Most Proud of in 2015

 

Of my own writing, I’m most proud of essays that express thoughts brewed over a long period of time. They’re not necessarily the most popular, which tells me I need to do more to engage conversations rather than just releasing them to the ether. In 2015, I had 2 mini-series that I’d count as the best of JosephineElia.com.

 

The first series covered thoughts from reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, my most enjoyable read in 2015.

Don’t Jump! – about jumping into conclusions

When Size Matters – about evaluating statistical information

OK, But Not OK. Not OK, But OK – about the discrepancy between perception and reality

 

I also started a series that explored the intersection between worldviews and education from an engineer’s perspective. It’s not quite wrapped up yet since I still have more thoughts to write, but these essays are my most significant ones in 2015.

When a Single Narrative Is Not Enough

From the Equad to the World

Engineering With Soul: A Spiritual Dimension to Work

 

These highlights are my springboard for 2016. There are so many things I want to do this year it’s ridiculous. But I’m an incurable optimist.

Thank you so much for reading the blog in 2015! Come back for more in 2016, and drop me a comment if you have ideas to improve the blog content!

 

Image credit: Designed by Freepik

 

Page 1 of 41234