2021 was a very busy year for many reasons; Pandemics, moving cities, moving jobs and much more. This resulted in a feeling of not achieving much reading, although according to my log I did read 9 books, which isn’t too bad. This feeling of not doing much reading is definitely associated with not as much fiction reading but focussing on work related books. In 2021 I completed 9 books, finishing the new book by my favourite Author Amor Towles at 8pm on New Years Eve.
Out of the 9 books just 3 were fiction and just 2 of the non-fiction were work related.
Work related non-fiction
Managing Humans and The Art of Leadership both by Michael Lopp
I’ve been reading articles by Michael Lopp (Rands in Repose) for a long time now but as I was about to start my first full-time management role, these books became deeply relevant for my work. I’ve not found I’ve needed to reference them too much in the role but they were an interesting read. For anyone interested, the Rand Leadership Slack set up by Michael is an incredible resource for anyone in similar roles.
A world without emails - Cal Newport
These feels a bit of a sequel to Deep Work which I enjoyed a lot. I found that this book however didn’t add to much beyond the themes explored in Deep Work and the practical tips weren’t particularly useful.
Trust: America’s Best Chance - Pete Buttigieg
I read this as I was researching articles and studies on the topic of trust. There are surprisingly few deep dives into this topic and this book did not shed much further light. This book was more of a memoir and manifesto than an exploration. A simple read but ultimately didn’t leave a lasting impression.
The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson
World War 2 is not typically a topic I read much about and was only tempted by the fact the author is highly recommended by Amor Towles. As such, I did learn lots about that particular time in the war and the narrative was well written. Reading this during a pandemic did make me compare and contrast between the visible and invisible destruction of the blitz compared with the recent pandemic. Even during the horror of the blitz people were still taking their chances and escaping to socialise in the dance halls.
For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World - Sasha Sagan
Reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos as a teenager infected me with an absolute passion for space and science generally. He really was the best science communicators there has ever been. This intelligent and curious voice he used to teach millions was the same voice that his daughter uses in this interesting and personal book. This book highlights the rituals and social gatherings we can lose as non-religious people and how vital they are to the human experience. The personal stories were lovely to read and highlights ways we can still have rituals without the religion.
Anxious People - Fredrik Backman
I read this during a week off between jobs. I really like Backman’s books and the way he gets the reader to invoke empathy for almost everybody’s circumstance, this book took that to another level. I think this book felt a little more formulaic than his other work but I did thoroughly enjoy it.
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
For obvious reasons this was a mission to read. I preferred Anna Karenina but the themes it touches on are fantastic and timeless. At different stages in my life I will probably relate to different characters but the journey to find purpose for one of the characters, is very relatable even if the scenario of their particular journey is hopefully different to one that I would ever encounter. I’ve wanted to consume reviews/talks/forums ever since I’ve read it and have re-read sections several times. I will pore over this book forever.
The Lincoln Highway - Amor Towles
As mentioned, this is my favourite author. When I read his words, it feels like I’m consuming the tastiest meal that I’ve ever had and I never want it to end. He is able to write such a vast array of characters who all have their own clear motivations and history and I’m constantly amazed by his ability to understand so many different worlds and portray them so well.