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Book List From 2019

All described in 3 statements

Odyssa
9 min readJan 12, 2020

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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.

January

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.

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!

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

March

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 was willing to teach them. A good leadership book.

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.’

April

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.

May

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

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!

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.

June

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 secret sauce to accomplishment.

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!).

July

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 and the like. It perfectly describes how a relationship-turned-to-marriage life goes.

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.

August

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 had the opportunity to attend 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.

September

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.

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.

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

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.

October

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.

This one is a quick read. The four agreements are worth taking to heart — be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, do your best. They apply to everything we do, even to yoga.

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.

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’).

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.

December

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

Another easy read from Don Miguel Ruiz. The main 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.

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.

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!

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 own book one day. Someday!

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!

Odyssa writes, practices Ashtanga yoga, and works remotely.

Follow her tweets here. Subscribe to her weekly letters to hear her thoughts on Ashtanga yoga, shifting from the office desk to remote work, writing (of course) plus bits and pieces of her personal life.

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