My favorite way of learning for entertainment, personal education, and business growth is through books because I digest information or process a storyline at my own pace. This year provided plenty of time for reading and audiobooks.
Here are my favorite books of 2020 and a brief explanation of why.
by David Epstein
Genre: Self-help, psychology
I’m a generalist at heart and, I have to admit, I used to fight that part of me in my career and personal life. All the advice I found said to specialize in something. I watched as friends became more specialized and I became jealous. Fortunately, I learned there’s a time and place for generalists. Generalists may even find a specialization later on in life and be significantly better in the specialization because of their varied backgrounds. Range validated my life decisions and helped me feel even more comfortable with the path of a generalist.
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Genre: Autobiography, Black history
I wish I read this book sooner. I heard of this book years ago but it always stayed on my queue. The Black Lives Matter protests made it obvious that this book had to be prioritized. As others felt this year, I felt had a duty to educate myself. If you haven’t yet, pick up this book and give it a read.
by Frank Herbert
Genre: Science fiction
A good friend recommended this book. His recommendation was so strong that he went out and bought the book for me. It’s a long and dense book but Frank Ebert does a magnificent job creating a world for readers to get immersed in.
by Rory Sutherland
Genre: Marketing and advertising
Hot take: modern marketing tries to be too logical, scientific, by the numbers. If it can’t be measured, why do it? Rory Sutherland argues that there’s a magic in marketing that marketers are losing sight of. Businesses can benefit from thinking about the magic that takes place with the right framing and messaging. This book gives a fresh take in applying behavioral economics to marketing.
by David Goggins
Genre: Autobiography, Self-help
When COVID-19 hit, I did my best to stay active. This autobiography of David Goggins narrated by him has plenty of hard-hitting stories that made me think, “Shit… if he can do that, I can get my ass up and run a mile.” If you’re looking for something motivating, pick up this book next. Better yet, listen to the audiobook while you’re on a run.
by James Baldwin
Genre: Black history, Essays
James Baldwin is direct while also poetic about the injustices Black Americans have experienced. The stories he tells in this book sound like they could’ve happened just this year, yet this book was written in 1963. This was my introduction to James Baldwin and it’s clear he didn’t write to convince anyone that injustices were and are happening. These injustices are written as fact and I’m convinced that “the fire next time” he refers to is the one that’s happening in America right now.
by Ijeoma Oluo
Genre: Black history
Another book that educated me on Black history and the lived experiences of Black Americans and also provides tools on how to have anti-racist conversations.
by Bradley Hope
Genre: Crime, International finance
White-collar crime is fascinating because it seems that despite the level of economic damage that’s caused, the people who commit these crimes are rarely justly punished for their actions. For example, the crimes told in this book began in 2009. Trials and convictions have only been happening in the last year.
This book is about a Malaysian businessman who siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fund, swindled and schemed with multiple Malaysian government officials, Wall Street bankers, celebrities you’ve definitely heard of, and more to commit white-collar crime on a global scale.
by Philip K. Dick
Genre: Science fiction
This book was recommended and gifted by the same friend that recommended Dune. I hadn’t heard of Philip K. Dick until I received this book and learned that he’s hailed as one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. Ubik didn’t disappoint. There were multiple surprises that I would’ve never guessed. I had to take a long walk after finishing this book.
by Sally Rooney
Genre: Coming of age fiction
I don’t remember how this book ended up in my queue, but I’m glad it did. I also didn’t know there was a show based on the book. It’s a story about a young man and woman and their relationship as they both come of age and learn about themselves. Experiences I think many of us can relate to. I have a soft spot for this book as it takes place in Ireland and took me back to my time in Dublin.
What were your favorite books of 2020?
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