Favorite Books of 2019

2019 was a record year for me – 76 books! Because of my transition from full-time work in Atlanta to interning in Chicago and starting school, I had a lot of time to dive deep into a variety of books and stories. Most of them were fantastic – but the reads below were my favorites. I hope you pick one or a few of them up and add them to your list.

Historical Fiction (My Favorite Genre!):

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

If you had to choose one book this year to read, this should be it. Homegoing is one of the best books that I have ever read – period. Yaa Gyasi tells the story of the African trans-migration to the Americas in the most beautiful and profound way. The story begins in the 1800’s with the Fante and Asante tribes, and each chapter follows a descendant of the next generation to modern day times. It is uplifting, inspiring, heart breaking, historically correct and incredibly moving. And check this – its her debut novel! Please please pick up this book – you won’t regret it.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Asian historical fiction pieces have kind of been my thing this year. There have been so many new books released over the past few years that highlight experiences within the Pan-Asian diaspora over the past 100 years. This family saga deserves a spot on my best books of the year list. Pachinko tells the story of a Korean family’s migration to Japan starting in the early 1900s. The storytelling is woven in such a way to highlight the beauty of the pains life and how cultural, religious and national norms can mold generational decisions. And of course, there’s multiple love components – and each one is unique in its own beautiful and in some cases painful way.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

I have read a plethora of slave narrative stories. “The Kitchen House” blew me away. It is told from the perspective of a white indentured servant and a slave in juxtaposition to each other. The viewpoints are incredibly nuanced, the story is complex and the relationships between the characters are entangled in such a way that you can only imagine how difficult life must have been in the antebellum south for every party involved.


Killers of The Flower Moon And The Birth of the FBI by David Grann

History is powerful. This book goes to the midwest and outlines the relocation of the Osage Indians (accidentally to oil rich lands), the murders that followed, and how the FBI was essentially established to figure out who was committing the murders. It is real, terrifying and gives you insight to yet another piece of questionable American history that you wouldn’t know otherwise.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe dog is the story of Phil Knight – the creator of Nike. The story behind most of our favorite shoe brand is incredible. Phil’s tenacity, will to risks, and belief in his ability to make Nike the major brand and company that it is today is compelling to say the least. It’ll make you want to build something great.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

This is a brief history of human-kind. Yes, this read is long. BUT – it is digestible, condensed and tells you everything that you need to know to have a high level view of how we have evolved as a species and built the world that we live in today. Read it.

The State of Affairs by Esther Perel

Relationships seem to be a hot topic of conversation, especially now that my friends are getting married and having kids. This book doesn’t seek to say whether infidelity is right or wrong – it seeks to give you a historical, cultural, and scientific framework to think about infidelity and relationships. Interesting read to say the least.

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Nowadays, the news is the craziest show on TV. But, because the news cycle is so fast, there are few opportunities to deep dive into what is really going on. “The Fifth Risk” is a dive into some of the most impactful and important departments within the government: the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. Lewis paints a rich picture of what these departments actually do and how seemingly incompetent and lackadaisical Trump’s transition team was in getting to work.

Dopesick by Beth Macy

Dopesick is a must-read to better understand the opioid crisis from its beginnings in Rural America – Appalachia. Beth Macy takes readers on a journey by sharing personal stories from addicts to their families to doctors to lawyers fighting this epidemic in the courtroom. It it timely and a necessary read.

Memoirs / Biographies

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This made me love Michelle more than I already did, and I didn’t think that was possible. Reading her memoir prior to moving to Chicago was such a special treat. Her upbringing and success in her career is inspiring in itself. The love story that she shares with Barack is just as inspiring. You can’t help but have a deeper appreciation for where how far Michelle has gone from where she has been by reading her story.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s memoir of growing up in South Africa will have you laughing out loud. Not only will you learn so much about South African culture, history and superstitions. His story is outrageous and will make you appreciate his comedy even more than you probably already do.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Permanent record is the first book we are reading in our “Boothie Book Club” (post to follow). Between the news articles, documentaries and stories in general Snowden’s actual story became lost in the headlines. Permanent record sets the record straight on who he his, his family’s background, his struggle to make the decision to release the docs and why he did it. It is profound and really makes you question just how much do we care about our personal info, and how deep can the government truly dig into our lives. (there’s a reason why people cover their laptop cameras). This book is current American history. Snowden had and will continue to have an impact on our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not.

We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union’s memoir is worth the read and very well written. I did not know what to expect, but regardless – she delivered. Her incredibly personal stories on her childhood, career and family life are warming, heart-breaking and REAL. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy it.


Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked was recommended to me by a friend and fellow entrepreneur Scooter Taylor Co-Founder of LookLive. I am incredibly interested in building avtechnology platform. This read explains how to create habit forming applications (hopefully for good). It was straightforward, incredibly compelling and gave a framework for building new applications.

Crucial Conversations

Crucial Conversations should be on every persons shelf – because we all have them. And, unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to have them well. (Ask my family, holidays are always a true test of character and conversational ability). We have daily situation where the stakes are high. However, there is always a better way to handle a tough conversation. Use the tools in this book to stock up your toolbox – I’m sure you’ll use them.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

This is a quintessential read for anyone interested in entrepreneurship or for the entrepreneurs already in the trenches trying to build amazing companies. Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreesen Horowitz, is brutally honest about how painful starting and running a business is. No sugar-coating. Just real talk. It is an easy read and one that you will want to keep on your shelf for forever.


The Power by Naomi Alderman

Want to know what would happen if women really could rule the world? The Power gives you a sci-fi dystopian version of what that could look like if the tables were turned. It is an interesting view of how governments, religion and the economy would be changed with this new found and harnessable ‘power’. A feminist read for all my feminist friends out there.

Circe by Madeline Miller

I was thoroughly confused when I started reading this book, but by the time I finished this book, I was elated. Madeline Miller’s storytelling of Circe ( the daughter of Helios and Perse, yes like in the Odyssey) is enchanting, terrifying and complex. If you are at all interested in mythology and family tragedies this needs to be on your list.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

This book is DEEP. Yes, there are sweet parts and pieces, but it nothing like the the beautiful rom-com that was the biggest hit of last year. Although it is fiction, it is a serious culture dive that goes in great depth into how family history, culture and wealth effects this “Crazy Rich Asian” ecosystem. Such a great read that the sequel is definitely on my August read list.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

There’s a reason why this book has been at the top of the New York Times list for a long time – it’s unique. This story is set in the marshes of North Carolina and keeps you hooked in this hazy space until the last page. Give it a try – I think you’ll like it.

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

I opened this book while on a flight to Warsaw, Poland on my way to Georgia. It must have been fate, as I didn’t know much about the book other than it was a Post-Apocalyptic story. Station Eleven tells the story of a world that is decimated by the “Georgian Flu”, from Georgia the country, and follows a theater troop trying to survive around the Great Lakes and Chicago area (what a coincidence). Post-Apocalyptic stories make us reflect on the lifestyles and technologies that we have come to take for granted. Station Eleven is artistic and highlights the importance of the arts, the abuse of the concept of religion, and how our world could be turned upside down in a blink of an eye. Definitely a must read.

All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

This read is super deep, awkward to read and exposes a narrative around poor white drug ridden America through a fictional lens. Hearing about the “opioid epidemic / crisis” on the news is pretty regular nowadays, but the stories behind them are difficult to capture. Although this story may be extreme, it is heartfelt and you are able to reason with each character regardless of their viewpoint and storyline, because all of their views are valid within this twisted world that they are living in. Love takes on many forms in life, and sometimes it is the most important thing that we can hold onto.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

I have to shout out bad ass author Tomi Adeyemi because her storytelling is FANTASTIC! If you have not already read Children of Blood and Bone , the first book in the Legacy of Orisha series, do yourself a huge favor and do so. I like to describe the series as Harry Potter meets Hunger Games meets Africa. The world that Tomi has created is amazing and gives me chills when I think about what it will look like on the big screen with Disney’s Fox and Lucasfilms next year. Children of Virtue and Vengeance does not disappoint and continues the epic tale started in Children of Blood and Bone.

2019 Extended Book List

Historical Fiction

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

There There by Tommy Orange

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Last Pirate Of New York by Rich Cohen

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Gressom

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Elevation by Stephen King

The Storyteller’s Secret by Sejal Badani

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Power by Naomi Alderman

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Circe by Madeline Miller

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Chef by James Patterson

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Florida by Lauren Groff

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid


Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Hooked by Nir Eyal

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Good to Great by Jim Collins

Grit by Angela Duckworth

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell


12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

Becoming by Michelle Obama

My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Calypso by David Sedaris

Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane

We’re Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

Educated by Tara Westover

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden


Successful Women Think Differently by Valorie Burton

The Common Wind by Julius S. Scott

Zoo Nebraska by Carson Vaughan

Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Cult Of The Dead Cow by Joseph Menn

Dopesick by Beth Macy

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

The State of Affairs by Esther Perel

The Obesity Code by Jason Fung, MD

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

AIQ by Nick Polson & James Scott

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil

The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck