My Year in Books — 2020

This year was a perfect one for avid readers. The Covid-19 pandemic helped clean up space for reading for most people. Working from home means people who love reading could easily reach their libraries and randomly pick up books to read.

Yet some people, like me, didn’t read as many books, even after anticipating to do so. Nonetheless, I don’t consider myself a fast reader; someone who knocks down 4 books a month or 52 books in a year. I spend somehow long with books, averagely a month to two per book. Now, that shows that this was a bad year for me. I managed to finish only 5 books. However, I started but never finished some more.

Here are the books that I managed to knock down this year:

  1. Elon Musk’s biography (by Ashlee Vance)

Elon’s biography is one of the favourite books that I have ever read. I read the book back in April and it has been the book with the greatest influence on me since then. As a 20-something year old, seeing what Elon has accomplished with Tesla and SpaceX motivates me to manner up, organize myself, and find ways of making significant contributions to the world.

Elon Musk is the quintessential epitome of what being successful while making the world a better place is to me.

Ashlee Vance did a great job. One thing I liked most about the book is how the author detailed Elon Musk’s accomplishes (and failures) in a way that inspires the reader to want to put into practice the subject’s deeds. I’m definitely going to reread the book sometime 5 years to come. Every young person with a vision of making a significant contribution to humanity should read this book.

2. The Laws of Human Nature (by Robert Greene)

Robert Greene’s first book that I read was “Mastery” and since then I have been on the radar of his books. I simply bought the book because of the title — I have been interested in anything that touches on or explains the laws of nature (since attending my first Vipassana meditation retreat 2 years ago). This year, this is the book that took me longest to finish (I took around 3 months with the book). Also, putting into practice the content of the book has landed me into a couple of troubles, especially in the first few chapters. But more importantly, it has helped me break through a lot of barriers this year (it actually helped me get out of one of the friendships that I have valued for long but hasn’t been of real help!).

3. Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow (by Yuval Noah Harari)

It’s simple here: Yuval Harari publishes a book, I buy. I started with Sapiens, the greatest book I have ever read. Then I proceeded to read 21 Lessons. After the latter, I realized something wasn’t right — I could evidently feel a thirst… Ooh, I hadn’t read the prequel to 21 Lessons. Hence, I bought Homo Deus. I knocked down the book pretty quick — 2 weeks. Hello Yuval, kindly do another book. However, I’m wondering what your next book will be about — you’ve tackled past history of mankind, the current state of the mankind species, and mankind’s history of tomorrow. What next would you write about? 🙂

4. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (by Chris Hadfield)

Chris Hadfield is a retired Canadian astronaut. He is also the first Canadian to walk in space. In this book, he details his early aspirations of becoming an astronaut, all the sacrifices he made to reach the goal, his highlight moments in space, and a lot of cool stuff about being an astronaut. Although I found the book very interesting because am a space exploration fanatic, this book suits anyone who has a dream of succeeding in any field regardless of challenges and barriers on the way. Also, Chris Hadfield made the book friendly to people of almost all ages (young and old) — he used simple English, hence, a grade 4 student can read the book and get the majority, if not all that Chris tries to pass across. This is a kind of book that I note down hoping to present to my future kids one day.

5. Benjamin Franklin’s biography (by Walter Isaacson)

I’m currently reading this one. So far it has been a great read. I added the book in my “to-read list” a year ago after hearing Tim Ferriss, Elon Musk, and a bunch of other people talk about its greatness in interviews. I have some expectations with the book… I’ll review the book after I’m done. Stay tuned!

Just like most people, I started but never finished some books. Some of these books include:

  1. 12 Rules for Life (by Jordan B. Peterson)
  2. The Alchemist (by Paulo Coelho)
  3. Rich Dad Poor Dad (by Robert Kiyosaki)
  4. Fortunes of Africa (by Martin Meredith)

Next year, I plan to read a lot of classic books. I have already bought Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. In addition, I’m looking forward to reading more great biographical books. Some biographical books in my list include John D. Rockefeller (Titan), Steve Jobs (by Walter Isaacson), Educated (by Tara Westover), Leonardo da Vinci, and many more.

Books are expensive in Kenya. If you have a copy of any of the mentioned books above or a related title, feel free to lend to me. Reach out to me via email —

To friends, one among many gifts to Mel is books!

By Melkizedek Mirasi

Lifelong learner.

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