Top Five Books of 2019

2019 wasn’t a great year for me as far as reading goes. I suspect this is because I got stuck on a couple dense books that took me a while to read. I.e. “Sapiens” and “Guns, Germs, and Steel”. I refused to move on to other books before finishing these which significantly slowed my reading. In response to this, in 2020 I plan on reading for understanding over completion. Reading for understanding will enable me to jump around from book to book and even skip around in a book if I find a chapter particularly dense. It should prevent me from grinding through chapters I’m not interested in. If I can pull it off, this mindset shift will likely benefit me for the rest of my life. Additionally, I plan on returning to my roots and reading more of what made me fall in love with reading in the first place, science fiction. That being said, here are my top five books from ‘19 in no particular order: “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari Sapiens was a conceptual mind blower for me. I never truly understood or appreciated the utility of the invention of currency until reading this book. Additionally, I am fascinated by early human history and our transition from hunter gatherers to what we are today. The first few chapters were spectacular in that regard. As someone who occasionally struggled in non physics/math classes, I feel strongly that good history teachers teach concepts and cause and effect relationships. Bad history teachers spew facts you’ll forget the day after the test. This book teaches concepts. “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein Ah, science fiction, my first love. “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” chronicles the rebellion of a lunar prison colony. I read this to kick start my reading habit again and it did the trick. Old school science fiction that I couldn’t bring myself to put down. If you’ve read the book, I have a theory that Prof is analogous the Ben Franklin during the American revolutionary war. “Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It” by Scott Kupor As someone who works at a startup and has stock options in said startup, this book was the most applicable to my day to day life. Packed with great information in a very digestible way. This is a book I’ll read again and reference regularly. “Chaos Monkeys” by Antonio García Martínez Antonio has said that the goal of Chaos Monkeys was to be the Liar’s Poker of the tech industry. I think he came close. The first half of this was the hardest for me to put down out of this top five. The second half was less thrilling but worth in nonetheless. “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou Another tech exposé. If you haven’t read this yet you need to ASAP. I wrote a more thorough review of this book here: Honorable Mention: “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond As I mentioned this book was hard for me to get through. Despite learning fascinating concepts from this book I’m unhappy with how much it hindered my reading. There were times I didn’t really feel like reading it and therefore wouldn't read because I felt obligated to finish this before starting something else. I suppose it’s not all bad because this is the driving force behind my push to read for understanding over completion. Which is a superior way to prioritize reading and will likely benefit me for many years to come. Lesson learned. Thanks for reading and happy holidays, ZT