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Best of 2019 Recommended Reads

It has been more than a month since you made your 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Have you run into your first series of bumps yet? Whether your resolution this year is to spend more time reading, or to stop procrastinating, or even to go out more often to meet new people – self-improvement is the key to any well-intentioned resolution.

For our first book recommendations this year, we have rounded up a list of inspirational and thought-provoking books that readers loved in 2019 and were mainstays in bestsellers’ lists. Browse through the titles below and don't forget to reserve the title(s) that you want to read. Our opinion? Read them all!

Title: Atomic Habits - Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones

Author: James Clear

No. of pages: 306

Call No.: BF335 Cle

When it comes to changing our habits, most of us tend to give up before we see results. In Atomic Habits, Clear provides a simple step-by-step framework based on behavioral science that may help readers re-orient their focus. Engaging and easy to understand, Clear emphasises that we should shift our mindset to focus on habit-based systems to achieve the changes instead of the goals, and that starting slow and small with long-term thinking will be more productive than attempting to achieve results too quickly. It is a highly practical and relatable guide that will make readers feel they might just be able to make new habits stick.

Title: Becoming

Author: Michelle Obama

No. of pages: 426

Call No.: E909.O24 Oba

With Becoming, readers get to experience a highlight reel of the former First Lady’s early life, personal journey to the White House and the eight years spent there. Penned by former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama herself, it is an intimate memoir filled with memories of growing up as a young African American girl from Chicago’s South Side, and candid accounts of challenges she faced in proving her detractors wrong, both on the way to the White House and while in the White House. From her determination to stand up to her bully, to her enduring commitment to serve the community through her White House garden initiative and campaign to fight childhood obesity, this book provides readers with a glimpse into the mind of a compelling woman who served as the First Lady for eight years with an admirable amount of drive and grace.

Title: Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds

Author: David Goggins

No. of pages: 363

Call No.: GV1061.15.G64 Can

Need inspiration on improving your mental discipline? Pick up this book to peek into the psychology and mindset of someone who is undeterred by pain and difficulties, and constantly pushes the boundaries of his capabilities. Goggins’ transformations from a depressed, overweight youth into a top endurance athlete to emerge from the U.S. Armed Forces’ grueling elite training are testaments of extreme self-discipline, hard work and most importantly, mental toughness. This book shows how mental boundaries can be overcome, how practising discipline can help one to persevere through life’s adversities to realise one's potential. His life experiences, filled with candid moments of self-doubt and failures, will serve as inspiration to readers from all walks of life.

Title: Educated: A Memoir

Author: Tara Westover

No. of pages: 334

Call No.: CT3262.I2 Wes

Westover was already 17 when she first learnt about the Holocaust and how to use the textbook to study for an art history examination. In a little over a decade, she is a Gates Cambridge Scholar and had earned a Cambridge PhD. Westover’s unflinching and detailed narration chronicles personal experiences of being the youngest child of survivalist parents who did not believe in public education. Amid the backdrop of abuse and traumatic incidents, are her struggles and fight for her own education through self-reliance, pure grit and heartbreaking sacrifices. A riveting and inspirational read, it is not surprising that both Barack Obama and Bill Gates considered it a favourite.

Title: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life - and Maybe the World

Author: Admiral William H. McRaven

No. of pages: 130

Call No.: BJ1589 Mcr

Based on his viral commencement speech at the University of Texas, this book describes Admiral McRaven’s 10 life lessons he learnt from his career in the Navy SEALs. Each life lesson is elaborated in a single chapter, and though they are simple, McRaven’s personal experiences and accounts help to illustrate just how powerful the impact of even the smallest tasks can have on our lives. From accepting that life is not always fair, to standing up to bullies, all McRaven’s life lessons contain sage reminders that we can apply to everyday life. Straightforward, yet thought-provoking, this is a book that can help readers rediscover their own purpose in life.

Title: Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

No. of pages: 386

Call No.: HM1111 Gla

A late entry in 2019, Talking to Strangers is a compelling story about how incompetent most of us are at judging strangers, and to encourage us to re-think our own instincts and thought processes in the face of deception. Renowned author Gladwell crafts a narrative through a series of seemingly unrelated, yet relevant psychological studies showing us just how poor we are at detecting liars coupled with our pre-disposition to “default to truth”, and subsequently, what consequences we are faced with when high-profile incidents that violate our trust occur. However, using examples from tragic current events, Gladwell also cautioned against abandoning trust altogether, which tends to exacerbate our worst instincts.

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