Guest Post: My Top Reads of 2019

December 16, 2019

What book hooked you on reading?

Do you remember WHO hooked you on reading?

Guest Post Jake
Image Source: Canva

Today, I’m thrilled to bring you a guest post written by Jake Kneeland, blogging at It’s Just Jake: A site dedicated to shared experiences, conversations, laughter, growth, and day to day events in our lives.

You will discover that Jake is an engaging, reflective writer, but more important to me, he’s family! Jake is my cousin’s son and I’m thrilled to welcome him into the blogging community. Although this post is book related, Jake blogs about his life journey, his goals, and his dreams. Books are a part of his journey and he has the sweetest “hooked on reading” story to share with you today! Many of you will be able to relate!

You can find Jake at his blog, on Twitter @jakneeland, and on The Little Things Podcast.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

The Top 6 Books You Need To Read Yesterday

Originally posted on It’s Just Jake on December 12, 2019

A story.

Jake and Myla
Jake and Myla (Image Source: Jake Kneeland)

When I was a young pup my parents brought us over to my Grandma Myla’s to eat. When we were finishing up she said she had something for me. I was thrilled, surprised, and couldn’t wait to see what it was. Any guesses?

It was a book.

At 8 years old I wasn’t much of a reader but was still excited. Until I looked at the cover. I flipped it over and there he was: a kid with long hair, a sweater, glasses, a lightning-like scar across his forehead, and to top it off – he was riding a broomstick.

Gee, thanks Grandma…

All kidding aside, I started to read the very first Harry Potter book that day and never stopped. I’ve read the entire series and as some of you know, the books put the movies to shame.

However, minus a mandatory read here or there in college, this was nearly the extent of my reading until recently.

The Original

As the beginning of this year began, there seemed to be a few things that were missing. Through the latter half of 2018, I was in a deep coasting period where it felt as if life was simply passing by as I sat on the sideline and watched. I dove into this coasting concept in You Are The Author Of The Book Of Your Life. Changes needed to be made in order to get out of that deep funk. One of those changes I decided to implement and stick to: eat more ice cream.

Just kidding. Well, sort of. That and reading.

“I made a commitment to read more books and expand my mind. The affects have been immeasurable.”

Reading is a stress-reducing activity that improves our memory and can even increase our empathetic skills. During a funk, a coasting period, or times when we may feel lost we can turn to reading to relax. Personally, it’s a way for me to clear my head and furthermore, while I’m clearing my head, ironically I am also learning and expanding my knowledge and understanding.

As another year wraps up, I want to share with you the 6 most impactful books I read in 2019. These books enlightened me, entertained me, pushed me, and probably most important of all: they shifted both my mindset and perspective.

We all have different ways we relax, wind down, and clear ourselves after a busy day. Why not gain a better understanding at the same time? I’m all for a movie or a beer at the local pub, but when I decided to read this year, it made me realize something. It was actually vividly more relaxing than a movie or beer, or scrolling through Facebook, or complaining about my day through text messages.

Think about this for a second: You put in a movie and lie on the couch. After about 4 minutes you get bored and pull out your phone. You start scrolling through social media and check your emails. You find a picture of someone and start thinking about the picture, then the setting, then them. It’s not in all instances, but what is usually triggered? Questions? Stress? Comparison? “They look happy, I’m jealous.” Maybe you give them a hate-like and move on. Then, you remember the email you saw from a coworker that you forgot to respond to. Soon enough your movie is over, you’re still stressed out, your mind is racing, and it’s 11:41pm. So much for relaxing.

Is this an exaggerated interpretation of what I’m trying to get across? Perhaps. But, I think you see where I’m coming from.

For me, reading is a great relaxation tool because I’m engaged with the words and nothing else. A good story invites you in and once you’re in, it’s difficult to get back out. You might start to create your version of the character and what he or she looks like, how they talk, and begin to feel like you are living the very story you are reading. If it’s a developmental book you might read more carefully to understand what is being explained. I’ve caught myself reading a sequence several times, even out loud, to try and absorb exactly what is being said. When you’re engaged with your reading, it’s you and the book and nothing else. Once I’m out of that stage I’ve learned a thing or two, I am relaxed, and it’s 1:00am…

“A good story invites you in and once you’re in, it’s difficult to get back out.”

Without further ado, here are my best reads of 2019.

My Top 6 Books of 2019

1 The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This book quite literally shifted my mindset and expanded my understanding of something we all never have enough of – time. I wrote an in-depth piece on what I uncovered while reading this book in How Can We Become More Present? I would highly, highly recommend it for anyone who is looking to get out of their head and into the moment.

The Power of Now

2 The Go-Giver
I simply could not put this book down. A friend recommended it to me immediately after finishing and I quickly learned – this read is BIG TIME. The Go-Giver is a story of a young man who is so ambitious for success that it seems to steer clear of him. A legendary old man, politely named Pindar, introduces and guides him through the secret to success.

The Go Giver

3 Cardboard Confessionals by Mitch Reed
Mitch Reed’s student project turned into an eye-opening read for people of all ages. Mitch asked middle and high school students 7 questions about life, and the anonymous answers he received back were so enlightening that he wrote a book about it. Impactful, surprising, and an easy read for those who may want to connect more with others, children especially.

Cardboard Confessionals

4 Claim Your Power by Mastin Kipp
In a true test to see just how honest you can be with yourself, Mastin Kipp focuses on transforming your life in a unique way: diving into your past traumas to uncover what’s been holding you down. This book allowed me to look deep and reflect, and with the plan Mastin provides, pushed me towards a clear understanding of my purpose.

Claim Your Power

5 The Success Intersection by Pat Williams
An easy yet very impactful read. Pat Williams energetically helped me discover how to leverage my talents, which I learned are different than skills, and connect things I am passionate about to ultimately find what he describes as our “sweet spot” in life. With unwavering confidence, Pat helps you narrow your vision and find out how to truly utilize your gifts.

The Success Intersection

6The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*** by Mark Manson
Simply put, Mark Manson cuts straight through the fluff and positivity talk to tell you how to live a better life. It’s filled with real grab-you-by-the-shoulders, raw, brutally honest talk. And plenty of language. If you want to accept some painful truths and find the courage to push through, this is your book.

The Subtle Art of not giving a F.jpg

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Have any of you read one of these? I would love to hear about your experience and take-aways! You can comment on this post or email me anytime at

• What books have you read this year?

• Which book impacted you the most, and why?

• If there’s 1 book you would recommend to me…recommend it!

You guys are awesome. I was talking with a friend recently and they mentioned how much they really enjoy reading my posts. After blacking out, I came back to a little embarrassed and mumbled something along the lines of ‘“Geeeee, hey thanks, I have no idea what I am talking about.”

The thoughts, comments, and emails mean a lot to me. I appreciate the smiles and conversations that have transpired and hold them close. Most importantly, I am thoroughly enjoying this for me. Whether it’s impacting no one, or someone’s great grandmother in Brussels, it’s fueling me. I’m pumped that you are along for the ride.

Have yourself a wicked day, night, week, weekend, and final month of 2019.


About Jake


The Little Things Podcast with Jake Kneeland and Mitch Reed

Twitter @ JaKneeland

I’m always looking for new experiences, new opportunities, new challenges. My blog is dedicated to sharing stories, laughs, conversations, and whatever else life may bring to us!

I’m driven by a multitude of things. Things like family, friends, and the crackle of a summer bonfire. Things like dancing around the kitchen, 80’s rock music with the appropriate air guitar, and anything to do with cookie dough and ice cream. I’m passionate about self-improvement and how events in our lives, and what we decide to do with them, shape who we are.

I am excited to open up conversations and share some of my experiences in the hope that we can connect and impact one another!

Jake’s Blog


Have you read any of the books that Jake recommends?

Based on the books that Jake has loved, do you have a recommendation for Jake? I know he’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Is reading part of your relaxation strategy?

***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.


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