I started this post way back at the beginning of the year because frankly I wanted to know where I’m wasting money in 2019. That “one click buy” feature is just too tempting and it resulted in me buying many books I didn’t read in 2018. So I set a goal of reading a book a week, and tracking to see which platform gets the most use as well – physical books, Audible or Kindle. Shold I join Kindle Unlimited? Is my $14.95 a month for Audible worth it? Let’s find out…
I’m sharing my list here (I’ll update through year end) with a little bit about each book. Maybe it will inspire others! My take so far is that I still spent way too much money on books I didn’t read, but I have also been doing more adding books to my reading list than adding them to my cart, so I’ll call that a win!
Count so far (updated 12.9.2019):
- Books read: 31 (21 Kindle, 2 physical, 8 Audible)
- Books half read/given up on: 4 (2 Kindle, 2 Audible)
- Books bought but not read: 14 (8 Kindle, 6 Audible)
Books I Read (In 2019 Chronological Order)
- Six Figures in Sweatpants by Ellen Hunter Gans
Notes: This book was written by a friend of mine from college, Ellen Hunter Gans. Ellen is a freelance writer and has made an amazing living for herself in that realm. Her book came out in 2015 when I was solidly a corporate drone, and I “read” it but really didn’t dive deep. In December, when I was in the midst of considering taking a full time job vs. living the freelance lifestyle, I re-read it seriously, and it’s amazing! She captures the challenges, opportunities, and paths to success for a freelancer beautifully!
- Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci
Notes: If you love Wicked: The Musical, you will love this book. It’s written by a former Elphaba and gives you all the behind-the-scenes of how the green girl gets green and survives being green. As a singer, the only thing I didn’t love about the book was her over-simplified characterization of what it takes to sing the role of Elphaba. But on the whole, an easy, quick read. I think I read the whole thing in a single plane ride.
- Evil Has a Name by Paul Holes, Jim Clemente, et al.
Notes: If you’re interested in Michelle McNamara and the capture of the Golden State Killer, do yourself a favor and read “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” (#7 below) before you read this guy. I did it backwards, but still thoroughly enjoyed the process. You’ve probably seen the headlines that a true crime writer, Michelle McNamara, and familial DNA helped crack the case of the Golden State Killer. This book is an Audible Original from three writers who helped to finish McNamara’s book after she passed away. The story is somewhat about the Golden State Killer, but more about how he was caught. Truly fascinating!
- North by Scott Jurek
Notes: I’ve been a fan of Scott Jurek for a long time, since I read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run where Jurek is a featured character. This epic trope is less emotional than Wild, but still engaging, and details Jurek’s goal to break the speed record on the Appalachian Trail. I don’t know that I would have stuck with it if I’d been reading it, but listening at 1.25x speed was just the ticket.
- The Last Days of August by Jon Ronson
Notes: If this hadn’t been an Audible Original feature in January, I probably wouldn’t have read it, but it was still quite good. Audible Originals can sometimes be book-like, but other times more podcast-like. This one was definitely like listening to a 4 hour podcast, and it was fascinating. The life and death of a porn star, and the role of the internet and porn in her demise. A very sad premise, but an interesting web to weave.
- Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Notes: I admit it, I read this book only because I saw the movie trailer and wanted to read it before seeing the movie. Then the release date was pushed back to August. A bummer because I truly loved the book! It’s fun and an easy read. I read it on a short vacation and it really took my mind off work, a great “beach read.”
- I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
Notes: As I mentioned above, read this before you listed to Evil Has a Name, they pair beautifully. Michelle McNamara is one of those writers I hadn’t heard about until after she passed away, and I’m so sad I hadn’t. Her writing is haunting, specific, and the prose is beautiful all while talking about something absolutely horrendous – murder.
- Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future – And What To Do About It by Tien Tzuo
Notes: I read this while working with a company and building a go-to-market strategy that involved subscriptions. If that’s a topic you’re interested in, this is a great textbook for it.
- The Purpose Path by Dr. Nicholas Pearce
Notes: A great book on life purpose from a Kellogg professor. I heard Dr. Pearce speak and read this soon after.
- Tough Choices by Carly Fiorina
Notes: I have read this book so many times. In fact, when I met Carly Fiorina and asked her to autograph my book a few years ago, she told me it was the “most well loved copy” she’d ever seen of her book. Truth. There’s something about Carly. I disagree with her politically, but in every other sense, she’s like my career whisperer. I’ve read this book when moving cities, thinking about a new job, starting a business, and again this year healing from a disastrous year in 2018 in my career. Every time I read it, I get something new out of it. I brought my tattered copy to Florida with me and barely looked up from it for a full 2 days. And then I came home and bought the Kindle version so I could search and highlight at will. Yes, I’ve become that person who loves Kindle more than a physical book. So sue me.
- Factfulness by Hans Rosling
Notes: My first “meh” of the year. My mother-in-law gifted this book to my husband and I for Christmas and I was excited to read it. The first 4 chapters were great. Interesting premise, in today’s interesting political and economic climate. But after the first 4 chapters, the author is just repeating himself. Read the introduction, that’s about all you need.
- Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Notes: This is by far the best book I’ve read this year. Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who takes her readers inside the therapy room with both her clients and her experience as a woman seeking therapy, while still being a therapist. At once poignant, funny and relatable, it’s a must read for anyone who has ever even thought about therapy. And it gives a new frame of reference for what your therapist might really be thinking.
- Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
Notes: I like Chelsea Handler, I really do. I’ve read her past books, I’ve watched her specials. But sometimes she grates on me, too. So when her new book came out, I hesitated. I’m glad I bought it! She’s a totally different Chelsea in this book – vulnerable, introspective, and connecting her journey to what others may be going through. I loved it. Her examination of her personality (which is scarily like mine) was refreshing and made me want to do the same.
- The F*ck It Diet by Caroline Dooner
Notes: I’m writing about this more than a few times on this blog, the concept of this book has really truly blown me away and changed the way I think about my body, food, and my relationship to them both.
- The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler
Notes: As an adoptee, this book gave me an incredible new perspective on the journey of my birth mother, and all women who have been through the pain of giving up a child for adoption or having a child taken from them without their power to choose. In part, it’s the often heart-wrenching stories of women who place, but in another way it’s a culturally relevant look at the circumstances in the post-war era that led to this phenomena.
- Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Notes: There is truly no greater feminist “beach read” than this book. I finished it in a day in a pool in Sitges, Spain. It’s a murder mystery for the #MeToo era. Four women come together around a male corporate predator, and when someone dies (them or him, you don’t know until the end), everyone is a suspect.
- City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Notes: I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert for the same length of time everyone else has – since Eat, Pray, Love. But in truth, I’ve never read one of her fiction books. This story called to me, though. It’s about a fast and loose young woman (or is she) in 1940s New York City. I never thought I’d learn to love historical fiction, but this might just get me to pick up another.
- My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
Notes: I took this suggestion from a Bachelorette book club, and while it did the job for yet another beach read in Spain, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as the book of the year. It’s a typical Gillian Flynn knockoff, one chapter from each woman, back and forth. Who is good, who is bad, who is dead, and whodunnit? Not a bad read, just average.
- Rising Strong by Brene Brown
- Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Notes: These were two re-reads of Brene Brown must haves. As I’m thinking about the next phase in my career, Brene’s words have been instrumental in understanding what I want and how to tap into my gut feelings and avoid feelings of shame or fear.
- Find Your Way by Carly Fiorina
Notes: Carly Fiorina is my spirit animal, and while this book is geared at younger professionals I’ve found certain sections very helpful for the place I’m in with my career. I’ve skimmed and picked and chosen more than anything, but still would recommend especially for a recent college grad.
- WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game by Abby Wambach
Notes: She’s a powerhouse, and this book is a short read that takes her famed commencement speech to another level.
- The Second Mountain by David Brooks
Notes: It’s rare that I would tell you not to read a book I loved. But for this one, I’m going to go ahead and say don’t. Not because it’s not great, but because it didn’t need to be a book. David Brooks is an incredible columnist for the NY Times and you should absolutely read the NY Times articles about the book like this one. But the book doesn’t get a whole lot deeper than that. It’s a good read, but it took me a long time to get through it because it felt like I “got it” the first few chapters.”
- Limitless: How to Ignore Everyone, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life by Laura Gassner Otting
Notes: If I recommend one business book to someone who is unhappy in their job, this is it. You will absolutely understand – finally – why you are unhappy (it’s different for everyone) and how to find the role/opportunity/plan that will truly fulfill you. Laura Gassner Otting is brilliant, and her concept of consonance in your career will truly change the game for you.
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
Notes: This one felt like the concept of the book spoke straight to my heart. I often call myself a “Jill of all trades” and a friend recommended the book. I loved the concept and the introductory chapter really hit me. But the rest of the book is all story, no narrative. Story after story after story, data point after data point, all proving the same point. But what I longed for is more advice and practicality. Not a bad read, just not what I wanted.
- Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown
Notes: Yet another Brene Brown gem. This one is all about standing on your own and having the courage to do what you know is right for you without the pressure of the crowd. I needed this at this point in my career, and it absolutely fit the bill. Highly recommend of course all of Brene’s books!
- Outer Order/Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
Notes: I never never never get sick of Gretchen Rubin. I always listen to her podcast, I love her books. This one is fantastic. It’s broken into simple, easy tips to make your outer life calm to help you stay calm and happy. I loved it! I read it on a short plane ride and highly recommend. Her “one minute rule” has truly changed my world!
- Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
Notes: Speaking of Gretchen Rubin, I’m an “obliger” (look up her four tendencies), so what I know about myself is that I need outer accountability to really be productive. So this book was a godsend. It helped me to create “systems” that help me be productive, rather than just trying to power through or have willpower. I’ve recommended this book to so many people and continue to go back to its highlighted pages on a regular basis.
- Million Dollar Launch by Alan Weiss
In process Notes: As I’ve been building a consulting portfolio, I found this book helpful as a reference, but not as a read.
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Notes: I read this on our Thanksgiving vacation to Savannah and it was seriously like drinking a glass of brandy. So smooth and amazing. Even if you’re not visiting Savannah, read the book, watch the movie (John Cusack is delicious in it). It’s so good!
- Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
Notes: Definitely the best book I listened to this year. Edward Snowden’s writing about his life and the journey to infamy is captivating. In fairness, I’m a big fan already. But even for those skeptical of him or his choices, it’s worth reading!
- Call Me God
Notes: This book was FANTASTIC. I comprised 7 hours of a 10 hour car ride to North Dakota for the holidays. It’s the story of the investigation and capture of the DC snipers. I yelled at the radio because I was so engaged and upset with some of the ways the police botched the investigation. You will not be able to turn it off.
- New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest like VCs, and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth by Christina Wallace and David Kidder
Notes: A friend of mine knows the author, so I bought this when it first came out and sat on it for 6 months, which was a terrible decision. This was hands down the best business book I’ve read all year. It’s all about innovation in a corporate setting and how to approach growth. It’s incredible!
Books I Sort of Read (Or Gave Up On)
- My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman
Notes: I tried to start listening to this and didn’t get into it. Probably in the pile of “won’t read.”
- Flat Army by Dan Pontefract
Note: A leader I was working with promoted a “flat organization.” I’ll admit I skimmed this rather than read it, so it’s now just on the shelf for good.
- The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour and Greed by Sara G. Forden
Notes: I bought this because last year I read a series of fashion-y biographies, but I just couldn’t get into this one.
- Duped: Double Lives, False Identities and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin
Notes: I listend to about half of this and then it just became a bit duplicative. Honestly, it was like a little less interesting Dear John.
Books I Bought…But Didn’t Read (Yet)
- High Heel (Object Lessons) by Summer Brennan
Notes: I love the author’s Twitter feed so bought to support, but it hasn’t gotten to my priority list yet.
- Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Notes: File this under “I know I need to read this.”
- Beyond Beautiful
Notes: This was recommended by the author of The F*ck It Diet, but hasn’t gotten read yet.
- The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts
Notes: Thinking this may be my “driving home for Christmas” listen.
- The Burnout Generation
Notes: Just haven’t gotten to it yet.
- The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Notes: I love Margaret Atwood and excited to read this just haven’t gotten to it yet.
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Notes: This book has been on all of my friends’ favorite book lists, so I bought it, but haven’t listened yet.
- I Like to Watch by Emily Nussbaum
Notes: A book about watching TV. Just never made it to my attention on vacation.
- Verity by Colleen Hoover
Notes: Every time I think about reading this book, I hear someone say it was gruesome or too over the top. Ooops.
- The Lies That Bind: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Rejection, Redirection, DNA, and Discovery by Laureen Pittman
Notes: I bought a few different books as I’ve been going through a journey to find my birth family, and I just didn’t read all of them.
- Secret Storms: A Mother and Daughter, Lost Then Found by Julie Mannix von Zerneck
Notes: I bought a few different books as I’ve been going through a journey to find my birth family, and I just didn’t read all of them.
- Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski
Notes: I really should read this, but just haven’t yet.
- Less: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer
Notes: This one is definitely a lesson learned. Often, I buy books when I’ve run out of interesting books to read on vacation – so this was an impulse buy, and didn’t get read…