Books that changed me in 2019

2019 being a transition year for me is an understatement.

The poem by Julia seems to convey how I felt most of the year.

Fashioned for some encounter, Impelling but obscure; Apprenticed to the future, We wonder and endure. We suffer strange compulsion. Our talents many skilled, Would burn upon an alter; We have not wit to build.

Ideologies, by Julia Blauvelt McGrane (1942)

State of my mind in 2019 = {‘apprentice’, ‘wonder and endure’, ‘suffer strange compulsion’, ‘burn upon alter’, ‘no(t) wit’}

Among many things I will cherish about 2019, is revival of my reading (and thus blogging). Of the many books I read and learned from, here are the ones that changed me and how I think the most.

Helped me get thru this year in one piece.

A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others

Abraham Lincoln

I experimented with all formats this year. Audible, Kindle and good old paperback. Interestingly, I now prefer different channels for different types of books. So you will see my recommendations by channel below.

Of course, some would argue reading messes with your independent mind. It surely did for the three books on dieting I tried and, as my wife predicted, didn’t last even two weeks.

Reading made Don Quixote a gentleman, but believing what he read made him mad.

George Bernard Shaw

So here’s a list of 6 that worked for me.

Hope you are investing some of your holidays reading.


I re-read this book in 2019.

Most view it as a history book. A few others a human drama. For me this is a bible for leadership thru transformation.

Never cease to be amazed by life lessons in every anecdote, incident and conversation. Lincoln leads a team of super smart, ambitious and often warring leaders thru the turbulent times of a civil war; slowly winning respect from most and love from a few. Simply fascinating.

Team of Rivals

I distrust leadership (and spiritual) books. In fact, the book Power below makes an eloquent argument against all leadership books.

Yet …

More than my own leadership travails, I have often struggled to coach your leaders. This book (recommend the audible version) is a collection of simple and easy to apply ideas from Captain Michael Abrashoff on how to create intrinsic motivation in your teams – operating even within a very constrained organization like the Navy.

It’s Your Ship
Sleep is not just a nice to have to fight off exhaustion, but a critical living process that enables functions including blood pressure regulation and memory formation.

In a world where we are always on, compete with each other over ability to burn the proverbial candle on both ends and carry devices to bed – we are directly assaulting the quality and quantity of our sleep.

Scientists are now defining this wide spread lack of sleep as a ‘public health epidemic‘.

Recommended by Bill Gates in his top 5 holiday reading list this year, ignore at your own peril

Why we Sleep by Harvard researcher Mathew Walker

Shakes you up …

Systematically Carlo Rovelli dismantles every brick of our understanding and perception of time.

He effortlessly glides us thru abstract concepts of physics including entropy and quantum nature of space/time. Then he goes on to linking experiences of mystics, writers, philosophers and musicians to this new understanding of what time is not.

Can’t imagine anyone else other than Benedict Cumberbatch to read this (the audible version). He is the only one who can play Dr. Strange after all !!!

Not a physics geek, yet it may be important for you to ponder on What if time is not linear or absolute

The Order of Time
Reading this book was a very disturbing experience for me. Yet, I wish I had read this in my 20s !!

Jeffrey Pfeffer is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979.

In a very powerful manner (pun intended) he destroys every myth propagated by leadership books, makes the case for why power is a critical currency for any leader and opens your eyes to the play of power in every organization.

It’s literally ‘what they don’t teach you in (b)school‘ !!

Power – Why some people have it – and others don’t

Come fall in love …

with Mr. Lincoln. with Mary Todd’s fiesty personality. with Joshua Speed’s devotion.
with the dichotomy of a clear mind and a melancholic mind battling simultaneously inside Me. Lincoln.
with lively recital imitating accents, tone and personalities by Tavia Gilbert and Robert Fass.
with the little moments imagined and created thru out the story.
with the clever questions with a twinkle Mr. Lincoln seems to ask so often.
.
.. above all with the wonderful soul Mr. Lincoln is.

Must listen in audible … Courting Mr. Lincoln

I know, said list of 6. The 7th one is a bonus. I don’t cherish romantic fiction very much. But enjoyed this one tremendously. Probably because Lincoln is the protagonist. Or may be because the Audible version brings alive the story right in front of your eyes, like radio plays of yesteryears.

See how sharp it looks even by today’s aesthetic standards …

In our childhood, my father would record using his Panasonic cassette recorder movies on TV for us to enjoy later. Our version of entertainment on demand !!

My sister and I listened to Mayabazaar, Missamma, Gundamma Katha, Chalti ka Naam Gadi and Sholay with our dad many times – with our imagination replaying the scenes in our minds.

Given cassettes were expensive and imported thru our uncles / aunts visiting from abroad, we needed to be very selective about what we recorded. But we listened to those classics over and over again.

May be less was more !!

So pick your books very carefully. The goal is to pick ones to read, that you will re-read.

If you cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Oscar Wilde

Published by SridharTuraga

A dad. A partner. A son. A problem solver. A learner. A teacher.

One thought on “Books that changed me in 2019

  1. Sometimes it is not the books that enthrall you. Some like me are enthralled by experiences that people share after reading the books. I then pick up the book that gave its readers a good experience and then beging reading it, comparing my experience along the way. Keep reading, and writing about the experience.

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