I'm a voracious reader and as I've grown, this has meant more and more nonfiction work. I had a goal of reading 12 nonfiction books over 2018, and I'm happy to say that I succeeded. (I won't even count the fiction I read over the year, because it was A LOT).
Here are the 12 that made my 2018 list in no particular order:
1) Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
Duckworth is a psychologist (and McKinsey alumna!) who takes us on a journey of exploration of the qualities that lead to success and achievement. She covers in detail 'grit', that secret ingredient that's not really luck or talent, but a combination of passion and resilience.
Recommended? Yes, I'd give this an 8/10. You'd also enjoy this if you're a parent.
2) Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
If you haven't yet already, I'd recommend watching Brown's sensational TED talk
. I love what she spoke, and this is what led me to buy the book. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was truly a game changer for me - I'd love to give copies to lots of people I know! We live in a culture where vulnerability has traditionally been seen as a weakness, but Brown presents a powerful case for why it actually is a strength.
Recommended? YES. 10/10. Go buy it right now. Buy a few copies. Give them to those you know.
3) The Ten Types of Human by Dexter Dias
Oh. My. Goodness. Y'all, this book made me think and ponder and marvel and tremble. It's also been a while since I had to sit down with a dictionary as I read, and this book definitely required that. Dias does a marvellous job of tying in various anecdotes, research and his own personal experiences to present the ten archetypes of - as he says - who we are and who we can be. These include:
-The Perceiver of Pain
-The Tamer of Terror
This book will scare you as it dives down to the depths of the worst we can be, but also comfort you as it shows you the flipside of these archetypes. This book was a good ~750 pages but I was so absorbed that I finished it in a few days.
Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10. It's not an easy read, and that will dissuade many, but I think the messages are worth hearing.
4) The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, by Haemin Sunim
You're probably expecting something hokey here right? Get past that, and give this a chance, I think you'll be easily surprised. This book is full of easily digestible words of timeless wisdom that you can return back to time and again, meditate upon, and share with those around you.
Recommended? Yes! 9/10. Keep it by your bedside and come back to it.
5) The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
I've long been a believer that you should solve for energy, not time, to bring (and get) the best of yourself to the different dimensions of your life, including family, friends, and work.
This book does a great job of expounding on that, as well as giving practical tips (e.g., getting enough sleep, regular workouts), for doing just that.
Recommended? Yes! 9/10. I'd also recommend reading this book with a highlighter and making notes if you'd like.
6) Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill
I loved the concept and thinking behind this book! However, there were definitely some stories I enjoyed more than others. I would gift this to younger friends and family because I think that's the exact right age to read this.
Recommended? Yes! 7/10. I'd recommend buying a copy, reading it yourself first, and then reading it to younger family members.
7) milk and honey by rupi kaur
8) the sun and her flowers by rupi kaur
you tell me to quiet down
cause my opinions make me less beautiful
but i was not made with a fire in my belly
so i could be put out
i was not made with a lightness on my tongue
so i could be easy to swallow
i was made heavy
half blade and half silk
difficult to forget and not easy
for the mind to follow
-rupi kaur, milk and honey
I don't really read poetry that much, and always thought this was something to be mulled over. However, I devoured these two books in October and have already returned to them and finished them a second time. As a Punjabi woman in this time and age, kaur's work was especially relatable for me. Give it a try.
Recommended? Yes! 9/10 for the first and 8/10 for the second.
9) Start With Why by Simon Sinek
Another book I was led to by a TED talk
, Sinek's book's premise is that it's more important to solve for your 'Why', and then your 'How', and then your 'What'. He goes on to give examples of organisations and people who've lived and worked this way, and provides compelling evidence for why (heh) this works.
Recommended? Yes! 8/10.
10) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
'Ferriss has a very successful podcast, and has included wisdom from those he has interviewed into this book in three sections: healthy, wealthy and wise. Each little nugget can be digested on it's own and there's really no particular order in which you should read this!
Recommended? Yes! 8/10.
11) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
I was led to this book after reading Dexter Dias' Ten Types of Human (above), and after it was recommended by a colleague and mentioned in passing by someone else. I thought all the hype must be for something - and I was right!
Harari does a great job of laying down the thousands of years of human history into a compact and easy to read book - I devoured the ~450 pages in about six days - and covers some of our greatest achievements as well as some of our irreversible (often ecological) fuck ups. It's also strange how often themes in this book have come up in the days since (I finished this last week).
I liked it so much I ran to the bookstore to get his next book (I got the last copy they had!) and plan to start it soon.
Recommended? Yes! 9/10.
12) Originals by Adam Grant
What is it that makes some of us more creative than others? How is it that there are so many cool, original startups around, but only so many succeed? What is it that ensures a good idea is executed well?
Grant is an organisational psychologist who covers all this and more in his wildly popular Originals.
Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10. Even if you're not an entrepreneur, the knowledge in this book is applicable.