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My Multi-faceted Book List

Despite starting a new full-time job and some other life changes (our newborn gets distracted when I read non-fiction out loud), I somehow found time to read a wide variety of books. Here are my favorite books from the year:

Memoir / Biography

  1. The Spy and the Traitor — Ben MacIntyre
    • This is a fascinating story about a double agent spying on the Soviet Union for Britain and the challenges of passing information in the 80s.
  2. Yearbook — Seth Rogen
    • I laughed out loud more times and I could count while listening to this book. I highly recommend the audiobook, which was produced by Seth Rogen, with many voices, including a terrific impersonation of Nicolas Cage.
  3. Kitchen Confidential — Anthony Bourdain
    • With all the buzz around the documentary about this travel documentarian and chef, I got inspired to read the book that put him on the map. I loved his style and the presentation of chefs as rock stars and all the other small battles that happen behind the kitchen door.

Business

  1. The 80 / 20 Principle — Richard Koch
    • We have all heard this summarized countless times, but after listening to Richard Koch on the Tim Ferriss Podcast, I wanted to read his writing on the topic. One of my favorite ideas is the list of what makes for a satisfying day.
    • “My seven daily happiness habits … (1) Exercise (2) Mental stimulation (3) Spiritual/artistic stimulation/meditation (4) Doing a good turn (5) Taking a pleasure break with a friend (6) Giving yourself a treat (7) Congratulating yourself”
  2. Millionaire Fastlane — MJ DeMarco
    • Most books about entrepreneurship say the same things, but this one offered a refreshing perspective. The biggest argument I’ve found against climbing the corporate ladder is this one — becoming CEO is just like playing the lottery. You can work hard all your life, but your chances of rising to the top depend mainly on luck.
  3. How I Built This — Guy Raz
    • This book does a great job of compiling interesting stories from the vast archives of the NPR show. I enjoyed the connections drawn between different businesses, from Sam Adams to Slack to Chuck E. Cheese.

Fiction

  1. Ministry for the Future — Kim Stanley Robinson
    • I was blown away by this author’s version of a future drastically altered by climate change. The ideas of how politics and society will change might prove more accurate than anyone would hope.
  2. Normal People — Sally Rooney
    • This novel features fascinating characters and some great writing. It’s a unique look at young people in Ireland.
  3. Arbitrary Stupid Goal — Tamara Shopsin
    • A fun romp through New York City and the characters in a small neighborhood, actually quite close to where I visited family as a child.

Want More Book Suggestions?

If that’s not enough, you can check out my list from June — Great Books and More | Top Reads in 2021.