In 2019, I’ve read 44 books, which is 83% more than last year (not having a hyper-stressful job for half of the year definitely helped this goal). I consciously focused on reading women authors, which took up 68% of all books. The statistics on race could be better though (frankly, it’s challenging to assume writer’s race and ethnicity, but by my calculations it oscillated around 7-10%).
In no particular order, here’s the list.
Notes on a Nervous PlanetMatt Haig ∙ 2019
I enjoyed the follow-up to “Reasons to Stay Alive”, this time focusing on how technological and social advancements bring more torment rather than joy into our lives. Matt Haig remains one of my favourite authors writing about anxiety and depression, in an accessible and informed way.
This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To SeeSeth Godin ∙ 2019
Seth Godin is one of THE marketing people to follow. In his latest book, he mostly focuses on building trust and permission as well as meaningful solutions to problems, rather than the usual marketing spam. Something I subscribe to.
Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for BusinessPaul Jarvis ∙ 2019
The best of Paul’s writing to date, focusing on values I deeply believe in; minimalism, sustainability, and not pursuing growth at any cost. Being small is good. A must-read for anyone, but especially if you feel weighted by capitalist definition of success.
Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less TechnologyCal Newport ∙ 2019
I had high hopes for Digital Minimalism, but it didn’t offer any ideas I haven’t heard or thought of before. All in all, it was an okay, but not a revolutionary read on limiting the amount of technology we let into our lives.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and LifeAnne Lamott ∙ 1995
“Bird by Bird” is an all-time classic when it comes to primers on how to write well. With excellent storytelling, Anne Lamott will teach you how to become better at words.
Power to the Startup People: How To Grow Your Startup Career When You’re Not The FounderSarah E. Brown ∙ 2018
This book has an essential premise—that you don’t have to be a founder or C-level exec to bring change and do meaningful work. Again, not enough novelty in it for me to categorise it as hugely useful, but I can see it being helpful to those who haven’t been in tech long and still are looking for meaning.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupJohn Carreyrou ∙ 2018
I read “Bad Blood” on a single breath during a long-haul flight while constantly throwing my arms in the air and mouthing “what the f*ck”. If that’s not the most concise portrayal of widespread tech hero-worship, gross incompetence and overconfidence of Silicon Valley, I don’t know what is.
Gross Anatomy: Dispatches from the Front (and Back)Mara Altman ∙ 2018
A hilarious combination of fascinating research and hilarious anecdotes about often taboo topics surrounding women’s bodies (which, honestly, shouldn’t be taboo in the first place). Yes to open, honest conversations about the meat sacks we live in!
Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the WorldErica Keswin ∙ 2018
“Bring Your Human to Work” was a good primer for managers, business owners and anyone willing to instil positive organisational change. Each chapter covered a separate issue and ended with actionable advice.
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress CycleEmily and Amelia Nagoski ∙ 2019
Burnout spoke to the deepest corners of my being—a tired tech worker and activist. Emily and Amelia explain the causes, lifecycle and dealing with burnout in the amount of detail I’ve not seen before.
Against CreativityOli Mould ∙ 2018
Oli Mould expertly dissects how the creativity “movement” effectively nestles itself into capitalism and maximisation of profits, rather than benefitting the society. Great ideas in a book that reads like a PhD dissection.
Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday LifeAdam Greenfield ∙ 2017
Another Verso Books author, this time focusing on technologies that are shaping our life. I’d enjoy it much more if half of the book weren’t covering blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention EconomyJenny Odell ∙ 2019
I had high hopes for this book. While the justification of resistance of the attention economy is essential, I was more looking for the “how” mentioned in the title, that wasn’t delivered throughout.
Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?Aaron Dignan ∙ 2019
I felt like “Brave New Work” wanted to be the “Rework” of the late 2010s. It’s worth reading, especially if you’re looking to manage your company better, but again, I didn’t find much revolutionary content inside.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) AmericaMorgan Jerkins ∙ 2018
Another excellent collection of essays on living in America as a black woman and the oppression of whiteness. A mandatory read for intersectional feminists.
Fed Up: Emotional Labor, Women, and the Way ForwardGemma Hartley ∙ 2018
No matter who you are, Fed Up will make you angry. An acutely precise depiction of emotional labour, mostly shouldered by women. A necessary read for those wanting to understand it and bring equality to their homes and lives.
Calm: Educate yourself in the art of remaining calm, and learn how to defend yourself from panic and furyThe School of Life ∙ 2016
School of Life is known for publishing varied and interesting content. I read “Calm” with the hope that it would offer actionable advice for those living with anxiety, but in the end, it didn’t.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual EnlightenmentEckhart Tolle ∙ 2004
Eckhart Tolle is supposed to be a spirituality and mindfulness guru (I digress). If you pass through the superficial reworking of zen, it’s advice you’re likely to hear in a therapy session. Being in the now is a valuable lesson, but I’m not sure if you need this book to learn it.
LOVE!: An Enthusiastic and Modern Perspective on Matters of the HeartZoë Foster Blake ∙ 2019
I bought this book mainly based on the typography and beautiful print. I knew she was an acclaimed Australian author. The book was filled with shallow advice and self-deprecating, lazy humour. Please, spare yourself.
Hello World: Being Human in the Age of AlgorithmsHannah Fry ∙ 2019
Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of rising negative implications of the prominence of technology and the rise of biased algorithms. A must-read for anyone in tech, especially those working with artificial intelligence.
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s AngerSoraya Chemaly ∙ 2018
I loved this book as it justified so much anger I’ve been bottling inside, especially as someone who genuinely believes in equality. Soraya raises crucial points about the implications of bottling our anger and how to use it to drive change.
How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of TransparencyAkiko Busch ∙ 2019
The notion of disappearing in the age of hyper-connectivity is enticing. Similarly to “How to Do Nothing”, this book was more of a philosophical exercise and a memoir, rather than a resource to turn for advice for.
Conversations with FriendsSally Rooney ∙ 2017
I promised myself to read more fiction, as my primary focus tends to be a collection of enraging to depressive non-fiction reads. Rooney’s books seemed like a good re-introduction. Excellent storytelling, confirming all the accolades for the novel.
Future Histories: What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital TechnologyLizzie O’Shea ∙ 2019
“Future Histories” is a throwback to the legacy of social movements and a testament to the history of computing. How can we leverage the past to inform a better future, asks Lizzie.
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of LanguageGretchen McCulloch ∙ 2019
The language we use is continually evolving, primarily online. Gretchen McCulloch, an Internet linguist, weighs on memes, bizarre grammar, words and emoji. An informative read for anyone these days.
No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at WorkLiz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy ∙ 2019
Emotions belong at work—it’s impossible and, in so many ways, damaging to show up without them. “No Hard Feelings” is a charming and informative read how to be human, at work.
Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English LanguageAmanda Montell ∙ 2019
How we communicate matters—often, language is just another vector of oppression, introducing dozens of tiny cuts per day. Feminist linguist Amanda Montell explains how language is used to gaslight women. A mandatory read for anyone who cares about inclusion.
Thick: And Other EssaysTressie McMillan Cottom ∙ 2019
After seeing Tressie at the Broadside Festival, I had to read her latest book immediately. “Thick” is an expertly written collection of essays on race, whiteness and black misogyny.
Resilient ManagementLara Hogan ∙ 2019
I’ve been looking up to Lara for a long time. Her managerial and leadership expertise is unparalleled. In her latest book, she gives actionable advice for becoming and being a resilient manager; skills deeply needed in this undervalued discipline and in desperate times.
Conversational DesignErika Hall ∙ 2018
Injecting conversation into design and development work isn’t foreign to me; a former Human-Computer Interaction student and purveyor people-first approaches—an informative read to those who are looking to build delightful, usable interfaces.
Why Social Media is Ruining Your LifeKatherine Ormerod ∙ 2018
Drawn by the title and drowned in anxiety-inducing bird website, I read. It’s necessary to evaluate our relationship to social media and its omnipresence in our lives. Most of the time, we’re better without it.
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad OnesJames Clear ∙ 2018
Atomic Habits came highly recommended by Elyse Holladay. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s one of my favourite books of 2019, if not the decade. It’s a fantastic primer on habit formation and sustainability.
Whose Story Is This? Old Conflicts, New ChaptersRebecca Solnit ∙ 2019
Oh, Rebecca, we meet again, old friend. Another incredible collection of essays, focusing on highlighting the most underrepresented voices, beyond men and whiteness. Discussing feminism, racial injustice, climate action, and other human rights movements, Solnit ponders on how they influence the future.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives RevealedLori Gottlieb ∙ 2019
For someone in therapy and an advocate for mental health, this was a glorious read. Lori unveils the backstage of therapists work, fights stigma surrounding mental health and simultaneously does so in a well-written, nearly fiction-like narrative.
On Fire: The Case for the Green New DealNaomi Klein ∙ 2019
It’s hard not to pay attention to complete environmental collapse unfolding in front of our eyes. Climate change denialism has successfully led us to rapid global warming. Naomi Klein essays provide the necessary insight into how we let it happen and what to do next.
White Tears/Brown ScarsRuby Hamad ∙ 2019
Ruby expertly dissects white, colonialist feminism in Australia and worldwide. Her incredibly researched writing is the forefront of intersectional feminism, speaking hard truths everyone fighting for equality should hear. Fantastic book.
The Growth Handbook by IntercomDes Traynor, Karen Peacock and Andrew Chen ∙ 2018
I find most of the Intercom books valuable in varying degrees (depends on target audience and amount of good editorial). “The Growth Handbook” was one of their best ones, offering actionable advice for scaling your business.
The Witches Are ComingLindy West ∙ 2019
In her successor to “Shrill”, West examines how we ended up in Trump’s America; rigged with misogyny, transphobia, racism and propaganda. An equally hilarious, yet troubling and concise depiction of current culture and society.
Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect PredatorsRonan Farrow ∙ 2019
One of the best pieces of investigative journalism. Ronan (son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow) describes in the breadth of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse and the conspiracy surrounding it while trying to break the story of years of abuse that resulted in the spread of the #MeToo movement.
The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and GirlsMona Eltahawy ∙ 2019
Mona isn’t here to politely explain the patriarchy. She’s here to eject it to the moon. In her fierce manifesto, she encourages women to reclaim stigmatised qualities and use them to dismantle the system of oppression. Incredible read.
Principles of Product DesignAarron Walter ∙ 2019
I was interested in InVision’s book collection and decided to start with something near and dear to my heart. This book might be more valuable to Junior to Mid-level designers, but I didn’t find any novelty or ideas I haven’t encountered before in my career.
The F*ck It Diet: Eating Should Be EasyCaroline Dooner ∙ 2019
Navigating both body shaming and often false body positivity (wellness) movement can be a minefield. Many people have a disordered relationship with food. “The Fuck It Diet” was a good read trying to dismantle the typical nonsense that’s fed to us.