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5 Books that Inspired me in 2o2o

by Rovin Vazirani
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The year 2020 has been challenging in countless ways, but it has also been a year of immense growth and learning for me. Like a lot of folks, I turned to books to keep my life interesting during quarantine. Here’s my top 5 books of the year:

Atomic Habits

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.”

James Clear

This book draws on scientific research to teach the different frameworks for creating good habits and getting rid of bad ones. It shows how minute changes in behavior on a daily basis can lead to everlasting habits. I am glad to have read this book at the onset of the year because despite the disruptions of COVID, I was able to use the frameworks from this book and focus on my atomic habits everyday. Looking back, it astonishes me that using the principles from this book I was able to meditate for 2,500 mins, run 200 miles, diversify my financial portfolio, read 20 books and lots more. I am now convinced of the potential of Atomic habits and I look forward to doubling down on all my learnings for 2021.

Shoe Dog

“So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy . . . just keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.”

Phil Knight

This book chronicles the humble beginnings of the genius entrepreneur Phil Knight, creator of the famous footwear company, Nike. I picked up this book to learn Phil’s leadership principles and understand how he was able to grow Nike into the multi-billion dollar company it is today. What stuck with me was the story of an average down to earth guy who never gave up. Most importantly, it inspired me to start my own running journey. No matter how busy Phil got, he ran 6 miles every night wearing his Nike shoes. The thought that Phil may have conjured up a million brilliant marketing ideas during his running adventures excites me and motivates me to lace up my Nike’s and hit the track every night.

The Ride of a Lifetime

“A little respect goes a long way, and the absence of it is often very costly.”

Robert Iger

This book is written by one of the worlds most innovative CEO’s, Robert Iger of Disney. In the book, Robert describes his strategy, vision and leadership style, all of which were key to turning around Disney’s fortune. I could not be more thankful to have picked up this book. It inspired me to dream big and to be the hardest worker in the room. Robert started off his career in the backrooms of an American TV network, and through sheer hardwork made it to the top position at Disney. The key takeaway from this book is to have a hunger to learn from everyone and to never stop being a student, even when you become the CEO of the most renowned brand in the world.


“An education is not so much about making a living as making a person.”

Tara Westover

This is a memoir of Tara Westover, who grew up in rural Idaho in a dysfunctional family. Born in survivalist home, the idea that the world was about to end loomed over her as a childhood. She was destined to become a midwife like her mother, that is until she took fate in her own hands. Despite never having attended school, she was able to earn a PhD. This book gave me perspective and helped me appreciate the fact that everyone’s struggles are unique. It opened my eyes to a different worldview. I could draw parallels from parts of Tara’s life to the social issues many nations are facing today. This book gives me hope and optimism that like Tara, all of us can get educated and build trust and a shared understanding of facts.


“Remember: things can be bad, and getting better.”

Hans Rosling

I am glad to have ended the year with this book. Like the author mentions numerous times, this book provides data for therapy. It offers a wealth of statistics on socio-economic issues and reveals that the world is a much better place today than it was just two generations ago. The book taught me to not hone in on the headlines for today but holistically analyze the progress we have made as a society. Most importantly, it taught me to be patient and evaluate problems and solutions over a longer time frame. Every time someone reminds how terrible 2020 was, I don’t disagree, but I know that we are still better off than we would have been a few years ago.

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