Confession: I read more than I can put into practice. I read 30 books in 2019. It was a weird year of reading more fiction than I normally do, plus so.many.business.books because I’ve never launched a company before. Add to those 30 books all of the podcast episodes l listen to, online articles read, and intentional conversations with wiser guides, I consume A LOT. I’m deeply committed to growing as an Ezer, mom, wife, follower of Jesus, and leader.
In my bones, I believe that leaders are readers. Actually, leaders are learners. Curious. Open-minded. Diverse. Expansive. Intentional.
I don’t know what your learning rhythms look or what your learning goals are for 2020, but let me offer you my best recommendations from what I read this past year. When time is tight, you don’t want to waste a second on a bad book. You won’t with these. Many of my recs aren’t feel-good content that you’ll easily agree with, but they will lead to your growth and transformation. More on that in a second.
You can purchase all my best recs with my Amazon affiliate link:
Two quick words about how I choose the books I read:
Several years ago I made a commitment to primarily read books by women and people of color. White men can be awesome (many of you reading this are white dudes!), but I realized years ago that white men have been my primary teachers. Because I want to see the world, God, and MYSELF (ahem! not a white man!) more fully, I need to expand my learning. Plus, women and POC are sorely under-represented in publishing. While this year I read more books by white men than I have in years, this commitment is a driving force behind where I put my dollars, time, and attention. (HELP: I discovered many of the biz books are written by white men. If you have recs for me, please send them along!)
Determine my growth edges. This year, I wanted and desperately needed to grow as an entrepreneur and I needed to increase my capacity to chill-the-heck-out! Since I’ve never built a company from scratch I needed new skills. Additionally, building a biz from nothing is demanding, which has required a different kind of energy. So, I wanted to read some fun, mindless books so I could recover that energy and live and lead with wholeness.
Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 2019 Books I Loved.
You can see all of them in my Amazon affiliate store (you’ll see that I only recommended about half of what I read).
My dear friend, Kem, got me this gorgeous coffee-table book right after I decide to launch Ezer + Co. She knew I’d need some inspiration. It’s been by my bed ever since. It tells such beautiful stories from a wide diversity women who’ve built amazing, creative, problem-solving, soulful companies.
GET THIS BOOK IF you long to hear more voices of women who are doing courageous work in this world OR if you want to build anything with soul or creativity.
This was the first book I read in 2019. I couldn’t put it down. Talk about the woman behind the President! Ai ai ai. Michelle is equal parts fierce, hilarious, tenacious, tender, and smart as can be. I love learning from other’s stories, especially if they’ve had to conquer their fair share of pain, loss, and challenges. Politics aside (yet always involved), our former First Lady worked to create a more equitable and inclusive White House and world. I adore her.
GET THIS BOOK IF you love a good story and want to dream a little bigger in your own life.
Yes, she’s a billionaire with gobs of privilege. What I appreciate about Melinda Gates is that she’s committed to using her privilege for the sake of another. Everyone of us can do the same. She’s using her one life responsibly to bring change and wholeness to the world. And she knows that WOMEN are the key to that change.
GET THIS BOOK IF you want to get shaken out of your comfortable life and expand your vision about what’s happening with women globally and how women are a huge part of the solution to global issues.
I read this book in one night. Yes, it’s a little book but it’s so compelling. Abby is one of the best soccer players ever. On and off the field she’s been a visionary leader, created culture, and built a powerhouse team. I also love how proactively disruptive she’s been to an unjust sports system. We all need a wolfpack.
GET THIS BOOK IF you want to do what the subtitle suggests: come together (with other warriors), unleash your power (for more good in the world), and change the (patriarchal) game.
Latasha Morrison’s work is drenched in Good News and devastating racial realities. I was a part of Tasha’s book’s launch and couldn’t be more grateful for her work. Our world is deeply divided and racism is everywhere. White privilege and superiority is in the water. But she is a peacemaker committed to building bridges across the divides. I loved that each chapter concluded with a meditation and prayer embedded in God’s heart for racial reconcilation.
GET THIS BOOK if you are breathing. If you’re white, you have lots to learn about your own privilege and racism!! If you’re a person of color, you’ll feel seen and equipped.
Honestly, I’ve avoided this book for a long time. But my adorable black boy is growing up. He’s becoming a man aka a threat to society because of the color of his skin. Ta-Nehisi is brilliant. The way he weaves history into personal narrative into current culture is profoundly moving and constructive. I had to read some sentences multiple times to digest what he was laying down.
GET THIS BOOK if you care to understand a black man’s perspective in our country. Read it with curiosity, openness, and empathy, especially if you have a black boy/man in your life.
Excuses and self-limiting beliefs are holding you back from living into your full potential. This book is a like a dance party loaded with brain science, practical next steps, and the occasional swear word. As a coach, I deeply resonate with her approach, exercises, and mindset to experience transformation. She will be a guide to get results.
GET THIS BOOK if you want some new results and want to accomplish some stuff in 2020. If you do work she offers, you will figure out whatever is keeping you from where you want to be.
My faith has both taken a beating and beautifully morphed in the last 5+ years. Loss, pain, betrayal, false narratives revealed, and the political landscape have been the undoing and rebuilding in my love for Jesus and the Church. I was on Sarah’s book launch team and saw a sneak peek into her heart writing this book. My heart felt mended as a read her own story of unlearning and relearning God.
GET THIS BOOK if you have some unlearning to do, feel like you’re in the wilderness, or have experienced loss as a result of the church. You are not alone and miracles are to be discovered.
I’m a leadership junkie, but I haven’t had enough of my academic leadership learned from women. I’m also a Brené Brown junkie. Her work on shame, vulnerability, and connection has been monumental in my own growth over the past 6+ years. Combine my love for leadership and Brené into one book – VIOLÀ! Part badass strength, part tender heartedness, and part mental toughness is needed more than ever in leadership.
GET THIS BOOK if you’re leading anything – a company, ministry team, children. Even if you don’t think you’re a leader, this book will challenge your likely inaccurate perspectives on what leadership is and woo you to be a better influence in the world.
Tiny changes, remarkable results. As a coach I do a lot of habit work because habits really do eat willpower for breakfast. Inspiration will last you until lunch. What’s required are one-degree trajectory shifts that will reduce bad habits and clear the pathway for better ones. James Clear is insanely articulate at breaking down behavioral change for us non-scientists and giving really doable next steps.
GET THIS BOOK if you don’t want to live asleep, coast through life, or be the same person as we enter the next decade. This has to be one of my favorite books of all time.
There ya have it, my top 10 recs from this year. I know. I didn’t list any super FUN books here. My friend Elle is totally rolling her eyes at this list. But I did list a few fun fiction books in my 2019 Books I Loved Amazon affiliate list. Jasmine Guillroy is so delicious to read (don’t get one if you can’t take the occasional steamy sexy scene).
What’s on your list? I’d love to add to my 2020 list. I already have a good list started.