My favorite books of 2019

I've read more books this year than at any point in my lifetime. The Goodreads Reading Challenge played a significant role to achieve this. It sounds like a small gimmick, but it helped me to get into the daily habit of reading.

I set my goal to 12 books at the start of the year and I'm currently trying to finish The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to close the year with 20 books.

At the beginning of the year, most of my books were non-fiction. Then over the year I slowly gravitated more towards fiction and novels. And I think the trend will continue next year.

Since I'm reading mostly at bedtime it's harder for me to shut down my brain after reading non-fiction. A good story has the opposite effect. It helps me to wind down and sleep like a baby. That makes it a very healthy habit.

Furthermore, I start to see more value in fiction than I did a couple years ago.

Reading fictions helps me to gain more empathy. I feel what characters feel and can take a look at the world through the perspective of different people. I think could make a subtle, but compounding difference to my thinking.

In the list below I curated my favourite books of 2019.

Throughout the year I always knew which book I liked the most, but ranking all the other books wasn't as easy. I wrote a little paragraph for every book to explain what I liked about it.

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss

A friend of mine recommended this book to me. After a couple pages, the story became so exciting and thrilling that I could not put this book down. And I mean it literally. I even downloaded the audiobook to use my time when I was doing the dishes. The way Patrick Rothfuss writes completely pulled me into the story about its main character Kvothe. After finishing the first book, I immediately started the second one and now I'm waiting for the third book to arrive.

What Doesn't Kill Us, by Scott Carney

Today we can easily adjust our environment to fit our preferences. Too cold in the living room? No problem, just turn up the head. In this book, Scott Carney investigates the consequences of that behaviour and investigates our evolutionary history to understand how we can take back control of our body and mind. In his own journey, he puts the Wim Hof Method to a test. He wanted to debunk Wim Hof as just another guru that the world doesn't need. But after spending time with Wim, he was so convinced about the method that he became a practitioner himself. He even hiking the snowy peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in nothing but a pair of running shorts and sneakers. There are a lot of insights in this book and it convinced me to take regular cold showers myself.

Enders Game, by Orson Scott Card

I heard about Enders Game multiple times on /r/books and I always wanted to pick it up. The theme of the book and all the reviews seemed promising. And I wasn't disappointed. The story is about Ender, who is just a child when he gets selected for special training in a war against an extraterrestrial life form. The clock is ticking and Ender quickly becomes the biggest hope for planet earth. What fascinated me the most, is how Ender solved life-threatening challenges and how fast he grow up to fulfil his expectations.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

This was my first book by Neil Gaiman and it felt unique in every sense. The story is written entirely from the perspective of a small boy. Therefore the book gave me a strange feeling of how I saw things when I was a child. This is on purpose. The book explores the differences between childhood and adulthood with a captivating and slightly spooky story. I can imagine that this book gets even better on the second read.

The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins

I have a deep fascination with evolutionary psychology. It's like a lens in which we can look through to understand ourselves. I've read a couple books to get a better understanding of it and The Selfish Gene was like a magnifying glass. It introduced me to ideas I never saw myself and made me question my view on life and my own behaviour. If you want to read something that fires up your synapses, this is the book for you.


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