The Best of Books and Food in 2019

Senthil Padmanabhan
3 min readDec 17, 2019
Illustration of the quote “What’s Better than a Good Book and a Great Meal?”
Image credit Paul P. Joseph

In 2018 I published my first reading list. Another year has swiftly elapsed. Continuing with the tradition, I am posting the 2019 list of non-fiction books that I thoroughly enjoyed and found genuinely impactful. Like last year, the list includes a wide range of topics that empowers you to understand the world around us even better.

  1. Factfulness by Hans Rosling — The world today is in a much better place than ever before. Yes, there is negativity around us, but the progress is truly remarkable and hardly ever mentioned.
  2. Five Lessons by Ben Hogan— I started learning golf last year. But I was still struggling with certain swings. Someone suggested this book, and it was indeed a game-changer. Highly recommended for both amateurs and pros alike.
  3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson— If you want to understand the basic science behind the universe without getting an associated Ph.D.; this is the book for you. The realization that we are just a speck in this vast gamut will keep our egos in check.
  4. Mindset by Carol Dweck — Everyone is not born a genius. But that does not matter if you have the right mindset. In other words, always keep learning; that is the only thing that matters.
  5. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou— The author is incredibly talented in presenting non-fiction as a nail-biting thriller. Living in Silicon Valley, this book is hard-hitting. In essence, Bill Gates aptly quotes, “Bad Blood is a cautionary tale about the virtues of celebrity.”
  6. Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle — I have always wondered how a football coach can be a hero to so many tech-obsessed silicon valley executives. The answer is pretty simple: At the end of the day it’s not about technology, it is all about people.
  7. The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe — When we talk about fitness, it most likely refers to physical fitness. But mental fitness is also equally important. This book dives into that topic, especially for busy people.
  8. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson — This was my first audiobook experience, and it was much better than I expected. In essence, overreaction leads to chaos in life. React only to things that really matter, and it will make a huge difference.
  9. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough —An inspiring biography and a friendly reminder that to make a difference, you don’t need any formal experience or degree in a top university or friends in high places or money. The book has the answer to what you need.

The next book in my queue is How Not to Die. An ideal read for the holiday gluttony 😄.

The Second Thing

In addition to books, another thing that frequently intrigues me is food. I enjoy a good meal, plain and simple. This quest for good food takes me in search of distinct restaurants so I can have my Ratatouille moment. In 2019, we had the opportunity to dine at a few good restaurants, and below are my top 5.

  1. Quince, San Francisco
  2. Blue Hill, New York (inspired by Netflix’s Chef’s Table)
  3. Bouchon, Napa Valley
  4. Grand View, San Jose
  5. Flour + Water, San Francisco

Happy holidays and happy new year!