My Best Reads of 2021

In no particular order, here are the most memorable books I read last year. They all changed me in some way. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did …

Analogia by George Dyson
An extraordinary journey through the differences and connections between analogue and digital – and why that matters – via Apaches, baidarkas [Aleut kayaks], tree houses, and the space race. Simply wonderful.

On Trails by Robert Moor
Ostensibly about how and why trails form, this turns out to be a study of freedom.

Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand
This changed my thinking around cities, nuclear power and genetically engineered crops – and the role each of them has to play in mitigating the climate crisis.

The Value of Everything by Mariana Mazzucato
I didn’t exactly ‘enjoy’ reading it, but this book is a convincing argument for why we need to rethink how we measure ‘value’ in business.

The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
Short, brilliant book on mindset. What game are you currently playing? And what game do you want to play?

Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
Somewhere between poetry, philosophy and science, this is a beautiful exploration of how octopuses might be interacting with their world … and from there, it offers deep questions on what it means to be human.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
I know I’m late to this one – but it surpassed all my expectations. ‘A brief history of humankind’ in a few hundred pages. Astonishing.

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse
I discovered Daniel Schmactenberger and The Consilience Project this year. This book is on his reading list, which is a far better recommendation than mine. Are you thinking in terms of boundaries or horizons?

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
The best of the fiction books I read this year, this is Mitchell at his glorious best. Follow a fantastic cast of characters through 1960s London and beyond …

Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
In one of David Mitchell’s earlier novels, my favourite character says “I’m not much of anything these days … part-time Buddhist, maybe?” I’ve been secretly applying that description to myself for years – but after reading this short book, I’ll be going with Agnostic Buddhist from here on.

2020

2019

2018

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