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My favorite books of 2021

November 13, 2021

Reading for leisure seems to be a disappearing art, and I hear two main reasons why people don’t read enough. One, they don’t have time. Two, they can’t find any books that they like.

I can only fix one of those issues, so here are some of my favorite books from this year. This list is a potpourri of books including autobiographies and memoirs, self-help, mathematics, investigative journalism, fantasy, and mythology. Whatever your taste in literature is, I’m sure there’s something here you can enjoy. I also highly encourage you take to a chance and read about something you haven’t explored before! Reading feels like risky business when you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, but if you give any of these books a chance, I promise won’t regret it.

The books are not ranked or in any particular order so you’ll give every book an equal chance, or at least that’s the hope.

Born A Crime ⁠— By Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s recent book recounts his early life during apartheid and his unique struggles of being mixed race. He lets us take a peek into his past to understand what it took to survive as someone who was essentially an illegal person. Every thought and action was about survival to get out of sticky situations. The book is lighthearted and hilarious as you watch little Trevor do mischievous things and afterwards getting reprimanded by his mother countless times. I definitely laughed out loud more than once, so if you’re a fan of Trevor Noah’s other work, I highly recommend his memoir.

The Queen’s Gambit - By Walter Tevis

Not only is Queen’s Gambit a fantastic show, but an equally if not better book. It’s not even worth me explaining the plot of the book because it’s so well known at this point. The books pretty much covers the entire spectrum of what one might expect from being a victim of their own success, to the point where Beth Harmon is on the brink of losing everything. It’s a tragic story of substance abuse and mental decline, but one that has a happy ending.

“Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!” - By Richard Feynman

Someone like Feynman only comes around once a generation. Not only was he an extremely accomplished physicist, but an extraordinary teacher and fascinating person. He talks about his various adventures through his very unique sense of humor, from cracking nuclear secrets safes, selling his science inspired art, to playing in a Brazilian bongo group. Feynman’s curiosity is infectious, and it’s certainly rubbed off on me.

What If? ⁠— By Randall Munroe

This is the one non-fiction book that I think anyone can love. This book proves that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Munroe, a well loved cartoonist by STEM nerds across the world, takes his readers seemingly ridiculous questions and answers them in a scientifically accurate, hypothetical scenario with funny comics and easy to understand explanations. If you consider yourself a curious person but also don’t like nonfiction, this will change that.

Circe ⁠— By Madeline Miller

Imagine a world where the iconic villainess sorcerer of Greek mythology becomes the hero of her story. Miller skillfully tells the well known story of Circe and flips it on it’s head, showing the reader a side of Circe never seen before. Everyone knows that Circe is the witch who turns men into pigs, but what the myth never mentions are the countless challenges she had to face: neglect from her godly family, heartbreak, betrayal, and rape from the men who took advantage of her hospitality. I bought this book before I knew what I was getting myself into, but I’m extremely glad that I did. It forces you to completely rethink and question who is telling the story, and who’s story isn’t being told. Miller’s telling of Circe’s previously hidden backstory was fantastically written and definitely one of my all-time favorite books.

Bad Blood - By John Carreyrou

If you’ve never heard of Theranos, you’re not alone. Before I read this book, I had no idea the sheer size of deception and fraud that was possible in Silicon Valley until Carreyrou dissected the inner workings of the health technology startup. Carreyrou won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting on his work, and it’s obvious why. He played a major part in the dismantling of the ten billion dollar blood testing “technology”. Under constant surveillance by Theranos, he has to tread carefully because any slip up could cause it to come crashing down. This book is the closest you can get to a real life thriller filled with deception and suspense.

Books I am really looking forward to reading

If Then - By Jill Lepore Why We Sleep - By Matthew Walker But What If We’re Wrong? - By Chuck Klosterman Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick. Quantum Computing For Everyone - By Chris Bernhardt