Below is a picture of the books I finished in 2019. Notice how I use the word “finish” instead of “read.” That is because I only actually read one, Start by Jon Acuff. The rest were audiobooks. It helps when you get to drive quite a bit for work.
History Inspires and Teaches Again
I’ve heard the name Booker T. Washington from history class, but I did not know his story in detail. If you’re looking for inspiration, and a true rise from the ashes story, you have to read Up From Slavery, an autobiography by Mr. Washington. He was an incredible man.
Another amazing story from history that I felt I knew nothing about: the Haitian revolution. Though not always an easy book to read due to the recounting of some of the violence and tragedies, The Black Jacobins recounts the story of Touissant L’Ouverture (a former slave) leading his people to victories over the European powers. Haiti eventually gained independence from France. It is an incredible story, whether you agree with all of the content or not, that everyone should learn more about.
I also highly recommend Ordinary Men, a non-fiction work that follows the tragic degradation of a Nazi police battalion of seemingly “ordinary men.” These men from normal jobs, spiral into committing murderous atrocities during WWII. It is not an easy read, but provides valuable lessons and warnings.
Lastly, I have thoroughly enjoyed the “Killing” books from Bill O’Reilly. Killing the SS was probably my favorite of the bunch that I finished in 2019.
I Never Tire of Good Business Books
Even if I take a break here and there, I feel I’m always looking for the next good business book. Some of the books this year were just average, while some “crushed it.” I will say though that in the middle of the year, I went through a Gary Vaynerchuk phase. I listened to two of his books, Crush It and Crushing It, and listened to quite a few podcasts (the G rated version). I don’t see eye to eye with Gary on certain things, but he did inspire me to care less about what others think and not be afraid to fail.
The Challenger Sale was recommended to me by someone I interviewed with, and it definitely had beneficial material for sales professionals. It argued against using relational selling exclusively and encouraged respectfully challenging the customer to further discover their true needs and requirements.
Also, I highly recommend The Lean Startup. I have truly taken to heart the “minimum viable product” model they suggest. Essentially, the book argues that taking an “MVP” to market quicker, though flawed, will yield better results than a “perfect product” later on. This is because you can discover customer behaviors and feedback more quickly, and continuously iterate to improve the product thereafter.
Sports are Fun
I love a good sports book. Push by Tommy Caldwell was very interesting, highlighting the dangerous adventures of rock climbing. I also recommend watching the corresponding documentary called The Dawn Wall… very well made. I’m also a soccer nut. In my mind it is the greatest sport in the world, so listening to The Club, which highlights the history of the English Premier League, was so fun and fascinating.
In Something Needs to Change, author David Platt narrates a story of him trekking through Asia with other Christian missionaries, helping to assist people with their physical and spiritual needs, telling them about Jesus along the way. It is an honest journal style book that challenges me as a believer in Christ. How can I use my life more productively in regards to preaching the Gospel to others that do not know Christ as their LORD and Savior?
Surprisingly Mind Blowing
The 4-Hour Workweek kind of blew my mind. My wife can attest to this, as I would come home and not stop talking about it. She does not have to read the book now because I probably repeated the whole thing back to her. I even bookmarked sections I could go back to to play her short clips that I found stirring. It’s kind of an old book now, but hey if you haven’t read it, I’d check it out.
I was extremely excited to listen to The Infinite Game because I think Simon Sinek is a great writer. I loved his book Start with Why. But though The Infinite Game had good lessons, I felt it did not live up to the hype.
Surprisingly Good Oddball
I think Michael Lewis is also a great writer, and I’ve read at least three of his books prior, so I was excited to listen to The Undoing Project. The book follows two Israeli psychologists, who were instrumental in the way we think about and use big data today. If you like psychology and numbers, you should enjoy this one.
A Good Year
Audiobooks and podcasts are the best. You can learn so much, or be entertained so much. Or both. I might never get through a book again if it weren’t for audiobooks! Again I stuck to my core categories: Christianity, Business, History, and Sports. And no fiction! Not that fiction is bad, I just haven’t read fiction in a long time.
I’m curious to know what your favorite book was this year. Comment below to let me know!
Don’t forget to check out my new Career Podcast!