About Me (Cody Jay)

My mission is to get Generation thinking. Simple as that. I want to cover topics that affect your lives and get a conversation started.


  • Home
  • /
  • Reading
  • /
  • I Read 52 Books This Year, This Is What I’ve Learned

I Read 52 Books This Year, This Is What I’ve Learned

I set myself a goal in 2016 to get through 52 books; a goal of knowledge, wisdom and motivation. That’s 1 book for every week. Unless you’re following in the mold of Tai Lopez, the majority of us would consider that a fair amount of reading. It is. A shitload in fact. Why do it? Well firstly, it was a challenge. I wanted to improve on last years 35 or so. More importantly, I wanted access to the knowledge and wisdom the 52 books would (should?) provide.

Well, I finished the challenge on December 28th after a couple of days buried in books over the festive season. What were the results? I’ll get to that shortly. Firstly, here is the list of the books I got through;


#1- Michael Jordan: The Life by Roland Lazenby

#2- Superfreakonomics by Stephen Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

#3- The Martian by Andy Weir

#4-The Truth by Neil Strauss

#5- The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries

#6- So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

#7-The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

#8- Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoğlu & James A. Robinson

#9- What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School by Mark McCormack

#10- The Tao of Muhammad Ali by Davis Miller

#11- The End of Faith by Sam Harris

#12- Searching For Bobby Fisher by Fred Waitzkin

#13- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick

#14- Sex at Dawn by Christopher Ryan

#15- Left for Dead by Beck Weathers

#16- Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

#17- The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

#18- White Fang by Jack London

#19- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

#20- Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis

#21- God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens

#22- Start Something That Matters by Blake Myoski

#23- Tribes by Seth Godin

#24- Getting Beyond Better by Roger Martin

#25- The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer

#26- Black Flags: The Rise of Isis by Joby Warwick

#27- The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker & Andy Smith

#28- Charity Detox by Robert Lupton

#29- Eating Animals by John Safran Foer

#30- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

#31- Choose Yourself by James Altucher

#32- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (2nd Time I’ve Read it)

#33- Willpower by Robert Baumeister

#34- Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

#35- Animal Liberation by Peter Singer

#36- Peak: How to Master Almost Anything by Anders Ericsson

#37- Climate Change: A Wicked Problem by Frank Incropera

#38- The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens

#39- Mad, Bad & dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes

#40- Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

#41- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bordain

#42- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F#ck by Mark Manson

#43- Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

#44- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

#45- The Illiad by Homer

#46- Edmund Hillary: The Life of a Legend by Pat Booth

#47- Alexander the Great by Jacob Abbott

#48- Originals by Adam Grant

#49- Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant by Roland Lazenby

#50- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

#51- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

#52- Why Bother? by Cody Jay (Yep, I’m including my own soon to be published masterpiece)


There was a decent mix of genres and literary eras throughout and very few of them were what I consider easy reads. One thing that suprised me; 43 were non-fiction. I thought I’d thrown a few more novels into the mix, though clearly, that wasn’t the case. Would I set this as a challenge another year? Probably not… For one thing, it probably causes a little urgency in reading. Sometimes this is a positive, though often it’s not. It can take time to absorb what you’ve read, particularly when the material is insightful. Having said that, I’m glad I took on the goal in 2016, I learned a hell of a lot. Here is a brief overview…


Key Lessons I Learned from the 52 Books Challenge

Knowledge Fades

I’ve learned an incredible amount over the year, on a range of different subjects; from an in-depth history of Islam to scientific facts concerning climate change. While a broad overview of most of these subjects still exists in my mind, many of the details have already been lost.

Reading something once isn’t enough to fully understand and learn it. Either you need to re-read it, potentially multiple times, or else put it to use. One of the reasons I chose to write a book was to ensure I actually understood the knowledge I’d accumulated on the featured subjects. It is said that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. That certainly appears to hold a nugget of truth.


I don’t know the scientific evidence of this, though it does appear to hold at least some truth…


Learning Requires Action

Perhaps the key point I’ve taken away from this is that knowledge on its own is relatively useless. It’s the application of that knowledge which sees results and leads to success. It’s the reason why our school system has failed us. We learn facts and figures all day without being taught how they relate to the world or how we should apply them. The same logic applies to reading without making practical use of what you’ve learned.

This is a reason why I believe biographies are the best way to learn about the origins of success in a given field. There are a million gurus out there writing out the rules to achievement but these are fairly ineffective, at least for me. We humans enjoy stories. In biographies we are presented with stories, the stories of individuals lives (generally extraordinary individuals) that enable us to see exactly how they achieved what they did. We can then derive our own lessons from these stories and see how they’ve actually been implemented to great effect.


Terrible Books are Not worth Continuing

In order to include a book on the list of 52, I figured I had to have finished it. This was a mistake. There were a few that I really didn’t enjoy and should have put down after the first couple of chapters. There weren’t a lot to be fair, though Left for Dead by Beck Weathers really made me consider giving up reading. I felt physically ill after forcing myself through that one. If you don’t like a book, put it down. Life’s too short.


Life’s too short to read bad books…


There is No Excuse for a Lack of Time

One of the first responses I get when I tell people I’m reading 52 books in a year is “how on Earth do you have time? I can’t find time to read at all..”

Oh really? I would beg to differ. Bill Gates finds time to read a book a week and no offense, but I believe he’s likely a little busier than you. If something’s important to you, you’ll find the time to do it. That applies to all aspects of life, learning is no exception.


There you have it. What do you think of the books I got through? Have you considered attempting this challenge yourself?


  • Charlie Hamilton

    January 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Cody you would have to b one of the most inspiring caring determined , passionate about everything u encounter amazing person , I have been lucky enough to meet. I know you will do great things in his world for mankind and the environment. I can’t wait to read your first book,of many I’m sure. Your varied book choice did not surprise me..totally agree don’t keep reading a book u don’t like. Like life, to many good people around than to spend ur time with people that bring u down. .Thankyou Cody.👍


Leave a Reply