My favourite books of 2021

2 minute read

Sunset from the Lighthouse of Genoa

This year I read more non-fiction than I usually do and I read 32 books this year. I also wrote a similar list for 2020.

Books I enjoyed (in no particular order):

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Fiction

Project Hail Mary

Project Hail Mary is not unlike Andy Weir’s debut “The Martian”: a solo astronaut stranded away from Earth, but with a much bigger scale and a lot more at stake. It was hard to put this down once I started reading it. It’s not often that scifi novels build up from basic principles of physics to something plausible and the wit and humour makes this one one my favourite scifi novels ever.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Fiction

Star Maker

“Star Maker” would be classified as fiction, but it doesn’t have a plot or dialogue, which also makes it a labour to read. It’s a marvel of imagination and I’m awed that this was written in 1937, and yet presents so many concepts that are now a staple of scifi narrative.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Non-fiction

The Anthropocene Reviewed

A collection of essays that follow the concept of the podcast. John Green presents topics from Halley’s Comet to air conditioning to Monopoly (the game) with some background and context and he rates them on a scale of 1 to 5. I enjoyed the thoughtfulness of the essays and how they can make you appreciate your life and surroundings just a little more.

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Non-fiction

Amusing Ourselves to Death

I found this book highly insightful and it helped put more perspective on what drives discourse on the fast-paced communication medium of the Internet. The subject matter of the book is dated; it’s after all ~40 years old. It goes on about how television has significantly altered discourse. Fast forward to the current era: the Internet has supplanted television and the observations in the book look prophetic.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

Non-fiction

Deep Work

The content in this book can be repetitive (could have been a shorter book), the advice on “how to focus deeply in a world full of distractions” is solid. This book has had a huge impact on how I work. I plan out my day in advance which consequently leads me to spend less time on social media.

Designing Data Intensive Applications by Martin Kleppmann

Non-fiction/tech

Designing Data Intensive Applications

I’m a little more than halfway through this book as I’m taking my sweet time with making notes of what I learn. For an advanced technical book, it’s incredibly approachable for anyone. The current landscape of tools to build a modern application is more than overwhelming. This book covers a broad range of topics to choose the right set of tools that can fit and evolve into an application needs.