My Best Reads – 2019 – Part 1

OK, I’ve been promising a round up of my favourite reads over the last year. So, here goes:

  1. The Harry Potter Series, JK Rowling

    Yes, all seven of them, even though they’re quite big books and (allegedly) written for children.The reality was, I’d made promises to my son, Thomas for years that I would read them, that I would put in the time and effort to understand what enthralled him about these books (he read them all multiple times).
    The reality was, the more I got in to the books, the more I relished my time with them. Even though I’d seen most of the films, the books go way beyond, creating a world into which the reader is drawn. This was time very well spent – eventually, thank you, Thomas. I feel like a better man for having read them.

  2. Barking Up The Wrong Tree, Eric Barker

    I’ve been a reader of Barker’s regular email newsletters/ blog posts for a few years. I admired that, in these days of allegedly short attention spans, here was someone bold enough to write long-form articles that really went in to depth on fascinating human issues related to living life more successfully – and to do it very well accumulating a large audience.
    There are a lot of basic things that people believe, but don’t really question very much, especially around aspects of how people can be successful in life. With substantial and detailed research, Barker pulls together the research that brings many of those ‘old wive’s tales’ in to serious question and explores what the science says is right. His writing style is very conversational and fun, whilst exploring some weighty topics.

  3. Norwegian Wood, Haruki Murukami

    There are some writers you discover very late and wonder why they didn’t cross your path earlier. All too often, i believe, the answer is that those writers cross your path at the time when you’re ready to experience them.
    For me, there were two such writers in 2019, both very different. The first was Murakami. This book was captivating, thought-provoking and left a warm feeling of gratitude when i finished the last page. 2020 will see me catching up on many more of his books.

  4. Like a Fading Shadow, Antonio Munaz Molina

    I think this book came to my attention through a recommendation list of book reviews some time ago. I’m so glad it did as it was a superb and original read. Based around perspectives on the events that culminated in the assassination of Martin Luther King, it’s original and deep. Exploring the inner thoughts of the killer, James Earl Ray.

  5. Tribe of Mentors, Timothy Ferriss

    Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week was a favourite read of mine a few years ago. ironically, it has to be one of the most abused books by people who’ve never read it – but simply made big sweeping assumptions based on the title.
    This book is quite different, big and ambitious, but benefits from the incredible array of people he was able to persuade to contribute. The idea of the book was a simple one – the same set of questions put to a huge variety of influencers and reputed people.

  6. Learned Optimism, Martin Seligman


    Today, Marty Seligman is considered to be the grandfather or elder statesman of the Positive Psychology movement. Most often one sees suggestions today that the approach was born out of a desire to get away from psychology as being about repairing sick people and to focus more on how healthy people can achieve more happiness and lead even better lives. However, on reading this book it’s clear that Seligman’s motivations were driven by the rapid increases in depression and suicides, and research that found a strong link between depression and pessimistic outlook.
    It was interesting that the three measures of pessimism (or optimism) were permanence, pervasive and personalised explanatory style. However, for most of us today we’ve been fed an almost continuous diet of the need to take personal responsibility, particularly for failures and when things go wrong.
    A book I want to explore more, especially as i believe that some of the material in it deserves revisiting as we tackle the ever growing anxiety and depression levels of young people today.

  7. Wired to Create, Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire

    Wired to Create Crop
    I wrote a blog post about this book back in June, you can read it here:

    My June Blog Post – Creativity Key Skill

One book that would, most certainly have been on the list was “Work Rules” by Laszlo Bock about the wonderfully innovative and visionary leadership and talent policies and practices in Google – if I didn’t harbour fears that the company is selling out on those values that were the core of those practices. I have written about this in a couple of recent blog posts.

Part 2 of the book list will follow soon.

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