Book Nook: December 2019

The closer I got to the end of the year (and, therefore, my reading target), the less I wanted to read. I noticed the same thing last year – I started to feel like I had to read just to hit an arbitrary goal, and so my stubborn streak kicked in.

It was a stretch but, ultimately, my Type-A tendencies won out. 😉

So yes, I hit 100 books for the year. Here are the last few.


I've added links to where you can find each book on Amazon US if you want to purchase it or read more reviews, as well as links to free trials on Kindle Unlimited and Audible. All of them are affiliate links meaning that, if you purchase through them, I'll make a small commission. Thank you! (For more info, read my disclosure.)

December 2019 Book Nook | Book reviews | Goodreads reading challenge 2019

I read every single day, sometimes just for a few minutes and sometimes for hours. I’m regularly asked for recommendations, so I thought I’d share what I’m reading each month. (To keep up in real time, follow me on Goodreads.)

My hope is that I can encourage you to bring more books into your life, and to make it easier to find books you’ll enjoy. Check back every month for more reviews.

Rating System

1 book: Well, I won't be getting that time back

2 books: Not my cup of tea

3 books: Yup, that'll do nicely

4 books: Thoroughly enjoyed

5 books: One of the best things I've ever read


I think anyone who writes a book is a damn hero. My personal opinions of the content are just that – personal opinions. If something didn't float my boat, I still applaud the author. Their discipline and determination amazes me.

OK, on with the show.


For the month of December 2019, I curled up in my book nook with 9 different books. Here they are.

Book #92 of 2019: "The Simple Path To Wealth"  by J.L. Collins

Started: 17/11/2019     Finished: 2/12/2019

One of my big goals for 2020 is debt reduction, with a smaller, side goal being to learn a bit more about how things work here in the US – taxes, healthcare, insurance, the law...

This book ticked two boxes in one, showing me how best to invest my money, as well as all the US options and terminology.

The downside is that, because I'm a complete novice and entirely unversed in such matters, and without having put any of it into practice, I can't say for sure if the author's advice is worth accepting. I certainly learned a lot from it, and it has a clear step-by-step structure. Alas, I eventually lost my way. Even though the jargon is kept to a minimum, it still assumes a basic familiarity with the investment framework here, so I floundered.

A decent read, and I imagine it's even more helpful if you innately understand the financial lingo.

Rating: 3 books.   Best read if you already know what a 401(k) is

Book #93 of 2019: "Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"  by Melissa Wagner

Started: 6/12/2019     Finished: 6/12/2019

The sentimentality of this was, sadly, lost on me because growing up in Ireland we didn't have Mister Rogers. (The new movie will be a tough sell outside the US where very few people have even heard of the show.)

So while it was a feel-good book full of cute stories and sayings, I lacked the personal connection to truly appreciate it.

Rating: 4 books.   Will mean a lot more if you grew up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Pro tip: I’m often asked how I manage to read so much. One of my tricks is to include shorter books like this that can be read in one or two sittings.

Book #94 of 2019: "Beautifully Organized"  by Nikki Boyd

Started: 6/12/2019     Finished: 16/12/2019

I initially passed over this one in the library because I've had my fill of organising books, but the lure of the beautiful hardback was hard to resist.

There's nothing new or groundbreaking here and, in truth, it's more on the aspirational side of things with pictures of pristine white and mirrored surfaces in light and airy rooms.

Still, it's easy on the eye, and call me superficial, but that counts for a lot.

Rating: 4 books.   Aesthetically pleasing coffee-table book

Book #95 of 2019: "Year Of Yes"  by Shonda Rhimes

Started: 7/12/2019     Finished: 20/12/2019

Before reading this one I wasn't familiar with the author or any of her TV work. Thankfully, unlike the Mister Rogers book, it didn't matter.

I think the motivational hype is slightly misplaced – it didn't make me want to leap off the couch and go live my best life – but it's very well written and incredibly witty so kept me entertained.

If you're a fan, I'd snap this one up. But even if, like me before reading, you've no idea who she is, there's plenty in here to tickle you pink.

(Fair warning if you're planning on watching one of her shows afterwards though, there are some small spoilers, particularly for Grey's Anatomy.)

Rating: 5 books.   A fun read with sides of sass and life lessons

Book #96 of 2019: "What Would Unicorn Do?"  by Sarah Ford

Started: 20/12/2019     Finished: 20/12/2019

If unicorns are your jam, this is just the book for you. It’s playful and light-hearted, takes just a few minutes to read, and will make you want to grow a unicorn horn and toss your rainbow tail in delight.

Tiny but mighty, this one's an ideal gift for a fun-loving friend.

Rating: 5 books.   The perfect little pocket-book of pick-me-ups

Book #97 of 2019: "Who Will Cry When You Die?"  by Robin Sharma

Started: 19/12/2019     Finished: 24/12/2019

What with all my family and health issues recently (read my last life update if you've no idea what I'm talking about) this possibly wasn't the best choice of book. But even though my father was in hospital the entire time I was reading it, at that stage we didn't have an official diagnosis so we were all still living in blissful ignorance.

Regardless, even though it's meant to be an uplifting read, I can easily see how this book would make you downright miserable. 

It's structured in stand-alone chapters, with each covering a different topic or idea. While that makes it easy to dip in and out of for the distracted or time-limited reader, it eliminates a lot of "flow", making it difficult to consume from cover to cover.

So, while there are plenty of lessons in here, the biggest for me was that I won't be reading "collection" books again.

Rating: 3 books.   A series of life-affirming thoughts and lessons... if you're in the right frame of mind

Book #98 of 2019: "YouTube Secrets"  by Sean Cannell & Benji Travis

Started: 27/12/2019     Finished: 27/12/2019

If you're in the beginning stages of your YouTube career (or side hustle), this book's full of pretty broad advice on how to get your channel on the right track.

As someone who's a little further along on the content creation path, and a massive analytics nerds, I would have much preferred if it went into more detail and depth. I also would have loved to have seen some more practical steps on getting a channel set up just right, with all the different features and settings.

But that may be a bit overwhelming for those just starting out, and possibly would have dated the book a lot sooner.

Shoutouts to Sean and Benji though, both of whom are acquaintances of mine. If you combine this book with their YouTube channel, Video Influencers, you won't go far wrong.

Rating: 3 books.   A solid beginner's guide if you're happy to forego some hand-holding in favour of a broader view

Book #99 of 2019: "The Art Of The Good Life"  by Rolf Dobelli

Started: 23/12/2019     Finished: 27/12/2019

This one has a “collection” format too so it failed to fully suck me in and, I have to say, I found a few of the concepts a little questionable. Nonetheless, it started strong, and there were some fascinating insights along the way.

Those shining moments helped pull this one out of mediocrity for me. But only just.

Rating: 4 books.   A bit up and down, but overall a solid list of traits and attributes that all add up to a good life

Book #100 of 2019: "F*ck No!"  by Sarah Knight

Started: 28/12/2019     Finished: 31/12/2019

My stubborn streak kicked in strong on this one and I spent several hours on New Year's Eve finishing it. But boy am I glad I did because, honestly, Sarah Knight could write crossword puzzles and I’d still read.

This is her fifth (of six) offering in the ‘No F*cks Given Guides’ series and, true to form, it’s sharp, witty, and dripping in sound advice. So if you find you have trouble answering in the negatory and you avoid confrontation like I avoid dusting, this will give you the little kick of confidence you need... including the exact words to say to pushy people.

With each passing book of hers I've feared there would be a decline in quality. After finishing this one I can confirm that that's a big ol' F*CK NO.

Rating: 4 books.   Hilarious hand-holding for the more jelly-spined inclined

A good (book) end to an otherwise pretty miserable year. I'm glad I rose to the challenge but, truth be told, I won't be doing it again any time soon.

One thing that reading 100 books taught me is that I have no time for shit. Not everything I read was incredible, but there were plenty of books I happily left by the wayside in 2019. I already know this is a practice I'll continue into the new year.

I'm also ready to read WAY more fiction. So much of my work is consumed by research and self help material that it hardly feels like I'm switching off at all when the book I'm reading in the evening follows the same vein. And it's hard to be surprised or entertained by a topic I live and breathe in my working life.

At least stories can still sweep me away.

So tell me…

What’s the best novel you’ve ever read?

And hey, if you think you'd like to take on the challenge of reading more books, I put together a list of all the little tips and tricks that helped me reach my lofty goal. And believe me, you don't have to read a hundred books to see some benefit. =)

If you're stuck for material, read some of my other book reviews here:

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  1. Though I can’t possibly pick a best novel I’ve ever read, I always find myself going back to Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I first picked it up when I was in high school and have reread it five or six times in the years since then. Might be good to read with Scout, too!

    More recently, I read Sourdough by Robin Sloan last year and really enjoyed that bit of weirdness. I still think about it sometimes.

  2. The most touching novel I have ever read is:
    The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker!

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