1. I'm not sure where to start this post. 2019 has been difficult for everyone in the United States, I want to say 2020 will be better...so I will! 2020 is going to be great! This year I focused on expanding my personal horizons and reading books that would push me to be a better person overall. I found that I didn't read a lot of entertainment as a result. It therefore felt like I read fewer books than I might have otherwise, but I found I read almost twice as many as 2018. So, I'm hapy with that progress. I set a goal on GoodReads to read 20 books in 2019 and fell a bit short. In 2020, I'm going to read 22!

In reviewing the books I read this year (16 titles, up 77% from the 9 titles in 2018), they were broken down in the following broad genres:

  • Entertainment - 25% (down from 41%)
  • Non-fiction - 19% (down from 27%)
  • Computing - 0% (even 0%)
  • Biographies - 0% (down from 18%)
  • Self-improvement - 56% (up from 9%)

When I started 2019, I was still reading several books I had started at the end of 2018 (or even 2017) (What I've Read). The ones I finished in 2019 were:

  • Pandora's Star (The Commonwealth Saga Book 1) (Kindle) -- The year is 2380. The Intersolar Commonwealth, a sphere of stars, contains more than six hundred worlds interconnected by a web of transport “tunnels” known as wormholes. At the farthest edge of the Commonwealth, astronomer Dudley Bose observes the impossible: over one thousand light-years away, a star . . . disappears. Since the location is too distant to reach by wormhole, the Second Chance, a faster-than-light starship commanded by Wilson Kime, a five-times-rejuvenated ex-NASA pilot, is dispatched to learn what has occurred and whether it represents a threat.

Note: I actually bought this book in 2016! It was just a tough read, the closest I can compare it to is The Fellowship of the Ring. That was a book that I started to read in elementary school and couldn't get through it, so I put it down for a number of years before picking it back up. If you're familiar with the title, there is a LOT of background information in the first half, you just have to wade through it. It's important, but it's boring, and doesn't advance the story at all. I feel like that's what Pandora's Star is...you just have to wade through it. The story picked up at the end, and the second half of the book definitely went faster than the first; but I'm not picking up the second book any time soon.

Unfortunately, I'm still working on the following books (now in their second year):

The following were all books I started and finished in 2019:

  • Unshakable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook (Audible and Kindle) -- After interviewing 50 of the world's greatest financial minds and penning the number-one New York Times best seller Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins returns with a step-by-step playbook, taking you on a journey to transform your financial life and accelerate your path to financial freedom. No matter your salary, your stage of life, or when you started, this book will provide the tools to help you achieve your financial goals more rapidly than you ever thought possible.
  • Mindset: The New Physchology of Success (Audible) -- After decades of research, world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, PhD, discovered a simple but groundbreaking idea: the power of mind-set. In this brilliant book, she shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mind-set - those who believe that abilities are fixed - are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mind-set - those who believe that abilities can be developed. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.
  • Principles: Life and Work (Audible and Kindle) -- Ray Dalio, one of the world's most successful investors and entrepreneurs, shares the unconventional principles that he's developed, refined, and used over the past 40 years to create unique results in both life and business - and which any person or organization can adopt to help achieve their goals.
  • Night Vision (A Doc Ford Novel Book 18) (Kindle) -- The Red Citrus trailer park is inhabited mostly by illegal laborers. But the steroid-powered park manager and his grotesquely muscular girlfriend figure that selling the park to developers would be easy money—and they're ready to do whatever it takes to drive the residents out.
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry (Kindle) -- While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
  • 48 Laws of Power (Audible) -- In the book that People magazine proclaimed “beguiling” and “fascinating,” Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled three thousand years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.
  • Delta-v (Kindle) -- When itinerant cave diver James Tighe receives an invitation to billionaire Nathan Joyce's private island, he thinks it must be a mistake. But Tighe's unique skill set makes him a prime candidate for Joyce's high-risk venture to mine a near-earth asteroid--with the goal of kick-starting an entire off-world economy. The potential rewards and personal risks are staggering, but the competition is fierce and the stakes couldn't be higher.
  • Next: The Future Just Happened (Audible) -- With his knowing eye and wicked pen, Michael Lewis reveals how the Internet boom has encouraged changes in the way we live, work, and think. In the midst of one of the greatest status revolutions in the history of the world, the Internet has become a weapon in the hands of revolutionaries. Old priesthoods are crumbling. In the new order, the amateur is king: fourteen-year-olds manipulate the stock market and nineteen-year-olds take down the music industry. Unseen forces undermine all forms of collectivism, from the family to the mass market: one black box has the power to end television as we know it, and another one may dictate significant changes in our practice of democracy. With a new afterword by the author.
  • The Royal Road to Card Magic (Kindle) -- With this easy-to-understand and much-illustrated book you'll learn the classic repertoire of first-rate card tricks. Whether you're a beginner or professional, this is a must-read. Before long, you'll be doing card magic that will astound everyone.
  • Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley (Audible) -- Imagine a chimpanzee rampaging through a datacenter powering everything from Google to Facebook. Infrastructure engineers use a software version of this “chaos monkey” to test online services’ robustness—their ability to survive random failure and correct mistakes before they actually occur. Tech entrepreneurs are society’s chaos monkeys. One of Silicon Valley’s most audacious chaos monkeys is Antonio García Martínez.
  • Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions (Audible) -- All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us.
  • Warren Buffett Speaks: Wit and Wisdom from the World's Greatest Investor (Audible) -- Assembled by best-selling author Janet Lowe - and updated to reflect Buffett's life over the past decade - this audiobook includes a wealth of previously unpublished material. This unprecedented peak into the financial genius' wildly profitable philosophy is often surprising, always intriguing, and sparked throughout by Buffett's unique combination of savvy business smarts and wry wit.
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Audible) -- Why do some people succeed and others fail? Sharing new insights from her landmark research on grit, MacArthur "genius" Angela Duckworth explains why talent is hardly a guarantor of success. Rather, other factors can be even more crucial, such as identifying our passions and following through on our commitments.
  • Persepolis Rising (The Expanse Book 7) (Kindle) -- In the thousand-sun network of humanity's expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Audible) -- Award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how they can be changed. Distilling vast amounts of information into engrossing narratives that take us from the boardrooms of Procter & Gamble to the sidelines of the NFL to the front lines of the civil rights movement, Duhigg presents a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential. At its core, The Power of Habit contains an exhilarating argument: The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, being more productive, and achieving success is understanding how habits work. As Duhigg shows, by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.
  • Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Audible) -- Have you ever left a nerve-racking challenge and immediately wished for a do over? Maybe after a job interview, a performance, or a difficult conversation? The very moments that require us to be genuine and commanding can instead cause us to feel phony and powerless. Too often we approach our lives' biggest hurdles with dread, execute them with anxiety, and leave them with regret. By accessing our personal power, we can achieve "presence", the state in which we stop worrying about the impression we're making on others and instead adjust the impression we've been making on ourselves.

Note: As I reflect back on my 2019 reading list, I'm drawn to the relationships of several of the books I read: Mindset, Grit, Power of Habits, and Presence. None of these books is by the same author, but all of these books reference each other in their narratives, and go on to provide practical advice in how we work... You can read them in any order, but I enjoyed reading them in the order listed here.

As 2019 closes and 2020 begins, I'm in the middle of four books (not counting the ones from 2018):