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20 Life Changing Books to Read in 2020 And Why

by Michelle Calhoun, on Dec 12, 2019 12:00:00 AM

As the resident Life Coach here at #TeamSauce, I'm always looking for opportunities to develop my personal growth and lift up those around me. I can’t help it it’s my nature! It's also one of the best ways you can grow smarter as a business owner, salesperson, or CEO!

I have strong feelings about the lack of book reading that is happening right now. I even thought about making red hats that say "Make America Read Again."

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Unfortunately, someone beat me to it.

Instead, I am going to focus on why you should pick up a book everyday in 2020 and leave you with a list of where to start

Let's think about it: what is one of the biggest factors in our kids' chance for success?  What is the thing parents, teachers, and all of society constantly drive home to the younger generation? How much and how well the children are reading! Kids are told to read instead of playing video games, watching TV, or scrolling on their phone. But what do they watch us do in our free time? Scroll Facebook, answer emails, and binge Netflix. We have dropped the ball in leading by example.

Are you ready for some jaw-dropping numbers?

Americans aged 15-44 read an average of ten minutes per day… TEN!

Compare that to the ten hours per week the average person reads in India (the country with the highest reading stats in the world).

While some people may have exercise goals, I have personal reading goals (PRG). Right now my PRG is to read 50 pages a day. Meanwhile the smartest, most successful people in the world (think Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah) are reading several HOURS a day, or on average one book per week. You could start with the 5 hour rule of life which suggests you intentionally spend 5 hours a week on personal development through learning and reading.

There are endless reasons why you should spend more time reading (and if I were you I would click here, here, here and here to find out more about all the amazing benefits). But for me? I read to find peace and inspiration. It's the best way I've found to gain a new perspective on life, see the world through someone else’s eyes, or learn from a master. I become singular-focused and less stressed.

I find it to be a skill much like running or meditating. At first, time is painfully slow and you may be easily distracted for 20 minutes, but after that you get in the zen zone. You have finally blocked out all other distractions and thoughts of I should be doing xtomorrow I have y, or I should have said z. This is the sweet spot of reading where you are really seeking not just to learn something new, but to understand it and put it into practice. 

Remember speed reading? I tried that once. It isn’t just about reading quickly, but also skimming entire paragraphs in order to gather more information faster. I hated it. I didn’t retain any of the information. It felt like a race to the finish line just for the sake of the ribbon. Instead, I prefer my reading sessions to be like a walk through the woods where I have time to notice the sights, smells, and sounds around me. (You can find more on the practice of slow-reading and its benefits here.)

You don’t have to be someone who likes to read to start reading again. While my sister devoured ungodly amounts of chapter books as a kid, I didn’t start reading proficiently until I was in my 20's.  It was at this point I realized there was so much I wanted to learn and several hundred years worth of studying that had been done by someone else that I could gather in a matter of days. What a great way to collect their knowledge and better the world for today and tomorrow.

Finding time to read in the 21st century doesn’t happen on its own. You have to be intentional and carve out the space for it. I have 5 kids. So when or how much I read doesn’t always happen the way I intend it to but that doesn’t stop me from trying to hit that PRG each day. Some days I read with my coffee first thing in the morning, other days I read on my lunch break to give my brain a recharge. Choosing a book instead of scrolling on your phone in bed is one of the best changes you can make  for healthier habits in 2020 (here is the science behind it).


Here is a list of 20 inspiring books (in no particular order) that will motivate you to push yourself, dream new dreams, see things from a new perspective, or just keep growing. I have tried to include a little bit of everything from health, wealth and happiness, to business, marketing and even a work of nonfiction. ENJOY!

1. Everything is Figuroutable by Marie Forleo

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“You don’t have to be perfect. Just get started.”

This book is the kick-in-the-pants, go-getter, no-excuses reminder that you can make anything happen!



2. You are a Bad Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

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The Self help book for people who desperately want to change their lives but don’t want to get busted doing it! This would be a great book to give your employees or start a book club with.





3. The Path Made Clear by Oprah

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A collection of wisdom on par with everything else we love about our favorite guru Oprah. She believes that everyone’s real job in life is to figure out their purpose and who you are meant to be as soon as possible so that you can live into your purpose in the best way possible.




4. Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon

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What if everything we’ve been told about what healthy “should” look like is wrong? Linda is inspiring a global transformation to a more just world, where all bodies are valued, respected and supported in compassionate self care.




5. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodran

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I am all about the books that inspire us to push ourselves out of our comfort zone (Hello, Life Coach here, remember me?), but sometimes life is crazy hard and it isn’t any fault of your own and there is nothing you can do to make it better. How do we sit with the hard feelings? How can we see these times as a chance to be kind to ourselves and tap into self-compassion? Pema is my go-to person when I want to dig into the deeper meaning behind trying times and the curveballs in life.



6. Talk Like TED By Carmine Gallo

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Hate public speaking? Love it, but want to improve your skills? Carmine shares the secrets of the world’s top minds and how you too can be as good as the best TED Speakers in the world.






7. Talking to Strangers  8. Tipping Point  9. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

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Yes, I had to give Gladwell 3 spots. There are very few authors that I devour every piece of content they produce (he has a great podcast by the way) but Gladwell is it for me. I have read all of his books and if you are a curious person that craves insight into why we do what we do, or what determines the popularity of a product or a company's success. All three of these are a must read but start with his latest Talking to Strangers.

10. Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage and Delight Customers Online by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah


As HubSpot Partners and, dare I say, Marketing Masters (Mistresses?) here at Sauce, I couldn't leave this one out. Inbound methodology has grown and evolved with the digital age so that your customers are finding and trusting you before you have even had a conversation with them. If you are looking to grow smarter this is a great place to start. (Mistress?) here at Sauce, I couldn't leave this one out. Inbound methodology has grown and evolved with the digital age so that your customers are finding and trusting you before you have even had a conversation with them. If you are looking to grow smarter this is a great place to start.

11. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

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Hinton spent almost three decades on death row for a crime he did not commit. If you want to wake up and appreciate the air you breath and the life you live, this read is for you! His perspective on forgiveness and generosity of spirit will move you to tears and inspire you to live a full life while you can.



12. Happy Money by
Ken Honda

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There are endless options of books on how to build financial freedom, but few address the mindset of making peace with your money. This short book focuses solely on how to have happy money (a Japanese phrase), no matter what your current financial situation is.

13. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

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I have the feeling Gary and I are a lot alike. We are both straight to the point, no-nonsense people. (The difference is Gary is loved for it and makes $200 million.) In his latest book Gary offers lessons drawn from the experiences of dozens of influencers and entrepreneurs who rejected the predictable corporate path in favor of pursuing their dreams by building thriving businesses and extraordinary personal brands.



14. The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates



"As women gain right, families flourish, and so do societies." This is Gates' first book and she hit it out of the park. I learned so much about the value in lifting up the women economically. As she says it, "Gender equity lifts everyone. Woman's rights and society's health and wealth rise together.” 



15. Tools of Titans and 16. Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss

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I am going to be brutally honest: I don’t love Tim Ferriss. Sometimes he drives me crazy, but I can set that aside because both of these books are invaluable resources for personal and business growth. It is easy to sit down and learn something new on every single page and I love that about his books.



17. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

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Brene is known for her FIVE #1 bestselling books and powerful TED Talks. Dare to Lead gets to the heart of leadership and is a must read for everyone in any kind of leadership position. It is a practical playbook based on her experience with 150 C-suite Executives. If you want to lead from a place of empathy and vulnerability to connect with your team, start here!




18. The Power by Naomi Alderman

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This is the only fiction book on the list, but at times, it doesn't feel too far from our reality. I included it because I've yet to read a novel as thought-provoking and conversation-stirring. It is sort of an upside-down wonderland mirror to the reality we live in today.  If you want more details on the plot click here.





19. Becoming by Michelle Obama



Michelle opens up in this honest look at what her life has been like from the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive (did you know she was basically Barack's boss?), all the way through the surreal experience of living at the world's most famous address and not having the freedom to make her own grilled cheese. You will leave asking yourself questions about who are you becoming and why.



20. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin Manuel Miranda

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From the creator and star of the Broadway hit musical, Hamilton, comes a simple, beautifully illustrated, and thoughtful book that you can start and end your day with. When life is bringing you down. This book will remind you that you are going to be okay.




So tell me...

Do you have a PRG (Personal Reading Goal)?

What is the best book you read in 2019?

What is on your to-read list for 2020?

Share your answers on Social Media!

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