My Top 5 Book Recommendations

September 2, 2020

I love reading books—I read through 1-4 books a month. That wasn’t always the case. If you saw my home just two years ago you wouldn’t have found any books. Back then I read a few blog posts online and that was it. I never felt the need to read pieces of paper bundled together.

…Until I tried it. I first tried it with a book called Factfulness by Hans Rosling. Backed with studies, science and nice graphs it gives you a great insight in the developed and developing world. That was ideal for me to get my feet wet. And I liked it a lot! It conciously and subconsciously changed my way of looking at things.

Maybe one or two of my recommendations will pique your interest. Make sure to holler at me on Twitter what your favourites are; I love hearing about your own book takeaways!

Mindset

Mindset Book

This book easily left the biggest impact on me. Let me ask you this question: Do you think a professional pianists play well because they are just born with talent and stuck with it? Or do you think it’s because they invest hours of effort in trying to become better and improve themselves?

If you answered yes to the first question, it derives from having a fixed mindset, where if you answered yes to the second, it is reflective of a growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck carefully explains these two mindsets in her book after 25 years of research in the field of psychology. You’ll understand the advantages of having a growth mindset and what impact it could have on you—and even on your children.

If you plan only to read a single book this year, I would recommend this one.

Bad Blood

Bad Blood Book

This book reads itself like a Hollywood Deception Drama—except that it is real! Prepare yourself for an amazing investigative work by John Carreyrou telling you the story of how a Silicon Valley Startup got to the point of an $9 billion evaluation. The only catch? Their product did not work at all.

You may have heard of Theranos, the company led by turtle-neck-lover Elizabeth Holmes. They promised that their device could immediately do an array of health diagnostics with only a drop of blood taken from the fingertip. In this page turner you will see how far the executives went with their lies and lawsuits for their cover up.

Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication Book

This book opened my eyes to something I always knew existed, but I had never explicitly reflected on at length: Empathy. Marshall B. Rosenberg was a psychologist, worked world wide as a peacemaker and started developing Nonviolent Communication in his thirties already.

There is something satisfying behind the way the author explains how he gets called in to resolve different issues using the nonviolent communication approach. In one case described the conflict between a staff and their principal of a school. Another case describes what a married couple goes through and how they cleared it up. First the examples look hard to solve but then he unties all the knots.

I must admit that I’m not 100% on board with how he approaches all and every communication issues. Some steps he’s written about feel a bit hippie-y to me. But nonetheless the quintessence of this book is very valuable.

Atomic Habits

Atomic Habits Book

There exists a plethora of self-help books about productivity and habits, and more are still being written. James Clear is one of the few productivity authors that made it big with this great framework of building good habits and breaking bad ones. It’s even so well known that it’s also the one book my friends and I have most often both read.

The two key takeaways are making small changes that will have a big impact over time and packing habits into routines. Imagine you practice a new skill like drawing every day when you wake up and had your coffee (routine) for only five minutes (small changes). Then compare your doodles of when you started with the drawings of one month later. Even if you became only 1% better at it every single day, that 1% is going to add up majorly.

Why We Sleep

Why We Sleep Book

This book figuratively gave me a wake-up call. I used to sleep only as much as I thought I could get through the day without my body showing signals of sleep deprivation.

Matthew Walker, the director of UC Berkley’s Center for Human Sleep Science, writes about the results of his studies he conducted of participants with eight, six or even less hours of sleep daily. The conclusion is that we pay the price in many areas if we neglect sleep: Creativity, problem solving, decision-making, learning, memory, heart health, brain health, mental health, emotional well-being, immune system, and even your life span.

Final words

I hope you enjoyed my short list of recommendations of books that I read in 2019. Have you read a book in common? Do you plan on picking one up? Or do you think there is a great follow up book to the ones mentioned here? I’m super interested to know what you think. Don’t hesitate to tweet about your experience and mention me @zwacky!


Simon Wicki
Simon Wicki
Previously Head of Frontend at JustWatch. Co-organizer of @IonicBerlin. Creator of https://notyfy.co. I love building things, coffee and books. Berlin.
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