Reflecting on my 2021 book reads

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My goal for 2021 was to read 12 books. By the end of the year, I read 22 books, which is way more than my usual yearly quota.

I rekindled my love for reading during the pandemic. Last year I also connected with book bloggers and friends who gave out good recommendations and inspired me to read more.

Here are the list of books with my ratings and thoughts from the reading list:

Books read in 2021 by Femy Praseeth
  1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil ★★★★★

This is a non-fiction novel, a category I never knew existed. This is also the first crime novel I read since my teen years. I would never have picked this one if not for the recommendation from a friend.

This book is entertaining and captivating, in spite of a slow start. with quirky characters and funny rituals. I was fascinated by the historical old town, Savannah, in Georgia where the story happens, to the point where I googled the place and made a mental note to visit Savannah someday. This was also the last book I read in 2021.

  1. When Breath Becomes Air ★★★★★
  2. The Last Lecture ★★★★★
  3. The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing ★★★★★
  4. Tuesdays with Morrie ★★★★★
  5. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World ★★★★★
  6. The Five People You Meet in Heaven ★★★☆☆

Surprisingly, I read more books on grief, loss, and death this year than ever before:

  • 2 books written by the dying – When breath becomes air, The last lecture.
  • 2 books about folks who talked with the dying – The Top Five Regrets of the Dying loss, Tuesdays with Morrie.
  • 2 novels dealing with grief, mourning and afterlife – The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

These books along with the pandemic crept into my subconscious and made a subtle shift in my perspectives and my priorities in life and work.

It helped me get a deeper understanding of my losses, be more gentle with myself and my reactions to life events. Sometimes, it’s comforting to know that “you’re not the only one”.

  1. Greenlights ★★★★★
  2. I Am a Girl from Africa ★★★★★
  3. The Choice: Embrace the Possible ★★★★★
  4. Tell Me More ★★★★★
  5. Broken ★★★☆☆
  6. Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies ★★★☆☆

There’s always something to learn from others and their stories. If you meet me you’ll see that I ask too many questions. This curiosity led me to read more biographies and memoirs this year.

“I Am a Girl from Africa” is about the life of a girl who beats all odds to achieve her dream of working for the United Nations and her struggles along the way.

It’s unlike any book on Africa I’ve read, filled with stories from her life in Africa, peppered with beautiful African proverbs.

“Greenlights” is a memoir by Matthew McConaughey. Although I was never a fan of his acting, I found him quite intelligent and his writing absolutely enchanting.

This was not a memoir about how he achieved his success, It was more about how he stayed true to who he is, once he was inundated with roles after his success.

You understand why the characters he plays are crude and real. You also get to read the story behind those famous three words!

“The Choice” is written by a 90-year old holocaust survivor who is currently practicing as a therapist. This is my first book about the holocaust and the survival stories are heart-wrenching.

The book takes you through how she helps her patients heal from their trauma while also coping with her struggles from the experience at the concentration camps.

I highly recommend these 3 books.

  1. Bird by Bird ★★★☆☆
  2. On Writing Well ★★★★★

I always enjoyed writing as a hobby, Recently I’ve taken an interest in honing the craft as I began working with the Documentation team at WordPress.

“On Writing Well” is an excellent guidebook to improve writing non-fiction with practical tips and examples. You’ll learn how to eliminate clutter and simplify your work. This one is a required read if you do any kind of writing and maybe even multiple reads to solidify the principles. I highly recommend this book if you want to improve your writing skills.

“Bird by Bird” is more a self-help book for writers. It debunks a lot of myths about writers’ lives. It is sprinkled with tips for writing fiction while also taking you through the author’s personal life.

  1. The Everything Store ★★★★★
  2. Essentialism ★★★★★

I read fewer books on business and entrepreneurship this year.

“The Everything Store” was a surprise read. I thought I will be fairly bored reading this one, but Brad’s simple narrative was captivating. It’s a good read to learn about the origins and inner workings of Amazon.

“Essentialism” was the first book I read in 2021. After a year through the pandemic, I was ready for a fresh start. This book helped me discern what’s essential to accomplish and what’s best ignored. It will make a great re-read at the beginning of every year.

  1. The Untethered Soul ★★★★★
  2. Creative Visualization★★★☆☆
  3. O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose ★★★☆☆
  4. How to Be an Artist ★★☆☆☆
  5. I’d Rather Be Reading ★★★★☆

My interest in self-help books and books on creativity seemed to be weaning down.

Maybe I am at a point in life where I realize there is more to life than building a company, starting a creative business, or constantly improving oneself.

Maybe it’s time to just live an ordinary life, enjoy the mundane and make this one life we have magical!

You’re sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Go ahead, take a look at reality. You’re floating in empty space in a universe that goes on forever. If you have to be here, at least be happy and enjoy the experience.

-The untethered soul

My goodreads annual report had some interesting stats:

  • 22 books read
  • 5,694 pages read
  • Average book length in 2021 : 258 pages
  • Shortest book: 144 pages (How to Be an Artist)
  • Longest book: 416 pages (The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World )
  • Most Popular book 1,319,396 people also shelved (Tuesdays with Morrie)
  • Least Popular 969 people also shelved (O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose )
  • Highest Rated on Goodreads : 4.58 average (The Choice: Embrace the Possible)

Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? How many books did you read in 2021? What are some books you can recommend me?