📚The five most interesting books I read in 2020 and why you should read them too.

5 books of 2020 opticoptimist

In 2020 I was able to read a lot despite being short on spare time. I am always amazed how much work/reading one can do when setting a goal and tracking it constantly. The following five books were among the best reads I was able to enjoy in 2020. I hope you will find something useful for yourself in the list.

1. Meditations – Marcus Aurelius

Meditations was my absolute favourite that I read last year. This book will be revisited in the future as it was just pure gold. It is the diary of a roman emperor, who constantly questions himself and reflected about life. He was well aware how short life is and how insignificant all individuals are, even roman emperors.

Marcus Aurelius had power, influence, money and responsibility. When thinking of someone in his position one might associate his life with all the benefits that all the glory must bring. The interesting thing is that he had the same fears and questions that most people have. What was even more striking is the fact, that Romans basically worried about the same issues we do today. I somehow always had this romantic notion that people in the past led carefree and slow lives. Marcus Aurelius was a humble person that doesn’t fit the typical emperor stereotype lunatic.

This thoughts are a great inspiration to think about life for me, even months after reading the book. It is no wonder that Marcus Aurelius is being cited by so many authors, especially in the self help genre.

2. The happiness Equation – Neil Pasricha

I didn’t expect much from this book and the generic title to be honest. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover they say 👹. The book touches efficiency, life goals and luck. The book is relatively short which is good because the message is simple (and common sense) but quiet strong and powerful in my opinion.

I especially enjoyed the following topics in the book:

  • The Saturday Morning Test
  • Gain space by removing choice/time and access
  • Multitasking mythos
  • Emails (Hot Potato example)
  • Advice reflects the adviser’s though

3. Digital Minimalism – Cal Newport

Having deleted my facebook account many years ago, never jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and not feeling the need to share any personal details online I guess I am a digital minimalist by nature. My gut feeling about this topic proved me right and Cal Newport’s book seconds that.

In his book the author describes why it is a good thing to stay away from facebook and co. Social media can be a powerful tool and bring tremendous value when used for a specific goal.

At the same time all these tools have been build specifically to distract you and make you an addict. You will be lured into hours of passive entertainment if you are not careful. But wasting time is only one downside, the real pain begins when you start comparing yourself to the people you follow and their apparent perfect lives. Depending on how strong your mental game is this can lead to serious unhappiness.

If you feel you spend too much time on any social media platform I urge you to read the book, it will help you or give you at least some good background why you should kick the habit.

4. The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger

Robert Iger was the CEO of Walt Disney from 2005 until 2020. The book follows his career and how he dealt with people like Steve Jobs which led to a deep friendship between the two .

Robert Iger had a vision that he stuck to, he took risks, made mistakes and stayed true to himself.

During his career he always relied on his staff and he knew that he can’t do it himself. While staying authentic and working closely together with a great team will lead to success. CEOs are often pictured as overpaid Managers. In the case of the former Robert Iger and his team I believe, that thanks to his vision and forth sight Disney will stay relevant for many years to come.

5. Choose FI – Chris Mamula

In 2020 I read several books on the topic Financial Independence and early Retirement (FIRE Movement). Chris Mamula reached FI about three years ago therefore the book is relatively up to date. There is one chapter that focuses on the US taxation system, all the other topics are also relevant for Europe and Switzerland.

Chris Mamula also writes about the life after reaching FI, which is an important topic that not many write about. I personally believe that finding a reason why you want to reach FI poses for many people a greater challenge than actually reach FI. I found a lot of useful tips and tricks in Choose FI that I can apply for my own FI project. If you are interested in the topic give this book a try.

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