Year of the Book, Part 2

Thomas Lally |

Two years ago – which feels like a different lifetime now – I wrote an article here about wanting to read more books.  Little did I know what changes 2020 would bring, or that I would have more time than ever to read given the lockdowns, social distancing, and just generally not leaving the house very much.

And now I can share the positive update that I read 12 books last year.  It was a smorgasbord of different types of books: some fiction and some nonfiction; some educational and some entertaining; and some that were recent gifts along with others that have sat unread on my bookshelf for years.  Rather than talking about each one, I’ll highlight a few superlatives.

The most educational book was “Origin Story: A Big History of Everything” by David Christian.  It’s a long range study of history, from the big bang to the present.  It focuses on major thresholds and how they were crossed, such as when the mess of matter and energy began forming stars 13.2 billion years ago, and when humans began to harness the energy of fossil fuels about 200 years ago.  It’s a sweeping tale full of many different aspects of science.  It’s also a book I partially read while home sick in January 2020 with an unknown virus – I don’t know that it was Covid, but I have my suspicions.

The funniest book was “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero.  It’s a behind the scenes take on what it was like to make the cult film classic “The Room.”  The book was itself turned into a major motion picture recently starring Dave Franco, James Franco, and Seth Rogen.  I expected that things were a bit crazy behind the scenes, but I had no idea just how outlandish and ridiculous things became.

The most fascinating book was “Bad Blood” by John Carreyrou.  The book came very highly recommended by two U.S. Wealth Management colleagues, and it did not disappoint.  It tells the real life story of Theranos, the fraudulent biotech startup founded by Elizabeth Holmes, and all of the lies, missed warning signs, and lucky (or unlucky) breaks that made this massive scam possible.  It’s a tale so incredible that if someone wrote this as fiction, it would be roundly criticized as impossible and unrealistic.

Through my journey of trying to read more, I learned a couple important lessons.  First is that small things, done consistently, can add up to big results if given enough time.  I think all of my 2020 reading came to an average of 10 or 12 pages a day, which certainly doesn’t sound too daunting.  Another is that your first attempt doesn’t always go perfectly, and that’s ok, because it can provide a foundation to build on.  In 2019 I read only 4 or 5 books, which was a good start, and it spurred me to set a 2020 goal of one book per month.

The author of this article is Tom Lally, Wealth Manager Assistant at U.S. Wealth Management.