- Jeff Taraday
The Best Books I Read (or Listened To) in 2019
Updated: Jan 21, 2020
I've got to admit; I'm an absolute sucker for year-end list posts. The best music of the year, the best books of the year, the best movies of the year... I ALWAYS end up clicking on them. But you know what? I actually get a ton of value out of posts like these. I don't have the time to consume bad material, and while I'll concede I'm relying on the opinions of others to curate content for me, it makes life a lot less complicated.
So I thought I'd take a crack at a few of my own list posts. This one, in particular, will catalogue the absolute best books I consumed (either via reading or audiobook) over the 2019 calendar year. I hope you'll find these books as inspiring and/or entertaining as I did.
"Children of Blood and Bone" - Tomi Adayemi - I absolutely love some good YA fantasy, and this first book in the Orisha series is one of the most original takes I've read in quite some time. An absolute page-turner and quite a bit darker than I expected, I'm excited to read book two, which just recently came out.
"The Name of the Wind" - Patrick Rothfuss - Thank you Patrick Rothfuss for filling the void George R. R. Martin has left in my fantasy fiction budget. While definitely a whole different tone - think Harry Potter meets The Hobbit - This first book in the Kingkiller Chronicle was fantastic. I can't wait to see what Lin-Manuel Miranda does with this content (he's apparently helming the TV adaptation).
"The Wise Man's Fear" - Patrick Rothfuss - The second book in the Kingkiller Chonicle series. Equally as entertaining as the first. Rothfuss, your move. Don't pull a GRRM on us, please.
"A Gentleman in Moscow" - Amor Towles - A departure from my usual fantasy consumption, this story of a Russian Count locked in a luxury hotel by the Bolsheviks in 1922. Although it starts a bit slow, the characters and scenes are so vividly described that you will soon find yourself immersed in Count Rostov's bizarre predicament. Full of humor and wit, this is a unique look into a tumultuous time in history.
"Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life." - Dave Asprey - Although I'm definitely not a meat-heavy "biohacker" like Asprey is, I like to glean useful information from all sources, not just those within my comfort zone. After exposing myself to the world of biohacking, I can definitely say that there are some really useful tools and principles that are applicable to just about anyone. Dave is the leader in this field, and this book is definitely worth a read to get some cool ideas for self-experiments you can perform to upgrade your sleep, performance, focus, and productivity.
"The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs" - Nick Pineault - There is a reckoning coming with regards to our use of WiFi, bluetooth, and dirty electricity, and Nick is at the tip of the spear when it comes to alerting people to the dangers of our modern trappings. Electromagnetic radiation, while it seems like a kooky concept, is certainly something to be concerned about, and Nick has put together a no-nonsense practical guide to protect yourself and your family from unnecessary damage. Some of these concepts might seem extreme right now, but I have a feeling we're going to be talking about EMF's in a few years like we talk about cigarettes now. The more we learn, the scarier it gets.
"This is Marketing" - Seth Godin - I'll have to admit I wasn't familiar with Seth until I read this book. But the way he communicates about marketing is so stunningly clear and simple, it's definitely a must-read for just about anyone in any kind of business. I see now why Seth's blog is so popular.
"Never Split the Difference" - Chris Voss - Learning negotiating skills from a former FBI hostage negotiator sounds pretty intense, but this common-sense and very applicable book is absolute gold for helping guide you in any kind of difficult conversation or disagreement in your life - whether it's with a co-worker, family member, or friend. After completing this book, you'll feel like you've armed yourself with some incredibly powerful tactics and principles for having much more productive conversations, rather than continuing to unintentionally self-sabotage.
As you can see, I try to get a good mix of pure entertainment and practical knowledge out of my reading time. I hope that these recommendations provide you with the same!