What I Read – January 2011

I spend an enormous amount of time reading. This is something that I already knew, but I decided to track my reading more closely as a sort of New Year’s resolution. First, I want to better see the number and types of books that passed through my hands and secondly, I wanted to better assess the amount of time I was spending on this particular task.

I started using Daytum, the tool created by designer Nicholas Felton, well known for his elaborate yearly reports of his personal activities, and interactive designer Ryan Case. The service has a simple system of items and categories. With each item, you can create an entry with a quantity that gets time-stamped The service has an iPhone app that syncs with the web. You can input data using either method. And website lets you display your data in an insightful array of views.

Here is a sample of what I learned about my January reading habits:

  • I read 1577 pages in 19 different books.
  • I read on average 52.5 pages per day.
  • My average time between reading was 1 day, 4 hours.
  • The mix of the books based on release date was:
    • Backlist – 3
    • Current – 11
    • Upcoming – 5
  • I read a greater quantity of pages at the beginning of the month, but was pretty consistent with the number of books I read through January.

The biggest learning for me was the realization of how much reading I am doing. I spend between one and two hours a day just taking inputs in the form of reading books. That’s around 25% of my work day. That has also made me realize that I need to focus on spending the other parts of my day in creating outputs and telling others about what I have found.

As for books to recommend, I am still high on Practically Radical by Bill Taylor (my Idea Arena podcast is here). This is a book for everyone who wants to see how large organizations can change.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek was a book I came back to over a year after its release and really liked. His premise is simple but the material he used to support his thesis is rich. The pitch is directed toward leaders. I found good application for anyone who is trying to communicate a message.

The Price of Everything by Eduardo Porter was good, but the book didn’t get past interesting for me. Business books need utility and I had a hard time finding it in this one.

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