Here we are at the end of 2021 and here I am compiling my traditional list of the best books which I read in 2021. This year was … interesting … again. We all hoped that the global pandemic crisis will be over by the end of the year, but it is not. Still, I am ending the year on a hopeful note and I hope that all of you will be able to do so as well.
My reading focus this year was what I called financial education. I finally decided to take my personal finances, budgeting, and investing into my own hands and read a bunch of books on this topic. I also concentrated on my and my family’s health, spirituality, and well-being. And I have some book recommendations in that direction. Finally, I continued exploring the topic philosophy and I continued reading a wide variety of books on the movements that speak to me.
Just like last year, I have broken down my recommendations into genres. And just like every time, if I only inspire one of you to pick up one extra book, this will mean success!
Best Books for 2021: Selection criteria
I have selected my picks as though I am answering the question: “What is the best XXX book that you can recommend to start with?” Where XXX is the genre in question.
Personal Finance: The Richest Man In Babylon
As I already said, I devoted most of my reading in 2021 to the topics of personal finance, investment, budgeting. I already posted a summary and a study guide here: How to Improve Your Financial Education. But if I want to select one book to get you started on that journey, it will be this one. It is rather weird, because it is set in ancient Babylon and the author uses all types of references to this period. Instead of “become rich”, the term is “to fill your purse”. This book introduced me to one of the most important aspects of personal finance: pay yourself first! I do realize this book is almost 100 years old (it was first published in 1926), but as Naval Ravikant says (more about him below):
The older the problem, the older the solution.Naval Ravikant
Sport: Born to Run
What a book! If you ever want to fall in love with running, you need to start with this book. And, of course, you will eventually need to go outside and start running. In Born to Run, Chris McDougall shares his journeys as a runner. One of them takes him to the deadly Copper Canyons in Mexico, where he competes with the ancient Tarahumara tribe – the best runners in human history. There he is joined by some of the finest long-distance runners in the World. His description of their lives is so captivating, that I ended up getting some of their books as well and reading them.
Philosophy: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant
To put this book into any specific genre is not fair. But still, I will put it in the philosophy genre. I ended up reading this book twice in 2021, which says a lot. Eric Jorgenson shares some of Naval Ravikant’s quips around pursuing wealth, health, and happiness. Hopefully, you will be able to see the connection with all the other books on this list.
Productivity: Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done (GTD) is already 20+ years old (it was first published in 2001). By the time I read it this year, I had already heard a lot of the useful mental modals in it. But reading it cover to cover still managed to inspire me to make improvements to my productivity process. I did not concentrate on the specific tools, because the book is written for a more analog age (as in non-digital), but I concentrated on the mental models. The initial impact was so good that I will continue my journey into GTD approach by making further improvements.
Psychology: Thinking, Fast and Slow
Another must-read book! Daniel Kahneman guides the reader into the realm of the mind and the two systems that drive our thinking process. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional. And it is usually responsible for our greatest successes and failures in the form of biases. System 2 is slow, deliberate, and logical. And it needs to keep an eye for System 1 and educate it. I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in enhancing their decision making process.
Self-help: Tiny Beautiful Things
Ever since I watched the movie Wild (with Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl Strayed), I wanted to experience more from Cheryl. I must admit here that I still have not read the book Wild, but this moment will also come. In Tiny Beautiful Things Strayed shares some of the questions and answers from here career as a columnist at The Rumpus. You would be amazed by the wide range of problems that people have. And you would be even more amazed by the limited guidance that most of them need to take their life into their own hands.
Best books bonus: A Gnome’s Quest
I would like to finish the list this year (selfishly) with my own book, which I published in Jul 2021. A Gnome’s Quest is at the same time a memoir of my own journey in life (so far) and a guide for achieving success and happiness by combining personal goals with productivity habits. I am putting my book in this list, because it is the continuation of everything that I have learned from all the books that I’ve read. And the reflection of all that knowledge into my own experience.
Best books summary
As I said in the beginning, I would like to finish on a hopeful note. The reality of the pandemic and the need to work from home really helped me 2X my reading habit. I beat my Goodreads goal of reading 30 books with 190% and I was able to read some of the books which I have always looked forward to reading. For 2022, I wish to have less time for reading and more time for living.
Read more, enjoy more, be more!
What are the next steps?
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