Book List for 2019

Recently Read Books in 2019

I love reading and I read a book about every 2 weeks.  Here is my recommended book list for 2019 along with a little review and my take of the book.  There are also links to Amazon to make ordering the book easier in case you want a copy too.

I tend to binge read certain topics so you will usually see a theme in the book selection.  Some of these are eBooks, Audio, and physical books depending on the book.


Live a Meaningful Life, Second Edition
by Joshua Fields Millburn , Ryan Nicodemus
Audiobook Finished on 1/15/19

Minimalism Book

Book Notes

  • ”Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous to your life.”
  • Minimalism is going to look different for everyone, and it doesn’t mean you can’t have a house, car or job.
  • It’s about decluttering yourself from material possessions and ridding your life of anchors.
  • Minimalism is the tool that allows you to focus on only the important things. It allows you to live your life more deliberately and with meaning.
  • There are five values that allow us to live a meaningful life
    • Health
    • Relationships
    • Passions
    • Growth
    • Contribution
  • Minimalism is a lifestyle, it’s a journey that takes daily focus and commitment to improvement. Making small, daily improvements is key.
  • Debt goes first. Get rid of your financial crutches to finally feel free.
  • Use the TARA method to become more accepting of other people in your life.
    • Tolerate their quirks.
    • Accept they will always exist.
    • Respect the time they dedicate to them.
    • Appreciate that aspect of their lives, as it’s a little part of your life too.
  • You are not your job. Don’t let your work define you.
  • Material possessions are not going to bring any happiness. You cannot buy your way to an easier life!
  • Take an inventory of your life
    • Write down anything that makes you feel stuck or stunts your personal growth. These factors are called anchors.
    • Divide these anchors into two categories; major and minor. This is where you can set your priorities.
      • A major anchor is often significant debt such as mortgages or personal anchors such as relationships and careers.
      • Minor anchors are often smaller details, bills, clutter, wasted time etc.
    • To really begin you have to start with the major anchors. Pay off your credit card bills, eliminate debt wherever you can.
    • Finally, start removing material possessions that don’t bring you any joy. Keep only the things that you use regularly and enjoy.
  • Ryan and Joshua identify five values that allow us to live a meaningful life
    • Health
    • Relationships
    • Passions
    • Growth
    • Contribution

The Productivity Project

By Chris Bailey
Audiobook Finished 1/20/19

The Productivity Project

Book Notes

  • Rule of 3
    • Imagine the end of the Day and write down 3 things I would want to have had accomplished
    • Imagine the end of the Week and write down 3 things I would want to have had accomplished
    • Separate Work and Personal Goals. Expand to other parts of my life as needed but never over extend.

This book was really good and needs a second read when I can take better notes. Highly recommended for anyone who is looking to accomplish more in their day.

The Dark Web

By Geoff White
Audiobook Finished 1/23/19

This is a 10 part series about the Dark web and how it is being used.

Book Notes

  1. The Birth of The Dark Web
  2. The Untold Story of The Dark Web
  3. Bitcoin’s Days Are Numbered
  4. How Not To Buy A Gun On The Dark Web
  5. Hackers For Hire
  6. The Virus Kingpin
  7. Cyber Crime Inc.
  8. The Child Porn Paradox
  9. A Dark Force For Good
  10. Anonymity On Trial

The Dark Web is essentially an area of the internet, accessible via a non-standard browser, that offers anonymity to users. There’s no Google style search engine, instead you have to know specific site addresses in order to gain access – and these are typically made up of a seemingly random collection of letters, numbers and other characters.

The site addresses are gleaned through chat room discussions and the like and its use is protected by its users. Most illegal stuff can be bought on the Dark Web and is lawless in nature. It is used just as much by governments as criminals.


Give Yourself the Gift of Done
By Jon Acuff
Audiobook Finished on 1/29/19


Book Notes

  1. MINDSET – Ditch “Quit if it isn’t perfect.”
  2. GOAL SETTING – Cut your goal in half or double the timeline
  3. PRIORITIZING: Creating an avoid list / dealing with too many choices

This was a great book and will be on my short list to read again this year. When ever I feel the drag of not finishing a project, I could reread this book and get back on track.

The Phoenix Project

by Gene Kim and Kevin Behr
Audiobook finished on 2/6/2019

The Phoenix Project

This is a fictional story about a IT executive who is tasked with turning around a failing companies IT operations. He does so by incorporating the principals of DevOps and developing trust among each technical team (and expanding that trust to the business units later in the story).

The method used is related to the operations of a factory and improving work flows between teams. There is a lot of interesting ideas that are being incorporated in the IT world and I suspect DevOps will become the new standard of Technical operations.

This book was very entertaining because it is so true and a real insight of the innerworkings of a modern IT department.


  • The authors argue that traditional project management does not work with IT operations since it cannot alleviate issues that happen between software development and IT operations.
  • As its name suggests, DevOps integrates IT operations and software development together in a productive unit.
  • DevOps is based on a “set of techniques” and “cultural norms, processes, and practices.” It is a pragmatic approach to managing IT operations, and under this system, information security, product management, development, IT, etc, can all work together.
  • The authors explain the three ways from which DevOps derives its principles.
    • The first way is creating a fast and uninterrupted workflow “from development to IT operations to the customer.”
    • “The Second Way” is implementing a “flow of fast feedback,” which allows IT professionals to be proactive and avoid problems by fixing “quality at the source.”
    • “The Third Way” is allowing space for “continual experimentation” by promoting a corporate culture of innovation.
  • DevOps is created to help increase customer satisfaction, improve product quality, and fuel and speed up experimentation and innovation.

I actually gave this book a second read this month and pulled additional information out the second time while I took notes. REcommended for anyone going into the DevOps field.

The Art of Invisibility

The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data
By: Kevin Mitnick
Audiobook completed on 3/31/19

This book is packed with strategies and tactics for increasing your digital security and privacy. It instills a privacy mindset. Each chapter raises awareness by explaining some privacy challenges in a not overly-technical way, usually with specific examples or stories, then gives instructions and advice on how to protect your privacy in the face of those challenges.

Average computer and phone users will likely be overwhelmed; this book is most useful to those whose tech-savviness is above average. But, even average users will find useful tips and the privacy mindset.

You’ll quickly learn that the title of Chapter 14 is very true: obtaining anonymity is hard work. Mitnick explains that, “A persistent attacker will succeed given enough time and resources. … All you are really doing by trying to make yourself anonymous is putting up so many obstacles that an attacker will give up and move on to another target.”

Mitnick says Rule #1 is “To be invisible online, you more or less need to create a separate identity, one that is completely unrelated to you. … you must also rigorously defend the separation of your life from that anonymous identity.”

Even though the book offers a wealth of privacy-protecting measures, you can still benefit by acting on a subset of them. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition.

The book reads like guide to how to operate on the dark web and prepare to do bad things but if you can read through that message, there is a fundamental principle behind it. The modern web is like the wild west and no one is safe. Some of these tactics are required just to keep yourself safe. Your information and identity is available to be stolen and there is little you can do to stop it. You do have it in you to make that task much more difficult and that should be the key lesson for everyone reading this book.

One personal note. This was a difficult book for me to get through. It was depressing to learn all the ways I am put myself at risk and all the things I need to do to have even a small amount of protection. Its like the beginning part of a exercise program. Learning you are not fit is a hard to accept. The success is in first understanding this, taking action to improve, and not giving up until you do. Taking action to improve is key.

Deep Work

Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
By: Cal Newport
Completed 5/1/19

This was very impressed by this book and learned a lot. It took me a while to get through it because I was constantly both distracted (by shallow work) and taking notes about how to focus more on deep learning. The time to read this book was time well invested.

Deep Work is a guide on how to develop skills and habits of deep focus on complex tasks in a distracted world. He supports the importance of deep work by saying “These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.” .

The author divides our professional work into two categories: deep work and shallow work.

Deep Work is “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

As apposed to Shallow work which can be performed while distracted; like emails, meetings, and other minimal cognitive tasks.

Deep work is a skill that is becoming rare and very valuable in our economy and only the few who have this skill will thrive.

He also gives advice on how others can improve their ability to do deep work. Here are a few points to remember:

  • In the future of humanity, there will be three types of people who will survive and prosper:
    • Owners of capital, or those with access to it
    • Anyone who can work with intelligent machines and technology
    • Superstars in their field of work (The focus of this book)
  • High-Quality work produced = (time spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
  • Focus on the Wildly Important: have a small number of really critical goals
  • Schedule blocks of time for both shallow and deep work. Adjust as needed.
  • Cut out as much shallow work as you can to make room for deep work.
  • Build productive habits into your life to accomplish great things.
  • If you can’t learn you can’t thrive; deep work helps you quickly learn hard things.
  • Deep Work needs large blocks of time and cannot be divided into several smaller ones.

Goodbye, Things

The New Japanese Minimalism
By Fumio Sasaki
Completed 5/13/2019

I enjoyed this book a lot.  Mr. Sasaki is an extremely good writer and has a way to use his words to make his points very clear and understood.  His form of minimalism is very extreme but I cannot help but admire his simple and happy life.

I believe the simple life is where most people find happiness in this over complex world we have created for ourselves.  Minimalism is the solution, but maybe not as extreme as Mr. Sasaki portrayed.

The basic notion is to exchange things you care little about for time which you care greatly about.  Everybody’s things take up more then space and Goodbye Things explains that once you part with these things, you gain back money, peace, time, and happiness. 

Minimalism is not for everyone.  You need to be confidant in yourself and not care or try to compete with the image other people portray to the world.  Most people think that possessions are the trophies for success, but in reality, they are anchors you need to carry with you and constantly worry about.  Shedding these trophies frees you to live your life.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

12th Edition: The Time Tested Strategy for Successful Investing
By Burton G. Malkiel
Completed 6/17/19

Another fantastic book.  I recommend the 12th edition over the older ones as it takes into account more recent activities and explains them in good detail in a funny way.

There is no wondering why a Random Walk Down Wall Street has been a favorite by so many for such a long time.  The advice is rock solid and classic for building and keeping wealth for generations.  The book is a great history of how Wall Street has developed over the years and what investment theories are all about.

The main takeaways are to invest mostly in index funds in the correct target allocations.  For me personally, this is:

  • Cash, 1%
  • International Bonds, 2%
  • US Bonds, 7%
  • International Stocks, 25%
  • US Stocks, 55%
  • Alternatives, 10%

Depending on your age and designed returns (and risk), your balance will be very different.  The older you are, the more that should be in bonds and income producing investments.  If you are younger, you can afford more growth investments since you have time to recover if needed.

The biggest take away is to make sure you are mostly invested in well balanced index funds, and balance at least once a year.

Head Strong

The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks
by Dave Asprey
Completed 7/15

The book is all about how to get smarter by “hacking” your body with technology, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.  Think healthy keto mixing with technology.

To be truly healthy, you need to rebuild your body from the inside out.  That’s what this book attempts to teach you with a lot of self promoting built in.  Nothing wrong with that if the Headstrong products are really good for you and do what they promise.  Time will tell.

The major takeaways form the book are:

  • Heath healthy fats, avoid carbs, grains, and sugar.
  • Grass feed meat and dairy, Wild fish with Omega-3, you eat what your food eats.
  • Organic everything and clean of GMOs and toxins.
  • Get plenty of sleep, exercise every morning, and practice yoga and meditation.
  • Use the right kind of supplements when you cannot get the right nutrition from your food.

Leap Year

How small steps can make a giant difference
By Helen Russell
Audiobook Completed 8/30/19

This was such a great book, that I am already reading it a second time and will probably read it once a year going forward.  Very entertaining and fun, but also filled with practical information on getting your life moving forward in the direction you want.  Highly recommended!


  • No Decision is perfect, accept it and know you can always reverse your decision (Except parenthood)
  • List deal breakers of any decision
  • Compare decision outcome with life priorities and core values
  • Make the best decision you can in the time limit you have.
  • Accept the decision might not be right, and can be changed anytime.

I’m a huge fan of Helen’s witty and informative writing style from her first book, “The Year of Living Danishly”. LEAP YEAR reminds me what I love about her storytelling. You learn valuable information from her research in a fun and entertaining way.  Highly recommended.

The 5 Second Rule

Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage
By Mel Robbins
Audiobook Completed 9/20/19

Key Takeaways

  • Through many small actions will change your brain towards a default bios for action.
  • Most of the time, the right time to start will never come, so you just have to do it.
  • Feelings will always try and stop you from doing something.
  • The first step is always the hardest.  The counting helps kick start the action.
  • There are few decisions that cannot be reversed so take action even if you are not positive of the outcome.  Just be OK with the direction and adjust along the way.

The problem with this book is it is all fluff.  The idea is simple enough to be relayed in 2000 words and you can save several hours of reading and move on to other ideas.  The book does minor supporting of the idea but action is not an idea that needs selling.  The part that needed explaining was the decision which she doesn’t go into at all.


How to Live a Simple, Serene, and Stress-Free Life
By Francine Jay
Audiobook Completed 9/23/19

Great book.  If you ever feel like life is weighing you down—like the stuff in your home, the to-dos in your schedule, the worries in your heart are too much—this book is for you.  I don’t usually waste time rereading a book once I understand the topic.  This is a book I plan to read very often to remind me there is a simple way to a better life and I just need to live lightly.

The author did a great job of weaving the simple mantra (Lightly) into every lesson so it will be easy to remember and follow as you live your life.


  • Live lightly and apply that idea to everything you consume, do, and think.
  • Clutter adds chaos to your life.  Minimalize to control the chaos.
  • Learn to say No to get better control of your calendar and your time.
  • Be kind to the planet and minimalize your trash too.
  • When you buy, buy quality, so it will last a lifetime.
  • Meditate and clear your mind as well as your spaces.
  • When you live lightly, you can easily adapt to change and new life directions.

The book goes beyond minimalism and promotes things like helping the planet, being a better parent, a better employee, and overall, a better person.  The book helps you focus on what is important in life.

The Year of Less

How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store

By Cait Flanders
Started 9/28/19
Finished 10/4/19

Pretty good book.  At times it tended to drag a little but I really enjoyed the overall lessons and idea that I can really also live a more minimalist life.  I really admire Cait’s commitment to pursue what she really wanted in life and also watching (hearing) about each months small transformation take place. 

Key Takeaways

  • Anything is possible if you make your self accountable
  • Write your “Why” and goals down so you understand and value your progress.
  • Journal and reflex on your progress.
  • Take pleasure in the process and not the end goal.  You will likely fail sometimes, realize what went wrong and don’t repeat mistakes.
  • Declutter your home, don’t just organize but get rid of stuff you don’t use.
  • Take inventory of what’s left, group them together so you don’t forget.
  • Before starting a shopping ban, write 3 lists:
  • Essentials List
  • Non-Essentials Lists
  • Approved Shopping List
  • Unsubscribe from all store email lists (to remove temptation)
  • Setup a separate savings account to record your monthly savings
  • Make good friends who can help you along the way.
  • Replace costly habits with free options.
  • Watch your spending triggers and try to replace them.
  • Learn how to be resourceful to avoid buying new or replacing something.
  • Appreciate all you have today to avoid wanting. 
  • Know buying doesn’t lead to happiness.

The Proximity Principle

The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to a Career You Love

By Ken Coleman
Started 10/6/19
Finished 10/23/19

Good book and advice from Ken Coleman. If you are really interested and serious about tackling a new career path, supplement your reading by listening to his podcast (The Ken Coleman Show).

This book is a manual for making a plan and following it long term. The methods in this text will lead you to developing meaningful relationships and habits that will lead to a fulfilling career.

Ken is honest and methodical in his approach. This book is great motivation to start you on the right path while being thankful for everything you have today.  Adopt an attitude of gratitude and get in proximity of your new dream job.

The issue I have with the book is it is full of common sense and I didn’t learn anything new. The book is slightly motivating with his examples of people who call into his show which I loved. I love Ken’s character and will give his podcast a try.

Key Takeaways:

  • Commit to being a life long learner.
  • Find ways to learn new skills that are needed in your dream job.
  • Success leaves clues.  Find people who do what you want, and learn from them.
  • Once you learn the skills, improve upon them, and make them your own.
  • Spend time with peers who are living the life you want.
  • Never be afraid to take chances.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

By Eric Barker
eBook started 11/1/19


In “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” by Eric Barker looks at some common misconceptions about success. Should I play it safe? Should I be over confident and fake extroversion? Should I network more or practice my skills? For each of these Barker examines both sides, tears them apart, and comes up with a neat solution to the paradox.

I see this as the missing instruction book for life and is packed filled with advice on how to live your best life.  The lessons from this book will give you the tools to be more successful in your life and allow you to accomplish your goals faster.

Absolutely one of the best book I have read in 2019.  I usually read a book every few weeks but this one I took my time on and reread over and over to make sure I captured the information correctly.