Brandon Smith

Jan 6, 2020

17 min read

What I Read in 2019

10,119 pages across 25 books

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

  1. Creativity is an ordinary human endeavor, not something reserved for geniuses, artists, or generally mystical people.
  2. Creativity rarely happens in flashes of brilliant inspiration. Mostly, creative solutions are uncovered slowly, meticulously, like unearthing a fossil.
  3. Failure is part of the process. The world is full of unfinished work, but those who persevere create the good stuff. “Beginning is hard but continuing is harder,” Ashton writes.
  4. Creativity is a sum of knowledge, for both small projects and big ones. “Like every other creation, a can of Coke is a product of our world entire and contains inventions that trace all the way back to the origins of our species.”

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Conversational Design

Lean UX

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Leonardo Da Vinci

Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow

The White Tree (The Cycle of Arawn #1)

Dare to Lead

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams

The Last Wish: Introducing The Witcher

Structuring Your Novel

Ultralearning: Master Hard Skills, Outsmart the Competition, and Accelerate Your Career

Mother of Eden


Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace

Stillness is the Key

The Infinite Game

  • Leaders ought to focus on building a business that is designed to last and their ultimate goal should be to set the business up for continued success after they’ve left.
  • There’s a fair amount of uncertainty regarding the role of CEO: It’s not finance (that’s what the CFO is for) and it’s not operations (that’s what the COO is for). Other than to be the face of the business and the boss of the other C-suite executives, a CEO’s role ought to be focused on the company’s vision. Sinek suggests Chief Vision Officer (CVO) as a more appropriate title.
  • Every business needs a Just Cause (a cause that is just, i.e. morally right and fair) to inspire its people and its customers.

What were your favorite books in 2019?