Outstanding books from 2020

2020 was a challenging year for all of us, and for me, it was no different. Reading was one of the activities that brought me lots of fun and made me forget about everything that was out of my control. In total, I read 28 books in 2020, and in this blog post I list 5 of them, divided into 5 categories, that were outstanding in my eyes.


The first book that comes to my mind is Database Internals, by Alex Petrov. If you’ve read DDIA from Martin Klepmann, I’m sure you will enjoy this one too.

The book has a very detailed explanation of how databases represent data internally, and how they are later on stored into disk. A great plus is the chapters covering distributed system topics, especially the ones about consensus algorithms.

All in all, it was a pleasant read and highly recommended.

Company Culture

The second book is No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, by Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer.

I have to be honest with this one, as I was already a fan of the Netflix Cultural Deck, that the book kinda surprised me in some areas. The level of transparency about how Netflix operates was eye-opening. The book goes on to show how they manage vacations, policies, talent retention, and many more other topics. Hopefully, some other companies are brave enough to try out different ways of managing their operations. I believe that the success Netflix has is due to their culture. So if you are in a position to change something in your organization, this book is for you!


Going on with our third book, we now talk about Formula 1! The book is How to Build a Car, by Adrian Newey (some people say the best F1 car designer of all times).

If you are into motorsports, and especially Formula 1, you will find in this book very interesting stories, with a quite good level of detail. From the F1 from the 80s/90s until the present days where he works as a CTO at RBR. It was very entertaining to read the stories about the teams, the drivers, and their particularities. This book gives me another angle to see modern F1. Great read and highly recommended!


Our fourth book on the list is The Cultural Map, from Erin Meyer.

Working at an international company, in a foreign country, was challenging for me when I first moved to Germany and it still is sometimes. Having to talk and interact with dozens of people, that often are from very different cultures, was something that confused me a lot. After reading the book, I started to reflect and understand the characteristics of different cultures and how they can show up in a conversation. The book gives quite nice examples of how each culture can differ from one another and how it can affect relationships in the workplace. The cultural scale is also an amazing tool to play with, and it triggers lots of interesting points for reflection. Also highly recommended!


The fifth and last book on our list is The Drama of the Gifted Child, by Alice Miller.

If you are a parent already, go ahead and read the book. Really! If you are not, give it a go anyway. The book gives a couple of examples of how certain actions and behaviors from our parents can influence how we grow up and how we treat our children.

When we remember our childhood, we think of it as the golden days, full of happy and joyful moments, while our adolescence is the period we remember as the conflicting and difficult one, at least until we start remembering and reflecting on our childhood. The author claims that we often “put a patch” on top of a potentially traumatic childhood as we tend to idolize our parents. So, good stuff in there! It is a great read, that can help us be better parents and better children.

I hope you find this post helpful, and let’s see which books will be outstanding in 2021. Keep reading!