Did you read a lot in 2019? I hope you did. What was your favorite book you read last year?

Thanks to the many of you who have shared your favorite books with me over the last couple years.

I write this post with my six month old draped around my arm banging the keyboard so please excuse typos in advance 😉

I read a lot of incredible books in 2019. My goal was to figure out better ways to retain the incoming information to ensure I was implementing what I learned… I didn’t do that. 

Every time I wanted to go back and review what I had read, my curiosity got the best of me. I was always too eager to pick up a new book instead. 

However, I’m starting off this year with Jim Kwik’s Kwik Reading course to ensure I’m holding as much in my brain as possible. I’m also committing to outlining the top 50% of books I read last year, this year… Even if it means less reading in 2020. 

So how did I do? 🙂

2019 was my third straight year of reading ~30 books. I read about 7500 pages this year, which is 25% less than last year, but considering I had a baby, as well as no wedding honeymoon or week long solo vacation like 2018, I’m happy with this number.

The bottomline is there is so much to be learned out there… In 2020, I plan to read biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Nick Saban (I LOVE coaching books!), while continuing to study Buddhist principles, business communication, and operational management.

Here were my ten favorites, followed by the full list with categories below.

By the way, the list is books I read in full – There are probably about a dozen more I got 50-100 pages in and decided not to continue, usually unintentionally even if subconsciously it was the right decision.

If you found this post helpful, feel free to refer to my 2017 or 2018 reading posts for more suggestions:

1/Originals – What separates the greats? Their sheer output! Period. I’ve been preaching the importance of quantity over quality for a couple years now… But this book is the bible on why creating more is the solution to creating timeless original works. Of course quality is critically important, but this book proves we as creators never know if what we create will resonate. Therefore, the most important thing the most iconic artists of all-time have done is create… A LOT. Whether it’s Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, Shakespeare, Mozart, Beethoven, or Michelangelo, they all created significantly more than their peers.

2/The Art of Happiness – What would a life of studying human nature and spirituality look like? Just ask the Dalai Lama. In this book he and a psychologist share their views on how spirituality and therapy are linked together in a mission to create a compassionate, patient, and tolerant world… With the end result being happiness.

3/The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Originally published over 25 years ago, this book’s tried and true principles for brand and audience development is undeniable. It’s a must read for anybody looking to build everlasting, timeless brands. It’s short, impactful, and will have you buzzing.

4/Atomic Habits – The author James Clear could not have a more fitting name. He has an immaculate ability to synthesize stories in applicable ways. He demonstrates what it takes to transform your life and live in excellence. This book sold over 1 million copies in its first year on the market for a reason.

5/Break Through the Noise – What goes viral and why? Tim Staples is the expert when it comes to viral brand campaigns and summarizes a formula for virality. From the homeless Ronaldo to crying John Cena to Dua Lipa’s New Rules music video, Tim’s company Shareability was behind them. His formula for viral content may be quite simple, but it’s a high bar: is it shareable? Tim breaks down what is shareable so you can ensure you’re creating it.

6/The Spirit of Kaizen – When we think of innovation, we think of massive changes, big pivots, and groundbreaking ideas. But we as humans resist change every step of the way… So if we resist change so much, how can we create it? Small and measurable steps are actually responsible for more breakthroughs than the big ideas. Kaizen, a Japanese art, holds the secret to improved business operations and immense profits.

7/Trailblazer – Marc Benioff may be the most well spoken and intentional entrepreneur of the 21st century – He’s definitely my favorite. Marc doesn’t just understand culture and community, but uses his platform to create it. He does what’s right, not what’s popular, but most importantly, he is a trailblazer paving the way for what it means to be a successful modern CEO. This book isn’t quite as good as Behind the Cloud (his last one and one of my all-time favorites), but it’s still great!

8/Family Board Meetings – My son isn’t old enough for “family board meetings” yet, but this short read gave me something to look forward to: quality time with both Leo and my future children too.

9/The Trust Manifesto – Damian Bradfield, the Chief Creative Officer of WeTransfer, breaks down what it means to be a trustworthy tech company in the digital age. He lets you into the decision making process at WeTransfer behind data ownership and breaks down numerous  companies’ lean data strategies, which propelled them to unicorn status.

10/How Brands Grow – It only sneaks into the list because I don’t love books with research serving as the chapter by chapter guide. However, this book has altered my perspective on marketing in many ways – It taught me there is more to brand building than focusing on the core… You need reach to develop an audience. Also, fans are not that dissimilar… In other words, we like what we are exposed to and we’re not as loyal to brands we consume as one may originally think. 

  1. Inward Young Pueblo – Spirituality
  2. Face the Music – Music
  3. Home Game – Parenting
  4. World Without Mind – Technology
  5. Who is Michael Ovitz? – Music/Entertainment
  6. Atomic Habits – Self Improvement
  7. Allen Klein – Music
  8. Trillion Dollar Coach – Management / Technology
  9. I Love Capitalism – Entrepreneurship/Wealth
  10. The 22 Immutable Laws or Marketing – Marketing
  11. Streaming, Sharing, and Stealing – Entertainment/Technology
  12. How Brands Grow – Marketing 
  13. The Mom Test – Sales/Marketing
  14. Twelve Hours’ Sleep by Twelve Weeks Old – Baby
  15. The Happiest Baby on the Block – Baby
  16. Brain Rules for Baby – Baby
  17. Year of Yes – Motivation
  18. Educated – Memoir/Bio
  19. The Family Board Meeting – Baby/Parenting
  20. Break Through the Noise – The 9 Rules to Capture Global Attention – Marketing
  21. Stephen King On Writing – Writing
  22. 120 Minutes to Shield Your Marriage – Family
  23. Zero to Hitbreaker – Music / Marketing
  24. Originals – Business / Psychology
  25. The Trust Manifesto – Technology
  26. The Ride of a Lifetime – Entertainment
  27. Trailblazer – Technology
  28. The Spirit of Kaizen – Management
  29. Oversubscribed – Marketing
  30. The Art of Happiness – Spirituality 
  31. Thinking in Bets – Thinking/Strategy

If you made it this far, you’re pretty serious about your reading 🙂 I have two extra copies of Break Through the Noise and Atomic Habits for whoever wants them. Be one of the first two for each to send me your address and they’re yours! 🙂



January 6, 2020 1:58 pm

Hey Jake, I’m probably to late. Do you still have that extra copy of Break Through the Noise?

January 28, 2020 8:35 am

Thanks for sharing this. Super impressive not only the volume of reading you did last year but how varied and different the topics/subjects. My favorite book last year would probably be Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson…I know it’s an oldie but it really opened me up to the art of Zen teachings and now it’s definitely something I want to get into in 2020.

If you still have those 2 extra copies of Break Through the Noise & Atomic Habits I’d love to take them. I don’t mind paying for shipping either if it helps (I’m in Canada). 9960 ave Plaza, Montreal North, Quebec, Canada, H1H 4L6


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