Best Reads of 2021
Posted by Wei Min Tan on December 18, 2021
This year, I probably read between 60 to 75 books. The below were the 10 most memorable which I consider my best reads in 2021. Perhaps you may find them interesting as well.
1) The Art of Living, by Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh is a great teacher. His lessons are simple and powerful. In all his books the main theme is Mindfulness, living in the present moment because the present moment is all we have.
2) The Art of Impossible, by Stephen Kotler
Kotler’s book about how to maximize performance. Achieving “flow,” originally made popular by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, was a big part of the book. That’s the feeling of being “in the zone.” I greatly enjoyed this and even put the book on my desk for months afterwards as a reminder.
3) Inner Engineering, by Sadhguru
Yoga is a way of living involving body, mind and energy. I used to think of yoga as an exercise involving postures. But postures, aka Hatha Yoga, is just one small component of yoga. I’ve re-read a few times. Sadhguru is the most well-known yogi in the world. His youtubes have 10million+ views.
4) Indistractable, by Nir Eyal
A great book about focusing. Segmenting time to do the most important things of the day. All else can be done after the priorities are done. We usually do the easy things first because then our brain gets a quick dopamine surge and we feel good. We lose focus as the day goes by. Do the big things first and smaller things later.
5) Lifespan, by David Sinclair
Harvard professor Sinclair on 120 years being the new lifespan for humans. I am experiencing this firsthand. At 46 today, I am in way better shape than 20 years ago. Sinclaire talks about caloric restriction, cold exposure, high intensity training as keys to this new goal.
6) Ride of a Lifetime, Bob Iger
Memoir of Bob Iger, Disney’s former CEO. I can now tell my kids about the business of Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars etc… Disney’s major acquisitions over the years. Disney’s last major animated hit was Aladdin more than 20 years ago. Pixar was acquired because it has the creativity which the original Disney lacked.
7) The Chinese in America, Iris Chang
The earliest wave of Chinese immigrants came alone as single men. They worked endless hours to send money back to China and every few years, go back to China to be a celebrity. The families in China enjoyed comforts from the money remitted back, while the immigrant men toiled away in America lonely, abused and discriminated against. It was only after World War 2 that America opened up to the Chinese.
8) The Lost Art of Running, Shane Benzie
For the past year, I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis (pain in the arch) and didn’t run. I went into Barnes and Noble, saw this book, and decided to start running again. Maybe not running was preventing the plantar fasciitis from healing? It worked! This book talked about the mechanics of running which I never formally learned. Tripod landing, run tall, cadence, relaxed shoulders…. I see runners with great form on Hudson River Park everyday. I want to be like them.
9) Bhagavad Gita
India’s gift to the world. The Bhagavad Gita is a song between man and God. It’s originally in Sanskrit. I’ve had the Jack Hawley version for years and re-read it. Then I got the (most popular) Easwaran version and double checked both together. A simple, impactful guide to living. Be true to yourself and do your duty to the fullest without attachment to rewards.
10) How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan
A New York Times bestseller for years but I never read it previously because I wasn’t interested in psychedelics (hallucinogenic drugs). Magic mushrooms, active ingredient psilocybin, alters consciousness and is being used in studies to help terminally ill patients and cure addiction. The story about Patrick Mettes was incredibly touching. After his psilocybin session, his view on his remaining life changed. He and his wife lived a lifetime in a year.
And there you have it, my ten best reads in 2021.
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