Asides my love for writing, I am a voracious reader that devours books both for relaxation and education. Reading helps to relax tense mental muscles and amplify imagination, it’s also an avenue to gather information on a new subject.
In 2019, I read more books than I have done in previous years, and I am excited to share some of my best reads with you. I hope you find these books inspiring. The books on my list were necessary not published in 2019; in fact, some are quite old, but they are still relevant in their respective fields.
5 Best Reads of 2019
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott’s compendium of instructions on writing is a superb blessing for any passionate writer. The book uncovered some nuggets via personal stories blended with humour.
Lamott insists that to become a superb writer, you have to write more and don’t judge your competence based on your first drafts. You will have terrible first drafts. The earlier you know that, the better for you. For storytellers, Lamott’s advice is to keep writing until you unravel the hidden gems – the profiles of your characters, the dialogue forms, the setting and many more. The book offered tasks you can do to warm your writing engines before embarking on the “big” writing project.
To finish a story, if you need the help of experts on unfamiliar subjects, don’t hesitate to reach out. Get those conversations going, and the perfect words might just come to you. Lamott also emphasized the essence of joining writing groups and seeking constructive criticism from editors or writers that believe in you.
2. The Dip by Seth Godin
Success requires lots of dedication, hard work and resilience. Everyone knows that, but Godin introduces a new angle, which is knowing when to quit a project, a company, a relationship so that you can win in other things.
Godin describes those tough times before success as either a dip or a cul-de-sac. In a cul-de-sac, you recite the mantra of resilience and perseverance, but it’s a ploy to drain your energy and resources – it’s a dead end. While a dip mirrors the same climatic conditions you face in a cul-de-sac, except that it’s going to lead you to a bright side – things get better if you push hard enough.
A dip is a shortcut to success and weeds out your competitors. Still, it takes intuition, wisdom and sometimes, data to know the difference between a cul-de-sac and a dip. If you spot a cul-de-sac early in your journey, quit the race, save your energy and resources for better ventures. That’s how you quit to win.
“What a blessing it is to love books.” – Elizabeth von Arnim
3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
This is a must-read for anyone interested in today’s style of entrepreneurship and start-up business. Peter Thiel is a highly intelligent founder and entrepreneur with more than two decades of experience in pioneering innovative technologies. The book makes a case for the true meaning of technology and demonizes the word “globalization” as copying what others are doing.
Thiel goes deep into business secrets that every entrepreneur needs to explore before making entry into new and existing markets. The book contains logical arguments fit for discourse in our ever-evolving world. Although the book tilts towards collaboration between businesses and paints unhealthy competition as idiotic, it has answers for entrepreneurs in both monopoly and competitive terrains.
What takes any business from zero to one is doing what others are not doing – creating new solutions and not merely repackaging what others are doing. I love the part that delved into how to set up a mafia team for a start-up, how to distribute and sell a new product, how to build a company with a robust culture.
4. I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
Ramit Sethi’s expert advice on personal finance is a brilliant place to start if you are bent on living a life of financial freedom. Management of personal finances requires one to take charge; don’t be reactive but be proactive. The book propels you to take necessary actions towards your long-term financial goals. You will learn the rules of optimizing my credit card(s) and how to enjoy the perks that come with it.
The book shows practical ways to supercharge your negotiation skills and avoid unnecessary bank charges. It went deeper into practical strategies for investing and how to start immediately. Ramit shows how to create a conscious spending plan after looking closely at your monthly spending behaviour. And then the exciting part kicks in with using automation as a smart way of saving more money.
In the end, I enjoyed the comments on saving for a wedding, getting a prenup, buying a house and buying a car. I am more confident about my finances and equipped with the information to make better decisions.
5. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
Greaves and Bradberry teamed up to create an instant supercharger for Emotional Intelligence. The book is a robust tool for anyone interested in learning about Emotional Intelligence and seeking practical ways of improving their Emotional Intelligence Quotient.
The introduction gives an eye-opener on how the emotional part of the brain continually overrides the rational part of the brain. It explains why the default response of human beings is usually a gust of emotions and not a series of logical and thoughtful reasoning. The scheme of emotional hijacking as many call it.
The book further emphasizes the impact of High Emotional Intelligence on personal and professional pursuits. I learnt that Emotional Intelligence could be seen through four lenses: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. Asides painting what it looks like being in the top or bottom percentile of each category, there were several daily practices you could start immediately to increase your emotional intelligence.