This data was logged with Goodreads, Kindle and Instapaper. Data collection and visualization powered by QS Ledger. This post is part of my 2019 Year in Data project.


Another good year of reading with lots of learnings coming from studies on economics, flow, feminism. I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction than in previous years. If I had to recommend a single book from 2019, it would be 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. I didn’t agree with many points in the book, but I did find new evidence, arguments and perspectives about our economic world, especially economic development models.

How I Tracked It:

I track my book reading with a combination of tools. Goodreads helps me track books read (and discovery new books based on past readings). My Kindle lets me collect and track book highlights. For articles I use Instapaper for tracking my article reading and article passage highlights. While not visualized here, I use Bookends to track my academic article references and use Skim app to extract my PDF highlights. I also wrote a script that tracks PDF changes, which I should be able to use to do a comprehenive analysis of PDF readings one day.

What I Learned:

From the data and visualizations, it appears that I read more in the early months of the year. My books read, highlighted passages and articles read all decreased in Q4, which corresponds to a number of life changes (witnessed in my time and tasks data too) as wel as some non-book related studies I was doing.

Looking at the word cloud, it appears that, like many other people out there, Trump was a popular topic in my article reading. It’s clear I also was reading a lot about China, health, the brain and tea too.

My Top Books from 2019

It’s difficult to pick my favorite books since there is a lot of memory bias depending on when I report this. You can checkout my Goodreads Reviews and Rating here.

For sake of sharing good books to check out, here are my top books from 52 or so I read:

  • 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang - This book offers a different take on economics and economic development. If you are looking to shake assumptions and have good conversations on economic topics, I highly recommend this book no matter what side of the political fence you sit.
  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow - There were multiple moments in reading this book where I just smiled at how interesting of a character Hamilton was. Brilliant, hardworking, luck and flawed, all in one. I gleaned a new perspective on various moments in the early history of the United States.
  • Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal - This book is all about various drugs and technologies being used in pursuit of human augmentation and mental expansion.
  • The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler - This book is all about flow and how various extreme sports athletes cultivate in pursuit of excellence and high performance. The writing is great throughout but the examples get a bit one-dimensional since everyone is essentially doing high fatality sports. Would benefit from more realistic examples that don’t involve such a high probabily of death.
  • The Meaning of Life by Terry Eagleton - This short book starts off quite philosophical around questions of the legimacy of the question itself. It then turns more open ended and offers an all-around good read for anyone wanting well-writing and well-thoughtout philosophical enquiry for the common man philosopher.
  • Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being by Martin E.P. Seligman - This is a classic and approachable read on the positive psychology. Using validated research, Seligman offers various ways to not just avoid depression but to cultivate a happy and meaningful life of human flourishing. Writing and style is a bit clumsy at times but easy to skim over sections that don’t resonate and still come away with practical takeaways.

A Selection of my favorite articles from 2019

I started a very occassional newsletter to my friends and blog readers in 2019. So if you want to get an informative email every 2-4 months on self-tracking tech and my favorite articles and books, subscribe here.

Here are a few of the most memorable articles I read in 2019 and merit a read if you missed them:

Looking Ahead:

I again set a goal of reading 52 books in 2020. This should keep me on pace for my 2000 book reading challenge. I have several areas I want to learn and deepen in year ahead, so I plan look more into fields like neuroscience, react native and machine learning.

I still find information integration and learning synthesis to be an area I can improve in year ahead. I am exposed to a lot of great ideas and concepts, and, while I do a good job taking notes (more on this below), this would be an area I can expand upon in pursuit of learning how to learn. The fact is that if an idea is important to me, I need to take notes and bring these notes in my smart notes system.

Check out other posts, data visualizations and infographics from my year in data!