The Books I Read This Year (2019)

January 03, 2020

Posting a little late, but meh, that is life sometimes. Every year I try to keep track of the books that I read and give a brief summary of each. Mostly so that I can have a catalog of them for later, but also just in case someone was interested in the same books and needed a review.

Without further ado:

The Wise Man’s Fear — Patrick Rothfuss :: The second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles continues the story of Kvothe and his adventures. We follow Kvothe as he discovers more and more the story of the Chandrian, the secrets of the university, and his epic (and reckless) quests. Rothfuss answers little questions and instead raises many more about how Kvothe became a humble innkeeper, seemingly hiding away from the rest of the world. What did Kvothe ultimately do? What drove him into hiding? Hopefully, the third book will answer.

An Astronauts Guide to Life On Earth — Chris Hadfield :: Chris Hadfield is about as accomplished of a person there is. Pilot, astronaut, commander of the ISS, etc., Hadfield describes how he has learned to deal with risk, adversity, and grit through the lens of an astronaut. While reading such books are always inspiring, I mainly learned more and more the mark of quiet confidence. In so many scenarios, Chris describes how the ability to stay calm under pressure comes not from a behavioral inclination, but from the intense training and preparation that comes before.

Beartown — Frederick Backman :: The secrets and ambitions of small towns can go deeper than anyone thought possible. In this novel about a small town and its relationship to hockey, Backman explores human nature, leadership, personal responsibility, and how the weight of secrets can drag anyone down. Backman writes with simplicity and bluntness that captures your imagination and emotion. A must-read book, in my opinion.

The Meaning of Marriage — Tim and Kathy Keller :: I got engaged in 2019 and will be getting married shortly into 2020. This book has been a helpful guide as my fiancee, and I prepare for our marriage. While less practical and more foundational in its approach, this book has helped to provide a framework for how we are viewing the commitment we are making together before we say “I do.” We, of course, won’t have it all figured out by simply reading this book, but it is a great first read for any Christian couples either engaged or considering marriage.

The Dichotomy of Leadership — Jacko Willnik + Leif Babin :: The authors of Extreme Ownership are back with a follow-up about the duality of good leadership that is required to succeed. While leaders must have extreme ownership, leaders also need to know when the lines can be guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Times when a leader should be imploring a team to push through or imploring them to rest. When extreme ownership means proper delegation and trusting your team. I have, unfortunately, not read their first book, but I am excited to go back and read up on the characteristics of great leadership from these exceptional military leaders.

The Rock Warrior’s Way — Arno Ilgner :: I’ve been rock-climbing on and off for a few years now. I kept finding myself stuck on V4s and 5.11s. I was just unable to move past these grades. The Rock Warrior’s Way helped me to understand just how much fear was playing a part in my performance as a climber and how I must deal with it. Previously, I would find myself saying “I should be able to climb this” and now I find myself asking “How will I climb this?” That simple shift of expectation to learning has helped me climb my first V5s and expanded my creativity when climbing. I recommend it to any climber or extreme athlete.

Happy reading in 2020!

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Dan Goslen is a software engineer, climber, and coffee drinker. He has spent 10 years writing software systems that range from monoliths to micro-services and everywhere in between. He's passionate about building great software teams that build great software. He currently works as a software engineer in Raleigh, NC where he lives with his wife and son.