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  • Writer's pictureIshfaaq Peerally

10 Best Books I Read in 2019

In 2019, I read 30 books and failed to meet my goals of reading 50 books a year. Some of these books were obviously better than others and it was hard for me to come up with a list of the best 10 books I read in 2019 but I had to do it. You can find my whole reading list on Goodreads.

Number 10: To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American classic published in 1960 but the story itself takes place in 1933 Alabama. It is the story of a young girl, Scout, who lives with her brother and father, Atticus. Atticus is a lawyer and the main storyline revolves around Atticus defending a Black man, who has been falsely accused of rape. In an age where Identity politics and racism seems to be increasing day by day, this is an important read. But it is not just a story about racism but also about life in general in the Southern States during the Great Depression.

I would, however, discourage anyone from reading the sequel. It is not worth the time as it was poorly written and seems to be only a political treatise intended only to confirm what we already read from the first book. If you read To Kill a Mockingbird well and you understand the logic behind the thinking of the author, you won't need a second book to explain it. A great piece of art explains itself. As for the movie, the 1962 one, I highly recommend it.

Number 9: The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (Will Durant)

It is often hard to decide with what to start philosophy. Should we start with Plato? With the pre-Socratics? Or are these too old and we should start by Kant? This books saves us this trouble as it is written in such a way that we can see the flow from Ancient thinkings to modern thinkings. There's actually not much difference, despite the advances in science and technology, many of the questions that philosophers in Ancient Greece asked are still being asked today. Anybody needs philosophy in their lives and this is definitely a great start.

Number 8: Trump: The Art of the Deal (Donald J. Trump)

Before Donald Trump became leader of the free world, he built a real estate empire. This book is more than just an autobiography but is rather a guide to think the Trump way. Donald Trump is without any doubt the greatest salesman in the world and the object he sells the most is himself. He built one of the most powerful personal brands in the world and personal branding is more important than ever before. Today, people don't want to buy from faceless corporations anymore but from personal brands. That's why you see so many people are becoming famous on Instagram or other social media and making millions of dollars. If you want to learn how to sell yourself, how to build a personal brand, how to thrive in controversy or if you just want to understand the Trump presidency, this is a book, I'll definitely recommend.

Number 7: Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (Ron Chernow)

I read two books from Ron Chernow this year. The other one was "The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and The Rise of Modern Finance" but unfortunately, only this one made the top 10. John D. Rockefeller is the richest man in history. His net worth in today's dollars is estimated to be around $400 billions. That's richer than Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Bernard Arnault and Warren Buffett combined. John D. Rockefeller was a self-made man, born in a poor family with a con artist as father. He was abandoned by his father at a young age but was able to build Standard Oil, one the largest companies in history. Without John D. Rockefeller, we would have have the oil industry and all the other related products, such as gasoline to run our cars, plastics, tar, or even electricity itself. He was one of the men who built the modern world. This biography tells you everything you need to know about one of the greatest businessmen the world has ever seen.

Number 6: Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World (Evan Thomas)

Dwight D. Eisenhower saved the world twice, the first time as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces against the Nazi and the second time as President of the United States against the Soviet. This book doesn't really look at the life of Eisenhower as a soldier but rather as his life as president. After the war, he was asked by President Truman to run as president as a Democrat but eventually run as a Republican. He won with a landslide as he was very popular with both Democrats and Republicans. He was reelected in another landslide. What made Eisenhower a great leader was the art of bluffing. He made the Soviet think that a war with them was imminent and they were as a result scared of him but in his personal diary, he always wrote that he was doing that just to save the world and he had no intention of starting a war. His thoughts were so secretive that even his wife didn't know his plans. Well, the plan worked as we didn't die in a nuclear war.

Number 5: Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

I read several biographies written by Walter Isaacson and he seems always to be writing biographies of great men who changed the world and had an illegitimate child (Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs). I told you that Donald Trump is the greatest salesman in the world but he only gained this title after the death of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is in my opinion, the greatest entrepreneur of our generation. He founded Apple and Pixar and was able to create so many great products despite having a hippie lifestyle.

Number 4: The 48 Laws of Power (Robert Green)

Power is something we all want. We all want it but in different forms. How power works and how can we gain it, this book teaches us exactly that. This is an important book to read if you want to get ahead in life. It can be in any situation. If you want a job. There are competitors. How are you going to outperform them? You want to be the next president of the United States? How do you do that? You have to negotiate a trade deal with China? How can you make both sides not lose. You like it or not, there are winners and losers in life. Not everybody can win. Make sure that you are a winner and this book can help you be one.

Number 3: Bloomberg by Bloomberg (Michael Bloomberg)

Michael Bloomberg started as an electrical engineer then got an MBA and became a trader at Solomon Brothers. He was having a great career and even became a partner at the investment bank until he was fired at the age of 39. This was the best thing that ever happened to him as he started a business, Bloomberg, which will merge technology and finance. Today, Michael Bloomberg is the ninth richest man on the planet. He was also the 108th mayor of New York City and helped the reconstruction of the city after 9/11 and during the Financial Crisis. He was able to retire as mayor with a balanced budget. Since then, he has been focusing on his philanthropies, which aims at fighting climate change. This book is an essential read for any entrepreneur as this is one of the rare books written by someone who build a $50 billion business from scratch.

Number 2: Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

This is the best fiction book I read this year. It revolves around an orphan girl, Jane Eyre, who grows up with an abusive aunt. She eventually becomes an independent woman with very high moral standards. He is ready to give up her happiness, be homeless, just for the sake of doing the right thing. There's a lot of mysteries in the novel and it is one of the precursors of the modernists of the 20th century. This is the oldest novel I've read that writes in the first person and it explores the thoughts of the protagonists as well as her speech. If Charlotte Brontë was born about fifty years later, I'm pretty sure, she would have been the one who invented the stream of consciousness. All these great works from Marcel Proust, Virginia Woof and James Joyce would not have been possible without the foundations of Charlotte Brontë in Jane Eyre.

Number 1: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos (Jordan B. Peterson)

There's no use of reading thousands of books about philosophy if we are not going to apply what we have read in order to change our lives, to become better persons and to change the lives of others. This book in 12 rules (more actually) help us live better lives. It helps us find meaning in life. Although, most of the rules actually are not new, the way they are presented is genius. Most people are living life without any meaning, they seek happiness but end up desperate. People are suffering. If everybody read this book, there would be less sufferings in the world. I can guarantee you that. My favorite book is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, you can think of Jordan Peterson's 12 Rules For Life as a Meditations for the 21st century.

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