Below are the books I read in 2019. There are many more books I started and either haven’t finished yet (A Dance with Dragons) or I stopped reading altogether (Ask the Dust). I believe it’s important to discard a book if it bores you, and I did that many times over the past twelve months. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to finish reading twenty-six books.
While I enjoyed all the books on this list, none of them stood out as my absolute favorite. There’s one novel I liked the most out of the fiction I read, but nothing captivated me as much as my favorite books from 2018.
I added some commentary below to the books I especially liked. I hope you find this list helpful; let me know if you have any questions! (FYI: These books are in the order I read them–only backwards. In other words, Awareness is the last book I read.)
1. Awareness by Anthony de Mello
A lot of helpful ideas are shared for being aware and disconnecting from everything that makes us unhappy.
2. Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday
Great book; I’ll read anything by Holiday.
4. A Summer with Montaigne: On the Art of Living Well by Antoine Compagnon
5. Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope by Mark Manson
Not as good as his first book, but definitely worth reading.
6. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
I read this in one afternoon in Barnes & Noble. It was the perfect book for me in the moment that I needed it. I love it when books are there for us like that.
7. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
This book really helped me understand the value in pursuing knowledge within multiple fields. I like the idea of following interests, no matter how divergent they may be.
9. Leverage Leadership 2.0: A Practical Guide to Building Exceptional Schools by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
The most influential book on this list that’s influenced my approach to instructional leadership over the past year. The two most important items to focus on for new principals is data driven instruction and student culture. This book taught me that and more.
10. The Lessons of History by Will Durant and Ariel Durant
11. Driven by Data 2.0: A Practical Guide to Improve Instruction by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
I liked it, but you can get by with reading just Leverage Leadership 2.0.
12. Nuance: Why Some Leaders Succeed and Others Fail by Michael Fullan
Not as good as Coherence, but still really good.
13. Don’t Suspend Me! An Alternative Discipline Toolkit by Jessica Hannigan and John E. Hannigan
An important book in that it gave me a good start in developing my own alternative discipline toolkit.
14. Cherry by Nico Walker
The best novel I read in 2019. I really enjoyed this, although it’s definitely not for everyone. I heard they’re making a movie out of it, and I can’t wait to see it.
15. The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
I’ve used excerpts from this book for quite a few conversations and meetings recently. I have a feeling this book will be a resource I return to for years to come.
16. Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great by Jim Collins
Not really a book (it’s a monograph), but I’ll include it here anyways. I found myself almost a year later referring to this book during a recent meeting. You know a book is pretty good if that happens.
17. The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact by Michael Fullan
Fullan is the only Edu-Hero I have.
18. The One Thing: The Surprising Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller
19. Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology by Cal Newport
If there is one book I could force every person in the modern world to read, this would be it.
20. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight
I’m ashamed to say this is the only autobiography I read in 2019. The good news is if I only could read one, this would be at the top of my list.
This is a must-read for all school administrators. The main idea Whitaker teaches is something that’s taking me a while to develop within my own leadership capacity.
22. Pet Semetary by Stephen King
The 1989 version of this movie petrified me. I have vivid memories of being frighted on the trundle bed in my friends room back when I was ten-years-old. Finally reading this book at thirty-eight-years-old was no where near as horrifying, but it was damn creepy.
23. Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading by Ronald A. Heifetz
This book is probably one of the best leadership books I’ve ever read–primarily because it focuses on the difficulty of being a leader and the importance of knowing what you’re getting into when you lead people.
24. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Patrick Lencioni
It was interesting reading this after reading The Ideal Team Player; some of the main characters are in both.
25. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
This book can be viewed as a cautionary tale, exploitative, entertaining… possibly all three. I think it’s a good book to read as a parent. I finished it before Tiger’s comeback in 2019, so I think it’s a complete different read now.
Great resources. I wouldn’t recommend reading this cover to cover–better to understand the structure and refer to the strategies you want to learn about at any given moment.
That’s it! I hope you found this list helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions. Here’s to a great year of reading in 2020!