Adventure through the Pages: A 2022 Reading Journey

Senthil Padmanabhan
3 min readJan 4, 2023
An illustration of my 2022 reading journey — Adventure through the pages
Image credit Paul P. Joseph

2022 was supposed to be the year the world would return to normalcy after the Black Swan event. Many people were looking forward to getting back out into the world and resuming their adventures. However, as it turned out, 2022 ended as another tumultuous year, bringing its own set of challenges and uncertainties. Despite how the year went, I found solace and enjoyment in continuing my adventures through books. Below are some of my favorite reads from the year.

  1. Numbers Don’t Lie by Vaclav Smil — A good reminder that popular beliefs or opinions are not always correct. The author does a brilliant job of distilling truth with solid data, and the world never looks the same.
  2. Upheaval by Jared Diamond — Nations, like individuals, go through a crisis. How well they managed and navigated the crisis is the essence of this book. The author highlights seven nations here. Interestingly, all these learnings can be used as potential solutions even for today’s problems. Mark Twain’s alleged quote, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes,” is so true.
  3. How Not to Be Wrong by Jordan Ellenberg — A funny yet intriguing take on how math touches every aspect of your life. You will be spellbound and equally surprised at how the author draws a math connection to the various events we experience.
  4. Turn the ship around by David Marquet — A must-read book on leadership. Miracles can happen if you truly empower your organization at every level to take ownership and act like leaders. The book outlines the path to achieving that.
  5. Antifragile by Nassim Taleb — Few books profoundly impact us, and this is one of them for me. A thought-provoking read that challenges our assumptions about risk and resilience. The paradoxical idea that encourages us to embrace uncertainty and volatility as a way of building strength and adaptability was truly eye-opening.
  6. Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard Feynman — Like many, I admire Richard Feynman. But this book depicts the true genius he is at various stages of his life. It is funny, addictive, and mesmerizing. You enter his world and do not want to return — an absolute page-turner. For sure, I will re-read this book many times in the future.
  7. Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows — Many successful individuals in various fields share the trait of being systems thinkers. In all likelihood, this is the best book to help you understand what it truly means to be a systems thinker. The more you know the entirety of the systems you operate in, the more efficient your decision-making is. No doubt, this book is recommended by many across the globe.
  8. Zero to One by Peter Thiel — The positive impact of going from zero to one is an order of magnitude greater than scaling from one to hundred. In other words, creating new things is more valuable and rewarding than simply improving upon what has already been done. The book is organized around a series of lessons Thiel has learned over his career as an entrepreneur and investor. Highly recommend it to college students.
  9. Amp It Up by Frank Slootman — Another excellent book on leadership. Impressed by the author’s blog post, I picked this one. Contrary to popular opinion, most businesses deteriorate from within rather than from external forces or competition. The biggest reason for this decline is complacency. As an organizational leader, your primary responsibility is to combat complacency. Amp It Up has the answer to it.
  10. Code: 2nd Edition by Charles Petzold — Probably the best book ever about computer science. The author starts with the most basic fundamentals going centuries back and brilliantly builds up the narrative to modern computing. Thanks to the unique storytelling, even people not associated with computers will find this a fascinating read. I highly regret not reading the 1st edition during my undergrad years. Glad I read it now.

Let me know if you have any recommendations, and I’ll check them out. Looking forward to another insightful year.