My 2019 Reading List


This article originally appeared on EL Johnson’s Medium Page

Continuing on my tradition of setting in place a set of books to read for the year, I decided to take a different approach this year. My 2018 Reading Listwas focused heavily on tactical business growth and motivation/inspiration, But this year I decided to focus on a singular theme, Innovation.

My reading lists for the year are almost always based on some type of personal factor, like where I am in my career, or where I’m trying to go. I always try to be forward-facing in the knowledge I seek to obtain.

As A UX Designer by day, who works on a team responsible for the innovation and evolution of our company’s product, and a fledgling entrepreneur the rest of the time, gaining as much knowledge around the space can only be a positive.

I didn’t get a chance to read all of the books on last year’s list, but the ones that apply to the theme will carry over. Additionally, in an effort to increase efficiency and productivity (as life has gotten substantially more busy), I decided to consume as much of my reading list this year as Audio books.

Since i’m doing more audio books, I’m also trying to consume as many books as possible, so I threw the “set amount of books per quarter” system out the window and i’m going to in-turn focus on completing the entire list.

So, without further adieu, here’s my 2019 Reading list:


*Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future— Ashlee Vance

In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world.


*Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration— Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace

Creativity, Inc. is a manual for anyone who strives for originality and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation — into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. It is, at heart, a book about creativity — but it is also, as Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”


INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love — Marty Cagan

How do today’s most successful tech companies — Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Tesla — design, develop, and deploy the products that have earned the love of literally billions of people around the world? Perhaps surprisingly, they do it very differently than the vast majority of tech companies. In INSPIRED, technology product management thought leader Marty Cagan provides readers with a master class in how to structure and staff a vibrant and successful product organization, and how to discover and deliver technology products that your customers will love — and that will work for your business.


Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity — David Livermore

Drawing on success stories from Google, Alibaba, Novartis, and other groundbreaking companies, Driven by Difference identifies the management practices necessary to guide multicultural teams to innovation.


Mapping Innovation: A Playbook for Navigating a Disruptive Age — Greg Satell

There is no one “true path” to innovation, no silver bullets and no shortcuts. There are, however, effective strategies that managers can pursue to dramatically increase their chances of success. Thoroughly researched, backed by original reporting and told through compelling stories of innovative organizations such as Google, IBM, Experian, Argonne National Laboratory and MD Anderson Cancer Center, Mapping Innovation will give managers what they have been looking for, a strategic playbook for navigating a disruptive age.


The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the age of Amazon — Brad Stone’s visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, wasn’t content with being a bookseller. He wanted Amazon to become the everything store, offering limitless selection and seductive convenience at disruptively low prices. To do so, he developed a corporate culture of relentless ambition and secrecy that’s never been cracked. Until now.


Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t — Jim Collins

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning. But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?


The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results — Gary Keller

YOU WANT LESS. You want fewer distractions and less on your plate. The daily barrage of e-mails, texts, tweets, messages, and meetings distract you and stress you out. The simultaneous demands of work and family are taking a toll. And what’s the cost? Second-rate work, missed deadlines, smaller paychecks, fewer promotions — and lots of stress. AND YOU WANT MORE. You want more productivity from your work. More income for a better lifestyle. You want more satisfaction from life, and more time for yourself, your family, and your friends. The ONE Thing delivers extraordinary results in every area of your life — work, personal, family, and spiritual. WHAT’S YOUR ONE THING?


The Simplicity Cycle: A Field Guide to Making Things Better Without Making Them Worse — Dan Ward

The award-winning engineer, Air Force lieutenant colonel, and author of F.I.R.E offers a road map for designing winning new products, services, and business models, and shows how to avoid complexity-related pitfalls in the process. With a foreword by design guru Don Norman.


The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition — Don Norman

The Design of Everyday Things shows that good, usable design is possible. The rules are simple: make things visible, exploit natural relationships that couple function and control, and make intelligent use of constraints. The goal: guide the user effortlessly to the right action on the right control at the right time.


Smartcuts: The Breakthrough Power of Lateral Thinking — Shane Snow

Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and cofounder of Contently) analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in implausibly short time.


The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm — Tom Kelley

IDEO doesn’t buy into the myth of the lone genius working away in isolation, waiting for great ideas to strike. Kelley believes everyone can be creative, and the goal at his firm is to tap into that wellspring of creativity in order to make innovation a way of life. How does it do that? IDEO fosters an atmosphere conducive to freely expressing ideas, breaking the rules, and freeing people to design their own work environments.


Conversational Design — Erika Hall

How do we make digital systems feel less robotic and more real? Whether you work with interface or visual design, front-end technology, or content design, learn why conversation is the best model for creating device-independent, human-centered systems. Research and information design expert Erika Hall explains what makes an interaction truly conversational and how to get more comfortable using language in design.