Books I read in 2019 cover image

Books I read in 2019

Matt Trask • December 20, 2019

Read Time: 8 mins

reading personal growth

As a kid I was a huge reader. I had so many books that I had multiple book cases in my room. One of them was built into the headboard of my bed, so I didn't have to get out of bed to get a book. I read things like "The Boxcar Children" to "Goosebumps" to anything I could find on the RMS Titanic. As I grew, my fascination with history grew and I read everything I could around the American Revolution up to World War 2. Sadly though, when high school made me read through certain books my interest in reading waned. This was around the time we got the internet, so I read web pages instead of books.

This year, when I was talking to my boss at my old job, he mentioned a few books he really enjoyed on Audible. I had heard of Audible but never got into it. On his recommendation, I grabbed one book and I was hooked. It was as if a spark was reignited in me. I went out to a book store soon after and bought books both old and new. I hope this type of post becomes a tradition for as long as I blog.

Without further ado, here is what I read and listened to in 2019.

All the books will a link to buy them in book/audio form, however none of the links are ref links. I do not make any money if you choose to buy one.

Audio Books

Personal Improvement

In it, he interviews a lot of powerful people about leadership.

Stumbled on him via Youtube, he recounts tales and lessons his father, a third grade dropout, gave him up until his father's death.

Super long, but an interesting look at how Ray Dalio rose to the level he is at.

This book was interesting. Tim dives into ideas of automation and passive income generation so that you can work less and enjoy a more fulfilling life.

Cal Newport, notorious for a lack of social media presence, dives into the idea that it's ok to live life without a social media account and how you can fill that time instead.

Another hit from Cal, he talks about regaining things like determination, concentration, and dedication to the work we do every day.

Ever wonder why a habit doesn't stick? This book covers tips and tricks about making them stick and how to change your thinking when it comes to a new habit.

Inspired by his commencement address at the University of Texas, Admiral McRaven delivers short but powerful lessons for a successful life, starting with making your bed every single day.


Famously fired by Trump, Preet has had a stellar career with podcasting, and this book dives into the life of the line prosecutors, assistant attorneys generals and what it's like to the district attorny for the southern distract of NY.

One of my favorites, this book details the 1996 disaster on Everest when teams were stuck at the summit in the middle of a storm.

I loved this guy from the minute he lit the world on fire at Davos with his statement about taxing the rich. His book delves into ideas of what a utopia could look like.

Im relistening to this now. This covers the start of the Silk Road and how they eventually captured all the major players.

A fun little book about how the Danes create happiness from the little things in life.

Former pro cyclist Phil Gaimon talks life on the road, the challenges he faced as a domestique on a big European Tour Team and giving up.

Im not sure this book needs much, we all know what Snowden did. However I'm disappointed that the government gets to have his earnings from this.

Utterly not safe for work, Nick just lays out how to work hard and win at life.

Swiping and dating is huge for most people now. Aziz wanted to figure out what made people swipe right or left on certain people.

An ode to the people who run the restaurants across the world. Bourdain doesn't hold back. This was performed by him too, so its weird to hear his voice. I still miss him.

This is an epic look at the man who fathered our National Parks system.

Paper Books


Old English aside, this is a seminal book for anyone starting with personal finance. It's not long, but its packed with great tips that still hold up today.

One of my favorites, JL Collins breaks down the notion that investing is hard, and examines the most tried and true way to growing wealth: index funds. (Note: Index Funds are a moral quandry to deal with, because the main on JL talks about, VTSAX, has every single stock on the NYSE in it... private prisons and all.)

A lot of FIRE books cover the how, but this is a personal story of the why. With cameos of popular FIRE bloggers, this is a nice tale and gives you a lot to think about.

After reading this, I couldn't stop thinking about my life in dollars. Every single action has a dollar amount correlation, and they explore it in this book.


Foudn on Youtube, this book is both a lesson for his kids and anyone who reads the book. If you get any book, get this one. I shed a tear watching the Youtube vid.

I spent the last year or so being so in my head I had to do something. This book gave me some tools and tips to getting out of my own head.

Like "The Little Book of Lykke", this covers things the Danes do, and why they are so damn happy.

If you want to know that someone is proud of you, open this book.

Brene made waves at a TED Talk, and because of that this book was another I had to get. It pairs well with "Digital Minimalism"

Cook Books

I love the Queer Eye series on Netflix, and I've enjoyed watching Antoni inspire people to cook more.


This was recommended to me by a guy I met who was in town doing some AWS consulting. I couldn't put it down. It's now something we make product owners and software team leaders at work read.

This is the second book in the series, and looks at the development side of the Phoenix project, instead of the ops side.


Charles talks about how can we take what we have now with cities (sprawling layouts) and improve them incremently to make them more livable, walkable and enjoyable.

William was out of a job, and losing his marriage so he decided to take a trip across the country, only using the state highway systems, the blue roads on old school atlases and maps.


I think everyone knows this book.


There may be more but this seems to be a very good list based on what I read and listened too. As I mentioned above, each is a link to Amazon for you to buy any of these books. I highly recommend them all.

If you are trying to avoid amazon or want to buy used, this looks like a wonderful serrvice. I plan on using them a lot in 2020.

What did you read this year?