During 2018, I read 27 books, which is slightly above my average for a year. I read a mix of science fiction, personal development, business, and general fiction books. As I like to do every year, here’s my best of list from the past year. You can use these to round out your 2019 reading list if you’re in need of a few suggestions.
As I’ve done in years past, I’ve broken the list out by type. There are my General Recommendations (Must Reads), Personal Development books, Business reads, and then my Fun Reads.
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
One of the best books I read in 2016 was the Wayward Pines series by Blake Crouch. I had wanted to read a follow-up by Crouch, and finally got around to one during 2018. Dark Matter was every bit as good as Wayward Pines. It starts fast and doesn’t let up. It’s a great mix of science fiction with action that will keep you on the edge of your seat while stretching your imagination. It is a true mind-bender in every sense of the word.
- Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but this book came highly recommended by a good friend. The story is based around the lives of orphans who were transported from large east coast cities to families that adopted them in the Midwest. It’s based on historical research and is extremely well written. It’s an eye-opening read about early 20th century America that will make you appreciate the modern amenities of today’s society.
- Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose
Zero Hour is a collection of novellas set in a post apocalyptic future where the machines have eradicated the human race, almost. I’ll set the hook there, and let you discover the rest as Ambrose does a great job writing a story that will keep you guessing to the end.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much in my youth, or even a few years ago. Given the current state of my journey to self-awareness, its message resonated strongly with me. I’m including it as a must read for 2019, but beware that it is a heavy read and very philosophical, which may or may not appeal to you.
- The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann
With the Go-Giver, Burg and Mann do a phenomenal job of weaving their Five Laws of Stratospheric Success into an easily digestable story. The book connected a lot of dots for me in my personal developement. I suspect that I will be coming back to this book more than once to reinforce the lessons (and laws). While it may seem more applicable to those in business, I’d say it applies to anyone who wants to get more out of life.
- Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfilment by Tal Ben-Shahar
Happier is a great companion book to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor, which was on my 2018 list of books to read in personal development. It reinforces the concepts of The Happiness Advantage and contains some great exercise and meditations that one can put into practice. The book’s most powerful message can be summarized by the Ghandi quote which Shahar concludes the book with – “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek
A business book at heart, it also can be applied to all facets of one’s life. It’s very thought-provoking and makes one consider why they do what they do as a career as well as what their personal goals are. It’s one of the more influential books I read last year.
- Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
Given the amount of distractions in our modern, always-on society, the concept of “Deep Work” is becoming a lost art. However, as Newport points out, it’s how we make our biggest advancements. Newport offers many suggestions and tips to help one become more engaged and focused. The concepts in this book become more important each and every day as more and more distractions are added to our daily lives.
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
Allen’s work is a timeless classic. It’s short, powerful, and to the point. It reinforces the concepts that you learn in books like 7 Habits, The Slight Edge, The Happiness Advantage, Psycho-Cybernetic, and more. It’s a fast read and a great way for anyone to start off the year.
- A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
I’d consider this book a foundational read on personal development. It really challenged and stretched me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it made a significant impact on how I view life and spirituality. It’s not a book for the feint of heart. You will need to approach the book with an open mind, and be prepared to be challenged. Bottom line, if you’re just getting started in your personal development journey, I’d wait until you’ve read a few other books until you break open this one.
- Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Autobiographical business books aren’t my thing, but Shoe Dog came recommended by more than one source. It turned out to be a great behind the scenes look at how Knight built Nike into the athletic apparel behemoth it is today. Knight doesn’t spend a lot of time patting himself on the back. He gives you an honest look at how difficult it was, the challenges he faced, and how many times Nike nearly ceased to exist throughout it’s early years. In addition to learning about how important persistence is in building a business, it will also reinforce how important making decisions and taking action are in building a successful business.
- The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr
I wasn’t quite sure which list to put this one on, so I’m going to put it on the business list. The book is a bit on the academic side, but it’s message is powerful. It emphasized how the drive to automate everything is de-humanizing work and inhibiting our ability to experience our environment. As someone who spends a lot of their time working with computers, it made me think about how important it is to understand the concepts behind what automation does for us on a daily basis.
The Fun Reads
These are the books that weren’t compelling enough to make my Must Read category, but they are worthy of your attention. In general, these books are entertaining. I usually suggest these for those long holiday weekends, plane flights, or lazy days at the beach.
- Artemis by Andy Weir
Not as good as his debut novel, The Martian, but still a strong effort. While I didn’t find the story extremely compelling, the thought he put into how a society would exist on the Moon made me wonder why we haven’t already colonized it.
- The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd
I don’t even know where to begin to describe it. It’s a strange book, but in a good way, which is why it made my Fun Read list.
- Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
Pandemic is classic Riddle. If you like Riddle as much as I do, then you’ll enjoy Pandemic. It doesn’t have as much hard science fiction as his other books, but it is still well researched and gives some insight into how world governments might handle a true pandemic.
- All I Can Be: A Time Travel Story by Michael Bunker
This is a fun short story that can be consumed in an evening. I liked it enough that I’m hoping to read more of Bunker’s works in the future.
- Armada by Ernest Kline
Armada is the follow-up to Kline’s Ready Player One. If you enjoyed Ready Player One, then you’ll like Armada.
- Company by Max Barry
The best part about Company is that it doesn’t take itself seriously, and neither should you. It’s a satirical view of corporate life that somehow manages to incorporate every corporate stereotype imaginable.
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
Set in the 1600’s, Endo tells the story of Catholic priests who make an attempt to find their mentor who has renounced his faith while on a mission in Japan. Based on historical records of the time, Silence is a gripping tale that will challenge your beliefs and convictions, irregardless of your religious views.
Normally, I like to link my recommendations to reviews on the site, but I’m woefully behind – a full year behind to be exact. So for this year’s list, I’m going to recommend that you check my Must Reads and Fun Reads categories for the book reviews as they are published during 2019.
Here are my reading lists from previous years if you need any additional suggestions for your 2019 reading list: