The 2021 Book List
Two years ago, I started sharing a list of books I'd read throughout the year, or books I recommended regardless of the year they were read. It started with a simple blog post in 2019, and was added to with last years full list of what was read or listened to. This list includes books, audiobooks, and podcasts or interviews I found to be extremely helpful.
Last year, I listened to roughly 257 hours of podcasts, and nearly 40 hours of audiobooks between the months of January and December. Due to the nature of posting a blog at the end of December, this list includes the books I read from December 1st of 2020 up until December 1st of 2021. There would be more on this list, but there are a few I have yet to finish.
With this years list, I'll be up front about a common theme you will find. As it is for all of us, we go through seasons in our lives. When we look at a year, we may often find a theme amongst what we read or listen to. This is clearly evident for my own year, which saw a great deal of high-highs and extremely low-lows. For me, 2020 had actually been a fairly pleasant year, and 2021 looked like it would shape up to be similar. But after getting COVID and spending nearly 20 days in quarantine due to others in my household getting it as well, and then a relationship abruptly ending in a way which I will dive into in other blogs, 2021 became a year of soul searching.
The theme of the year was one which dove deep into my system of belief. Questioning it, working through some of the mess which unchallenged beliefs can bring, and trying to understand a deeper framework of my own understanding. Needless to say, as a Christian, many of the books I read were religious or examined the Christian faith. Many of the books, both those of religious genre or not, were ones which may step on your toes just as much as they may have stepped on mine. Nonetheless, I have included these books because it is necessary to challenge our systems of belief and gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.
This is the list of books I have read this year, with an asterisk placed next to the books which were primarily consumed in audio format.
"Quiet" - Susan Cain
"Sovereignty" - Ryan Michler*
"The Strange Death of Europe" - Douglas Murray*
"Thinking, Fast and Slow" -Daniel Kahneman*
"Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life" - Jordan B. Peterson*
"The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self." - Carl R. Trueman*
"Man's Search For Meaning"- Viktor Frankl*
"David and Goliath"- Malcom Gladwell*
"The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry." - John Mark Comer*
"The Way of The Wild At Heart" - John Eldredge
"12 Rules For Life: The Antidote for Chaos" - Jordan B Peterson*
"Blink" - Malcolm Gladwell*
"Mere Christianity" - CS Lewis*
"The Case For Christ" - Lee Strobel
"Originals" -Adam Grant*
"This Is Marketing" -Seth Godin*
This list is in order, though one book (Fergus Connolly's book "Game Changer") did not make the list because I've only read half of it due to it's density of material. This does not include podcasts, though I will recommend some at the end I found helpful.
12 Rules For Life: The Antidote To Chaos, and Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life
For the past few years, I have been fascinated with the work of Dr. Jordan Peterson. I re-listened to 12 Rules For Life this year when his book Beyond Order came out. I listened to them both. I find Peterson to be an engaging author, and while he receives equal amount of blowback as he receives support, there is a reason in which many find his work helpful. Especially for those who tend to place high value on their physical well-being, many of the main tenet's of Peterson's work helps apply similar discipline to your mental health. Take care of yourself, be kind, tell the truth, and do what is good for you.
"Do things fall apart because we have not paid sufficient attention?" -Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
The Rise and Triumph of The Modern Self by Carl R. Trueman
This book was equally challenging as it was thought provoking. This book, written by a Christian college professor (Carl R. Trueman), highlights the shift in mental state in the US over the last 60 years. He dives into how individuals have developed from being "the economical man" to being a society of "psychological man," doing so by using the current struggles and battles being fought over LGBT rights in the world. He addresses how much of how we associated our values in life up until the mid to late 1960's to be tied to what we could do for others, and how a shift happened causing us to focus on how the world should value us for who we are psychologically. He contrasts these by addressing how difficult it is for others to create value of another person based on unseen and unknown qualities, compared to the economical value we bring to each other. This one admittedly stepped on some toes, and covered a topic that many may feel is taboo. Nonetheless, this book is recommended because it was one which made me think and ask deeper questions about society and systems of belief.
The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
This book, which again is more a religious book, addresses the current workaholic culture presiding in the United States. Comer addresses how we are always on "go mode," and addresses how we need a shift back to a slower pace. He addresses how we often give ourselves less time by rushing, increase our stress, downgrade our health, and weaken our quality of life. I listened to this one while on vacation, which was undoubtedly needed, especially for someone who has operated at a high pace of life for the past few years and was on the road to burnout again. Even though it's written by a pastor, there's some lessons here to be learned for everyone regardless of belief systems.
David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
It is for good reason that Gladwell's writings have reached the list multiple times in the last two years. This book did not disappoint. Gladwell breaks down different ways in which it should be expected that the "Davids" of the world should win the battles they engage in. He breaks down how there was likely already a tactical advantage for the David in the Bible fighting Goliath, and how many of the people who break barriers or are successful against odds actually have an advantage as well. With insight, Gladwell brings forth an argument on how overcoming hardship is partly about location, timing, and individual abilities. And the combination of those things is what allows "Davids" to thrive in our current cultural landscape.
Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
I will never not recommend this book. I think it should be read frequently or at least annually. I have read or listened to the audiobook version of this book at least once per year for the last three years. In a world where it is easy to lose one's way and find oneself in despair, this book is a great reminder: we get to choose our meaning for life. We get to struggle and toil towards a goal of our choosing and let it mold us and shape us. Our meaning and purpose may, and undoubtedly will, change over the span of our lifetimes and beyond. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Normally, I would recommend specific episodes on this list, but instead I will list podcasts that have continually put out content and brought on guests that have challenged my thinking and brought deeper insights. This list has changed some since last year, with new "players" in the game who have brought some extra knowledge and quality to the podcasting space. Most of these are fitness related, with the occasional dive into other topics. I have listed them as a top five, though their order could easily be interchanged on any given day.
RX'd Radio (hosted by Dr. Jordan Shallow, Dr. Jordan Jiunta, and Killian Hamilton)
Student Athlete Preparation Podcast (Hosted by Cody Hughes)
Power Athlete Radio (hosted by John Welbourn and Chris "Tex" McQuilkin)
The Art of Coaching Podcast (hosted by Brett Bartholomew)
The Joe Rogan Experience (hosted by Joe Rogan)
Each of these podcasts has brought insights, brought on guests that challenge the way I think, or brought new insights from experts in fields of interests. Some of them, I don't always agree with (admittedly, I don't always agree with Rogan or his guests). But because of the thoughts those individuals spark, or the presentation of a different way of thinking, they make the list.
Hopefully, as a whole, this list is one you find useful or interesting. I always have some fun and spend a good amount of time thinking on what to read, what to suggest, and how to present some of the things that I read. I also always find it crucial to point out how I do not always agree with the books I read or the podcasts I listen to. As the saying goes, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." We should not seek to only confirm our biases. We should challenge them, examine them, and refine how we think and view the world.
I hope you take some action to do this in 2022!