My Changing Reading Habits and the Books I Read in 2016

I read quite a lot of books in 2016–52 to be exact and I tracked them all on Goodreads. [By the way, if you’re on this social network, don’t forget to add me as a contact:]

Here are some interesting tidbits I discovered when I looked at all the books I read.

Audio has become the dominant reading format for me.

If you want to be technical about it, you’d actually be ‘listening’ to an audiobook. But it’s still considered as reading, except that someone is reading for you. Here’s the breakdown of the format of books I read:

  • 23 Audiobooks
  • 5 Hardcover
  • 19 Paperback
  • 5 ebooks

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I’m Reading ONLY 12 Books This Year. Here’s Why

I love reading books. I started reading some longer novels when I was in 5th Grade. It was a bit of a challenge back then, but I didn’t stop. And that made a lot of difference in building my imagination and my appetite for reading more books.

Back in College, a friend introduced me to C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia and to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. My life was never the same. And so, year after year, I would be reading books, novels, and short stories.

I didn’t really keep a record of how many books I read in a year. I didn’t even keep track of their titles. But I would remember a lot of them. I used to frequent BookSale, which is a used bookstore in the Philippines, looking for books by authors that I liked. I did have a running list of authors in my head–Asimov, Bradbury, Dean, and a lot of Sci-Fi authors. I was also frequently surprised by the number of Christian authors that I stumbled into while kneeling down on the floor browsing through book after book under the shelves of BookSale. That’s how I discovered Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.

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Notes on Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

scrumScrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time
by Jeff Sutherland & JJ Sutherland
ISBN: 038534645X
READ: Jan 4, 2016

RATING: 9/10

This is one of the best books I’ve read on Productivity. Together with Personal Kanban, the Scrum methodology is helping reshape the way I do my work and manage my projects.

I’m publishing my notes on this book, and hopefully sometime in the near future, I will be able to describe in full what my productivity system looks like now.

* * * * *

Chapter 1: The Way the World Works is Broken

The Takeaway

Planning is Useful. Blindly following plans is stupid. It’s just so tempting to draw up endless charts. All the work needed to be done on a massive project laid out for everyone to see–but when detailed plans meet reality, they fall apart. Build into your working method the assumption of change, discovery, and new ideas.

Inspect and Adapt. Every little while, stop doing what you’re doing, review what you’ve done, and see if it’s still what you should be doing and if you can do it better.

Change or Die. Clinging o the old way of doing things, of command and control and rigid predictability, will bring only failure. In the meantime, the competition that is willing to change will leave you in the dust.

Fail Fast so you Can Fix Early. Corporate culture often puts more weight on forms, procedures, and meetings than on visible value creation that can be inspected at short intervals by users. Work that does not produce real value is madness. Working product in short cycles allows early user feedback and you can immediately eliminate what is obviously wasteful effort.

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The Concept of “Flow” and How It Leads to Peak Performance

One of the books I read in 2015 is a book entitled ” The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” by Steven Kotler.

book_front_bigThe book looked at the death-defying achievements of Extreme Sports athletes: mountain climbers, base jumpers, wingsuit divers, skateboarders, surfers, and other daredevils. At times, reading it felt like the equivalent of drinking two cans of Red Bull–adrenaline pumping, awe inducing, and it sometimes feel too incredible to be true.

But the book is not about extreme sports and adventure. It’s really about the concept of “Flow” and how it can be hacked to help us improve our performance and achieve our goals more effectively and more efficiently.

I’ve written elsewhere (like in my book Start Up: Find your place. Engage the world. Sustain your life.) that I am a big fan of the 10,000 hours observation popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book.

It turns out that there is a way to shortcut those 10,000 hours. And the secret to it is the concept of FLOW, which was studied and popularized by a psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (it looks difficult, but it’s pronounced “chicksent-me-high”) who studied creativity and what motivates and deeply satisfies people.

He defined the “FLOW state” as “being so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

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Notes on Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life by Tonianne DeMaria Barry & Jim Benson


ISBN: 1453802266
READ: 15 Jan 2015, REREAD: 28 Dec 2015
RATING: 9/10

I’m on a quest to improve the way I understand and do my work. I’ve read several books on Productivity: Getting Things Done by David Allen, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and the Pomodoro Technique to name a few.

This book, Personal Kanban, is the one I have adopted in 2015 as my main productivity system. I first read it back in January 2015, and with 2016 just around the corner, I decided to reread it and tweak/improve my productivity system.

Here are my notes from the book:

Chapter 1: The Basics of Personal Kanban

Tools should give you control and not take anything.

Personal Kanban is a visual representation of work that makes the conceptual tangible. It shows what needs to be done, what is complete, what is being delayed, and what is going on at this precise moment. (loc 217 of 2222)
We were visualizing work, limiting our work-in-progress, pushing decision-making to the last responsible moment, and continuously striving to improve. We learned that understanding our work is the key to controlling it.
Premature prioritization was ultimately a waste of my time. Prioritization for personal work is highly contextual.
Personal Kanban has to be endlessly flexible. It needs to be a system that abhors rules. It’s an enigma. A process that hates process.

Key Concepts: Throughput and Work-in-Progress

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Video Blog: “Boring Ba ang Bible Mo?” by Rei Lemuel Crizaldo

Sa episode ng Pinoy Youth Video Blog na ito, I talk about one of the most interesting books for Filipino young people na lumabas noong 2014. This is “Boring Ba ang Bible Mo?” by my good friend Rei Lemuel Crizaldo. This is a book about the Bible presented in an interesting way. It is character-driven at pinapakita nito yung mga adventures at misadventures ng mga iba’t ibang characters from the Bible. Continue reading

Notes on Abundance by Peter Diamandis – Chapter 1


The first book I want to feature in my booknotes section is “Abundance: the Future is Better than You Think” by Peter Diamandis & Steven Kotler.

I discovered Peter Diamandis through one of my favorite podcasts, the Tim Ferriss Show where Tim Ferriss interviewed the author. Peter Diamandis is a multi-billionaire, who has been named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” by Fortune Magazine. He is also the founder, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, and of the Singularity University.

If you want to be impressed further, Mr. Diamandis was very instrumental in bringing the Space Race to the private sector through the X-Prize. There are now private companies who are developing spaceships and technologies that will bring people to space, where before, that was the exclusive domain of government agencies such as the NASA in the USA.

Here’s the book description from Amazon:

We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions. An antidote to pessimism by tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing—fast. The authors document how four forces—exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion—are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Examining human need by category—water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom—Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, among many, many others.

Here are my notes and my thoughts on Chapter 1 of this book.

Link to my public notes on this book:

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Just a quick note. I used the following notation and labels for the following notes. Follow along and keep in mind of my note-taking system:

[Q] – Quote
[I] – Insight
[Id] – Ideas from the book (but not direct quotations)
[Qu] – Question
[RW] – Related Works
[A] – Action Item

* * * * *

[Q] “Scarcity is often contextual.”

[Q] “Technology is a resource-liberating mechanism. It can make the once scarce the now abundant.”

I Sometimes scarcity is not even the problem, rather it could be a problem in terms of accessibility and the lack of technology to harness such scarcity.

[Q] “When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity still dominates our worldview.”

[Q] “Within a generation, we will be able to provide goods and services, once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them. Or desire them. Abundance for all is actually within our grasp.”

[Q] “We are now living in a world of information and communication abundance.”

[Id] Three forces at work:

  • A Do-It-Yourself revolution, especially as it relates to technology;
  • Money spent in a very particular way. (philanthropy from the biggest tech billionaires);
  • The very poorest of the poor will become the “Rising billion”, and will have access to internet, microfinance, and wireless communication technologies.

[RW]  A similar work by Rob Salkowitz, Young World Rising also explores three set of trends that are helping shape the world of the 21st century. He cited 1) youth, 2) Information & Communications Technology; and 3) Entrepreneurship. Both works certainly look at the role of technology in the world today, but Mr. Salkowitz’s book looks more deeply into the role of young people in this rapidly-changing world.

I cited Young World Rising in my leadership book for young people: “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic” (this book uses a combination of Tagalog and English languages).

[I] – Mr. Diamandis is an optimist. While reading the book, I found myself agreeing with some of his assertions, but I was also cautioning myself against becoming too optimistic, because there are many difficulties and challenges that the world faces, particularly in very dire situations in developing countries–in Africa and in Asia.

A Note-Taking System for Books I Read

I recently blogged about taking notes from the books I read. I’ve been experimenting on a note-taking system lately. Back when I was still reading lots and lots of print books, my habit was to use a 3X5 index card as a bookmark and take notes from there. Sometimes I would also write on the margins of the book, underline the statements that strike me and put big exclamation marks on the pages that get to me.

But these days, I’m reading ebooks most of the time. I have a Kindle Fire 8.9 and I have the Kindle app installed on my laptop, my desktop, and in my Android phone.

I’m trying a new way of taking notes–I want to gather the highlights, comments, insights, and questions that occur to me while reading a particular work… and put them here in the blog. For, I will post notes on books related to business, career, and anything about a young professional’s life. If you want to check out my notes on any other book I read, you may need to check out my personal blog,

For each book notes blog post here, you should expect the following types of notes:

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Why You Should Take Notes from Every Book You Read

Learning is never over, especially after College. You need to train for your job. If you want to advance in your career, you also need new skills and new set of knowledge to pound into your brain.

They say that experience is the best teacher. Most of the time, they assume that it should be your OWN experience. But that’s not true. A lifetime isn’t enough to experience every lesson there is to learn.

To make the most of one lifetime, you better talk to people, ask about their experiences and the lessons they learned. While face-to-face conversion is great, there is another way, which can sometimes be more efficient and just as effective: Reading books.


Just an aside, here’s my previous post on how I choose books; and another one on WHY I read books in the first place.

A lot of us read books for different reasons–to be entertained, to learn new things, to kill boredom. But throughout history, lives changed, wars erupted, and the world was never the same, thanks to books and the ideas behind them.

If you are into reading books, you should take your book-reading experience to the next level. TAKE NOTES! Here’s why.

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