This year, SIGH.

This crazy insane 2020. A relentless barrage of maddening news, hyperbolic reactions and a rollercoaster of personal and societal events. Just sucking up all that perfectly good emotional energy, optimism and sanity.

Where to escape from the noise? Books!

At some point this year, I had to intentionally turn off Twitter and get my brain out of that pavlovian reaction mode. And it’s been wonderful!

Book after book, just picking up new reads out of curiosity and seeing where it takes me. Catching up on some oldies (finally!) and diving into notable newly published books. They’ve each been a welcome mental stretch break from the frenetic activity and angst in the world — and the self-absorbed rhetoric of Tech Twitter (sorry tech folks but you know it’s a little much at times).

“A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.” — Carl Sagan

It’s not travel (which I love and miss) but it’ll have to do as in this pandemic year. Here’s my list of mini-escapes for the mind in 2020.

— Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself

TLDR: Incredibly interesting deep dive into the hidden abilities of our brains and how we discovered neuroplasticity

— Donella H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems

TLDR: a bit wonky but will appeal to those with interest in sustainability and innovation

— Frances Frei, Unleashed

TLDR: A candid, to-the-point leadership handbook (yes with lots of Uber examples!) arming execs with practical frameworks for building and managing diverse companies

— Annie Duke, How to Decide

TLDR: You can’t control luck but you can control the quality of your decisions (investing, strategy, career choices, etc). Great workbook to do with your team or on your own to develop better decision hygiene.

— Yvon Chouinard, Founder & CEO of Patagonia

TLDR: My favorite book from this list. An inspiring personal story, a principled and novel approach to company building, and a founder mentality you will not find in Silicon Valley.

— Peter Barton, Not Fade Away

TLDR: Beautifully written, poignant reflection on life and living in the moment. What you cherish when you lose everything.

“A good definition of an investing genius is the man or woman who can do the average thing when all those around them are going crazy. Tails drive everything.” — Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money

TLDR: No finance worship in this book! It’s an easy, highly readable take on the mental traps and mitigating strategies for doing well with money.

Clay Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

TLDR: MBA classic but actually most relevant to Big Tech today. You have to chew on this one. It’s best consumed with 10+ yrs of operating experience to reflect on.

— David Epstein, Range

TLDR: I feel seen after reading this book! It’s the case for having varied interests, testing and iterating on your career and allowing yourselves to evolve, rather than occupy a narrow niche. Innovation and creativity happens at the messy edge.

“Ask a woman who she is, and she’ll tell you who she loves, who she serves, and what she does. I am a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend, a career woman. The fact that we define ourselves by our roles is what keeps the world spinning. It’s also what makes us untethered and afraid.” — Glennon Doyle, Untamed

TLDR: I’ve never read a book quite like this one. Raw, intimate, honest, simply badass. The ultimate real life story of coming alive. It’ll make you love yourself.

Last but not least! This one I’m still working through but it’s definitely making the 2020 list.

— Robert Caro on his own writing

TLDR: Fascinating glimpse into why Robert Caro dedicated his life to unearthing the truth about political power. What a legend! His scrappiness, grit and curiosity reminds of the startup hustle. I hadn’t read his books (bad on me) and now I can’t wait to read them.

Special shout out to Dimitri Dadiomov for recommending two books on this list — and . Fantastic recommendations, TY!

Investor, Board Director, former Tech COO and Business Development Exec. Hypewoman for Female Founders & Funds. Glass 3/4 Full. My personal views only.