11 Life-Changing Books on Personal Development, Leadership, and Business to Read This 2020

February 6, 2020

People who follow me on Instagram know that I’ve made it a point to read at least one book a month in 2019. So after devouring a total of 13 books* this year and documenting them on my IG Stories, I’m so happy to finally unveil all the best personal development books, business books, and leadership books I read in 2019.

These books were inspiring, thought-provoking, and game-changing. So by sharing them with you today, I hope they’ll motivate you to make the 2020s the best decade of your life so far.

Quick Note

*2 out of the 13 books were fiction – for obvious reasons, I’ll only be talking about the non-fiction books in this list. But if you were curious, the fiction reads I picked up in 2019 was the new Recursion by Blake Crouch and Reckless II: Living Shadows by Cornelia Funke.

Personal Development Books

I’ve grouped the books into three sections. First up, we’ve got personal development books. Here are all the ones I read in 2019 and how I plan to use them moving forward.

The First 20 Hours 

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast is a book all about, well, how to learn anything fast. And when I say anything, I mean anything. The author provides 6 examples of wildly different skills that he sought to learning as fast as possible. 

For him, you can get pretty good enough at a skill within the first 20 hours of deliberate practice. Not that you’ll be an expert the likes of Roger Federer is to tennis, but you’ll at least be good enough that practicing the skill doesn’t frustrate you, like, 90% of the time.

How I Plan on Using The First 20 Hours Moving Forward

I’m nothing if not an eager beaver, so I want to use all the principles I learned in this book to pick up some new skills I’ve always wanted to learn. I already put together a Might Learn Someday list to get me started, and I’m currently designing ways to make sure I’ll get my deliberate practice in (e.g. by joining workshops, scheduling time, setting metrics to track, etc.)


You don’t have to be an introvert to love and appreciate Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. As the title suggests, it’s all about the power of the quiet, thoughtful, prefers-being-behind-the-scenes-instead-of-center-stage individuals.

Maybe I’m a little biased for loving this book because I’m an introvert myself, but I stand by my opinion that everybody ought to pick up this book, introvert and extrovert alike. I think we’d just be so much happier if we could see the world from each other’s lenses.

How I Plan on Using QUIET Moving Forward

Knowing what I know now about introversion and our unique strengths, I intend to be more sensitive to these strengths, both in myself and others. 

Especially in my industry, where creators like me are bombarded by messages of “Get yourself out there more! You have to be everywhere and do everything!,” I’m going to be comfortable with the fact that introversion is not my weakness – it is my strength.


Better Than Before 

Spend a few minutes perusing some of my older posts, and you’ll notice I bring up Gretchen Rubin more than a few times. (She’s one of my personal heroes, if I’m being honest.)

In fact, her 2015 book Better Than Before was the first book I cracked open in 2019 – it felt like the perfect companion to accompany a new year full of new plans and habits. The book has 21 strategies all about habit change, so it’s easy to find one you can use for just about any situation.

How I Plan on Using better than before Moving Forward

I’ll definitely revisit a few chapters on strategies I might not have implemented the past year. I’m learning to adapt to new habits using different strategies to see which one might be the best for me.


The Four Tendencies

Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking: another Gretchen Rubin book? Answer: Yup. I wanted to pick up The Four Tendencies to learn more about each, especially having heard about it multiple times on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast.

The Tendencies show us how well you respond to both inner and outer “rules” (think things like personal resolutions or favors from a friend), and people all over the world are using this new knowledge to create happier, healthier lives.

How I Plan on Using THE FOUR TENDENCIES Moving Forward

I love knowing what other peoples’ Tendencies are – it’s been so easy to give personalized advice and mentorship when I know what strategies work best for somebody’s Tendency.

I plan on using this framework for people in my one-on-one coaching program so that I can give them the best possible strategies to getting stuff done for their lives and business.

Make Time

Enter the book I wish I wrote myself: Make Time. The book is all about tactics for, well, making time for what matters to you. You can adapt the tactics to practically anything you want, from work to passion projects to side hustles.

When it comes to time, you really can’t get enough of it, so I appreciate how actionable and simple the strategies in this book are – plus they’re well-rounded too, with strategies for the mind and body which I absolutely adore.

How I Plan on Using MAKE TIME Moving Forward

Hey, even someone like me who is all about productivity and getting stuff done in most efficient way sometimes gets into productivity slumps. (It’s biology and human nature, yo.) It’s fun to revisit the many tactics that this book has to offer, and to experiment with new ones that I might otherwise have never tried.

more on making time


What’s passion with perseverance? According to Angela Duckworth, that’s called grit. So this aptly named book is all about what grit really is and why this is the true determinant for success instead of natural talent alone.

The book has case studies, interview findings, and survey results that show us the habits, mindsets, and important action steps that pro-athletes, top academics, and successful entrepreneurs have.

How I Plan on Using grit Moving Forward

After reading this book, I’ve been changing my relationship with the word “failure” and using every touch point in my life and business as “good feedback” or “needs improvement feedback.”

I acknowledge failure and falling down are part of the never-ending process that is determining what success means to us, so I plan on doing what the famous Japanese proverb reminds us: “Fall down seven, get up eight.”


Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too

Okay, this isn’t technically a self-development book in so much as a lovely graphic novel-slash-profound essay. We follow along a little alien named Jomny who is sent to Earth by his fellow aliens in an attempt to learn more about humans and their ways.

What follows are heartwarming lessons and insightful observations about life and love. (P.S. I really, really, really want to hug Jomny.)

How I Plan on Using Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too Moving Forward

As I write this, I’m currently in my early 20s, and I’m grateful to have read a book like this at this stage in my life. I want to use all the insights and truths I’ve gotten from the book to just be okay with the very human, very vulnerable experience of being on this Earth.

I’ve resolved some time ago to be more vulnerable and to laugh and cry and have fun more openly and without worry, and this book has been a good companion throughout all that.


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Leadership and Management Books

I have a love for leadership and management books, perhaps because I’ve always loved the topic of leadership. Fun fact: one of my major university research works was all about leadership, so I can promise you my fascination and devout love for the topic is true.

Here are the leadership books I read in 2019 and how I plan on using them moving forward.

HBR's Ten must-reads on Communication

This book is a compilation of 10 of the best communication-related essays published on Harvard Business Review. And because it’s an HBR book, the topics still managed to circle back to corporate leadership and persuasion.

The insights and practical learnings from this small book were a joy to read, and I really appreciate that each essay has an easy summary and visual to look back on without completely rereading all the essays.

How I Plan on Using hbr's 10 must-reads on communication Moving Forward

I’m a digital creator, so communication is practically my currency. It’s also a good book to revisit as I build up a team for my business, even if it is a small one. There are helpful frameworks and models that I want to use to become a better communicator and more persuasive leader in my field.

psst! you might want to read...

Dare to Lead

I was hesitating to consider Dare to Lead by Brené Brown, PhD under this leadership books section since so much of the book relies on her previous work about vulnerability and shame – but the book centers on these concepts in the setting of work and leadership, so here we are.

I love how the book talks about setting boundaries at work, being clearer communicators, and embracing failures as all necessary parts of being in a unified whole.

How I Plan on Using dare to lead Moving Forward

As a writer, I’ve taken a personal responsibility to make sure everything I publish and write about is useful and helpful. I don’t have to have a huge audience to know that I need to use that influence – no matter how small – in the best possible way.

Being vulnerable with clients and customers also really helps me to be a better creator and coach, so that’s what I’m bringing with me from here on in.

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Business and Finance Books

When you’re a solopreneur, I believe it helps if you read up on business books and finance books. If anything, it’s to at least keep your mindset business- and money-savvy. Those were my goals when picking out these business and finance books in 2019.

You Are a Badass At Making Money

Confession: I fell in love with Jen Sincero after reading her first book You Are a Badass. So it felt like You Are a Badass At Making Money was a rational next step. She brings the same badassery and non-apologetic beliefs into her writing, but this book is all about money mindsets and what might be holding us back.

How I Plan on Using you are a badass at making money Moving Forward

Throughout the book are actionable tips to implement what Jen Sincero is saying, so I plan to come back to them every so often, especially when I find myself falling in a bad relationship with money.

This also feels like a book I’ll read over and over again, if only to remind myself that, yes, I am a badass at making money.


The 1-Page Marketing Plan

I picked up The 1-Page Marketing Plan purely out of curiosity because I wanted to know what made this framework different from all the others out there. Turns out, this book is a great introduction to starting a business and creating a simple topline marketing plan.

Despite the main selling point – the marketing plan framework – only a page long, the book covers all the aspects you might want to cover when starting and then growing your business.

How I Plan on Using the 1-Page Marketing Plan Moving Forward

One of my favorite parts of the book was all about getting more customers from your existing base of customers.

I loved the thought of delighting our current clients and customers so much that they’ll be champions to our own business – that really encourages me to make sure my offers are the best thing since sliced bread, and that’s just a win-win for everybody.

Put These Books on Your Wishlist

So those are all the books I read in 2019 that are gearing me up for the next decade. Let me know in the comments below if you’re a fan of personal development books, business books, or finance books. 

And while it’s great to get a reading habit on, it’s equally a good habit to make sure you implement what you learn from books as much as you can. Ready to change your life in the decade and beyond? Get reading!

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ABOUT Mica Gonzalez

Mica (hey, that's me!) provides resources for content creators and creative entrepreneurs to design their days with more purpose, impact, and creativity.

Her workshops, courses, and programs are all designed with her commitment to slow growth, anti-hustle culture, and success on our own terms.

When she's not referring to herself in the third person on her blog, she's sharing cool things she's into and up to on Instagram @micaangelicagonz.


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