With the year of 2019 coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on what was done throughout the year and make a plan for the new 2020.
In my case, it’s time to share the best books I read in 2019.
2019 was a great year for me. On a personal level, my son was born! In terms of reading, I finally managed to reach the goal I set on GoodReads earlier this year and read 40 books. While It’s not that much compared to the book reading champions who literally devour pages, I’m quite thrilled that I’ve kept my pace of reading almost a book per week.
And while some of the titles were well worth it, others were quite disappointing despite the good reviews and the well-designed covers.
What I learned after reading so many books is that just because a lot of people are reading and recommending a particular book doesn’t mean that it’s good. In many cases, the publisher goes above and beyond to deliver good reviews for the author and use their entire marketing budget to (falsely) boost the book’s reputation.
But that’s a whole other topic.
Let’s get back to the main point here…
Yes, books. And more particularly, the best books I read in 2019.
So, without further ado, let me show you the best ten books I read in 2019 and why I think they are awesome:
This book gives you the necessary tools to understand the true motives of the folks around you so you can prevent them from negatively influencing your life. Along with that, a game plan that will help you disarm your opponents without directly confronting them.
We’re emotional creatures and our biggest weakness is our inability to control our feelings. If we want to get ahead of life and achieve new heights, we should focus first on becoming mentally strong.
We have a continual desire to communicate our feelings and yet at the same time the need to conceal them for proper social functioning.” Robert Greene
In Company of One, Paul Jarvis argues that you, alone, can create and run a business. He says that you don’t have to know everything, have a lot of capital or gather a large group of people alongside you to create something that can support your existence. Personally, I tend to agree with what he says in this book and think that more people should read it.
Staying small on purpose can be a good thing when deciding your long-term business goals. When you’re a one-man show, and you keep it like that, you’re more flexible and your expenses are minor. Or in other words, don’t aim to be the next Google or Amazon, strive to create a business that can bring you enough income. This way you’ll have enough free time to enjoy your independence.
If you have an idea for starting a business that requires a lot of money, time, or resources, you’re most likely thinking too big.” Paul Jarvis
In the era of constantly updating buzz-feeds, you need a better way to present your product in front of others. Fortunately, we have the master marketer Seth Godin to show us how. In This is Marketing, Seth explains how to understand your audience so you can serve them better.
If you want to be good at telling people why they need to choose your product, mess with their emotions, don’t try to steal money out of their pockets. In essence, this means to understand their true desires and after that to communicate with them, in plain English, how your product might help.
Marketing is our quest to make change on behalf of those we serve, and we do it by understanding the irrational forces that drive each of us.” Seth Godin
If you’re too busy or you’re constantly juggling between a couple of tasks simultaneously, you’re doing things wrong. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains that more, in the sense of doing things, is usually less productive. He shows us how to properly prioritize so we can find time for what’s truly important.
Embrace the Way of the Essentialist. Start decluttering and remove all the fluff that only consumes your time and adds very little value in terms of your quality of life. Set priorities for yourself otherwise, someone else will.
Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.” Greg McKeown
Building good habits is essential for your survival in life. However, rarely books talk in length about the evil force that is constantly trying to sabotage your habit game – procrastination. Neil A. Fiore will help you understand why you procrastinate and what you can do to get back on the right path.
Procrastination feels rewarding. Especially nowadays, where you can hop online and immediately expose yourself to addictive media feeds. To beat this nasty habit, you must understand why you procrastinate in the first place. Do you fear being judged, or there is something else deep inside of you that’s constantly telling you to delay doing stuff?
When you commit to a goal, you’re committing to a form of work that brings ongoing rewards. When you procrastinate, you’re choosing a self-punishing form of work.” Neil A. Fiore
Currently, despite the advancement we see in tech, medicine, and transportation, everything seems totally doomed. But the author is not talking about the climate problems, he’s mainly referring to the fact that everyone’s miserable and hates each other. But, as the subtitle of the book suggests, there’s hope. We just need to fix our emotional problems.
Though it sounds cheesy, to be better and to make the world a better place, we need to be better ourselves. To care for something and to constantly strive for better. We can’t expect other people to fix things for us. We, individually, need to embrace pain and push ourselves to make the future brighter.
There is no such thing as change without pain, no growth without discomfort. It’s why it is impossible to become someone new without first grieving the loss of who you used to be.” Mark Manson
In The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly presents how our future might look like. How our behavior will change and what companies are doing to keep up with the growing demand. The message at times feels quite depressing but it seems that there is hope for the future of humanity.
The inspiring story of David Goggins. How he was able to transition from a low-life, overweight punk to a respectful Navy SEAL and graduate with honors. While the book is harsh at times (like in 80%), it’s what you need to hear if you want to make a positive change in your life.
Nothing is impossible. If you’re willing to put in the work, you can become whatever you want. Usually, the only thing standing between you and the place you want to be in is your mind and your thoughts.
We’re either getting better or we’re getting worse.” David Goggins
Short, kind of cheesy, but definitely worth checking short book that will get you out of the rut and inspire you to keep going. In Chop Wood Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf, you’ll train with John, the protagonist, who’s determined to become a samurai warrior. If you’re feeling down or you’re not quite inspired to do anything, this book will gently push you in the right direction.
The title of the book, Chop Wood Carry Water, stands for doing the same boring things, over and over again. For example: While writing every day is surely a task that will become tedious over time, if you’re a writer, it’s what you need to do if you want to become a good writer. Or in other words, success isn’t sexy. It’s simply getting up and doing the things you must do, every-single-day.
Everyone wants to build the next Apple or Facebook, nobody wants to sell matches door to door. Everyone wants to become a samurai warrior, but few are willing to faithfully chop wood, carry water.” Joshua Medcalf
Book #10: The Great Mental Models vol 1 by Shane Parrish
This book will upgrade your thinking. As the title suggests, the book presents a few general thinking concepts – i.e. mental models – that will help you troubleshoot difficult situations, faster. Regardless of your current experience or position, this book can literally save your life and help you advance.
You shouldn’t stop learning more about the world and about your field. The more you know, the fewer the blind spots. And when you have less of those, you’ll start seeing the big picture a whole lot better.
We are afraid to learn and admit when we don’t know enough. This is the mindset that leads to poor decisions.” Shane Parrish
Some Closing Thoughts
In 2020, I’m planning to set the same reading goal – 40 books (+1). Hopefully, I can surpass this number but that won’t be my only focus. I want to give myself enough time to write more articles about various strategies and also add more short reading lists like this one.