I read 18 books in 2019! This was quite a feat for me. Here are my favourite 10 books and what I thought about them. Enjoy!
- Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari (★★★★★) – confirmed all the biases of the world that I never quite understood and put them into concrete words. Infinitely fascinating on so many topics. If you read one book in your life, make sure it is this.
- Life 3.0 – Max Tegmark (★★★★) – Interesting study on the exponential and frightening power of AI. Yes, we literally will all die if we don’t safely and consciously develop it. Book get tedious in middle third. Not for everyone, but nerds will love!
- Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari (★★★★) Follow up to Sapiens, not quite as captivating, I felt I knew some of the points already and does take a while to get into. However, the book has fascinating points on sociology and the death of religion and where we are going, philosophy, as a species.
- An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Chris Hadfield (★★★★) Great book on the extreme effort required to be an astronaut. Years of perseverance, being able to deal with risk, stress. However, the results are amazing and author is so humble. An exciting, but safe journey for space lovers.
- Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse (★★★)- Wonderful book about a spiritual journey of self-discovery of a man named Siddhartha during the time of the Gautama Buddha. Normally a genre I wouldn’t have read, but the book was recommended to me by a friend. Short book so you must give it a read!
- The Mamba Mentality – Kobe Bryant (★★★)- Very human, sacrificing and harsh lifestyle of a professional basketball player put into truly captivating photography and words. Rest In Peace.
- Structures : Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down – J. E. Gordon (★★★) – A history of bridges, buildings how they developed from blueprints to being analytically designed. Essential reading for engineering students!
- The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (★★★) – Read this to understand the fundamental English attitude to the world! However it got a bit boring in second half, that’s why only 3 stars.
- Dune – Frank Herbert (★★★) – A seminal Sci-Fi novel. I found it had a lot of names and I required a YouTube guide to get through it, but it was worth it! Fascinating insight into declining empires, environmentalism and ecology. I also read the other five canon Dune books, but I enjoyed this first one the most.
- How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day – Kath Kelly (★★★) – A drastic lifestyle of hitch-hiking and “borrowing” I don’t think I could live myself. Although it is interesting to note which pieces of the book I could apply to my real life, such as not eating out so often and sharing things with friends, such as bicycles, more often.
My biggest takeaway from my 2019 reading experience was to not plan to read a list of books at the beginning of the year. Read what you want, a book at a time. Read for the enjoyment. This takes away the pressure of spending too much/ too little time on a book. This was suggested to me by a friend when they noticed I always read “classics”, such as Brave New World, even though I wasn’t enjoying the book. I though I had to slog through it to discover some amazing insight that I didn’t yet understand. But really, it just made reading less enjoyable. Read what you want!
“1 star. “didn’t like it” simple enough, I can live with that
2 stars. “it was ok” for me, this means ‘it was just barely ok – really don’t have much good to say about it
3 stars “liked it” quite often books I read because others suggest them get this rating – it means ‘it really was ok, not v. good, but I don’t want to say mostly bad, either’
4 stars “really liked it” most books I choose for myself get this rating – they enriched me, and I have a variety of things that I can praise in a review, and I can find no real fault with them
5 stars “it was amazing” transcends the genre – could be appreciated by people who don’t normally read picture books, or science, or poetry, whatever it may be – makes me wish for enough money to buy a copy just to cherish – makes a significant contribution to my thoughts about life & art”