Sam Smith's Top 12 Books From 2019

31 Dec

The more we learn about ourself, the better able we are to serve others.

Another year, another 12 books to read. As I mentioned last year, reading is a center point for my growth personally and professionally. As you’ll see with the books I listed below, majority of the growth I made this year through reading came in the personal department. This was due to me entering into a serious relationship with a girl I truly love and care about. As a result, I knew I needed to learn more about myself in order to connect and grow with her on a deeper level. And, a consequence of this self-exploration was a greater understanding for each of my clients allowing me to better serve them based on where they are at on their journey. If there is one area all coaches, and athletes, can spend more time learning and growing in, it’s in themselves. The more we learn about ourself, the better able we are to serve others.

As I mentioned last year, I challenge you to set aside time in your calendar each day to sit down, disconnect from the world, and read someone else’s thoughts. Aim to read a book each month for a full year. If you average 10 pages per day, you’ll get through a 300 page book each month. That’s 3600 pages in a year. Let’s make 2020 a year of growth and exploration. Onward.

*in no particular order

The Paradox of Choice

By: Barry Schwartz

Need to identify, very specifically, what “good enough” looks like for you, then learn to be “satisfied” with that. Make your decisions nonreversible.

Buy on Amazon

“The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better.”

Everybody Lies

By: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

Pay attention to people’s words, but pay even more attention to their actions.

Buy on Amazon

“Facebook is digital brag-to-my-friends-about-how-good-my-life-is serum. In Facebook world, the average adult seems to be happily married, vacationing in the Caribbean, and perusing the Atlantic. In the real world, a lot of people are angry, on supermarket checkout lines, peeking at the National Enquirer, ignoring the phone calls from their spouse, whom they haven’t slept with in years.”


By: Ray Dalio

Set goals -> Identify and don’t tolerate problems -> diagnose the problems to root causes -> Design a plan for eliminating the problems -> Do what is set out in the plan

Buy on Amazon

“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.”

The Dance of the Lion and the Unicorn

By: Mark Waller

An exploration into the self and how to connect with your partner on a deeper level.

Buy on Amazon

The Untethered Soul

By: Michael Singer

A deep dive inside yourself to learn about your ego and aim to separate yourself from it allowing you to flow with the river of life instead of fighting the current

Buy on Amazon

“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind - you are the one who hears it.”

Chop Wood, Carry Water

By: Joshua Medcalf

Buy on Amazon

“It is the one who surrenders the outcome who has the greatest chance of success. It is the one who has surrendered to the fact that he could fail, who has the greatest likelihood of not failing. Until you surrender the outcome, you will always be the greatest enemy to your own success. In order to reach your greatest potential, you must operate with a heart posture of gratitude, commit to the controlables, surrender the outcome, and trust the process.”

Everything is F*cked: A book about Hope

By: Mark Manson

Hope won’t solve your problems, it takes acceptance and principles to do that

The solution isn’t chasing happiness, it is to attain true freedom from our addictions and dependencies 

Buy on Amazon

Talking to Strangers

By: Malcom Gladwell

We must always recognize the bias before making a judgement call on someone we don’t know

Buy on Amazon

“There are clues to making sense of a stranger. But attending to them requires care and attention.”

Change Maker

By: John Berardi

Buy on Amazon

“Unfortunately ‘outcome goals’ (IE- win the games, win a sanction, qualify for the games, qualify for a sanctional, qualify for a competition, hit a muscle up, hit a 400 pound back squat, etc.) like these can actively SABOTAGE progress. That’s because they focus on things that are out of our control while, simultaneously, distracting us from the things we should be thinking about instead: our behaviors (which are within our control).”

Shoe Dog

By: Phil Knight

Buy on Amazon

“I’d tell men and women in their mid-twenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointment will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve even felt.”


By: David Epstein

Buy on Amazon

“The slowest growth occurs for the most complex skills.”

“Struggling to generate an answer on your own, even a wrong one enhances subsequent learning…it requires the learner to intentionally sacrifice current performance for future benefit.” 

“Frustration is not a sign you are not learning, but ease is.”

King, Magician, Warrior, Lover: Rediscovering the Archtypes of the Mature Masculine

By: Douglas Gillette and Robert L. Moore

For men wanting to understand themselves from multiple levels of analysis.

Buy on Amazon

“Often, conducting a dialogue with inner “opponents”—usually forms of the immature masculine energies—will defuse much of their power. What they—like all children—really want is to be noticed, honored, and taken seriously. And they have a right to be. Once they are honored, and their feelings validated, they no longer need to act out through our lives.”

“How does the man accessing the Warrior know what aggressiveness is appropriate under the circumstances? He knows through clarity of thinking, through discernment. The warrior is always alert. He is always awake. He is never sleeping through life. He knows how to focus his mind and his body. He is what the samurai called “mindful.” He is a “hunter” in the Native American tradition.”


Click the button below to hire a coach!

CrossFit® is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc. Big Dawgs' uses of the CROSSFIT® mark are not endorsed by nor approved by CrossFit, Inc., and Big Dawgs is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by CrossFit, Inc.

< Back to Blog

Start here: 5 Habits from elite athletes

Sign up for exclusive free content