I started the year with a target of completing 52 books, I was able to reach 56.
For the complete list you can refer to https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2021
To follow me on GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/18286248-jai
Below I present my recommendations from these 56 books.
Top 5 books (All Genres)
Creating this list was difficult. Lot of books in the list were very well written. Each author pushed the boundaries in its own domain.
Presenting my biased view :-
The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Liptop — Very interesting take on nature vs nurture. Though I do not agree completely with the book, still it is highly recommended. If you are ever in doubt know that you have the power to change, it’s in your control to live life happily tuned in with nature.
Anti fragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb — Anti fragility is not the opposite of fragility but events that benefit from randomness. The best example being ourselves. The randomness has allowed for adaptability and survival has been made possible. There are many such other events that happen around us. Knowing and learning from them cannot happen via textbooks but only through experience. If you have doubt about experience vs text book go through this excellently written book.
Range by David Epstein — There has always been a debate on depth vs breadth. Depth in deterministic world and work will always win over breadth. The world and the people we work with are mostly non deterministic. A lot of ideas occur not from the same branch but often from a non related branch. And hence, having breadth will always improve even when having depth in few areas. The book is tangent to Outliers and still adds upon the concept nicely. I have a bias towards the book, as I have always been an supporter of multi-disciplinary teaching.
The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova- The author takes you through her journey of becoming a professional poker player. A lot of learnings that can be used in life to improve the quality of decision making, well poker is all about taking decision, and learning from the decision. Though poker is a kinder environment than real life, a lot of it can be applied in various situations. Such as knowing the “Why” of any decision, or understanding the behaviour of a person as “if-then” rather than using a standard categorisation.
Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek- An excellent book on how to be better leaders. By being selfless and making sacrifices, a leader can enable to team to become the best. History is replete with leaders that changed the course of history with a small team and warriors. The fundamentals still apply. The book highlights and provides insights on how to raise yourself to create history.
If the list could be extend to include one more
Sex at Dawn by Christoher Ryan and Cacilda Jitha — A highly controversial view of monogamy. Only for people who have an open mindset and do not get offended easily. The author does provide thought provoking and historical data to provide explanation to the way we think and feel. It opens our sexual history from hunter — gatherer to agricultural society to our current society. Note — This is not a judgment on the view to be supported, its facts presented by the author as per his interpretation.
Other books worth reading
Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Spencer Johnson — A narrative on change written in a short story format. We are conditioned to not like change, yet change is what we crave. The story presents in a unique format on how to understand change and flow along with the change.
Black box thinking by Matthew Syed — The number of airlines crashes have significantly reduced over the last decades. This has been made possible through investment into learning from failures. We can only improve if we are capable and enabled to accept mistakes freely. Mistakes are learning opportunities, if we allow them to be. A lot of industries, specifically, medical, corporates have a learning opportunity from the airline industry on making the radical change where every mistake is celebrated (not in the literal sense of the word), and converted into an opportunity to make flying safer.
The Dichotomy of Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin- A book by Navy seals on the leadership principles that were applied in the seals operation. These operations are one of the toughest and risky. The principles still remain the same wherever you are leading a team. The authors explain how to translate the fundamental principles into any workstream.
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier- The book defines the fundamental questions that provides a process of how to effectively coach and have an open conversation. The questions posed provide a method to have the conversations.
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris — A book that is a summary of the podcasts by Tim Ferris. It contains amazing pieces and philosophy of of people the author met. Full of anecdotes and learning.
Endure by Alex Hutchinson — Does our body drive our physical pursuits or does our body? This has been a question that is still remains unanswered. The author presents compelling cases on why we continue to push our boundaries, and the role our mind plays. By simply believing in what your body is capable of, your make physiological changes in the body that make it happen.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall — A proponent of barefoot running, McDougall creates an interesting narrative. The book should be read as an inspiration of what our bodies are capable of doing. We do not use even a little of what our bodies can endure and enjoy.
Don’t lose your mind, lose your weight by Rujuta Diwekar — An amazing book that tells the importance of eating right. In an era where the options to eat are more than ever before, it is critical that we eat correctly to have a healthy body.
Adiyogi The Source of Yoga by Sadhguru — An amazing book on Shiva. “Read Shiva.. Embrace Shiva… Be Shiva….” Parts 1&2 are a must read. It opens a new understanding of ourselves and how to start on a spiritual path.
Complete works of Swami Vivekananda- A must read. The book has nothing to do with religion per se, but more on philosophy. What is Advaita? Who are we? What are the four types of Yoga? How does each yoga help achieve peace? My view is the “purpose of life is to be at peace with yourself”. The lectures and writings of Swamiji definitely help in moving in that direction.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl- “A person who has a why to live can bear almost any how”- Friedrich Nietzsche. The author is a Nazi camp survivor and an example of the above quote. The book is emotional and is his search for meaning from life.
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse — I can wait, I can think, I can fast. Understand the philosophy of why the above is powerful and can transform the way we live.