The Most Impactful Reads of 2021

Is 50% a passing grade?

For 2021 I set a goal of 30 books. As illustrated so nicely above, I only made it halfway there. This continues a trend I started in 2020 where my goal was 50 books but I only read 25.

In 2022 I would like to read 24 books (2 per month), so obviously I should set my goal at 48! That settles it: my goal for 2022 is 48 books.

How did I miss my 2021 goal by a whopping 50%? Here are my 3 excuses:

  1. Pandemic Pandemonium. My employer was rolling out a vaccine mandate and I wanted to make good vaccine decisions for my family and I. I turned to Twitter, Reddit, and podcasts to try and see around the corner of vaccine science and policy. This online reading and research cut into my book reading time and I’ll admit I maybe went too far down the rabbit hole.
  2. The Republic, by Plato. My good friend Michael Harvey gifted me this classic for my 40th birthday. I got bogged down – in a good way – for 2.5 months. I have a lot of notes on this beauty that I will eventually share with you all.
  3. Bible study. My normal routine is to tear apart one chapter of the Bible with my morning coffee. Not included in my book total are the 17 books of the Bible, from Isaiah to Malachi, that I did a deep dive into. These 17 books total ~170k words, which is roughly the equivalent of the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. Adding to that, my study of the Bible is a slow study where I research its curiosities in outside references such as commentaries, maps, and Hebrew word studies. The 170k word estimate doesn’t capture this extra supporting material.

Here are the most impactful books I read in 2021. I’ve included the original publishing date as well to show I continue to prioritize old books over new books. If you want to know more about my reading strategy I detailed it last year here.

Fiction:

  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Philisophical fiction (1866), 430 pages – 5 stars. An old Russian novel that demonstrates how nihilism is a path to murder, and true love can redeem nihilistic murderers.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Philisophical fiction (1880), 824 pages – 5 stars. Another old Russian novel that eloquently and convincingly explains the best arguments for atheism, and demonstrates the best arguments against it.
  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway. WW1 setting (1929), 332 pages – 4.5 stars. Here are my book notes on this classic.
  • The Call of the Wild / White Fang / The Sea-Wolf / Klondike and Other Stories by Jack London (1893-1922), 1021 pages – 5 stars. These are vivid short stories set in the north, many about the gold rush, and they make for great reading before bed if you have trouble turning off the days problems. I found this book for a couple books at a local used book store!
  • Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae by Steven Pressfield. Historical fiction account of this ancient greek battle. Interestingly it is required reading at some military schools. (1998), 442 pages – 5 stars
  • A Man at Arms by Steven Pressfield. Fictional story about the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in A.D 55 (2021), 336 pages – 4 stars

Business:

History:

Philosophy:

  • The Republic by Plato. 375 B.C, 416 pages, 4 stars. Widely acknowledged as the cornerstone of western philosophy and political theory. I have many notes I look forward to sharing soon.
  • The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Taleb. 2016, 174 pages, 3 stars. From one of my favorite authors (Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Antifragile, and Skin in the Game), a short book of proverbs that I would read 3 or 4 of per day.

Cheers to another year of transforming our minds with books! What have you read recently that I should add to my reading list?

If you aren’t already on Goodreads, please get in there and look me up! Goodreads have fun tools to set reading goals, track what you’ve read, see what friends are reading, and create lists of books to read.

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