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Measuring a year in books: My 2022 in review (Inspired by Spotify)
What can you learn in a year? Can you find out what you learned from your watch or read history of the previous year?
What would 2022 in review look like after reading 2 books each week?
This article was originally posted at www.harshal-patil.com on Feb 21, 2023
I purchased and read 96 books totaling £633 ($762) last year. That’s equivalent to spending $14 each week to read (and re-read) 2 books each week. Audiobooks were the most convenient for me, so I preferred those over ebooks or paperback. I used the Alexa app to read ebooks aloud, as described here. I used Audible to listen to audiobooks.
A challenge in the data is it does not show the books I re-read a dozen times. It also doesn’t segregate books I purchased but didn’t complete reading.
I see 3 spikes.
The first spike in my spending on books was in April 2022, coinciding with my career sabbatical.
The second spike was in June 2022, when I started my consulting venture, Spark Creative Technologies. You can see a visual of my early expenses here. The books then were about building an agency, building a consulting niche, and networking.
The last spike was in Oct-Nov 2022 when I drank from the fire hose while consulting a client. I learned about marketing, customer research, content operations, and SEO during those months to help my client increase their organic traffic.
Titles of the Books
I created a word cloud of the most common words from the titles of the books using a word cloud generator. The most common titles included “guide” and “business”. Ok, so I was mostly reading books to learn stuff, including business. Taking a broader lens led to another word cloud, shown below. I created it using Wordart word cloud generator. It seems I read about guides to life, business, love, and food. The book titles emphasized “learn” and “more” - so the book titles also suggest learning and gaining more knowledge.
Tagging the Books
I took help from a freelancer from Fiverr to scrape data for all these books to enable further analysis. It gave me this kind of dense information with summary, description, titles, and multiple genres of each book.
Each book was tagged to multiple genres. The combination of those highlights my read of non-fiction, business, and self-help genre. These highlights are apparent from the titles themselves! Does that suggest you can judge a book from its cover (or title)?
Let’s look at the 4 areas from earlier:
Non-fiction: 92% of all books I read were tagged as Nonfiction
Business: 84% tagged as Business
Guide: 66% tagged as Self Help
Love and Life: 63% tagged as Psychology and 50% as Personal Development
What do these 99 books claim to cover?
Looking at the descriptions of these books, the top words chosen by these authors include
Did I read a lot of overlapping content? I will apply the Pareto principle to see whether most words repeat in the descriptions. If that shows a high cumulative percentage in a few words, then there is a high overlap.
I used Browserling and more data cleanup to look at the amount of text in the descriptions covered by just a few words. 80% of the content of all the descriptions was covered by 40% of the most used words, not by 20% of words.
What does this mean? There were 12,485 words in the descriptions after removing stopwords. There are 4,167 unique words. 80% of the combined descriptions, i.e., 10,000 words, were covered by 1,700 of the most used words. Instead, I would consider it a heavy overlap if 800 words covered these 10,000 words in the description.
Expectation vs. Reality of the Data Analysis
Above sections cover all the data analyzed for my year in review. The analysis process was a lot more tiresome than I expected. I’ve visualized the processes as 2 flowcharts below.
Some books I enjoyed in 2022
The Black Swan flummoxed me and changed my perspective on many things. One change in perspective was in choosing books to read. I reduced reading biographies and success stories after this. Noise added further bolstered changes stemming from The Black Swan.
I liked 2 books on building relationships with a wide circle of friends. Have you ever found networking events or meetups hard? Awkward? This Sh*t Works gets super tactical in helping you succeed at any such event. Still feels awkward? The 2-Hour Cocktail Party agrees that meetups are poorly organized. Instead, it teaches you the N-step process to host an amazing meetup at your home. While minimizing expense, time spent, and social hesitation. How to Win Friends & Influence People helped round up relationship-building skills.
The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients walked me through common potholes in building my consulting business, Spark Creative Technologies, while Built to Sell helped me think of the exit strategy for my business. Fanatical Prospecting and Key Person of Influence pulled me in opposite directions for my business. Should I focus on sales or marketing? I charted my business functions in Organizing and Scaling my business as a solopreneur.
Deploy Empathy and Continuous Discovery Habits were instrumental in improving my customer research skills, which helped in my client consulting projects. I got to write more on UXR in How to Use Metrics and Signals to Track Customer Experience.
I quote How the Internet Happened a lot since it covered dozens of well-known Internet companies in depth.
I used Gandr.io to create a book cover collage.
Complete List of books
I’ll end this article with the complete list of books. I used Clideo to make a video of my book covers.
Here is a list covering most of the books:
21 Lessons for the 21st Century
7 Strategies for Wealth & Happiness: Power Ideas from America's Foremost Business Philosopher
A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled
All Marketers Are Liars
Ask Your Developer
Attached: Are You Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the Science of Adult Attachment Can Help You Find - and Keep - Love
Breakthrough Copywriter: A Field Guide to Eugene M. Schwartz Advertising Genius
Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential
Built to Sell
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat
Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value
Do the Work
Eat More, Live Well: Enjoy Your Favourite Food and Boost Your Gut Health with The Diversity Diet. The Sunday Times Bestseller
Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life
First Bite: How We Learn to Eat
Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
Fooled by Randomness
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
How the Internet Happened
How To Talk: Siblings Without Rivalry
How to Win Friends & Influence People
How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens
How Will You Measure Your Life?
I Never Knew That About London
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences
Key Person of Influence
Letting Go of Anger (Second Edition)
Loved: How to Rethink Marketing for Tech Products
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (Portfolio Non Fiction)
No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame
Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t
Normal People: One million copies sold
Nudge: The Final Edition
Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right (Oh Crap Parenting Book 1)
One Million Followers, Updated Edition: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days
Outcomes over Output: Why Customer Behavior Is the Key Metric for Business Success
Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow (Revised and Updated)
Platonic: How Understanding Your Attachment Style Can Help You Make and Keep Friends
Plays Well with Others
Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World
Rip It Up
Scientific Advertising: 21 advertising, headline and copywriting techniques
Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life
Stumbling on Happiness
Ten Times Happier
Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation (Strategyzer)
The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: How to Build Big Relationships with Small Gatherings
The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry
The Black Swan, Second Edition: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
The Book of Joy. The Sunday Times Bestseller
The Carbon Almanac
The Coddling of the American Mind
The E-Myth Revisited
The Family Firm
The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts
The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence
The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building
The Hero with a Thousand Faces: The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell
The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever
The Magic of Thinking Big
The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers & Learn If Your Business Is a Good Idea When Everyone Is Lying to You
The Power of Moments
The Power of Regret
The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and Meaning of Table Manners
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
The Unicorn Project
Think Like a Freak: Secrets of the Rogue Economist
Thinking, Fast and Slow
This Is Not A Diet Book: A User’s Guide to Eating Well
This Shit Works: A No-Nonsense Guide to Networking Your Way to More Friends, More Adventures, and More Success
Uncanny Valley: Seduction and Disillusionment in San Francisco’s Startup Scene
What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture
When to Rob a Bank: A Rogue Economist's Guide to the World
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?
This article was originally posted at www.harshal-patil.com on Feb 21, 2023