7 Reads of 2020

Allow me to confess this. Whenever I get into reading conversations with or read about ‘seasoned bibliophiles,’ the less inclined I am to call myself a voracious reader. Even though they have helped keep my ego in check (which is a good thing), they remind me of how far I am yet to go. Picture this. One of my friends started reading when she was still in her mother’s womb (the mother is really into books). On a good week, the girl can read between 6 to 7 books.   John Fish, a Harvard sophomore and one of my favorite youtubers reads books in a frenzy. He sets reading targets, say a book a week, and meets them with ease. He has this arresting and deep seated interest in books that you don’t come across that often. Sunny Bindra , a Kenyan writer whose newspaper columns I religiously read,  reads more than 50 books a year and has been doing this  for a fair amount of years. Enter ‘By the book’ feature in the NewYork times. Whenever I visit this byline to collect some steam, I get astounded by the sheer amount of books that notable authors and creatives have consumed in their lifetime. It is overwhelming.

You see the kind of environment I’ve put myself in in my quest to become a better reader and writer? It can choke you sometimes. Anyway, rather than complain at how little I compare to them, I chose to look at this glass as half-full  than half-empty. I lurched onto these subjects’ experiences and used their insight to inform my own. At the beginning of this year, one of the decisions that came out of this resolve was to read more than 10 non-fiction books- incorporating what these people had read and I hadn’t . Well, I ended up reading 7 out of the 10 books I had settled on, and some few other works of fiction. Not bad, right? Without further much ado, here are the 7 non-fiction books that made my 2020 list in no particular order:

1.Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman

I’ve been indulging in a lot of self-awareness practices lately. That involved reading a few psychological material. This book is one of those. In the book, Daniel Goleman redefines our understanding of smart by emphasizing the importance of emotional intelligence when positioning ourselves for success at work, in relationships and health lives, other than solely leaning on higher IQ or getting discouraged for lack of it.  Goleman posits that emotional intelligence is as important as IQ for success, including in academic, professional, social, and interpersonal aspects of one’s life.

Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10.

2.The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger

What do you do when you hear that a memoir on one of the most respected leaders in the creative industry is out? You simply find the book and read it right away, right? I did that.  Bob Iger (Robert Allen Iger) is the Executive Chairman of The Walt Disney and its former CEO. He was the CEO for 15 years until early this year. Through the book he shares ideas and values that he embraced during his time as CEO, as well as before he ascended into that position.

Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10.

3.The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down, by Haemin Sunim

This here was therapeutic. Immersed with timeless wisdom and  life lessons, the book illuminates a path to inner peace and balance amid the overwhelming demands of everyday life. By offering guideposts to well-being and happiness in eight areas—including relationships, love, and spirituality—Haemin Sunim (a Korean scholar and Buddhist) emphasizes the importance of forging a deeper connection with others and being compassionate and forgiving toward ourselves.

Recommended? Yes! 9/10.

4.Originals by Adam Grant. How Non-Conformists Move the World

The book examines how people can champion new ideas—and how leaders can fight group-think. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist also elucidates on his ideas in this Ted Talk .

Recommended? Yes! 8/10.

  1. The Choice, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger.
Credits: https://thriveglobal.com/

It is a powerful memoir – and a practical guide to healing – written by an eminent psychologist whose own experiences as a Holocaust survivor help her treat patients and allow them to escape the prisons of their own minds. Even though I have read a book and watched a movie on the holocaust encounter, I felt the need to read it from the perspective of a psychologist.

Recommended? Yes! 8/10

  1. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

I started the book late last year. The book was recommended by one of my Professors to help us better understand  an ongoing  scholarly debate between two schools of thought that sought to explain why some countries have not advanced economically from time immemorial.  One school of thought, held by economists Prof. Daron Acemoglu and Prof. James Robinson in their book ‘Why Nations Fail,’ argue that man-made political and economic institutions  underlie economic success or lack of it. The other, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs counters  that institutions alone do not sufficiently determine a country’s economic success and that other factors like  culture, weather and geography play a critical role to boot.  It is somehow amusing to see how these ‘respected’ economists exchange scholarly jabs through hard hitting papers because of ‘seemingly’ differing opinions.

Anyway, this  book finds itself in Prof. Sachs’s camp because of its emphasis on  geographic luck as to why some countries developed more rapidly than others and were able to expand and conquer much of the world.

I will be honest though. I really labored through. It took me 3 months to finish. (I’m not discouraging anyone.. haha! ) It is a great book nonetheless.

Recommended? Yes! 8.5/10.

7.Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth.

I am actually halfway but so far the book is great. Pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent as such (even though talent counts) but a special blend of passion and persistence that she calls “grit.” I hope to finish it before the year ends.

This book was a late birthday gift from Ms. Adaolisa, my good friend and school mate from Nigeria. (Hi Ada!)

Recommended? Yes. I’ll rate it once I am done reading.


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