As 2021 comes to a close, I wanted to share all the books I read this year. My habit of reading is one of the few things that has benefitted from all my time at home this year.
So here’s the list. This is in the order of how I read them, not how much I enjoyed them. There were so many good books, it’s hard to focus on just a few (and now that I look at them all, I must admit there’s one or two I don’t even remember reading).
As far as entertaining reads, I really enjoyed Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Project Hail Mary, The Soul of an Octopus, The Birth of Loud, and You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey.
Meaningful and powerful reads included Seven Fallen Feathers, Paying the Land, The Power, Gutter Child, Just Mercy, Five Little Indians, This One Looks Like a Boy, A Fine Balance, and Overstory.
In the end, not a bad list…
Mediocre — Ijeoma Oluo
How To Kill a City — PE Moskowitz
Seven Fallen Feathers — Tanya Talaga
Stories of Your Life — Ted Chiang
Paying the Land — Joe Sacco
Evicted — Matthew Desmond
Exhalation — Ted Chiang
Happy City — Charles Montgomery
Sputnik Sweetheart — Haruki Murakami
Do Better — Rachel Ricketts
Good Lord Bird — James McBride
21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act — Bob Joseph
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory — Caitlin Doughty
The Power — Naomi Alderman
Indigenomics — Carol Anne Hilton
Born Standing Up — Steve Martin
The Devil You Know — Charles Blow
A Short History of Nearly Everything — Bill Bryson
All Our Relations — Tanya Talaga
Watchmen — Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Peace and Good Order — Harold Johnson
How To Write One Song — Jeff Tweedy
Gutter Child — Jael Richardson
The Body, A Guide For Occupants — Bill Bryson
The Right To Be Cold — Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls — David Sedaris
Year Book — Seth Rogen
Minor Feelings — Cathy Park Hong
A Promised Land — Barack Obama
Project Hail Mary — Andy Weir
The Day the World Stops Shopping — J.B. MacKinnon
Power, A Users Guide — Julie Diamond
Think Again — Adam Grant
The Premonition — Michael Lewis
DreadfulWater — Thomas King
The Soul of an Octopus — Sy Montgomery
Willful Blindness — Sam Cooper
Mission Economy — Mariana Mazzucato
The Bomber Mafia — Malcolm Gladwell
In Search of April Raintree — Beatrice Mosionier
This Is Your Mind on Plants — Michael Pollan
The Red Power Murders — Thomas King
How to Change Your Mind — Michael Pollan
Money — Jacob Goldstein
Indian In the Cupboard — Jody Wilson-Raybould
The Birth of Loud — Ian S. Port
Winners Take All — Anand Giridharadas
Just Mercy — Bryan Stevenson
Five Little Indians — Michelle Good
Bewilderment — Richard Powers
Unreconciled — Jesse Wente
This One Looks Like A Boy — Lorimer Shenher
Dune — Frank Herbert
You’ll Never Believe What Happened To Lacey — Amber Ruffin
Amusing Ourselves To Death — Neil Postman
Lost Connections — Johann Hari
Slaughterhouse-Five — Kurt Vonnegut
Birds Of All Feathers — Michael Bach
A Fine Balance — Rohinton Mistry
Out of Office — Charlie Warzel & Anne Helen Petersen
Overstory — Richard Powers
In the middle of all that, I happily finished my first book and released it, which was definitely one of my highlights of the year.
I haven’t decided what I’ll start 2022 with – likely Indigenous Relations by Bob Joseph & Cynthia F. Joseph.
If you read something you loved in 2021, leave a comment below and let me know.
My new book, Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned From Filmmaking is an exploration of the similarities, overlaps and parallels between the art and craft of making films and the practice of leading people, teams and organizations. At heart, it’s about inspiring creativity at work and in life by harnessing passion and curiosity as a creative approach to leadership and management.
I have been working on this book on and off since I gave a talk at a conference in Nashville almost a decade ago about the lessons I learned from my dozen years as an independent filmmaker and draw on everyday as a people leader.
I’m so pleased with how it turned out and think it will be useful to several kinds of people:
Leaders who want to bring a more creative approach to their leadership.
People who want to move into leadership positions, or have greater influence in their workplace and want a different perspective than they might find in many business and leadership books.
Those in the film and creative industries who want to approach their leadership differently, whether they formally lead people, or want to take on a leadership role amongst those they work with.
If you use a different eBook platform than I’ve got it on and want me to upload it there, please let me know in a comment below.
I hope you get the same joy from reading it as I did from writing it. And if you liked the book, please leave a review where you bought it, post it on social media and tell a friend.
I made it a goal at the beginning of the year to focus on reading more books. I used to read a lot, but over the last several years I have been distracted by articles and short reads I stumble across on social media and haven’t focused as much on a good book. I began to miss that feeling of small accomplishment I have when I finish a book.
Little did I know that 2020 would give me ample opportunity to hunker down at home and read. This year was a blend of plowing through some familiar comfort books during the pandemic as well as attempts to re-educate myself as a white man on how the world actually functions, plus some other books that felt important to check out.
If I had to pick out a couple of outstanding books, I would say: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson is one of the best books I’ve ever read and helped me rethink how our society functions around race and class mobility (or lack thereof). Ministry For The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson is a must-read and frames climate change against a narrative science-fiction structure that brings a sense of urgency that is hard to achieve in non-fiction.
I went through some phases where I couldn’t focus on reading because of how much was going on in life and society, or times when I became frustrated because I had three different books on the go and couldn’t finish any of them because I was so distracted, and then nice, long stretches when I was very focused and just couldn’t stop reading. Ah, 2020.
Plus I almost began and ended the year with a book by a Klein, which feels like a nice pair of bookends.
Here’s my list:
Why We’re Polarized – Ezra Klein
The Inconvenient Indian – Thomas King
Set The Boy Free – Johnny Marr
The Sport and Prey of Capitalists – Linda McQuaig
The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe – Douglas Adams
Life, The Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
So Long and Thanks For All The Fish – Douglas Adams
Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams
Kafka On The Shore – Haruki Murakami
Me and White Supremacy – Layla Saad
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo
How To Be An Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
Why Fish Don’t Exist – Lulu Miller
Policing Black Lives – Robin Maynard
Make Change – Shaun King
Caste – Isabel Wilkerson
Born A Crime – Trevor Noah
The Skin We’re In – Desmond Cole
The Martian – Andy Weir
Golden Gates – Conor Dougherty
Creativity – John Cleese
A Good War – Seth Klein
The Ministry For The Future – Kim Stanley Robinson
If any of these look good to you, enjoy! I’ll start 2021 with Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo, which I’m excited to start.