To end the year, I have decided to share my favorite books of 2019 with you. Almost, if not all of the books listed transformed my life. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, some made me furious but all of them made me reevaluate my life and my choices, and I hope they do the same for you. Most of the books can be purchased at your local bookstore or Amazon.
Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari
“Centuries ago human knowledge increased slowly, so politics and economics changed at a leisurely pace too. Today our knowledge is increasing at breakneck speed, and theoretically we should understand the world better and better. But the very opposite is happening. Our new-found knowledge leads to faster economic, social and political changes; in an attempt to understand what is happening, we accelerate the accumulation of knowledge, which leads only to faster and greater upheavals. Consequently we are less and less able to make sense of the present or forecast the future. In 1016 it was relatively easy to predict how Europe would look in 1050. Sure, dynasties might fall, unknown raiders might invade, and natural disasters might strike; yet it was clear that in 1050 Europe would still be ruled by kings and priests, that it would be an agricultural society, that most of its inhabitants would be peasants, and that it would continue to suffer greatly from famines, plagues and wars. In contrast, in 2016 we have no idea how Europe will look in 2050. We cannot say what kind of political system it will have, how its job market will be structured, or even what kind of bodies its inhabitants will possess.”
I didn’t read Homo Sapiens before reading Homo Deus, and there’s an argument about the order in which one should read the books. It is, therefore, needful to say that they are different books on different subjects, history, and futurism, and you do not necessarily have to read one to understand the other. But if you read Homo Sapiens before Homo Deus, you will have a richer experience. So, the choice is yours.
You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero
Wired for Dating, Stan Tatkin
“This longing for a safe zone is one reason we pair up. However, partners—whether in a romantic relationship or committed friendship—often fail to use each other as advocates and allies against all hostile forces. They don’t see the opportunities to make a home for one another; to create a safe place in which to relax and feel accepted, wanted, protected, and cared for.”
At first, I thought this was another dating book, I have read more than a few. So, forgive my scepticism. Reluctantly, I opened the pages of this book and was pleasantly surprised. This books looks at dating from a psychobiological approach and explains attachment patterns in very simple terms. It’s a surprisingly good book especially if you are trying to navigate the dating world.
Soar, T.D Jakes
“You see, many new businesses fail not because they weren’t well designed or didn’t have a good business plan but because their owners overlooked the external environment where their products and services would fly. Successful entrepreneurs check the economic, social, and cultural weather before they designed the business, let alone try to fly.”
Soar has great advice and reference tools that an entrepreneur would find beneficial. T.D Jakes isn’t just a pastor, he is also a business man and he knows his craft. His positive outlook on capitalism and entrepreneurship transcends the church. One of the most amazing things about him is his practicality. I have listened to his sermons and read a lot his books and Soar is just as fantastic
The Dictionary of Body Language, Joe Navarro
Paying attention not just to what people say but also to what they do not say, will save you a great deal of trouble. Its something to keep handy for reference, like a dictionary. I listened to the audio book and laughed half the time.
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
“If your temper is aroused and you tell ’em a thing or two, you will have a fine time unloading your feelings. But what about the other fellow? Will he share your pleasure? Will your belligerent tones, your hostile attitude, make it easy for him to agree with you?
“If you come at me with your fists doubled,” said Wood row Wilson, “I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, ‘Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from one another, understand why it is that we differ from one another, just what the points at issue are,’ we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candour and the desire to get together, we will get together.”
You should read this book if you’d like to have productive interactions and maybe, better relationships. Although its principles can be applied to different areas of life, it doesn’t offer much help in establishing true friendships and I do not think it was written for that purpose. It is in every regard, a sales book. Nonetheless, it is a worthy read and an all time favourite of mine.
Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
“Do you see the consequences of the way we have chosen to think about success? Because we so profoundly personalize success, we miss opportunities to lift others onto the top rung…We are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail. And most of all, we become much too passive. We overlook just how large a role we all play—and by “we” I mean society—in determining who makes it and who doesn’t”
The Outliers opened my eyes to a lot of things I never paid attention to. From the first day I picked up this book, I never dropped it. If you read nothing else on this list, please read this. Gladwell plants the seed in your brain that encourages you to seek answers, starting up a much needed conversation about success.
The Tipping Point, Malcom Gladwell
“What must underlie successful epidemics, in the end, is a bedrock belief that change is possible, that people can radically transform their behavior or beliefs in the face of the right kind of impetus. This, too, contradicts some of the most ingrained assumptions we hold about ourselves and each other. We like to think of ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, that who we are and how we act is something permanently set by our genes and our temperament. But if you add up the examples of Salesmen and Connectors, of Paul Revere’s ride and Blue’s Clues, and the Rule of 150 and the New York subway cleanup and the Fundamental Attribution Error, they amount to a very different conclusion about what it means to be human. We are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us. Taking the graffiti off the walls of New York’s subways turned New Yorkers into better citizens. Telling seminarians to hurry turned them into bad citizens. The suicide of a charismatic young Micronesian set off an epidemic of suicides that lasted for a decade. Putting a little gold box in the corner of a Columbia Record Club advertisement suddenly made record buying by mail seem irresistible. To look closely at complex behaviours like smoking or suicide or crime is to appreciate how suggestible we are in the face of what we see and hear, and how acutely sensitive we are to even the smallest details of everyday life. That’s why social change is so volatile and so often inexplicable, because it is the nature of all of us to be volatile and inexplicable”
There’s an argument about Gladwell’s works being educated guesses and bogus anecdotes instead of facts. This argument is because Gladwell repeatedly makes concrete statements instead of hypothesis which he is unable to prove. If you decide to look beyond this, you’ll find out that his books are eye opening and I dare say, transforming. And this, like his other works will raise questions in your mind, questions you had never considered.
An Orchestra of Minorities, Chigozie Obioma
“By that time, already, his life as he once knew it had separated from him like an ill-fated shadow hewn from its bearer and thrown over the cliff into a bottomless pit of oblivion, and even through all these years, he could still hear its dark voice screaming as it continued its fall.”
Centred around Igbo mythology. An Orchestra of Minorities tells a story of a boy who for the sake of love gives up his life in search of something better, to earn the right to be with the woman he loves. You’d think this is just another love story but it is so much more. Although, I can not say I was particularly pleased with the main character because his foolishness was appalling and pitiful but mostly appalling. I had only one emotion during my reading: anger. Anger, for the foolishness of Chinonso (the central character) and the objectification of women, hidden underneath the never ending wails of his chi. Regardless of how angry I was, I couldn’t put the book down, neither could my dad.
Stay with Me, Ayobami Adebayo
“I had expected them to talk about my childlessness. I was armed with millions of smiles. Apologetic smiles, pity-me smiles, I-look-unto-God smiles – name all the fake smiles needed to get through an afternoon with a group of people who claim to want the best for you while poking at your open sore with a stick – and I had them ready. I was ready to listen to them tell me I must do something about my situation. I expected to hear about a new pastor I could visit; a new mountain where I could go to pray; or an old herbalist in a remote village or town whom I could consult. I was armed with smiles for my lips, an appropriate sheen of tears for my eyes and sniffles for my nose. I was prepared to lock up my hairdressing salon throughout the coming week and go in search of a miracle with my mother-in-law in tow. What I was not expecting was another smiling woman in the room, a yellow woman with a blood-red mouth who grinned like a new bride.”
Books should come with warnings – sensitive material, read at your own risk. To say that I bawled uncontrollably like a baby while reading it, is making light of what really happened. I was sick the entire time, every page made me nauseous, yet I couldn’t stop. I advise you do not read it on an empty stomach. It is such a beautiful but heart-breaking read, worth every second of your time.