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Top 10 Books I Read in 2021

My reading goal is simple: Read 30 minutes a day.

When done consistently day after day, this translates to finishing dozens of books a year.

While I didn't quite keep up my pace from 2019 (52 books read) and 2020 (81 books read), I still managed to read 40-plus non-fiction books.

Below I have narrowed those books down to the top 10 books I read in 2021.

Please realize the order is highly subjective and should not treated as gospel. Rankings are loosely based on each book's impact on my life, meaning you may discover a much different outcome.


10. Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin

Comedians live fascinating lives. Although they may seem like overnight successes, most well-known comedians put in years - if not decades - of work before finally "making it." Hearing Steve Martin share how he overcame personal and professional setbacks has served as a huge inspiration in my life.

Favorite Line: "When people ask me, 'How do you make it in show business?' what I always say is, 'Be so good they can’t ignore you.”' If you are really good, people are going to come to you."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


9. Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar

Do you feel like you are constantly chasing happiness? I've often told myself, "If this happens ... I will finally be happy" only to move the goalpost once again. Ben-Shahar's book explains how people can find true happiness, and was the inspiration behind this blog post on the same topic.

Favorite Line: “Happiness, not money or prestige, should be regarded as the ultimate currency—the currency by which we take measure of our lives.”

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


8. How to Live on 24 Hours a Day by Arnold Bennett

For those of who are are passionate about making the most of every hour of the day, Bennett's book a must-read. Originally published in 1908, this resource speaks universal truths about the difference between living a fulfilling life and simply going through the motions.

Favorite Line: “Many people look at the hours from 10 to 6 and consider those hours to be the “workday." Such an attitude kills his interest in the “other” 16 hours, saying they are nothing and often wasted. If a man willingly chooses not to effectively use two-thirds of his life, how can he hope to live fully and completely?

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


7. On Writing by Stephen King

As someone who recently published my first book, I'm always looking for a resource that can provide guidance and inspiration about writing. I hesitated a bit when I was told to order Stephen King's book on writing (get it?), but now I would tell any aspiring writer to pick this book up ASAP!

Favorite Line: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


6. Models by Mark Madson

"Good Lord, what is this!?" some of you may be thinking. However, ever since my divorce I have been devouring information about relationships. In my opinion, this is the best book for middle-aged men who suddenly find themselves dating again.

Favorite Line: “The theory of demographics is simple and easy to remember: like attracts like. You attract what you are. If you're a successful professional who is educated and successful, chances are the type of woman you're going to attract in your everyday life are going to be women with similar interests and similar successes."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


5. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

As someone who is huge on workplace culture, I'm always looking for "business" books that share ideas that could work in education. Look no further than Hsieh's book which shares a behind the scenes look at the company culture in Zappos, the large online clothing and shoe retailer.

Favorite Line: “Wake up every day and ask yourself not only what is the 1% improvement I can change to make Zappos better, but also what is the 1% improvement I can change to make myself better personally and professionally."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


4. Onward by Elena Aguilar

This is the book our district bought for all staff members during the height of the pandemic. When I finally got around to reading it, I was impressed with wide scope of topics discussed, including addressing the social and emotional needs of staff. I would recommend this book for any school employee.

Favorite Line: “Instruct your mind to notice moments of joy, contentment, or happiness. Say, 'Hey mind! If one of these emotional states passes through me during the day, could you please let me know? Thanks.' When your mind calls out, 'It’s here! One of those moments!' pause and savor the moment."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


3. Eat Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

I loved Stevenson's first book - Sleep Smarter - and was equally as impressed with his second book. By using a good blend of modern research and practical ideas for application, Eat Smarter is a great resource for someone looking to improve their diet habits in 2022.

Favorite Line: “Ensure that 80-plus percent of your food each day is from real foods that you can actually still recognize where they came from. Whole foods including veggies, fruits, meat, as well as eggs and dairy - these round out the bank of real food, giving you thousands of foods to choose from."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


2. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Full transparency: I first read this book in 2020 and re-read it again in 2021 ... so technically this shouldn't be on the list. However, Olson's concepts are so simple - yet impactful - I had no choice but to share this resource. If you are looking for a book that will put your life on the upward trajectory, look no further than The Slight Edge.

Favorite Line: “On which side of the slight edge curve are you standing right now? Are you one of the 5 percenters, one of those individuals living on the success curve and going up? Or, are you among the resigned majority, the 95 percenters on the failure curve and sliding down? In the middle you say? Sorry, there is no middle. You are either going up or down."

Purchase: Print | Audiobook


1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Some may be thinking, "Wow it took you until now to read this classic?" For whatever reason I kept passing on this book until last year. Don't make my same mistake - order this now. Even though the book was originally published in 1937, there are timeless lessons that - when internalized - can change your life.

Favorite Line: “The person who stops studying merely because they have finished school is forever hopelessly doomed to mediocrity, no matter what their calling. The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge."

Purchase: Print | eBook | Audiobook


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