Books That Made an Impact in 2022

It is a bit of a new habit that started only a few years ago, but I have been reading 40+ books in each of the last 3 years. It is amazing how much I can read by just focusing on 30 pages every morning over coffee without being possessed by my iPhone!

My 2022 reading list was more eclectic. Rather than the usual mix of technology, business and run-of-the-mill self-help books, I included a few other genres. One of the reasons was my new found passion for the Enneagram theory, which entailed textbooks on the subject. Another new category arose out of my new goal in publishing, which in itself involved learning more about the industry and how to produce query letters, proposals, and write a manuscript.

But I believe the most impactful books were the ones involving self-discovery. With the markets gyrating like Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, investors have been on a bumpy ride for almost the whole year. Trying to maintain awareness of corporate developments without getting distracted by market noise - while keeping anxiety at bay - have not been easy for many of us. We are all prone to fixations, fears, anger, shame, blind spots, and biases. Investing is as much about understanding businesses as it is about managing oneself on this long, winding lifelong journey.

With that in mind, here are the best books that I have found useful in developing a healthier inner landscape to cope with the unexpected.

  1. A Thousand Brains by Jeff Hawkins

I got this book as a Christmas present in 2021. Written by the founder of Palm Computing - who is also a neuroscientist - it is admittedly not the easiest read. I was, however, duty-bound to finish it, since it was a gift from my husband, and I found the payoff to be worthwhile. Hawkins delves into the inner workings of the human brain to explain how we develop thinking patterns and personalities, while still retaining reptilian-like features (not bugs) thanks to the amygdala. Sometimes, we just do not know which part of our brain is driving the bus; reading this book has illustrated that our knee jerk reactions may not be the most rational ones, even if they may feel instinctive and right at first. Neuroplasticity is real.

  1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Read this fictional classic at a summer retreat and it could not have come at a better time. The story illustrates how life is more akin to a process than a singular goal, and we can learn so much more if we allow ourselves to be curious and stay in the present. While long-term investors want this bear market to be over, we need to get comfortable with the way things are now, focusing on what we can do better as individuals. Worrying about things that are outside of our control is counterproductive. Easier said than done, but reading this book has served as a useful reminder. Sometimes, we just need a nudge in the right direction to snap out of our mental funks.

  1. The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

This book is a game changer for me. The author is a renowned psychiatrist and he explains the mind-heart-body connections with an equal mix of medical expertise and compassion. Trauma affects more people than we think, and it does not always have to involve war zones, life-threatening experiences or abuses. While we can make ourselves believe that all is good, the human body keeps score of everything. Through neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga, music, dance, and more unexpected techniques, the book illustrates how we can improve our thinking and feeling patterns, by following the clues that our bodies give out.

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert

I enjoyed the movie Dune, which was released in 2021 straight to HBO Max, but I had little interest in reading the book until I listened to a podcast interview with Harley Finkelstein, President of Shopify. The story is well-known, and has taken inspirations from Middle Eastern politics, T. E. Lawrence, colonization, and epic struggles over natural resources since time immemorial. Most significant for me is the line “fear is the mind-killer”, which is especially relevant given my personality type.

  1. Personality Types by Don Richard Riso

The Enneagram theory is a revolutionary approach to understanding oneself and others. By dividing human personalities into 9 major types, the theory highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each, and suggests practical pivots to compensate for our shortcomings. I am a Type 5 (Specialist) and recognizing my tendencies to get sucked into insular thinking, I take diversification to heart when managing my portfolio. I also make additional efforts to seek external help and professional advice when dealing with challenges in life.

  1. 10% Happier by Dan Harris

A book about meditation written by a meditation skeptic. I used to be one myself, but after my summer retreat and reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, I tried meditation all over again and made significant improvements to my mind-body-heart connections. It has helped calm my mind, in everything from relationships to handling market meltdowns. This book also contains funny stories about Harris’s experiences with dodgy self-help gurus and celebrities. A lighter read for some laughs, and a convincing account of how meditation can help everyone.

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