“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.”

George R.R. Martin

I read a few “lifetimes” worth of books last year. In fact, in 2021 I read 55 books spanning nearly 16k pages. The average length of a book I read was about 290 pages. My original goal was 52 books so I read slightly more than I had hoped and planned for. Compared to previous years, I read about the same number of books as usual.

Here is a list of all of the books I read in 2021 and a few recommends on my favorites and recommendations.

(If you are interested in more book recommendations, check out my Recommended Books page.)

Book Recommendations:

  • Favorite Sci-Fi Book: Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress tells thought-provoking story about the conflict between the “Sleepless” (individuals genetically modified to not need sleep and who subsequently have greater potential for intelligence and accomplishment) and than ordinary humans called “Sleepers.”
  • 2nd Sci-Fi Fav: I also really enjoyed Octavia Butler’s dystopia two-book series that started with the “Parable of the Sower” and centered on a small group of Los Angeles internal refugees that must seek a new life in a world falling apart. Beautiful and moving.
  • Favorite Biology Book: What is Life? by Paul Norse offers a short but inspiring read for non-sciensts about key components to what biological life is.
  • Favorite Startup/Business Book: Levers: The Framework for Building Repeatability into Your Business by Amos Schwartzfarb and Trevor Boeh

Two Books that most challenged me to think:

  1. Hacking Life: Systematized Living and Its Discontents by Joseph Reagle criticizes “productivity culture,” getting-it-done systems and generally speaking a focus on instrumentality.

In my reading, Reagle’s central critique is that life hacking leads to an overdependence on monolithic systems thinking, which results in tunnel vision. Life hacking contructs oversimplified models and metaphors about living and limits how we see and interact with the world around us, including with ourselves. Essentially life hackers have buried their heads in systems. Many of these life hacking systems are ultimately scams that don’t offer the benefits people expect and are often just framed to most directly help the gurus selling them. Many of them are marketed and promoted by individuals with a history of marketing tricks and ploys.

  1. McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality by Ronald Purser (which the inspired me to write a book review.)

Thanks and what have you been reading?

FYI – If you are interested in more detailed data logging and tracking practices, I log my reading with Goodreads, Kindle and Instapaper. Data collection and visualization powered by QS Ledger. This post and a few related ones are part of my Year in Data project.