My Books of 2021

Fiction

I fell in love with the work of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie this year. Half of a Yellow Sun was probably the best fiction book I read all year.

Great
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller
The Blind Assassin: A Novel by Margaret Atwood

Good
Our Country Friends: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
The Lincoln Highway: A Novel by Amor Towles

Ok
Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Head on by John Scalzi
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
To be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Biography

The Power Broker taught me more about modern day New York than anything else I’ve ever read. It’s an incredible work that changes the way I see almost every journey in the city.

Great
The Power Broker by Robert Caro

Good
Who is Michael Ovitz by Michael Ovitz
Master of the Game: How Steve Ross Rode the Light Fantastic from Undertaker to Creator of the Largest Media Conglomerate in the World by Connie Bruck

Business and Strategy

I’m a big John Boyd fan and Stephen Bungay’s Art of Action was one of the few business books that Boyd endorsed. I swiftly saw the reason why. It’s immensely practical and wise, able to talk effortlessly about the spectrum of strategy from Von Moltke’s reformation of the Prussian Army to Tom Glocer’s turnaround of Reuters.

Great
The Art of Action: How Leaders Close the Gaps between Plans, Actions and Results by Stephen Bungay

Good
Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice by Clayton Christensen
Strategy by Captain B. H. Liddell Hart
The First 90 Days, Updated and Expanded: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins

History and Society

My first time reading James Baldwin and to see candor written so beautifully, to see righteous anger tempered by love was an awe-inspiring thing.

Great
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey
The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves by W. Brian Arthur

Good
The Exponential Age by Azeem Azhar

Miscellaneous

In a Swim in a Pond in a Rain, Saunders introduces you to a selection of great Russian short stories and then deconstructs them in such a way that gives you an entirely new perspective on the work. My new go to recommendation for aspiring writers.

Great
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders
How to be Sad by Helen Russell

Good
Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman
Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution by Carlo Rovelli
The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win by Maria Konnikova

One Reply to “My Books of 2021”

  1. I wondered if you’d publish this year’s list, Anthony, and here it is! I’ve read two that are there but not in 2021: Half of a Yellow Sun and The Song of Achilles, both of which I enjoyed and am so pleased to have read. Hope life as four is going well.

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