Reading can be pure pleasure, a mental escape, but more often than not we hope the time we put into books offers some sort of real life reward. Maybe a novel makes us feel less weird and alone. A business book could help us crack a tough problem at work. Or a memoir might lead to a useful insight about life. 

The bottom line is the best books are the ones that help us long after we've put them down. Which titles will have the biggest impact on your life? The answer, of course, varies depending on your taste and situation, but it's always handy to know what books helped others the most. 

To that end Hiut Denim and Do Lectures co-founder David Hieatt kicked off a discussion on Twitter recently, asking his followers which book had the biggest impact on them in 2019:  

The resulting conversation drew in many entrepreneurs, executives, and creatives (most based in the U.K.), who shared the books that changed their lives this year. Enjoy the reading inspiration. 

1. Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas​

Oren J. Falkowitz, founder of Area 1 Security, suggested Winners Take All. A bestseller by The New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas, this one is a "groundbreaking investigation of how the global elite's efforts to 'change the world' preserve the status quo and obscure their role in causing the problems they later seek to solve," according to Amazon. Sounds timely as the backlash against tech gains steam and the presidential election heats up. 

2. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Looking to tame your use of tech? Then Growth Sessions founder Michelle Bondesio has a recommendation for you: Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. 

3. Quiet by Susan Cain 

Marcus Taylor, founder of digital agency Taylor/Thomas, has an idea for fellow introverts hoping to feel more comfortable in their own skin: Quiet by Susan Cain. "I am an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. She made me feel normal about how group situations can feel overwhelming," he writes. 

4. Peak by Chip Conley 

The Embassies founder Jan Garde said Peak by Chip Conley was the title that most changed his life this year. Subtitled "How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow," the book is part memoir, part management guide, which draws from Maslow's fanous hierarchy of needs, as well as the author's own experience at the head of a troubled hospitality company. 

5. Happy by Derren Brown 

Dom McCormack, creative director at CHILLI UK, insisted that Happy, by Derren Brown, didn't just change his 2019, it changed his entire life. Digging into the history of happiness from the ancients Stoics up to today, the book pushes back against the usual self-help prescriptions for those chasing happiness and promises to offer better alternatives. The U.K.'s Sunday Times called it "witty, useful and beautifully written." 

6. The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD 

Group Think partner Rob Estreitinho offers a more offbeat suggestion: The Body Keeps The Score. A deep dive into how trauma affects our bodies, and the most promising treatments for survivors, written by a leading researcher in the field, this one isn't for everyone. But if this is a subject that has touched you or those you love, this comprehensive look at the latest science on trauma could be a life changer. 

7. How to Fail by Elizabeth Day

Noting the male makeup of most of the recommendations, copywriter Emily Ash Powell offered to correct the balance with her selection of books by women that have recently helped her. Among her picks is How to Fail, based on the popular podcast of the same name. Amazon describes it as a "brilliantly funny, painfully honest and insightful celebration of things going wrong. This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it's a book for everyone."

How about you, which book did you find those most helpful this year? 

Published on: Nov 14, 2019
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