2017 Awesome Bucket Recap

Results from my annual list of goals, plus books

Following up on the list of I laid out last January, here’s how 2017 went, goals-wise. I also read 12 books last year, and listed them below.

I’ll be posting my list for 2018 soon, ideally before 2019.

Happy New Year.


  1. Finish Ironman Arizona faster than 13:30:18. Yup. Finished in 13:12:10, and cut my marathon time by more than 45 minutes. Read my race report here.
  2. Complete 50-mile ultramarathon. Nope. Unrealistic to aim for 50 miles two weeks after IMAZ. My IT band told me it wanted to take a couple months off. Perhaps in 2018.
  3. Learn Mandarin – enough to get by. Nope. I didn’t fit Mandarin classes into my schedule. Instead, I made reading books (in English) a priority this year. See my 2017 book list below.
  4. Land a standing backflip. Nope. Gah. Three years in a row. Gymnastics, tumbling, parkour – I see the benefits. I got pretty bored with it. Maybe I’m missing something – flexibility.
  5. Become great at remembering people’s names. Yup. I usually make the effort and do good job, but still need improvement. This is one of those lifelong skills to continuously work at mastering.
  6. Blog at least once a month. Nope. I published five blog posts. More reading than writing in 2017 – not necessarily a complete failure.

Books I read in 2017. In reverse chronological order. Three favorite in bold.

  • *Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky
  • Scale by Geoffrey West
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John LeCarre
  • Stiff by Mary Roach
  • Winter is Coming by Garry Kasparov
  • A is for American by Jill Lepore
  • The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
  • All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • The Complacent Class by Tyler Cowen
  • Messy by Tim Harford
  • Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen

*There’s likely recency bias at play, but I can’t recommend Behave enough. And I can’t stop thinking or talking about it. It’s nearly 700 pages, and it takes some determination to get through – especially the first 400 pages. It all pays off in the last 200 pages. From about Chapter 14 on I couldn’t go more than a few pages without underlining something crucial, and fascinating and complex, that kept me up at night. Here’s a book review. Tough and important concepts from a brilliant author.