2021 Book Reviews

In the quest of reading up all my pile of books, this year was a great year for curing my tsundoku, one book at a time: I’ve managed to read 70 books. Although there are some surprising misses in terms of the quality of the books, overall 5 stars hits still dominate my year.

I read from Epictetus to Lao Tzu, from Leo Tolstoy to Ernest Hemingway and Kahlil Gibran. I witnessed the rise of Goldman Sachs and the spectacular fall of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos. I saw the gloomy past in the history of 1918 Influenza and a glimpse of a bright future in technology through The Inevitable. And learned a lot from the wisdom of Charlie Munger, Maria Popova, Peter Drucker, Steven Pressfield, and Goethe, and the no-nonsense approach of Jordan Peterson.

I also read several unbelievable life stories, such as Genghis Khan, Sam Walton, Pete Sampras, Leonardo Da Vinci, Aung San Suu Kyi, Jack Ma, and the craziest of them all, Paulo Coelho. Twice. The first one was his biography and the second one was his summary of what a great character should look like. Talking about crazy, I had the pleasure of reading 2 books by crazy grandmothers (crazy in the best possible sense of the word) that covers the big 2 themes in my current life: writing (Ann Lamott) and running (Rosie Swale-Pope).

Moreover, this year I read a lot of books on religion and its derivatives, from the birth of religious culture, to the misquotations in Christianity and exploitation of Islam by a certain sect, to the berating of religion by an anti-theist, the long history of the Papacy, to the understanding of spirituality by a famous guru, two books on meditation, one book on Yoga, to the ever beautiful texts of Upanishad and Dhammapada.

I also read 4 books on running, 2 books on minimalism, another book on healthy eating, and the last batch on my pile of parenting books. I read a book that explains a lot about the introvert-extrovert spectrum, taught me about how to see the world factfully and positively grounded, how to negotiate like an FBI hostage negotiator, how to see football from statistical perspective, and tick the box for my re-reading portion of the year by reading a childhood favourite that turned out to be a horror realisation of what went wrong during my younger years.

And then there are the regular names, whose books I have accumulated over the years and vow to read one of their books every year. I’m talking about Yuval Noah Hariri, Steven Pinker, Daniel Goleman, Dale Carnegie, Donald Robertson, Simon Sinek, Tony Robbins, and of course my 3 most favourite authors Ryan Holiday, Robert Greene, and Karen Armstrong.

In between the serious readings, I read the amusing, the funny, and the amazing ones, such as Stuff You Should Know, Let’s Play Doctor, the Second Book of General Ignorance, an inspiring book by Kobe Bryant, an amazing one about Pep Guardiola, and one huge book that talks nothing but beer.

Oh I had such a blast, and learned a lot along the way. Jim Kwik always says the best way to learn is by teaching it, while Richard Feynman developed a technique that ensures whatever it is that we’re learning, we’ll understand it better by sharing it.

Here are the complete list of books that I read in 2021, with my Feynman-technique-generated reviews on them:

  1. Enchiridion by Epictetus
  2. The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant
  3. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (translated by James Legge)
  4. Maxims and Reflections by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  5. Insight Meditation by Joseph Goldstein
  6. Endure by Alex Hutchingson
  7. Alibaba by Duncan Clark
  8. A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy
  9. The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly
  10. Perennial seller by Ryan Holiday
  11. Freedom from fear by Aung San Suu Kyi
  12. 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald
  13. The opposite of spoiled Ron Lieber
  14. The Philosophy Book by Will Buckingham et al
  15. The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker
  16. Power and Money by William D. Cohan
  17. The Wahhabi Code by Terence Ward
  18. Quiet by Susan Cain
  19. Pep Guardiola by Guillem Balague
  20. 12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson
  21. Factfulness by Hans Rosling
  22. Figuring by Maria Popova
  23. Stuff You Should Know by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant
  24. Made in America by Sam Walton
  25. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  26. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
  27. The Upanishads
  28. The Dhammapada translated by Eknath Easwaran
  29. The End of Faith by Sam Harris
  30. The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong
  31. Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Erhman
  32. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  33. The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel
  34. Introducing Chaos: A graphic guide by Ziauddin Sardar, Angela Adams, and Iwona Abrams
  35. Inner Engineering by Sadhguru
  36. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
  37. Bank 3.0 by Brett King
  38. How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker
  39. Happy Gut by Vincent Pedre
  40. Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger and Peter D. Kaufman
  41. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  42. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald Robertson
  43. Develop Self Confidence, Improve Public Speaking by Dale Carnegie
  44. A Champion’s Mind by Pete Sampras
  45. Influenza: The hundred-year hunt to cure the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic by Dr. Jeremy Brown
  46. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris, Jeff Warren, and Carlye Adler
  47. Let’s Play Doctor by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg
  48. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
  49. Mastery by Robert Greene
  50. In the Time of Madness: Indonesia on the edge of chaos by Richard Lloyd Parry
  51. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  52. The Second Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
  53. Unshakable by Tony Robbins
  54. Running with the Kenyans by Adharanand Finn
  55. Lagom by Niki Brantmark
  56. Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
  57. The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway by Ernest Hemingway
  58. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  59. A Warrior’s Life: A Biography of Paulo Coelho by Fernando Morais
  60. Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman
  61. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
  62. Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
  63. The Beer Bible by Jeff Alworth
  64. The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala and Christopher Shulgan
  65. Just a Little Run Around the World by Rosie Swale Pope
  66. The Numbers Game by Chris Anderson and David Sally
  67. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  68. Warrior of the Light by Paulo Coelho
  69. Originals by Adam Grant
  70. Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy by John Julius Norwich

Further reading: This is how I manage to read so many books.