Antilibrary, Best tools of 2020 and Foundations of Good Life

The High Five - Edition #20

Hi there!

Welcome to all new subscribers of ‘The High Five’. 2020 is almost done. I started ‘The High Five’ in mid-2020 and it feels amazing that I am shipping out this 20th edition today, as I bid farewell to 2020. ‘The High Five’ will be on a 2-week break and hence, this edition feels like some ‘Grand Finale of Season #1’, to borrow some NetFlix language :-).

In this last edition of the year, I share about antilibrary, some digital tools I enjoyed in 2020, and a piece about what makes a good life. So here are ‘The High Five’ of this week.

Reading: Antilibrary

Does your bookshelf have more unread books than the read ones? My bookshelf does. And not only my physical bookshelf but even my Kindle library too. My pace of acquisition is faster than that of reading-completion. And all along, I have been feeling somewhat guilty about this habit. Until I read this article on one of the best places on the internet - Ness Labs.

In Japan, there is a word - Tsundoku - that refers to the habit of acquiring books without reading them (at least immediately). Lebanese author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who wrote the famous book Antifragile calls this private collection of unread books as antilibrary. The central idea behind this antilibrary is curating a personal collection of resources around topics one is curious about. This is diametrically opposite to the idea of a personal library, as antilibrary represents one's reading aspirations, leaving some scope for discovery. Having a big antilibrary pivots your relationship with knowledge in a different dimension because you then see that knowledge is more of a process than a possession. After I read about this, I have stopped feeling guilty about this... and I bought 3 more books that were there on my wishlist. As for reading them... their time shall come.

Digital Tools: The best tools I found in 2020

This year, I discovered some interesting digital tools that helped me a lot in productivity, reading and writing. While I have tried many during the course of the year, ultimately, a few of them stuck on and made into my stack. Here are five best tools of my stack that I absolutely recommend:

  1. Notion - Best for Project Management and Writing. The features got incrementally better in 2020.

  2. Obsidian - Discovery of the year for me. Great for connecting notes.

  3. Raindrop - The best bookmarking tool out there.

  4. Walling - A great app to quickly jot down an idea/task, bookmark a page and organize them later

  5. Mindomo - A fantastic mind-mapping tool to sort and illustrate ideas for easier assimilation. I have been using this for all the illustrations in 'The High Five'.

While there are a few more tools I found useful this year, these 5 tools have been an absolute delight to use. I can't wait to see what new features they are going to add in 2021.

Personal Development: The 10 Foundational Practices for a Good Life

In October this year, writer Scott Young wrote an interesting piece on what he thinks constitutes a ‘good life’. Given that 2020 is ending, I think it might be a good idea to end the last curated piece of ‘The High Five’ with this article as it can be inspiring to pick up some pieces, if not all, for 2021. Scott’s 10 ideas/behaviours might appear as an over-simplification of a complex movement that life is, but I think checking off these 10 boxes could bring in content in an ever-slipping chaotic routine. Here is what he recommends:

Do check out the article for more elaborate reasoning of why and how each of these 10 levers will help you move closer to ‘good life’. How many of these do you want to try, in 2021?

A quote that resonated a lot with me: Your attention is one of the most valuable things you possess, which is why everyone wants to steal it from you. First, you must protect it, and then you must point it in the right direction. - Austin Kleon

A question for you: 2020 was a year like never before, for the world. What’s one thing you are leaving behind as you move into a post-pandemic (hopefully) world?

Let me know in comments.

I enjoyed writing every edition of this newsletter and I hope you found it interesting. I am glad that it made me think and learn a few things in this journey to 20th edition.

The 21st edition will see you in 2021, which I hope will be a bright new dawn.

Happy Holidays and Wishing you a Great New Year.