Ever since 2007, I’ve kept track of every book I’ve read. Ideally, I’ve also written a short lessons learned or review of each – though I have hundreds of draft reviews that I need to just hit publish on. Here’s the books I’ve read this past year.
I generally stop reading a book after 100 pages if it’s not any good. So everything that I finished is generally worth reading in some way. I plan to do full reviews of all the books. If I’ve written one, there will be a link.
This post covers books read in 2021. You can also read from –
Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons is purportedly a history of basketball that I’d hoped would be as good as The Ball Is Round was about soccer. It was fine, but wow, does it need an editor. I skipped about 600 of the 700 pages. One chapter was really good, but the rest were a disappointment. Full book review.
Wildland by Evan Osnos was one of the rare contemporary political books that I’ve read. Like many Americans, I’m still struggling to understand what in the world I’m living through and what in the world I’ve lived through in the past 20 years. This author did a good job zooming out above the day to day ridiculousness to make a little sense of what is going on in the US – and how it actually fits into other global trends. Full review.
Siddhartha by Herman Hesse was a good little re-read (I first read it in college). After starting and quitting 3 straight novels that were terrible, I pulled this one from the bookshelf, looking for something dependable. Full review.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz was a re-read of one of the best business books ever IMO. It’s from the 1950s with a ridiculous, over the top voice…that just works. Smart, worthwhile. Full review.
Baseball: A History by George Vecsey was a fun little sports history book that I picked up while watching Atlanta win the World Series for the first time since 1995. The book reminded me how much I love baseball…and also wish it would fix itself (more baserunning, faster pace, more action). Full review.
Crazy River by Richard Grant was an engaging & fascinating travel book. So far, Richard Grant has been 4 for 4. Great writer.
Read my full Crazy River Book Review.
Accounting: A Very Short Introduction was a bit of a disappointing Very Short Introduction (which is very rare). It had a focus on “Big Accounting” and corporate history rather than techniques, concepts, etc. Full review here.
United Nations: A Very Short Introduction was a classic Very Short Introduction. I was an International Affairs major in college and remain highly interested in that field. At the time, COP26 was going on, and I was interested in the nuts and bolts of UN bureaucracy. Really solid read. Full book review.
The Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson was a prime example of what science fiction can be – it can graphically paint a future path for humanity and everything that that path would entail. This book lived up to the hype. Worthwhile read. Review.
Lights Out by Ted Koppel was an interesting book I picked up after the blackouts in Texas and the Colonial Pipeline hack. It was written several years ago…but it is still just as relevant. Full review.
Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel turned out to be one the best personal finance books I’ve read in quite a bit. None of the advice is particularly new – most personal finance fundamentals don’t change. However, his stories, research, and lessons on the behavior behind personal finance were all very useful.
Read my full Psychology of Money Review.
Deep South by Paul Theroux was a re-read of one of the best travel books I’ve ever read. I’m a huge Paul Theroux fan, and it was relaxing, insightful, and enjoyable to read about him traveling through my home region. Review.
Trouble in July by Erskine Caldwell was a classic Southern Gothic novel that I’m so glad I finally got around to reading. My Grandfather originally turned me onto Erskine Caldwell. His work has its flaws, but wow, does he have a perceptive eye and strong characters. And even though his books are fiction, they absolutely provide a fuller historical picture of the American South – especially when so much has been bulldozed, hidden, or whitewashed.
Read my full Trouble in July Book Review
A Promised Land by Barack Obama was the rare super-hyped memoir that actually lived up to expectations. The book is sharp, interesting, engaging. I’m also glad I read it when I did – right after the roller coaster ride of working the Fulton county polls in the 2020 election & the Georgia Senate runoff election, then accidentally watching the January 6th Capitol Insurrection live as it happened, and then watching the Biden / Harris Inauguration. Obama’s primary message – fighting cynicism – had extra resonance.
Alaska Wilderness by Robert Marshall was recommended to me by a Gates of the Arctic National Park ranger. She said that the Park is still so remote and unchanged that this book from the 1930s is *still* one of the best resources on the Park. Amazing read from an unbelievable human. Full book review.
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber was a re-read of a classic parenting book. Full book review.
Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid was a solid novel by one of my favorite novelists. It was his first novel, so it wasn’t quite as good as his later ones (How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Exit West), but it was worthwhile nonetheless. Review.
MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival by Steven Rinella was a truly useful & concise book about wilderness skills. That genre is usually massively disappointing – either the book is beginner / obvious – or absurd / shock value. This book is for folks who know the basics, but are looking to level up and spend more time in remote places safely. Full review.
Gates of the Arctic National Park Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration by Joe Wilkins was a beautiful reference book.
Read my full Gates of the Arctic book review.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami was possibly the most disappointing novel I’ve ever read. I skipped a good 1/3rd of it. I’m a fan of most of Murakami’s work. And this was his most hyped book. I don’t get it, I don’t recommend it, and I think it was uniquely terrible. The book has all the things I don’t like about Murakami with none of the things that I like about his writing. To each their own, but if you’ve thought about picking up a book by him – don’t start with this one. Review.
Company of One by Paul Jarvis was an encouraging, useful business book. I liked the focus on one person businesses (like mine!) and some of his thoughts on growing all aspects of your life rather than simply focusing on one metric (money).
Read my Company of One Book Review.