2020 book reviews: exciting reads in a crazy year

Carolina Bento
Dec 20, 2020 · 5 min read

This year was challenging, stressful, messed up, overwhelming, brutal, … for everyone.

Lots of us found comfort in books, which might seem like a small thing, but it’s an immense privilege.

This year my readings gravitated around:

  • Fiction,
  • Science,
  • Entrepreneurship & history behind high-performers,
  • Personal development & curiosity.

I love talking about books, and discover lots of new books through these kinds of lists. So I hope you enjoy this article and that you can find a book that sparks your interest on something new.

Happy reading 📚


Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

I watched a few episodes of the Netflix series a while ago. The story was interesting, but something was not quite clicking with me, so I stopped watching it and didn’t think too much about it.

But that futuristic universe was very appealing, so when I bumped into the book I decided to give it a try. I actually listened to this book, and it definitely played a big part in keeping me hooked to the story.

In the first book of this trilogy you follow Takeshi Kovacs, a soldier who got arrested and put in to carbon storage for years. He gets revived by an intriguing billionaire who wants to solve his own murder. If Kovacs solves the crime he’s free of all the charges. But the billionaire’s offer is not that straight forward.

It’s was exciting to dive head first into this human-robot symbiotic universe and to go along with Kovacs, as he’s forced to piece together this murder and his own personal struggles.

Also enjoyed:


Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

I’m fascinated by space and the possibility of discovering life in other planets. I didn’t know much about Scott Kelly prior to reading the book, but this is another case where I bumped into the documentary and had to know more.

This book is about Scott Kelly’s journey to become an astronaut and his one-year mission in space, the first time anyone has been that long in the International Space Station.

I’ve learned that an achievement that seems to have been accomplished by one person probably has hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people’s minds and work behind it, and I’ve learned that it’s a privilege to be the embodiment of that work.

Reading this book made me appreciate much more the work and dedication of all astronauts, and how they put their life on the line to push science forward.

I loved this book so much, I wrote a few more thoughts here.

Also enjoyed:

Entrepreneurship & history behind high-performers

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Talking to your customers and finding ways to understand how they use your product determines the company roadmap and their ability to survive.

The Mom Test gives a solid framework and lots of examples on how to ask good questions and avoid common mistakes during customer conversations, so you can get the best out of all customer interactions.

It boils down to this: you aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, you own the solution.

Also enjoyed:

Personal development & curiosity

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Habits are powerful tools to improve life and pursue our aspirations. The very act of writing this article it’s me executing the habit of writing, so I can think better and better articulate my ideas.

One of my favorite books on the subject, and one of the most popular, is The Power of Habit. James Clear builds on top of the knowledge from this book and pushes habit building even further. He connects it to our daily activities.

In this book, he shares his own experiments, what’s been working for him and why, and practical habit building framework, the Four Laws of Behavior Change.

All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.

What I liked the most about this book is that it’s not about guaranteed results recipes or promises that if you do this you’ll succeed. It ties the framework to build and maintain habits with research and previous literature. The premise is that you take this knowledge and adapt it to your goals and the habits you want to develop.

Also enjoyed:

Side Notes by Carolina Bento

Notes on books, learning effectively and other thoughts

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