A few of my favourite things – 2019

A few of my favourite things – 2019

Another year is coming to an end so it’s time to take a look at some of the best things I’ve read, listened to and used throughout the year.

Books

I didn’t quite hit my target of 52 books, but I’m not concerned.

Mao’s Great Famine by Frank Dikötter

The first in the People’s Trilogy series by Frank Dikötter, this book covers the Great Leap Forward period of 1958-1962 and the devastating famine that resulted. It’s a harrowing read, but highly recommended if you are interested in learning about China’s more recent history.

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

A Hugo award-winning Sci-fi classic. Hard to explain without giving away too many spoilers, but suffice to say it’s well worth a read if you are a fan of the genre.

The Mastermind by Evan Ratliff

The true-story of the hunt for Paul Le Roux, the “mastermind” who used his advanced technological skills to create a violent criminal empire spanning the globe and worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman

A very in-depth (800+pages) look into the history of Israel’s highly secretive assassination program.

Audiobooks

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

David Goggins is crazy, and I mean that in the best possible way. ‘Goggins’ as he calls himself, is a former Navy Seal who overcame an abusive childhood and managed to turn himself from an overweight underachiever into a certifiable badass, completing some of the toughest ultramarathon events along the way. The audiobook covers his journey and is interesting in itself as it’s been recorded in a podcast-style format, with a narrator who reads each chapter and then discusses it with David, adding additional context to the story.

Podcasts

Animal Spirits

A “show about markets, life and investing” hosted by Michael Batnick and Ben Carlson of Ritholtz Wealth Management. The podcast covers the financial world but also frequently sidetracks into very funny conversations on film, tv and pop culture.

Stronger by Science

The health and fitness industry is plagued by bro-science bullshit, so it’s always refreshing to find serious professionals taking an evidence-based approach to their work. It’s even better when they are interesting and have a good rapport - thankfully something Greg Nuckols and Eric Trexler at the Stronger by Science podcast have in droves.

Apps

Ulysses (Mac OS, iOS, iPad OS)

After moving my blog from Wordpress to self hosting with Hugo I was looking for a markdown editor to speed up the publishing process. After testing a few options I found Ulysses to offer the best combination of a clean simple UI with powerful added functionality, along with strong apps and syncing across my Apple devices.

Strava (iOS)

Strava is a social network based around tracking and upload sporting activity (running, cycling etc). While I don’t actually use the Strava app to track my runs (I use Garmin Connect to automatically sync data from my running watch) I enjoy the social aspects of the community and the added motivation I get knowing that my activities are public.

Running Gear

Garmin forerunner 735xt with HRM Run chest strap

I’m big on tracking metrics for personal health, so when I started to take my running more seriously in 2019 I knew I wanted to upgrade from simply mapping my run with my phone’s GPS. The Garmin watch lets me track my speed and distance with GPS, and the version I bought came with a chest strap to more accurately monitor heart rate and “running dynamics” data such as cadence and vertical oscillation.

Garmin footpod

While I love to run outside, the harsh Swedish winter’s mean I end up inside on a treadmill more often than not. Treadmills are notoriously bad at measuring speed or distance, and running watches are not usually any good as they lose all accuracy when they can’t use GPS. This footpad connects wirelessly to my Garmin watch, using accelerometer data to calculate accurate speed and distance data while running indoors.