Twenty four books to read in 2020

Adriaan Kolff
Jan 8 · 6 min read

What books to read in 2020 and why? This list is the result of those two questions from people with different kind of backgrounds in art, business, entrepreneurship and non profit who share a common interest of reading great books. The result is a nice mixture of fiction and non fiction and is my fuel to reach my goal to read 2 books a month so 24 books in total.

I have deliberately left two spots open because I would like to keep the possibility to add a few books that come out in 2020 and remain flexible if I get new recommendations that I can’t turn down. Please feel inspired and comment if any “must read” books are missing on this list!

In no particular order my reading list for 2020:

1. Let my people go surfing — Yvon Chounaird

Why read?

Book full of inspiration, lessons for live and a well thought vision on our existence. Recommend this book to anyone that would like to know more about a different philosophy and approach to life and want to live within a greater realm.

Recommended by: Wouter de Roy van Zuidewijn

2. Utopia — Thomas More

Why read?

It’s the first SF book ever. It discribes for example the first use if concrete without it excising. It’s super interesting to read how someone from the 1500 thinks about the future abd the ultimate way of living.

Recommended by: Ralph Nauta

3. The culture map — Erin Meyer

Why read?

When you work with different cultures this book gives a perfect insight in why we are so different. Must read if you work internationally or when you live abroad.

Recommended by: Duco Onnes

4. Man’s search for Meaning — Viktor E. Frankl

Why read?

Learning to find meaning, purpose and hope irrespective of dire circumstances has helped me overcome both personal and professional challenges. I no longer seek success for success sake, rather I know it is a by product of my attitude towards my challenges.

Recommended by: Christine Concepción

5. What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School — Mark McCormack

Why read?

“One of the best business books I have ever read”

Recommended by: Nicolas Cole

6. Profit First — Mike Michalowicz

Why read?

I tell every entrepreneur I work with about this book and I’ve mentioned this book a ton of times in past blog posts. This is required reading for every entrepreneur — every person I’ve recommended this to have had their perspective on budgeting and spending turned on its head (in a good way).

Recommended by: Sophia Sunwoo

7. Angel: How to invest in technology start ups — Jason Calacanis

Why read?

Jason Calacanis claims to be the most successful angel investor in the world. Over the last years I have picked up an interest in angel investing and I am curious to read about Jason’s experience and what has made him the ‘most successful angel investor in the world.

Recommended by: Adriaan Kolff (great guy…)

8. The Big Oyster: History on the half shell — Mark Kurlansky

Why read?

This books tells the story and history of New York by following the trajectory of oysters. “One of the best non fiction books I have ever read and everybody that is interested in New York should read it”. Cant’s say no to that… :).

Recommended by: Unknown lady in a bicycle store called “Bicycle habits” in New York while I was waiting to get my bike fixed.

9. The Most Important Thing — Howard Marks

Why read?

Here’s one thing investors often say: Good decisions can lead to bad outcomes, and bad decisions can lead to good outcomes. One of my favorite books on investing is The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks. His investment strategy is largely based on the fact that humans are emotional beings.

Recommended by: Darius Foroux

10. The way of a superior man — David Deida

Why read?

I think you will like this book because it talks about how to face your masculine and how to navigate feminine energy. It encourages you to stay true to your life’s purpose and face your fears.

Recommended by: Olya Schechter

11. The way to Love — Anthony de Mello

Why read?

“It is a series of meditations on life. It will take you only an hour to read and there are some great lessons in there.”

Recommended by: Sam Altman in his Y combinator podcast

12. Black Earth: Holocaust history as a warning to us — Timothy Snyder

Why read?

Essential reading for the times. Productivity books are BS. We have much more important issues to handle. The era of public engagement is here — our industry needs to embrace its role in leading it!

Recommended by: Hung Lee

13. The hard thing about hard things — Ben Horowitz

Why read?

A book that is written in a no bullshit kind of style with a broad view of the challenges an entrepreneur faces. Ben not only sheds light on the success stories but also on the negative sides of being an entrepreneur without sugarcoating it.

Recommended by: Maarten van der Kwaak

14. A little life — Hanya Yanagihara

Why read?

A Little Life feels elemental, irreducible — and, dark and disturbing though it is, there is beauty in it. After you have finished the book it will stay with you or a very long time.

Recommended by: Liselore Kolff

15. Super Thinking — Gabriel Weinberg

Why read?

Because it’s like weightlifting for the mind — helping you to make better decisions

Recommended by: John Belizaire

16. Upheaval — Jared Diamond

Why read?

By considering the ways in which national crises compare to individual crises, Diamond provides a unique and valuable perspective on global history. There are thousands of self help books about how to overcome any personal challenge, but Upheaval is one of the first self help books for nations. His book explores historical patterns which can help us to better navigate both current and future international challenges.

Recommended by: Laurel Tincher

17. The power of now — Eckhart Tolle

Why read?

In his book: “The Power of Now”, Eckhart Tolle teaches you to be conscious of your ego and the thoughts in your head. This book helps you to understand the difference between who you think you are and who you actually are and teaches you to not identify yourself with your thoughts and emotions.

Recommended by: Romee van Asbeck

18. Leadership Step by Step: Become the Person Others Follow — Joshua Spodek

Why read?

If you want to play piano, classes in music appreciation won’t hurt, but they won’t teach you to play. Practicing scales does. Nearly every resource on leadership, entrepreneurship, or initiative teaches appreciation — principles, biography, history. My books teach how to lead and initiate through a progression of exercises — the leadership equivalent of piano scales.

Recommended by: Joshua Spodek

19. 1q84 — Murakami

Why read?

Going to a different world by reading about a different world. Brilliantly written about a ‘boy meets a girl’. Saying more wouldn’t do right to the story. Read and discover yourself…

Recommended by: Floris Kaptein and Chris Derksen

20. War and Turpentine — Stefan Hertmans

Why read?

“I have always been fascinated by wars, it’s destructiveness and utter uselessness.” In War and Turpentine, Stefan Hertmans describes the aftermath of the First World War and the impact it has on generations to come. Beautifully written and is a true page turner.

Recommended by: Bas Bloem

Dutch recommendations

21. De meeste mensen deugen — Rutger Bregman (English translation will be published soon)

Why read?

Unlike the daily news on FOX or CNN, this book will give you a positive view on mankind and how we can shape the future for the better. A book for people who like to have a realistic view on the world, backed by a lot of academic research, which makes cynical people pack their bags and go home…

Recommended by: Duco Luitse

22. Het grote gevecht — Jeroen Smit (English translation will soon be published)

Why read?

Paul Polman was one of the first CEO’s of a Fortune 500 company to put sustainability at the core of his strategy and set the ambitious target of doubling Unilever’s turnover while halving its environmental footprint. Paul Polman strongly believes that companies have to be a ‘force of good’ and need to have a long term vision to contribute to this planet. This book is about his mission his successes but also about his struggles to deal with shareholders and investors that are not able to capture a ‘force of good’ in their excel sheets. Very inspirational and an example to all of us.

Recommended by: Wicher Stolwijk & Charlotte Kolff

23. Wildcard no. 1 Any thoughts?

24. Wildcard no. 2. Any thoughts?