13 Best Reads of 2019 from my library: books from happiness, to climate, innovation, fashion & more

“Just one more chapter!” – Have you ever found yourself stuck with a book that is hard to keep down? Honestly, I find it really difficult to find a book like that these days because my concentration span is on an all time low. And if I had to define my choice of books – you will find a nomad in me there too. I jump from genres to genres – from business/innovation books to happiness reads, climate change, culture and fashion – anything that can keep me glued and interested enough to get to the next chapter.


After spending hours in bookstores during endless airport layovers, and going through pages and pages of many good recommendations that could not hook me on, here is my list of my must reads in the last two years that one should definitely not miss out on! Thanks to our contributing writer, Madhumitha Jain, for compiling the text for each book recommendation. 


#1 – “THE LITTLE BOOK OF HYGGE” by Meik Wiking.

Our happiness is vital to health and wellbeing, yet it almost always goes overlooked. This book is the secret elixir of the people of Denmark – the happiest place on Earth. Hygge (pronounced as hue-gə) is not just a typical Danish attitude, it is the recipe for a happy life.

It is about understanding the importance of being content and satisfied with the smaller things in life. It emphasizes on the fact that ‘happiness is not a destination but the journey in itself.’ Not every day can be the best day, but a life of hygge is about as close as it can get.

Buy your copy here: The Little Book of Hygge (Penguin Life)

#2 – “THE LITTLE BOOK OF LYKKE” by Meik Wiking

Another book by Meik Wiking the founder of The Happiness Research Institute, Copenhagen emphasize on the essence of happy living. The “Little Book of Lykke” (pronounced Loo-ka) studies Danes and the simple measures they take to make themselves and more importantly, others around them happier.

Connectedness and togetherness are two main components of the book and are the two most important characters of our happy life. The book deals with the concept being happy, being in a happy environment and creating a happy environment for others, because at the end of the day, humans are social beings and associate 90% of their happy memories with others.

Buy your copy here: The Little Book of Lykke


#3 – “IKIGAI” by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

Another book to add to the list that touches the various aspects of life, which can help us, achieve a long happy life. It is based on ancient, well practiced Japanese technique called — “IKIGAI”. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realization of hopes and expectations. It addresses four points mainly: what you are good at, what you love, what the world needs, and what you would be paid for.

Ikigai is an understanding of the proportion of each of the above-mentioned questions. It explains how a little stress is always good for us and how it keeps us going everyday. This book is for all those people who have a million questions and a billion answers in their minds about their personal and professional lives struggling to match them.

Buy your copy here: Ikigai


#4 – “GOODNIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS” (PART 1&2) by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

This modern day book of bedtime stories is compiled of the journeys of 200 inspirational women who refused to stick to the conventions of the society and carve their name with their perfectly manicured nails. The rebels include Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo, Queen Elizabeth I, Rani Laxmi Bai and many more. With a short bio of the woman and powerful quotes to pepper the package, this is a perfect gift for your favorite young feminist with some beautiful illustrations.

Buy your copy here: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girlsbooks-streettrotter


“What’s changed is the definition of success. Increasingly, the quest for success is not the same as the quest for status and money. The definition has broadened to include contributing something to the world and living and working on one’s own terms.” – Blake Mycoski.books-streettrotterBuy your copy here: Start Something that Matters

The book is for everyone who is ready to make a difference in the world. For those who want to love their work; work for what they love, and have a positive impact on the world. For someone who is interested in charity and is wondering to take the donations to a larger scale. This is the story of someone who never went to any fashion school but ended up creating  one of the world’s fastest growing footwear companies by giving footwear away.

#6 – JUGAAD INNOVATION by Navi Rajdou

Ever tried to plug your charger by using a pencil to keep the plug point open? Jugaad runs deep within every Indian citizen and we are acutely aware of this. This book is about how to channel your inner jugaad and apply it in your decision making. Necessity is the mother of all inventions and desperate needs account for desperate jugaads – this book explains how your sense of jugaad need not just be confined in the kitchen trying to make a plate work as a mixer lid, but could rather be used in figuring out life changing decisions and investments.

Buy your copy here: Jugaad Innovation


#7 – ZERO TO ONE by Peter Thiel

There are books that give you great strategies for selling, marketing and planning your business. And then there are books that tell you to forget about all of that, so you can take an approach that is so radically different, that you won’t even play in the same league as the readers of those other books. Zero is an inside look at Peter Thiel’s philosophy and strategy for making your startup a success by looking at the lessons he learned from founding and selling PayPal, investing in Facebook and becoming a billionaire in the process.

Buy your copy here: Zero to One


#8 – THE SIXTH EXTINCTION by Elizabeth Kolbert 

This book is not only for all those people who were waiting for December 21, 2012 to happen, explaining us about the possible end of the world; getting help from the Mayan prophecy and what not; but also for those who didn’t believe in it. We might have dodged oblivion back then, but the extinction of our kind is not a distant future anymore.

climate change - streettrotter

Buy your copy here: The Sixth Extinction

With global warming, pollution rises, deforestation and other changes in the earth’s ecosystem that should have ideally taken millions of years, and have been catalyzed by human greed – has led to the theory of the next mass extinction being a very convincing future possibility. It is about all those species that couldn’t adhere to Darwin’s Survival of the fittest hypothesis and how humans have become the newest addition to it. This book is for everyone who believes the world needs to be saved , because we are one of the idiots who live on it (GOTG reference totally intended).

#9 – CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan

As the title goes, this book is about the crazy, rich life of the creamy layer of the South East Asian countries. This book opens the world full of Business class lounges, cocktail parties, bachelor vacations and couture dresses and as glamorous as it seems the book gradually reveals the ugly truth beneath the façade.It encircles around Rachel Chu who is a middle class economics professor at NYU and Nick Young, a history professor at NYU.

Buy your copy here: Crazy Rich Asians

Having dated for almost a year, Nick decides to take Rachel to Singapore to attend his friend’s wedding and to introduce her to his parents. Being a little unsure, Rachel decides to take the leap not having any clue about Nick’s Crazy Rich Asian family. This book is a refreshing blend of romance and humor but makes us rethink about a certain aspects of our life in the end.books-streettrotter

#10 – HUMANS OF NEW YORK by Brandon Stanton

Now a #1 New York Times Bestseller! In the summer of 2010, photographer Brandon Stanton began an ambitious project -to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. The photos he took and the accompanying interviews became the blog Humans of New York. The book is a continuation of the blog with interviews and pictures dissecting the lives of the people of New York and giving us a slow motion image of their fast pacing world. This book is interesting, insightful and inexplicably aesthetic.

Buy your copy here: Humans of New York


#11 – THE SARTORIALIST: CLOSER by Scott Schuman

Just like the previous book, street style photographer Scott Schuman has a completely new collection of beautiful images of the men and women who have caught his attention of the street. In The Sartorialist: Closer, Scott Schuman looks deeper and with great breadth at human style, and the way it is expressed across the world. Always reacting to an inspirational moment, the images in his new book continue to reflect Scott’s unique sensibility and vision. He looks into the fashionable lives of people from various places including London, Paris, New York, Milan, Korea and beyond.

Buy your copy here: The Sartorialist 


#12 – THE DALAI LAMA’S CAT by David Michie

To break down the book, would simply spell ‘B-U-D-D-H-I-S-M’ but to a ‘purrfect’ point of view. When the Dalai Lama, who is on his way home in a limo, having just returned from a trip to America, sees a kitten being thrown into the gutter, he dispatches a staff member to rescue the kitten. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like living with the Dalai Lama, now you’ll be able to find out.

Buy your copy here: The Dalai Lama’s Cat 

Through the cat’s eyes, and narrated in her voice, the reader gets a closeup view of the Dalai Lama’s inner sanctum and household. Much commonly known as HHC (His Holiness’s Cat) – the cat is pampered by everyone including the guru himself. This is a very humorously interesting take on Dalai Lama’s life.


Paulo Coelho, better known as the man who wrote ‘THE ALCHEMIST’ has written over 25 books and this one mustn’t be missed. This is the story of a skinny Brazilian kid called ‘Paulo’ who wants to be a writer. This is the most autobiographical book Paulo Coelho has ever written and it takes back in time to re-live the dream of a generation of “hippies” that longed for peace and dared to challenge the established social order-authoritarian politics, conservative modes of behavior, excessive consumerism, and an unbalanced concentration of wealth and power.


Buy your copy here: Hippie

His travels take him to the famous square in Amsterdam, where Paulo meets Karla, a Dutch woman in her twenties. She convinces Paulo to join her on a trip to Nepal, aboard the Magic Bus that travels across Europe and Central Asia to Kathmandu. They embark on a journey in the company of fascinating fellow travelers, each of who has a story to tell, and each of who will undergo a transformation, changing their priorities and values, along the way. As they travel together, Paulo and Karla explore their own relationship, an awakening on every level that brings each of them to a choice and a decision that sets the course for their lives thereafter.

About the Collaborating Author: Madhumitha Jain is an avid dreamer and a Philomath. She is someone who creates drama with the planned combinations of just the 26 alphabets she knows. She definitely believes in words speaking louder than actions and is an extreme textrovert. She claims to not be a feminist, but she undoubtedly is a proud humanist.



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