Dog-Eared: January 2020

Karthik Subramaniam
4 min readFeb 2, 2020

What’ve I been reading this month?

One of the goals that I began to form at the end of last year was to wind down my days by reading more. Growing up, I was a fervent reader; that practice just didn’t hold up as I entered adulthood. However, I knew that I still loved to read leisurely, and was always pleasantly surprised at how relaxing it felt when I was able to tear through a whole book during a rare break.

After amassing a list of over 150 books that had piqued my interest, I made it my mission to dive back into reading for pleasure, and really keep track of how much time I spent doing this. While I don’t see this renewed reading as a New Year’s Resolution (because we all know how well those work out), I do think that documenting the process by sharing what I’ve been reading will help keep me accountable and also give insight into the breadth of content that I consume. So, without further ado, here’s what I had the pleasure of reading this January.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Scott Galloway (2017)

Pretty much anyone who has a passing knowledge of my interests will know that I’m a massive tech-head. More recently, I’ve been really keen on understanding the business and behavioral sides of these tech companies rather than the products and services themselves. Galloway’s writing can feel pointed at times, and has plenty of odd metaphors to suit any given situation, but it’s these exact stylistic choices that really kept me engaged during the points when the material could get a bit stale. It’s also exciting to reflect on just how much and how quickly this industry has changed in the two-ish years since this book was published, especially when considering both the market value and public perception these companies have gained and lost.

The Ride of a Lifetime Robert A. Iger (2019)

Keeping on the business and behavior track, this is another book that I was absolutely rearing to read. Bob Iger has been a more recent inspiration to me as I began to notice both his composure and personality during interviews, and the overall love with which he has expanded the Walt Disney Company that I also care so deeply for. While I was excited to dive right into the book as soon as I got my hands on it, I didn’t expect to be so engaged by the style of Iger’s writing. The book clearly communicates a great sense of voice and well-intentioned advice without the condescension that other storytellers might have. On top of that, I learned so much about how optimism, interpersonal relationships, and strong habits are all key ingredients in paving the path towards success, but also that it’s up to each of us to have the strength and courage to actually walk said path. I highly recommend everyone just take a full day to read this book.

The Thin Man Dashiell Hammett (1933)

Heading into a murder mystery from the early 1930s was definitely uncharted territory for me. Hammett’s first person narrative is effective in both making our jaded detective protagonist feel relatable and funny while also drawing the reader even closer to the narrative. While the writing and story itself remain engaging throughout the course of the novel, the ending feels almost…abrupt, in a way. The reveal of the murderer’s identity feels nonchalant, so much so that I had to reread the preceding few paragraphs just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. That said, such nonchalance feels appropriate for the story and for the style of writing in this novel. I also appreciated the glimpse into 1930s societal norms and behaviors that the writing both presented and parodied.

FF Jonathan Hickman (2010)

That’s right, there’s a graphic novel on this list. Part of the reason I wanted to start writing this little list every month is to push back on some of the disdain that is aimed at certain forms of literature; it often seems like the general public turns its nose up at comic books/graphic novels despite flocking en masse to see and then rave about the film adaptations of these stories. Engaging stories come in all forms, and I found FF to be an engaging story that expands the lore of Marvel’s First Family. The artwork and writing both come together beautifully to explore, in my eyes, the main themes of loss and accountability, especially when applied to a familial setting. While there are the grand, multiverse-scale shenanigans that one would expect from a Fantastic Four story, these events act as a backdrop to the pain and grief that the team feels following the death of one of their own. Allowing larger-than-life heroes to express vulnerability and process emotion in a very human way is what Marvel storytelling excels at, and the collected FF run is another successful example of such a tale.

Thanks for reading! Check back at the end of this month to find out what I’ve been reading in February.



Karthik Subramaniam

I’m an empathy-driven UI/UX designer who focuses on accessibility, well-being, and joy. Check out my work at