2021 in Books

As promised and previously updated here and here, I read 50 (51 actually) books in 2021.

One of the last books I read this year, and easily one of my favorites, was Ridgeline by Michael Punke, who also wrote The Revenant. It describes the fight between Capt. William Fetterman and the Sioux chief Crazy Horse at the base of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.

Punke switches between the perspective of the settlers, soldiers, and the Sioux to great effect. I can’t stop thinking about what it’d be like on one hand, to live in a small fort surrounded by people who want to kill you, or on the other, to have your entire way of life threatened by that same group of heavily armed people in the small fort.

Other excellent historical fiction this year were Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and The Virtues of War by Steven Pressfield.

Towards the end of the year I switched to reading about oppressive states and bad leaders. That included:

The Party by Richard McGregor, a look inside the Chinese Communist Party’s inner workings.

The Fear by Peter Godwin. The most harrowing of the lot, this book is about the Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe and his descent from liberator to murderous dictator.

The Man Without a Face by Massha Gessen is an excellent look at Putin’s rise to power and what makes him who he is.

Erdogan Rising by Hannah Lucinda Smith is about the rapid decline of democracy in Turkey under the populist Erdogan.

The Wires of War by Jacob Helberg. This was less about any individual leader and more about threats to America’s technological sovereignty in the face of foreign disinformation campaigns, and intellectual property theft as well as internal complacency and mismanagement of our technological future.

I recommend all of them.

Here’s the full list. I’ve bolded the seven books that I enjoyed the most.

  1. Cultural Amnesia – Clive James
  2. The Naked and the Dead – Norman Mailer
  3. The Hamlet – William Faulkner
  4. The Dog Stars – Peter Heller
  5. Jayber Crow – Wendell Berry
  6. Tortilla Flat – John Steinbeck 
  7. The Sunset Limited – Cormac McCarthy 
  8. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens 
  9. Conscious- Annaka Harris 
  10. The Red and the Black – Stendhal
  11. Extraterrestrial – Avi Loeb
  12. The Evolution of Desire – Cynthia L. Haven
  13. Never Enough – Judith Grisel
  14. Unmasked – Andy Ngo
  15. La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert – Joel Dicker
  16. The Revolt of the Public – Martin Guri
  17. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
  18. Gun, With Occasional Music – Jonathan Lethem 
  19. Klara and the Sun – Ishiguro Kazuo
  20. Live Not By Lies – Robert Dreher
  21. The Virtues of War -Steven Pressfield
  22. All About Love – bell hooks
  23. The Ghost Writer – Philip Roth
  24. The Price of Tomorrow – Jeff Booth
  25. A Thousand Brains – Jeff Hawkins
  26. The Comfort Crisis – Michael Easter
  27. The Art of Solitude – Stephen Batchelor
  28. Swan – Mary Oliver
  29. Ikigai – Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles
  30. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  31. The Body Keeps Score – Bessel A. Van der Kolk
  32. We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  33. Technopoly- Neil Postman
  34. The Actual Star – Monica Byrne
  35. Baltasar and Blimunda – José Saramago
  36. Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir
  37. The Sovereign Individual – James Dale Davidson
  38. Wanting -Luke Burgis
  39. The Mandibles – Lionel Shriver
  40. The Wires of War – Jacob Helberg
  41. The Party  – Richard McGregor
  42. Death of Money – Macenzie Guiver
  43. Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft
  44. The Fear – Peter Godwin
  45. The Man Without a Face – Masha Gessen
  46. Erdogan Rising- Hannah Lucinda Smith
  47. Beyond Order – Jordan Peterson
  48. The Creativity Code – Marcus du Sautoy
  49. Indignation – Phillip Roth
  50. The Falcon Thief – Joshua Hammer
  51. Ridgeline – Michael Punke

Leave a Reply