2020 was a unique year for the world. For me, aside from struggling with all the uncertain and keep my family looking forward to the future, I've found a good shelter in reading and this year I've put even more time into discovering and reading books.

This year, I've found myself jumping between books and dropping some when they don't attract as much. Indigo and local book stores have been my place to go.

Without further ado, here's my list for 2020.

Mitch and Chika, back in Haiti.

Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family (Mitch Albom)

Being a dad of two girls, this book brought me to tears. This is a beautiful and powerful story, everyone should read. Mitch tells the whole adventure with his daughter Chika. She is originally from Haiti and she becomes adopted by Mitch and then goes living in the US. Afterwards, Chika is diagnosed with a tumour and kicks an immense fight for her life.

This book has so many tearful and stunning moments. It is a bit of a guideline and playbook whenever I get frustrated with the so many events you get to live with your kids. Here are two of the best highlights I got from it.

Children wonder at the world. Parents wonder at their children’s wonder. In so doing, we are all together young.
The most precious thing you can give someone is your time, Chika, because you can never get it back. When you don’t think about getting it back, you’ve given it in love.

Talking to Strangers (Malcom Gladwell)

I "read" this book from Audible and also got it in hardcover, although still haven't been able to "re-read" it.

To start, this audiobook has a podcast feeling to it. Malcom Gladwell (the author) is responsible for narrating it, and there are audio snippets from news, interviews, trials, etc., in order to provide more context and to actually re-live the given situation.

The book has completely changed the way I see things, in particular to how people behave and interact with each other. There are some real stories listed like the Sandra Bland case, a Cuban spy named "Ana Montes", Sylvia Plath's life and eventual suicide, and last but not least, the relationship between Chamberlain and Hitler during World War II and the agreement between them, that in end led to the invasion of Poland anyways.

After reading this, you will think twice before judging and reacting to a situation. Go get your copy NOW.

Hercule Poirot's BBC series.

The murder of Roger Ackroyd (Agatha Christie)

2020 was the year I discovered Agatha Christie (duh!). I was travelling in Mexico and I got a great deal for 3 of her books. She has a unique way of telling stories and to revealing the different layers of a character. The endings are always the best and, in this book in particular, it's shocking and wordless. For me, and because of the time these books were written, it takes a bold mind to come with such remarkable stories and twists.

In this story, in particular, part of the Hercule Poirot series, it's one of the few where it's not told from Poirot's view. Dr. James Sheppard is invited to the Ackroyd's mansion for dinner, but a few hours later Roger Acroyd appears dead. This all happens back in the '30s, and again, the book presents a series of tech challenges to eventually commit a murder. The last part explains them all and it's a joy to put the pieces of the puzzle together. They call it the best book by Agatha Christie.

The Manager's Path: A Guide for Tech Leaders Navigating Growth and Change (Camille Fournier)

2020 was also a good year for me to grow professionally. I led a team of engineers at TTT Studios in Vancouver, Canada. My work is divided between coding and improving our communication and internal processes.

I was looking for a good book about best practices and actionable tips. "A Manager's Path" ranges from the "Tech lead" role up until senior management (the "big leagues" how the book calls it). Every page from this book has a highlight or an interesting story from a CTO/VP and encourages the reader to act upon these situations. It's simple, direct and sophisticated advice. One of my top 5 highlights is:

Responding with positivity while still articulating the boundaries of reality will get you into the major leagues of senior management.

Honorable mention: The disappearance of Stephanie Mailer (Joel Dicker)

This came from a friend recommendation and what a book! There should be a movie from it. I'm still figuring out the correct literary term but basically, the story follows a bit like this.

Back in 1994, there was a series of events within a town in New York state. A murder, a tragic death and supposedly a resolved police case. 20 years later, Stephanie Mailer gathers extra evidence which she later presents to the police. This evidence shatters everything that was thought of these past events.

The cool part is that the same characters with their now changed lives, converge again into this small town. Interesting things start to happen, and someone will present a theatre act revealing who committed the murder 20 years ago.

The book is very detailed, sometimes too much. But the story wraps up quite nicely and the characters end up revealing who they truly are, and some of them escaping from the past.

You can also check the whole list of books I read in 2020.

Happy reading in 2021!