The Best Books I Read in 2021

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I had the privilege of reading a lot of books this year, some new, some old, some I’d even read before. Here’s a list of a few of my favorites with a favorite quote.

And at the end, I’ll share some of my reading goals for 2022.

Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

I enjoyed getting introspective with Oliver Burkeman. This is sort of positioned as an anti-productivity book, but I still loved it. At a macro level, I believe productivity is about making the most of life, and it was interesting to hear an unbeliever’s perspective on what exactly that means. There’s definitely some wonky worldview stuff in here, but it will make you pause and think a bit deeper.

Every decision to use a portion of time on anything represents the sacrifice of all the other ways in which you could have spent that time, but didn’t—and to willingly make that sacrifice is to take a stand, without reservation, on what matters most to you.

The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous

There will always be a strong correlation between technology, productivity, and money. And I believe it’s wise for believers to try and gain a handle on where things are going in tech and finance. The Bitcoin Standard is the essential deep dive on the subject of the history of money and why Bitcoin is necessary. If you have even a fleeting interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, this is required reading.

Sound money allows people to think about the long term and to save and invest more for the future…. Sound money is also an essential element of a free society as it provides for an effective bullwork against despotic government.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Re-reading this modern productivity classic with the RPA book club has led to significant life changes for me. I wrote a massive summary of it here where I also share a ton of my thoughts on how Christians can particularly benefit from it.

you’ll struggle to achieve the deepest levels of concentration if you spend the rest of your time fleeing the slightest hint of boredom.

Live Not By Lies by Rod Dreher

With governments seizing more and more power for themselves, this “manual for Christian dissidents” is well worth the read. Dreher argues that the only thing that can stop the march of tyranny is the morally-grounded refusal of believers to play along with the lies.

We cannot hope to resist the coming soft totalitarianism if we do not have our spiritual lives in order.

A disciplined and productive Christian walk bears fruit for eternity, and it also produces the well of courage you will draw from when confronted with the temptation to compromise.

Business Made Simple by Donald Miller

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Miller’s Christian books (he was the author of Blue Like Jazz). But his stuff on business and marketing is incredibly good.

In 2021, I somehow stumbled into becoming a business owner. I’ve never thought of myself as an entrepreneur but going full-time with Redeeming Productivity this year made me have to play a lot of catch up. This book was a God-send. Miller breaks down an amazing number of essential business principles in easily digestible lessons. This book has given me a great framework for what makes for an effective business.

This is the secret to success. If you want to succeed in work, love, friendship, and life, give the people around you a great return on whatever it is they invest in you.

The Household and the War for the Cosmos by C.R. Wiley

I loved the vision this book lays out of the family as the instrument of God’s work in this world. Raising kids is so much more than just making sure they get good jobs.

Western civilization still has curb appeal. Things like economic growth, advances in medicine, and an emphasis on human rights seem to indicate that things are in good shape. But something has been added to the mix that serves as the intellectual and spiritual basis for our society. The institutions at the foundation of our way of life don’t seem solid any longer. And the most important of these institutions is the household.

Reading Goals for 2022

Those weren’t the only books I read in 2021, but I was a little alarmed by how few Christian books I read this year. For the most part, my reading list was filled with productivity and business books. This was natural for someone starting a business and who writes and talks about productivity full time, but it’s not a good plan for a long-term reading diet. So I want to make a few changes in 2022.

  1. More Christian Books.
    For someone who talks about currating your information diet, I didn’t do a very good job. I’m going to keep reading productivity and business books, but I’m also going to aim to read at least one Christian book out of every three. Hopefully, that will restore some balance.
  2. Read 50 Books
    I usually count how many books I read each year, aiming for about 50. But my life was in such dissaray at the start of 2021, I never started that list in place. I want to do better in 2022 and return to aiming to finish about one book per week.
  3. Focus on the Back Catalog
    Like any bibliophile, I buy more books than I read. And there are a bunch of really good books I already own that I’ve never read. I’ll still read new books in 2022, but I’m going to try and make a dent in what’s already on my shelf.

What were some of your favorite books you read this year? What are some reading goals you have for 2022?

Join the discussion

  • Thanks for all you do brother! Untangling Emotions by Alisdair Groves is an excellent read. Helpful to every believer in their sanctification. Also, Good and Angry by David Powlison. God bless you bro!

  • Adam Grant’s Think Again is my book of the year. How to approach discussion with humility and work to reach agreement.

  • Thanks Reagan, some interesting titles here. I’ll definitely be checking out The Bitcoin Standard, Business Made Simple, and The Household and the War For the Cosmos. Your blog is seriously great and I’d love to talk to you about it!

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