A Year in (Book) Review

With our eyes affixed, focused, and homed in on 2020 – which, in my opinion, they should be – I wanted to take some time to briefly step back, to reflect on 2019 – my favorite year of reading to date. While this post is inherently personal, I encourage your participation! Share your 2019 reading journey in the comments, or, if you like to keep things closer to the chest, lets start a private conversation – email me at ian@heliumbooks.com!


What I want to do with this post is to simply share some of the books that I thoroughly enjoyed this past trip around the sun and tell you why they struck a chord within me. Again, I hope for this to act more as a catalyst of discussion with you and the rest of the Helium family, rather than a unidirectional brain spill from me to the reader. What books have defined 2019 for you?


So, without further ado, the following four books, while read last year, will stay with me for years to come, vaulting them to the top of my favorites list…


For the learner in me…

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari


Numerous people had told me to read this book…so, what does one naturally do when told by trusted sources what to do? Do what they say and read the damn book! And good thing I did. Did you know that we are actually descendants of not just one species – the well-known Homo sapiens – but of multiple sapiens species?! No? Me either! Oh, and did you know what makes humankind truly unique from all other organisms?! I thought I did, until I read this book. A page-turner for the curious mind that answers the question: How did life as we know it all start?


~ Quote ~ “A meaningful life can be extremely satisfying even in the midst of hardship, whereas a meaningless life is a terrible ordeal no matter how comfortable it is.”


For the believer in me…

Life of Pi  by Yann Martel


As if losing your entire family in a shipwreck isn't enough, now you have to attempt to survive in a lifeboat with a full-grown, ferocious, and hungry Bengal tiger...a seemingly impossible task, right? I won't spoil the ending, but this book turned Hollywood box office hit is gripping from page one to the very finish...oh, the finish...all I'll say is WOW. Never again will I doubt the tenacity of the human spirit, the will to continue forward despite relentless setbacks, nor the power of a guiding purpose.


~ Quote ~ “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”


For the worker in me…

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins


The book I most enjoyed in 2019. How can one evolve from a 300-pound pest exterminator, drinking milkshakes on the daily, lacking any self-worth, confidence, or self-esteem into a NAVY SEAL, Top Honor Man in his graduating class in Army Ranger School, and one of the world's premier ultra-marathoners, completing numerous 100+ mile foot races? For David Goggins, it was all about flipping the switch in his mind - from a victim mentality to one of ultimate accountability. His story pulled at my heartstrings, inspired me like nothing else ever has (Now I really want to run 100+ miles one day!), and reminded me that anyone can do anything.


~ Quote ~ “No one is going to come help you. No one's coming to save you.”


For the adventurer in me…

The Martian by Andy Weir


For as long as I can remember, I have been transfixed by the allure and mystery of space. What else is out there? How much do we not know? Will we ever uncover the hidden truths? It's this curiosity that urged me to pick up this book. And this book delivered and then some. Although it only occurs on Mars, Earth's closest neighbor, it is rooted in reality - Mr. Weir did his homework, let me tell you - which made it all the more appealing to someone like myself that struggles to suspend disbelief. It's a wild, wild (albeit, emotionally taxing) ride that (as good writing does) made me feel as if I was on the red planet myself and honestly left me guessing until the bitter end.


~ (Funny) Quote ~ “Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.”


Well...there you have it. These remarkable pieces of literature elevated my 2019 reading experience to a never-before-ventured stratosphere – and, like I said, making it my favorite reading year to date. If one or more of these titles interests you, (1) let's be friends, and (2) let Helium bring you a copy! Place an order here!


Alas, one man’s story is rarely as intriguing as the collective journey of an entire family…so, Helium family, how was your 2019 reading year? What will stick with you and what will be tossed to the recesses of the ‘ole memory bank?

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