December 30


My Top Books From 2019

By Odyssa

December 30, 2020

I love looking at book lists and recommendations of people I admire, or just about anyone who loves to read.

Because it’s a Sunday night and bookworms like you and I would rather spend time with their books than with other humans, I thought of rounding up the books that I read last year.

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash


Everyday by David Levithan

The love you had in high school was probably what you thought you’d have forever. It came true for some, not for most (definitely not for me). This is a story of chasing that love in ever-changing circumstances and bodies.

Educated by Tara Westover

This is a book about family, the culture we build while we’re in it, and owning our education & learning the way we need air. It reminded me of how parents, while they sincerely love us to death, are not superhumans and only do the best that they can. Gripping story!

Dare To Lead by Brene Brown

This is a wonderful book for women in leadership positions at work & in their communities. It’s also great for mothers and homemakers who handle tough situations at home. Before reading any of Brene Brown’s books, I’d recommend watching her TED Talk on vulnerability.



Superbosses by Sydney Finkelstein

The best leaders are those who make leaders out of them. This is a book about how the best and greatest in the world were mentored and coached by someone who will teach them. A good leadership book.

Braving The Wilderness by Brene Brown

A lot of us struggle with 2 things: 1) wanting to be included, 2) feeling excluded. This book is about how belongingness does not always mean being with our tribe. Brown says ‘The spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.’



Becoming by Michelle Obama

This is the story of Michelle Obama’s life from childhood up the time they left the White House. There are 2 parts that I liked the most — her love story and her life as the First Lady going through extreme life and death situations in America. This does not express my political opinion.



Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

This is an excellent choice if you’re in some sort of confused state of life choices. The book is especially good for people in leadership positions. Looking back, I should have read Start With Why before reading this.

Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

Knowing Matthieu Ricard who has meditated for probably 10,000 hours in his life, this book talks a lot about meditation. Emotions come and go, and the skill that will take us through life is meditating. Picked this because I like him and I think he’s a very cool monk!

Jalan Jalan by Mike Stoner

I bought a paperback copy of this book in Bali on my first trip there. This is a book about a perplexed, lonely British guy who moved to Indonesia to teach English. Some scenes reminded me of The Beach except that the cast can only go out of town on weekends because of work.



Deep Work by Cal Newport

This is a book on how to get the most out of your quiet work time. It says that we think and work better when we are in a flow state, undistracted and concentrating on one thing. Deep work, it seems, is the key benefit to accomplishment.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Another young adult novel that I enjoyed reading — it’s pure fun. It has good twists and turns just like how a typical teenage life is, except the characters are wizards. I heard this story was written based on Harry Potter characters (check out those wands!).



The Course of Love by Alain De Botton

I enjoyed this book! While reading it, I pictured myself living with my future husband at home and the sort of things we’ll run into — fights, kids (?), attraction to other people. It perfectly describes how a relationship-turned-to-marriage life goes.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I picked this just because I enjoy reading Elizabeth Gilbert and hearing her narrate them (in my head). This is a story of a woman waking up to independence, time of war and being alone and happy in that space. I especially like how the lead character grew old by herself, surrounded by a few good friends and succeeding in her own terms.



Ageless by Sharath Jois

I have a bias for this book because I practice Ashtanga Yoga and Sharath Jois, the author, is the living lineage bearer of this tradition. I am fortunate to have attended his first workshop here in Manila, Philippines, last year. Don’t mistake this book for a yoga book, though, because it mostly talks about lifestyle — perfect even if you don’t practice yoga.



Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl

While in the first few chapters, I knew this was going to be a life-changing book. The story of Frankl’s life and near-death moments, his personal account of life in the Nazi camp, gave me the chills. I still can’t forget it.

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

This book is full of inspiring and admirable people, stories, books to read, and quotes to live by. My biggest takeaway was a list of books that the ‘best in the world’ has read. This is a superfood for the brain.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

This led me to Medium, and I’ll always be grateful. It changed my way of consuming content and the time I spent online, engaging on Facebook, stepping out of Instagram and using Twitter today. Another life-changing book for me.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

After reading this book, I got interested and read about assisted suicide. I told my friends about it to open a conversation. This book made me cry too — a sad love story.



Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

I loved this book! There’s so much of our history all in one place. It also changed my perspective on religion, money, the environment and how tiny I am in the grand scheme of things.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This one is a quick read. The four agreements are worth taking to heart — be impeccable with your word, take nothing personally, don’t make assumptions, do your best. They apply to everything we do, even to yoga.

The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

I read this for the second time last year. This is the book that gave birth to my dreams of liberating myself from the cubicle and experiencing the world outside of it. It’s still as inspiring as when I first read it.

Lying by Sam Harris

This is a short but great read. The book is so simple, so bare…it almost brings up a mirror to remind you of the last lie you told. It opened up my eyes to why we never, ever should lie (and no, it’s not because it’s a ‘sin’).

Build Live Give by Paul Higgins

Paul Higgins was a former client when I was working for an outsourcing company in Makati. He has an outstanding story to tell, and this book is worth reading if you are in business or freelancing. I pre-ordered immediately when I saw his post on LinkedIn that he has published his first book of this Build Live Give series.



One Simple Thing by Eddie Stern 

Yoga and its relationship with science was thoroughly explained by Ashtanga teacher Eddie Stern. We know him as an authority in Ashtanga, having practiced with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois for years.

The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz

Another easy read from Don Miguel Ruiz. The fundamental idea of this book is this: love, if we want to master it, is to be practiced every single day. It’s just like practicing any skill we want to learn.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

This book touched me in a lot of ways. Never have I read the words ‘creative recovery’ before and while I was reading this, I realized I was in recovery myself! Everyone is an artist, everyone can make something from nothing.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon

The idea is this: nothing is original, everything has been done, said, made before. The only thing that makes work our own is how we show it to the world. I loved this book!

Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn

I forgot how I found this book but I must have seen it in another author’s newsletter. I bought it from Amazon to plant a seed of publishing my book one day. Someday!

Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott

I’m glad to have finished 2019 with this WONDERFUL book. It’s funny, beautifully written and…it’s simply fun to read a memoir. This is a great resource for fiction writers.


Top 5 of 2019, in no particular order: Man’s Search For Meaning, Tribe Of Mentors, Bird By Bird, The Artist’s Way, Sapiens.

You are free to share your top 5 books of 2019 as a response below!


If you liked this article, you might enjoy these too:

My Top Non-Fiction Books of 2020

3 Books To Kickstart Your Minimalism Goals


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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