Not many people know this about me, but I am dyslexic. Now contrary to popular beliefs about dyslexia, I don’t struggle with writing, spelling or grammar. Instead my dyslexia leads me to struggle with the processing of information and text written on pages, and as a result I am an extremely slow reader. I will often start a book and take forever to get anywhere with it. Or, like most other people, I rarely get time to finish a book, so I’ll often have multiple half read books on the go at once.
One of the best decisions I ever made was to start listening to audiobooks. This not only allowed me to continue to learn and get through all of the books that I wanted to read, but also allowed me to do so in a way that made it easier for me to process and learn. I tend to listen when I’m driving in the car to and from work or out on dog walks, when I can use that time for more growth.
I started my subscription in 2021, but this year I counted that I have read 22 audiobooks so far (almost 2 per month). I have always loved to learn and grow as a person so have never really been interested in fiction novels, save for a couple of notable books (Shantaram and the Dan Brown series), so I spend most of my time listening to non-fiction, biographical novels, spy/war stories and geeky health books.
After recently reading a couple of exceptionally important and interesting books, about which I have shared my opinions with a number of people, I thought more people might be interested to hear about these books for themselves. So I thought I’d start this year recapping my key takeaways from my favourite books of 2022. Hopefully you can also benefit from what I have learnt, and if you like to read, delve further into them yourself to get even more of your own takeaways from them.
So here are my top books of 2022 and the lessons I learnt from them:
Breath – James Nestor
As the title suggests, this is all about a lost art of breathing (properly). I have to credit Steve H with this recommendation, which in the end became my favourite book from 2022. I can’t say that the changes I have made as a result of reading this have led to the same health benefits the author got, but I have definitely noticed improvements. I have even taken to self experimentation and now (as suggested in the book) tape my mouth at night. (According to my girlfriend I now look like Hannibal Lecter, but at least I don’t snore now she says). I would definitely recommend this to everyone.
- Nose breathing is significantly better for us than mouth breathing
- Different breathing cycles/techniques can provide for different outcomes
- We should breathe slower, deeper and less frequently
- But short, quick breathing can give short term benefits such as altering our consciousness
- The perfect cycle is 5.5 secs inhale, 5.5 seconds exhale equating to 5.5 breaths per minute and approximately 5.5L air inhaled
Why We Sleep – Matthew Walker
This is the latest of my audiobooks “read” and one that I already knew plenty about (and advise people), but didn’t quite appreciate the severity and the effects that a lack of sleep can cause. This is another book that I would strongly recommend, although it can be a bit researchy.
- The less you sleep the more you eat
- 2 hrs less sleep per night means a 90% decrease in REM sleep achieved
- A regularly occurring 2 hrs less sleep is the equivalent of drunk driving
- Using blue light emitting screens before bed can cause a 50% decrease in melatonin produced to help you get to sleep
- If you want to remember anything, learn it intensively before bed and sleep on it for a full 8 hrs
The Almanac of Naval Ravikant – Eric Jorgensen
This is a collection of Naval Ravikant’s thoughts and advice about finding happiness and building wealth. Personally, it recalled a number of pieces of advice I’ve learnt over the years, some of which I still know and use and others that I had forgotten. Well worth a thought provoking read.
- It’s not really more money that people want, it’s more choice and freedom to do the things they want
- A quiet mind is a happy mind
- We should make habits to achieve a quieter mind
- If you don’t know, say no. (I also have a mentor who always says “Happiness in life is directly proportional to the number of times you say no”)
- We are the only ones in charge of and responsible for how we feel, not others.
Atomic Habits – James Clear
I never make any but it’s no wonder resolutions never stick when we probably don’t utilise the systems and procedures recommended to actually form good habits. Given it’s the new year, this is worth a read for anyone looking to set some goals (health related or otherwise).
- To create a good habit, it must be: obvious, attractive, easy, satisfying
- A goal is nothing without a strategy and system to achieve it
- It’s not about the time it takes, but about the discipline and consistency utilised to make it
- Every habit should be tracked (What gets measured, gets improved – Pete Drucker)
- Build the anticipation to increase the dopamine and make things stick
Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson
Careless of how you feel about Apple, or even Jobs himself, I think this is one of the most fascinating insights into an incredible mind. It’s the only non health/growth related book in here and it’s quite a chunk, but I can only admire his vision and certainty for creating something special, that quite literally changed the world.
- Walking meetings help the mind process
- Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner “voice”
- Time away from something refocuses the mind
Naturally I can’t summarize every book I “read” in 2022 or we’d be here all year until it’s time to go again, so below are some of the others that didn’t quite make the list. This by no means you shouldn’t read some of these also, but the above were definitely my favourites.
The Psychology of Money – Morgan Housel
Agent Sonya – Ben Macintyre
The ONE Thing – Gary Keller, Jay Papasan
Principles – Ray Dalio
The Secret History of Flight 149 – Stephen Davis
Start with Why – Simon Sinek
Operation Mincemeat – Ben Macintyre
Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins
Taking People With You – David Novak
The Compound Effect – Darren Hardy
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
I hope you enjoyed my list and if you have any suggestions let me know. (Although I currently have 59 titles in my wish list so I’ve got a lot of listening to do this year). Stay tuned throughout the year and I’ll try and update you as I go.
Mark Fairclough, MChiro, DC