Lessons from the books I’ve read in 2019

I’ve always been a voracious reader. Whenever I need guidance or entertainment, I just open a book and life instantly seems better. It’s like being that girl in Confessions of a Shopaholic, except that I hoard books (and I’m not bubbly).

So as the year ends, I’ve reviewed my reading list for 2019. I’ve also tried contemplating the lessons I learned from each book and condensed them under every category. Plus I added a general insight about this list.



Lesson #1: Sometimes things aren’t what they seem and life doesn’t make sense. To survive, you have to stand your ground, explore possibilities, persevere, and have faith, courage, and most importantly, love. 

General Fiction

    • A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
    • Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
    • One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
    • Men Without Women – Haruki Murakami
    • Snow Country – Yasunari Kawabata*
    • Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum
    • The Godfather – Mario Puzo
    • The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

Lesson #2: The past always has a way of catching up with the present. Take control by grabbing the future by the coattails and by living forward. (Also, the future belongs to those who can harness the powers of their minds.)

Science Fiction

    • Prelude to Foundation – Isaac Asimov
    • Forward the Foundation– Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation – Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation and Empire – Isaac Asimov
    • Second Foundation – Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation’s Edge – Isaac Asimov
    • Foundation and Earth – Isaac Asimov


Lesson #3: Socrates is right: an unexamined life is not worth living. But it’s also true that an unlived life is not worth examining. Live. Feel. See. And use what you lived, felt, and saw for your art.

Art & Writing

    • Poetry for Dummies – John Timpane & Maureen Watts
    • Screenwriting – Syd Field
    • Story – Robert McKee
    • The Miracle Morning for Writers – Hal Elrod & Steve Scott
    • The Urban Sketching Handbook: Architecture & Cityscapes – Gabriel Campanario

Lesson #4: One’s childhood–how one is raised, educated, and loved–can really do much to either build up or damage one’s life. Look back at childhood as a means to understand oneself and others. If it is especially traumatizing, it should not be used as a guidepost for adult life.

Biographies and Memoirs

    • Boy: Tales of Childhood – Roald Dahl*
    • Diana: Her True Story – Andrew Morton
    • Geisha, A Life – Mineko Iwasaki
    • I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives – Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda
    • One Hundred Years of Gratitude – Karl Gaspar*
    • Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life – Sally Bedell Smith
    • The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (1947-1955) – Robert Lacey
    • Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window – Tetsuko Kuroyanagi

Lesson #5: Cooking, a mark of our identity and culture, is difficult. But when it’s done for and appreciated by the people we love it becomes easy. (Also, you can’t be good at cooking if all you do is read cookbooks and recipes. Haha!)


    • Magnolia Table – Joanna Gaines
    • The Filipino Cookbook – Miki Garcia

Lesson #6: The things you place in your home do not have to be beautiful or brand-new, they just have to be well-thought-out and cherished.


    • Dog Training for Dummies – Jack Volhard & Wendy Volhard
    • Goodbye, Things – Fumio Sasaki
    • Japan Style: Architecture + Interiors + Design – Kimie Tada & Geeta Mehta
    • Spark Joy – Marie Kondo
    • The Minimalist Home – Joshua Becker
    • The Nesting Place – Myquillyn Smith

Lesson #7: You only have this life to live. It is your duty to nourish your soul by improving your relationships; finding and doing your purpose and passions; and creating a life that is cozy, joyful, and well-lived.


    • Adventures for Your Soul – Shannon Kaiser
    • Getting Acquainted with the Holy Spirit – Harold J. Sala
    • Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia & Francesc Miralles
    • I’m OK, You’re OK – Thomas A. Harris
    • Lessons from Madame Chic – Jennifer Scott
    • Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living – Meik Wiking
    • Parisian Charm School – Jamie Cat Callan

Lesson #8: There are still so many things we don’t know in this world. But within our limited sphere, everything can be learned and unlearned.


    • Angels (and Demons): What Do We Really Know about Them – Peter Kreeft
    • Bullshit Jobs – David Graeber
    • How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler – Ryan North
    • Twisted 8 ½ – Jessica Zafra*
    • Twisted 9 – Jessica Zafra*

Lesson #9: You have to be discriminating with the books you consume. Remember: you are what you read. (So if you read nothing…) However, it’s also not good to read a lot and live so little.

PS. Most of these books are in digital formats (PDF and epub) so if you fancy a book or two, you can send your requests here.

PPS. Happy New Year, everyone!

*Re-reads | Featured photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash.

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