I have always loved reading, especially as a kid. I easily hit all of the reading goals in elementary school where you log your hours all for the sake of one celebratory personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut (I am unsure why that was so motivating but it was). As an adult, I fell away from a lot reading because I was either “too busy” or reading for another purpose, like graduate school.

It has been over two years now since leaving my gig as a corporate HR executive, yet I can still remember back to the entire first decade of my career when I barely found time to use the bathroom or would eat whole meals in elevator rides. I certainly did not have time to read for fun (partially due to my penchant for textbooks to complete my MBA at the time). As I have become more in tune to the wide world out there of ideas outside my company experience that were worth exploring, I have created an ever-growing list of books on my list to read. The list includes many books that are not new but obligatory classic reading in addition to the steady flow of new books and new topics.

In 2018, I set an aggressive goal to read forty books in one year. As far as reading goes, I had some catching up to do. In order to accomplish this goal, I received a pile of new books for Christmas in 2017, finally got myself a library card to check out books, and committed to an Audible account. I would read physical books whenever I anticipated they would be important for my work and I would want to write and refer back to copious margin notes. I bought or borrowed e-books when I was less committed to needing the material or my notes again, and I listened to audio books when they were either available from the library or I could get them on Audible. Again, only when I didn’t anticipate needing to keep notes.

I tend to prefer non-fiction books, especially of the business or self-help variety, but when I wanted a break from those I prefer memoirs as truthful storytelling. I rarely read fiction any more mostly because I have such an extensive list of books I want to read that also contribute to the work I do, so those get prioritized.

On the list you will see plenty of old titles, and some new ones. Some you may have heard of, and some you have likely read.


The Best

I have noted my ten favorite books in the complete list with an asterisk (*) so you can see which ones I loved the most. At a glance, here are my Top 10, and why I loved them.

Most Interesting Research & Information

  • Drive, by Daniel Pink
  • The Hidden Brain, Shankar Vendantam
  • The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle

Best Storytelling

  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
  • Heavy, by Kiese Laymon

Best for the Soul

  • The Firestarter Sessions, by Danielle LaPorte
  • The Book of Awakening, by Mark Nepo
  • Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother, by Beth Ann Fennelly
  • The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


The Worst

They shall remain nameless, but there were admittedly four books on the list that I technically didn’t finish because I purposely abandoned them. As a rule of thumb, I am so committed that it literally never occurred to me that I could just quit a book if I didn’t like it until very recently. And so, in an act of total freedom, I allowed myself the permission to try long enough to give each book a chance, and then let it go if it wasn’t my jam rather than suffer through the rest. This alone was a personal success from the project. I’ll let you decide which ones they are.


Goals for 2019

The 40 Book Year was an amazing experience, and it changed the way I habitually spend my time. I am not setting a goal quite so high (or really any goal) this year, other than I estimate I will be more at a pace of about 30 books. I still feel woefully behind on the books that I want to read and look forward to feeling a bit more “caught up” someday in the far out future. I will continue to use the same methods of reading in hard copy, e-copy, and audio books, and this is a great way to read for even 10 minutes here and there if you have some lofty reading goals. I also have a handful of friends and colleagues that have published books in the last several months that are on the top of my 2019 reading list. Here are a few on the docket for 2019:

Here’s to taking on some bold personal development. What will you be learning about this year?


The Complete List: The 40 Book Year

Title Favorites
The Secret Life of Introverts, Jenn Granneman
The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle LaPorte *
I’m Judging You, Luvvie Ajavi
Drop the Ball, Tiffany Dufu
The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo *
Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother, Beth Ann Fennelly *
Originals, Adam Grant
Your First 1,000 Copies, Tim Grahl
Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra
10% Happier, Dan Harris
Judgement Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein
Leadership and the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard
When Millennials Take Over, Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant
A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle
The Secret, Rhonda Byrne
The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
Wild, Cheryl Strayed *
We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates
What Happened, Hillary Clinton
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Drive, Daniel Pink *
Grit, Angela Duckworth
Tribe of Mentors, Tim Ferriss
Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur
Option B, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
How to Market a Book, Joanna Penn
The Artist’s Way Workbook, Julia Cameron
The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown
The Book of Coaching, Ajit Nawahlka
The Hidden Brain, Shankar Vendantam *
The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur
The Untethered Soul, Michael Singer
Daring Greatly, Brené Brown *
Truthful Living, Jeffrey Gitomer/Napoleon Hill
The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle *
Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis
Dare to Lead, Brené Brown
The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry *
Heavy, Kiese Laymon *

About the author:
Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com or join the Team Awesome Community for awesomeness coming straight to your inbox. Follow Team Awesome on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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