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  • Dafne Sartorio

Top 5 books I read in 2019

Updated: Dec 15, 2019


With the end of the year approaching, and with the holidays coming, many of us start looking into our own personal development.


For this reason, and also because many of you have asked for book recommendations for the holiday season, I've decided to share with you my top 5 books of 2019 (and a little bit of a bonus as well). This list includes all sorts of genres, so I believe there might be something good for every taste.


I hope you enjoy the read!


#5: I know why the caged bird sings - Maya Angelou

What is it about?

This is the first book of a seven-volume autobiography series, describing the early years of the life of Maya Angelou - an American writer and poet.

Maya shares details of her life until age 17, including aspects around racism, identity, sexuality, and family.

Why should you read it?

If you are interested in understanding more about racism in America, and how someone can overcome trauma, this book is for you. Also, the author has a very unique way of writing: she describes her thoughts in a very clear, involving and triggering way.


It is also an easy read: I personally read the whole book in two days, as Maya's story is very interesting and it made me reflect a lot.

I recommend all of the following books of her series of autobiographies: I read 3 of them in the space of 2 months!


#4: Non-Bullshit Innovation: Radical Ideas from the World’s Smartest Minds - David Rowan

What is it about?

David Rowan travels the world searching for the exciting and pioneering companies building the future. On this journey, he has found many organizations that are mainly doing what's called "innovation theatre": too much noise, but too little impact.

However, during this quest, he's also discovered some genuinely exciting and transformative approaches to innovation, often in places you might least expect.


Why should you read it?

If you're looking for inspiration, this book is packed with tips coming from the least obvious places and industries. The chapters are divided into a selection of stories revealing ideas for creating genuine innovation.

At the end of every chapter, you can also find a very straight-forward summary with key takeaways.


#3: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Greg Mckeown

What is it about?

"What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance?". This is one of the main points of Greg's book. For the author, it all started when he received an email from a colleague saying that “Friday between 1:00 and 2:00 would be a very bad time for your wife to have a baby because I need you to be at this client meeting.”

The main problem with that e-mail is that Gregor actually felt pressured by it, and left his wife at the hospital to attend this meeting - that's when he noticed that something had to change. In this book, Greg shares about his journey with essentialism, and what we can do to live a more meaningful life with less waste and noise.

Why should you read it?

If you're looking for practical tips on how to gain control of your time and/or to better prioritize, then you should give this book a try.


#2: What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture - Ben Horowitz

What is it about?

Ben Horowitz, author of the New York Times bestseller The Hard Thing About Hard Thing, combines lessons from history and modern organizational practice to help executives build and sustain the cultures they want.


Why should you read it?

If you’re looking for some real (BS-free) advice on how to build a culture within a company, this book is for you. You’ll learn from real examples, and as a bonus, get some history class (as he bases his theory on different stories, like for example the Haitian Revolution).


#1: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It - Chris Voss


What is it about?

Chris Voss, a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to any type of negotiation.


Why should you read it?

If you're looking for practical advice on how to behave during a negotiation, then you should check at least the summary of this book. Chris goes through many situations where we can apply basic techniques, and his ideas challenge many of the most "famous" theories around negotiation - the ones we are still basing ourselves on.

This was my favorite read of 2019. I still intend to re-read it, and will certainly come back to it to refresh my learnings every time I have an important negotiation taking place in my personal or professional life.


  • Bonus:

Here are some more books I also recommend - but not all of them from 2019:

- Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

- Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown

- (In progress) Infinite game, by Simon Sinek

- (In progress) Everything that remains: A memoir by the minimalists, by Joshua Fields Millburn


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What about you? What are your top reads of this year?

I am looking forward to hearing your recommendations as well :)

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