Books to read in 2021

Looking for books to read this year? Then, do I have a list of recommendations for you. As I’ve done in prior years, this year’s list is broken down into General Recommendations, Personal Development books, Business Reads, and a collection of what I like to call Fun Reads.

Since I did a better job this year of balancing my fiction and non-fiction titles, this year’s recommendations are strong mix of recreational and serious reads. Keep in mind that my tastes lean towards technology and science fiction, so most of the books on the list are from those genres.

General recommendations

  1. Recursion by Blake Crouch
    Blake Crouch is one of my favorite authors these days. In fact, I’d say he’s at the top of the list. Recursion is another mind-bending thriller that grabs you right from the start and doesn’t let you go until the end. Even then, you’ll be replaying the book for days afterwards wondering how Crouch was able to keep all the holes filled in such a complex plot.
  2. Change Agent by Daniel Suarez
    Daniel Suarez in another of my favorite authors, so no surprise that one of his titles occupies my list for 2021. Change Agent is an interesting look at the ramifications of CRISPR gene editing technology, which should be getting just as much attention as AI for the threat it poses to society.
  3. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donal Robertson
    You would think that the lessons written by a Roman emperor 2,000 years ago would be completely out of date. On the contrary, Marcus Aurelius’ writings are timeless, and author Donald Robertson shows how these lessons can be applied to better manage one’s self in the present day and time.
  4. Slow Burner by Laura Lippman
    I’m a short story junkie, and I really liked this title from Amazon’s Hush Collection. It was the best of the bunch and had all the elements I look for in a great short.
  5. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
    Lonsdale’s book is a title that doesn’t fit with my usual reading genres. It came to me through an Amazon recommendation and turned out to be a great read. It makes you ponder what you would do if you lost what mattered most to you in life, what you would do to get it back, and what you would do if you found it. Would you fight for it, or would you be able to let it go?

Personal Development

  1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
    Viktor Frankl was one of the few who survived the German concentration camps of World War 2. He writes a first account of the atrocities he witnessed, what he did to survive, and the lessons he took away from the experience. These lessons became the basis of his post-war psychology practice and treatment methods. Consider this book a graduate level course in personal development. It’s not for the feint of heart.
  2. The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
    For most of us, it’s not external factors holding us back. It’s our own internal beliefs and the way we see ourselves. Hendricks forces introspection through his book and will challenge you to make the Big Leap from being good to being the best you can be. I found it both applicable and inspirational.
  3. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
    If one thing has become apparent over the last couple of years, it’s the problems that our digital devices, social media, and the internet at large has created in our society. Newport offers a solution that suggests we significantly reduce the amount of time we spend on our devices, and online in general. I strongly agree with his recommendations. If you are struggling with how much time you spend online and can read one book next year, make it this one. Afterward, I also suggest watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix to help reinforce Newport’s suggestions.

Business Reads

  1. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
    Have a good product is one part of building a business. You also need to be able to market it. In Building a Story Brand, Miller walks you through a process that builds a story around your product or service to create a brand that consumers can relate to. I found the process very useful in building a marketing strategy for my business. Whether you have a brand story or need one, this book will help you craft or strengthen your story so it is more effective and resonates with your target audience.
  2. Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
    I’m a fan of Michael Lewis’ writing. He does a great job of going behind the scenes in his stories whether it’s the corruption in NCAA recruiting (The Blind Side), the sub-prime mortgage crisis (The Big Short), or exposing how institutional investment banks skim pennies off each trade, effectively stealing millions of dollars from their clients. It’s an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at the dark side of Wall Street (literally) that will only reinforce your view that the market is controlled by big money interests.

Fun Reads

There’s a long list of fun reads this year. Instead of giving a synopsis for each book here, you can click on the title to see my review of the book.

  1. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
  2. Bandwidth by Eliot Peper
  3. The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
  4. Winter World by A.G. Riddle
  5. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  6. Abandon by Blake Crouch
  7. The Jennifer Project by Larry Enright
  8. Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick by Philip K. Dick
  9. Ark by Veronica Roth
  10. The Term Sheet by Lucas Carlson

If you’re also looking for a good daily devotional to help you along your spiritual journey, I’d highly recommend Moments Like These by Dr. David Jeremiah. I read this as a follow-up to Jesus Calling by Sarah Young which I liked and read for 2019.

If you’re looking for more books to add to your 2021 reading list, here are my recommendations from prior years.

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