The 10 Best Books I Read in 2021

As the year is coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on our journeys, habits, and lessons. Books play a significant role in this regard. On this basis, here are the ten best books I read in 2021.

This year, I read a total of 42 books. That doesn’t compete with last year’s 56 books, but it’s still a respectable number. 

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The following are my favorite reads from 2021. To clarify, not all of these books came out in 2021. They were simply the best ones that I read this year. 

The best books I read in 2021

I usually read two to three books at the same time. As such, I like to switch between fiction, non-fiction, and biographies. 

Without further ado, here are the best books I read this year in no particular order.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2021
Picture by Cassidy Dickens / Unsplash

Contagious: Why Things Catch On  – Jonah Berger (2013)

If you’re into online business, startups, or marketing in general, Jonah Berger’s Contagious is an excellent read. 

With lots of vivid case studies, Berger explains how marketing works in the 21st century. In this context, his “Six Principles of Contagiousness” – social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical value, and story – are what make or break the marketing of a new product. 

Brimming with fascinating business stories and inspiring lessons, Contagious is a book that every entrepreneur should read. 

  • Contagious by Jonah Berger on Amazon

Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave – Ryan Holiday (2021)

I am a big fan of Ryan Holiday and Stoicism in general. 

His new book is another excellent addition to his long list of personal growth books. 

In Courage Is Calling, the Stoic writer explains the history of the concept of courage and showcases why today, more than ever, we cannot let fear run our lives. 

From Roman emperors to average civilians, Holiday analyzes the mechanics of courage in his trademark tone. 

In short, if you like Ryan Holiday’s work, you’ll love his latest bestseller as it has all the ingredients of a guide to Stoic virtues for the modern world. 

  • Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday on Amazon

Effortless – Greg McKeown (2021)

After his bestselling book Essentialism, Greg McKeown’s second book is all about simplifying challenging tasks. 

The idea is straightforward: the more effortless your most critical tasks become, the more productive and successful you’ll be. 

Following up on Essentialism was a challenge, but McKeown succeeded. His new book builds on essentialist ideas and takes them further. 

In Effortless, McKeown takes the reader on a journey toward simplification and productivity by sharing fascinating stories. Better still, there is a lot of actionable advice.

On this basis, if you’re trying to advance in life but feel stuck, Effortless should be on your shelves in 2022.

  • Effortless by Greg McKeown on Amazon

Turning Pro – Steven Pressfield (2012)

Turning Pro is one of the best books for anyone who can’t seem to find a purpose in life. 

Pressfield explains the difference between a pro and an amateur. He applies it to people from all walks of life and details how you need to become a pro to work with purpose. 

In simple terms, everyone faces the same distractions, problems, and worries, but a pro will defeat them while an amateur will succumb to them. 

  • Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield on Amazon

Empire – Niall Ferguson (2002)

If you’re a history buff, you’ll be familiar with the work of Niall Ferguson. One of the top historians in the UK, Ferguson has published several bestsellers throughout his 20+ year career. 

His 2002 book Empire explains the history of the British Empire in unprecedented detail and analytic expertise. 

From its emergence in the 15th century to its fall after the 1997 handover of Hong Kong, Ferguson’s book showcases the good, bad, and ugly of the largest empire in history. 

  • Empire by Niall Ferguson on Amazon

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – Ian Fleming (1963)

During the seemingly endless wait for the James Bond movie No Time to Die, I decided to revisit the old literature. And let me tell you this: there are some gems out there.

Many fans rank On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at the top of Ian Fleming’s work, and it’s undoubtedly a contender. 

The new James Bond movie took the character in new directions, but Fleming did the same in the 60s. Bong getting married, strong female protagonists and a convincing version of Blofeld make this one of the best original James Bond novels. 

On this basis, if you’ve never read an Ian Fleming book or simply want to dig deeper into the origins of James Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an excellent place to start. 

  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Ian Fleming on Amazon

Purple Cow – Seth Godin (2002)

Back into nonfiction, Seth Godin’s Purple Cow is still one of the best books about creating a unique product. 

In his 2002 bestseller, Godin analyzes why a particular product survives through trends and how you can stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Even though some of the lessons are now outdated, the essence of Purple Cow remains valuable, demonstrating the quality of this short book. 

  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin on Amazon

The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity – Daniel Reid (1989)

Daniel Reid’s Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity is somewhat of a bible for people who want to use oriental principles when it comes to health. 

I particularly liked the diets and meditation practices in this book. They were avant-garde in 1989, and they still work well today. 

You won’t replicate everything in this book, but it’s undoubtedly a treasure trove for people who want to boost their immune system, have a more balanced diet, or simply become healthier. 

  • The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity by Daniel Reid on Amazon

Crossroads – Jonathan Franzen (2021) 

Several popular newspapers, including The Guardian, named Crossroads as one of the best books of 2021. 

Franzen’s story follows a Midwestern family in the 70s who face several crises. The husband wants to end his marriage without knowing that his wife, who has her own secrets, is trying to do the same. 

The characters are compelling, and the plot unfolds spectacularly. All in all, it’s one of those books that you don’t want to put down, and undoubtedly one of the best fiction novels I read this year. 

  • Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen on Amazon

Light Perpetual – Francis Spufford (2021) 

In Light Perpetual, Spufford resurrects five children who died in Second World War bombings. 

The story follows five different tales of working-class children who grew up in 20th-century London after surviving V2 bombs. The reader visits the survivors in different periods of their lives, thereby jumping into distinct historical contexts. 

The writing style and the stories themselves are fascinating as they transpose the reader into would-be scenarios, as well as 20th-century British history. 

  • Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford on Amazon

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