After college, I resolved to read one book a month. It can be fiction, non-fiction, technical, business-oriented, or whatever as the goal was to always be absorbing and digesting new ideas and information, even just for fun. With the Kindle app and travel, that was always easy. In 2021, I had a series of major life changes – moved to the woods, left a longtime job, learned about gardening, construction, first aid, and other skills, and then started a new job.
Regardless, I stuck towards my goal of 12 non-fiction books which would clear my bookshelf and failed after only reading six.
Here are my top five in order:
- Battle Ground from Jim Butcher
- Monster Hunter Bloodlines from Larry Correia
- Fourth Generation Warfare Handbook from William Lind
- Loserthink from Scott Adams
- Thinking in Bets from Annie Duke
And here are the 34 books I completed in 2021, sorted by author:
I picked this up in 2020 and never got around to it. While Scott Adams is known for politics at this point, this was an apolitical and informative, well-structured approach to attacking the bad approaches that govern too much of our thinking. Frankly, if you’re deep into the startup space of realizing, evaluating, testing, and discarding assumptions, some of this will feel like review but applying it elsewhere will be a new muscle for most people.
- Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America
If you like the Dresden Files, you’ll love this book. It’s the culmination of almost 20 years of storytelling and ties together the threads – both good and bad – so spectacularly. There are some things that I saw coming and a handful of great surprises. An astute reader will notice that I also read this in 2020 immediately after it came out. So yes, I read it twice within 4 months and loved it both times.
- Battle Ground (Dresden Files Book 17)
The economist in me drove me to pick up this one. The underlying data and analysis was rock solid and horrifying. I’m not 100% convinced on the conclusions but anecdotally from people I know, it looks more true ever day.
The Monster Hunter series is one of my favorites out there. It’s fun and lighthearted at times and delves into deep and somber at others. The best part is that Correia weaves in threads that seem just a little too plausible. With regards to this specific book, it tied into John Ringo’s trilogy from a few years back. All three of those were in my top five books from 2018 so it was great to see those threads pulled back into the main story.
- Monster Hunter Bloodlines (Monster Hunters International Book 8)
After reading a couple other books on this list, this one came up in my recommendations and it was great. Most of life is having to make decisions without all the facts and it’s vital to separate good decisions from being lucky and bad decisions from being unlucky. This book lays out a process and the thinking required to separate and analyze the decision from the luck involved. None of it is foolproof but if you can separate the two and improve your decision making by a small, repeatable amount, the successes compound. If you’re not already thinking in these terms – or want to get better at it – definitely check this one out.
The Four Horseman Universe
After finding this series in 2018, I’ve devoured it book by book. The premise is that aliens show up on Earth, we’re completely outclassed in all things and the only thing we’re good at is
dying being mercenaries. The series picks up 100 years later so there’s no “first contact” but lots of open warfare, space combat, and good characters of many races. While there’s ton of infantry-style combat, there are space naval battles, infiltration, assassination, and chaos all around. Check this series out but start with Chris Kennedy’s (publisher of these series) 4HU Suggested Reading Order.
- Daughter of the Pride (The Guild Wars Book 6)
- Gale Force (The Guild Wars Book 7)
- One Minute to Midnight (The Guild Wars Book 8)
- The Gates of Hell anthology (Four Horsemen Sagas Book 4)
- Set the Terms (Rise of the Peacemakers Book 3)
- These Things We Do (Rise of the Peacemakers Book 4)
- Night Song (The Guild Wars Book 9)
- Sword of Minerva (The Guild Wars Book 10)
- Prodigal Son (Rise of the Peacemakers Book 5)
- Redacted Vice (Rise of the Peacemakers Book 6)
- Eye of the Storm (The Guild Wars Book 11)
- Chasing Hell (Rise of the Peacemakers Book 7)
- The Street Survivors (The Guild Wars Book 12)
- The Ravening of Wolves (Four Horsemen Sagas Book 6)
- In the Wings: An Anthology of Four Horsemen Universe Secondary Characters (Four Horsemen Sagas Book 7)
- And Break It Not (The Guild Wars Book 13)
Marion G. Harmon
This series is one of my guilty pleasures. It tracks a teenage superhero from the emergence of her powers into using them as part of a team into forming a brand new team. This book read as a series of short stories mixed among the overall book and was overall fun. The new characters were thoughtful, their storylines were compelling, and it moved the universe forward as a whole. This was a good addition to the series and I hope Harmon expands on the new characters.
- Joyeuse Guard (Wearing the Cape, Book 9)
While he’s primarily known for the Chronicles of Narnia, CS Lewis’ other writing are deep and thought provoking. About the only downside is that they’re so dense, you have to take your time and sometimes re-read sections for them to fully land.. and I suspect read it multiple times. Therefore, I picked up the Screwtape Letters for the second time in as many years and appreciated it just as much this time.
This book is a great exploration of the levels of warfare. When most people think of “war,” they begin and end with violence which is historical but doesn’t reflect how most people and nations operate at this point. This book goes through that history, how and why it worked, and how things work now. Frankly, it lays out the case that violence is the lowest and worst form of “war” and any situation that goes there is the result of failure on other levels.
This is another series I picked up years ago and revolves around the collapse of the world into a zombie apocalypse. At this point, the main character – Lee Harden – is a shadow of who he used to be. Most of his friends are gone, his lover is dead, his settlement is wiped out, and his soul is broken. The story is great overall with compelling characters but it’s hard to read because of Lee’s hopelessness.
In short, Dr Ovadia is a heart surgeon who is tired of trying to save lives at the last minute when the medical field should be preventing people from getting there in the first place. His particular angle is by improving a person’s metabolic health through better food choices and eventually health decisions as a whole. Even better, if you’re already doing keto, carnivore, vegan, or whatever, he gives some recommendations to make each of them better. It’s clear, simple, repeatable and definitely a book to check out.
After the craziness of 2020 into 2021, I picked up this series on what a fictitious dissolution of what the United States looks like. Frankly, it’s ugly with violence, chaos, and bizarre boundaries. Regardless, if you can get over his squishy timeline of events and the stereotypes, overall it’s good. The lead character is compelling and the situations feel more real than I’d like to consider.
- People’s Republic (Kelly Turnbull Book 1)
- Indian Country (Kelly Turnbull Book 2)
- Wildfire (Kelly Turnbull Book 3)
- Collapse (Kelly Turnbull Book 4)
- Crisis (Kelly Turnbull Book 5)
- The Split (Kelly Turnbull Book 6)
The original Dracula has been on my reading list for years and I finally did it. The entire story is told through journal entries of Mina, Jonathan, Van Helsing and others which makes for little action but lots of deep thought and consideration. The development and resolve of Mina from her first entry of a gentle, young woman to a dedicated hunter of the dark and dangerous was compelling. And yes, it was hard to read without thinking of Wynona, Keanu, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
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If you think I missed something great, drop me a note and let me know!