One of the things I am proud of from last year was reading more books. In 2019 I’ve reached 29 which is more by a whole one book in comparison to 2018. Because this was my ‘study’ year, I ended up reading many books about programming, algorithms and data science, but relax, I will not bore you with them (for now…). Here are the best pieces I got my hands on in 2019:
Becoming, Michelle Obama
This lady needs no introduction. Michelle Obama wrote down her story and it is a very easy to read and inspiring piece of writing. Mrs. Obama is focusing on events that have shaped her as a person and on topics that are close to her heart. She is sharing her hopes and fears with the reader. Ladies and gentlemen, Michelle Obama is human. I admire her for her strength, kindness and for attitude for getting things done.
The Shadow of The Sun [“Heban”], Ryszard Kapuściński
I’ve also read ‘Another Day of Life’ and ‘The Soccer War’ however this one I liked the most. All of them are very good though. Ryszard Kapuściński was a Polish journalist, writer, and photographer. He worked as a war correspondent for the Polish Press Agency and wrote mainly reportages. He is the most famous polish reportage writer. The Shadow of The Sun is about his years in Africa, a book that is well written and very moving. What I liked most, was the atmosphere of it. Africa always has been more of a mystery to me. This magical place so far away and so different from everything that I know. In my opinion, anything broadening your horizons is good.
[“Miłość z kamienia”], Grażyna Jagielska
In many bookstores next to Ryszard Kapuściński, you will often find books written by Wojciech Jagielski who was also working as a war correspondent. Grażyna Jagielska is his wife and this book is about how she was coping with constantly living on the edge of a disaster. Because that’s how you may describe a life full of worry that the person you love is risking his life every single day for his job. Despite having a family, his love of adventure and danger was greater. It is a story about depression, love, devotion and most of all sacrifice – on both sides. Unfortunately I haven’t found it in English, but maybe it will be translated in the future. The title in English could be – Love Made of Stone.
Catch-22 [“Paragraf 22”], Joseph Heller
Because this year HBO released the last season of Game of Thrones I was a proud member of the HBOGO platform for a couple of months. I discovered a short series based on one of my favorite books there – Catch-22 (starring Christopher Abbott, George Clooney & Hugh Laurie – I recommend it!) – and I decided to read it once again before I watch it. It is a satirical novel describing how an individual cannot escape a certain situation because of limitations that are in contradiction to one another. It reminded me a bit of Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’. Extremely funny.
How To Give Up Plastic: Simple steps to living consciously on our blue planet [“Jak zerwać z plastikiem”], Will McCallum
Will McCallum is the Head of Oceans at Greenpeace so you definitely can trust in the data provided by the book and his expertise. This book made me introduce many changes in my life and to start my #boldfortheplanet initiative. In my case, this was the most inspiring book of 2019 because it forced me to actually do something. That says a lot because we are living in a world where standing up for something is mainly done from the couch, sitting in underwear and scratching our bottom at the same time. One-click and you show support for Greta Thunberg and all the kids refusing to go to school because they care about the environment so much. One thumb-up away from joining the discussion about horrifying fires in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, support is important, and I do that myself but what makes a real impact is what we ‘DO’, not only what we ‘LIKE👍🏼’. There are people out there who actually take action, while we are still in our panties on the sofa. So take some action! Get involved! This book is filled with many suggestions, pieces of advice and useful information, use and adjust it to yourself. There is no planet B, so we all better get to it.
Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was a figure ahead of his time. His autobiography includes many interesting stories and facts. He was a very disciplined, intelligent, self-aware and innovative man. A man that was very driven, and ambitious, and who knew that people have to constantly work on their characters in order to succeed. His astonishing life, examined from a distance, may suggest that many things happened to him as a result of lucky coincidences – but make no mistake – they happened because he was a smart, hard working, devoted, and honest person with strong morals and natural need for justice. That precisely is a very universal truth. The harder you work, the more ‘luck’ you will seem to have. (This book is available for free in iBooks library)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy [“Autostopem przez Galaktykę”], Douglas Adams
This book has been on my mind for months if not years! It is one of Elon Musk’s favourites and every respectful nerd (and I consider myself to be one) has to read it. I found it hilarious. It is not much about the the story itself, but more about how it is written. Douglas Adams has a really nice, easy-going style of writing. I absolutely adore it so I will probably read more stories that came from under his pen.
Moment Of Lift, Melinda Gates
Next to the environment, one of the things that I care about is gender equality. Which is exactly why I reached for this book. Melinda and Bill Gates had been running their foundation since 2000 and one of the areas that they focus on are Health and Education. This book is filled with real-life stories that will break your heart, empower you, force you to appreciate all you have and make you want to do something to help. Women around the world face so many difficulties, and exclusion, and sometimes are being denied to even have a voice. I am not an emotional person but this book moved me.
And Then There Were None [“I nie było już nikogo”], Agatha Christie
I used to love Agatha Christie’s books when I was a kid. I remember going to the library in my hometown week by week and taking one after another. So when I saw this one on a huge discount on Audible – I decided to give myself a trip to the past (I haven’t read it before). I always try to figure out the mystery while reading, although I wasn’t fully right in my suspicions, I still enjoyed the process. To be surprised is exactly what I expect from a book like that.
Blink, Malcolm Gladwell
“Blink” was also on my list for some time so I am glad I finally got to it. It’s about the unconscious mind, how it can be much smarter than our regular way of thinking, but also how it can (and certainly do!) trick us. Very eye-opening and interesting because it considers everyone. Knowing the mechanisms of our decision making can help us improve our choices. We all have good and bad days, but how we see ourselves in a specific moment can affect our performance drastically – on a test or before a job interview. If you like cognitive sciences this is a book for you!
Let the challenge of 52 books in 2020 begin!
I want to be around people that DO things.
I don’t want to be around people anymore that JUDGE or TALK
about what people do.
I want to be around people who DREAM, and SUPPORT, and DO things.
~ Amy Poehler