Best books you read in 2021

Been a while since we had a book thread in the off-topic forum. Thought I would make this to see what you people read so far this year, and inevitably add some of them to my ever-growing list of books that I have to get around to reading. 

Favorite book this year has to be Hard Rain Falling by the late and great but forgotten writer Don Carpenter. One of the best books I've read in a while. On a totally separate note, I also enjoyed Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy, I ripped through the whole thing in like two weeks. I don't know how many of you read fantasy but if you do I recommend giving it a shot.

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Comments (63)

Sep 12, 2021 - 12:08pm

im reading dortoyevskys 'the idiot' just now, its a complete slog, too much dialogue. ive been reading it on and off for probably over a year but I just picked it up and read 100 pages (out of 700) this fine sunday, because its been sitting on my shelf pissing me off. antagonising me to read it.

others ive read this year- 
radical candor (I found this in a bag outside a random house while I was out walking)
start with why
feeling good
mr.pikes (recommended if you like ibiza and hedonism) 
my manor 
shogun - I randomly put this on YouTube one day and listened to about 6/7 hours of it
barbarians at the gate
an actor prepares
stanford Meisner on acting
in search of lost time (put this down, too confusing)

what a weird list. genuinely all over the place. ive got a list of about 200 I need to read in addition to the 30 or so I have lying around. I've been lurking on reddit books and I think im going to get some camus or voltaire next. here is a list of 4chans 100 most recommended which I found on reddit and is surprisingly good.

  • 4
  • Intern in RE - Comm
Sep 12, 2021 - 1:03pm

I have Crime and Punishment on my shelf been on there for over a year and have to give it read soon. Hopefully by the end of the year. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 4:23pm

I agree with Marcus, it's a phenomenal book. I used Sparknotes for the first four chapters to understand what was going on, especially since the Russian naming convention and all their nicknames is so confusing to an outsider.

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Sep 12, 2021 - 12:25pm

influence by cialdini - prob my favourite. 
thinking fast and slow
the art of thinking clearly (this Is quite dull/academic)
mans search for meaning
Marcus Aurelius meditations
the charisma myth

emotional intelligence - goleman
never eat alone
strategize to win - Carla Harris
7 habits of highly effective people
moonwalking with einstein
how to talk to anyone

  • 2
Sep 12, 2021 - 12:55pm


Do audiobooks count? If so, the complete A Song of Ice and Fire series. 

All my "pleasure" reading is done through Audiobooks simply bc it allows me time to do other stuff. I do think it's a different experience from physical reading.

  • Intern in RE - Comm
Sep 12, 2021 - 1:04pm

ASOIAF is great, read the whole thing a few years ago. But it's definitely a commitment lol took me 4 months.

Sep 12, 2021 - 1:26pm

I've gotten back into reading for pleasure and it's really improved my day-to-day life. Over the LTM these are some of my favorite books I've read:


The Monuments Men - Robert Edsel

The Boy on the Wooden Box - Leon Leyson

Lost in Shangri-La - Mitchell Zuckoff

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand

Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor E. Frankl

The Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris

Night - Eli Wiesel

When Paris Went Dark - Ronald C. Rosbottom

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - John Boyne

The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson

The Longest Day - Cornelius Ryan

Hitler's Last Days - Bill O'Reilly

Killing the SS - Bill O'Reilly

Killing Patton - Bill O'Reilly

Killing the Rising Sun - Bill O'Reilly

Spearhead - Adam Makos


Make Your Bed - Admiral William H. McRaven

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck - Mark Manson


The Queen's Gambit - Walter Tevis

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

Books I read over LTM but aren't my favorites:

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

The Richest Man in Babylon - George Clason

The Power of Habit - Charles Duhigg

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

I've gotten in a solid routine that allows me around 3 hours of audiobook listening a day. I listen @ 1.5x - 2.0x speed.

Sep 12, 2021 - 2:27pm

I use Libby (OverDrive linked with library card) and his books were available with no wait time. Regardless of what one may think of him personally, his books focused on WWII are fascinating. They might not be as in-depth as some of the other books I've read (the level of detail in Monuments Men is amazing), but I'd 100% recommend them to anyone who enjoys reading about WWII.

Sep 13, 2021 - 4:47am

Read and can recommend:

  • The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  • All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque (this one was amazing!)
  • Meditations, Marc Aurel
  • The Old Man and The Sea, Ernest Hemingway

Reading and good so far:

  • The Brothers Karamazow, Fyodor Dostoevsky (long read, about 1,100 pages)
  • Art of Loving, Erich Fromm
  • 1
Sep 14, 2021 - 4:34pm

I read All Quiet on my pre-MBA Euro trip, I wasn't in any of the primary areas where the book took place (I was in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy) but it was definitely sobering to walk around and think about what life in Europe was like 100 years ago with that in mind. 

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:29am

Well said and love this mindset. Keeping this in mind when visiting certain historic sites / monuments, makes the experience so much more meaningful / memorable.

Sep 13, 2021 - 5:32pm

first time reads: mark spitznagel save haven, various dostoyevsky essays, pablo neruda poetry, nassim taleb's statistical consequences of fat fails, carlo cippola's book on stupidity, seneca on the happy life, miguel de unamono tragic sense of life, some epictetus, jocko willink leadership tactical book, some thomas aquinas essays

re-reads: nassim taleb's entire incerto ex-bed of procrustes, seneca on the shortness of life (annual tradition), jocko willink extreme ownership

coming soon: descartes, kant, bertrand russell, and sextus empiricus

best new stuff I read this so far year was definitely dostoyevsky, I wish I'd discovered him sooner

Sep 13, 2021 - 7:35pm

Also, I think you might enjoy William T. Vullman. Especially his greatest work which is Rising Up and Rising Down. I believe it's a seven volume series where he attempts to develop a moral calculus for when it's okay to use violence. Though you might have to shell out a couple grand for the set. There is an abridged version on Amazon but it's not the same. I haven't read it yet myself but from what I know it sounds like something you might enjoy. WTV is great in general, I read his debut novel, You Bright and Risen Angels which was awesome. Planning on reading his seven dreams series next.

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Sep 13, 2021 - 6:58pm

That's your anti-intellectual non-target side talking again

Sep 13, 2021 - 7:26pm

No it was a slow year for me as well, I got through like 6 during the start of the year and didn't read much over the summer because of my internship. Will only get through like 15 books this year which is a shame.

Sep 13, 2021 - 7:00pm

Winston Churchill: Walking with destiny, by Andrew Roberts. Incredible Read.


Sep 13, 2021 - 7:14pm

just remembered another one I read this year which is highly recommended - dune

dont judge It by the 1980s movie. 

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Sep 13, 2021 - 7:29pm

I read the first Dune book but it just didn't click for me. I can see how it's good and the rest of the story sounds epic but I just couldn't get into it. Have you ever read anything by Ian M. Banks? I read Consider Phlebas and that was a really good read, going to read the rest of the series soon.

Sep 14, 2021 - 4:17pm

I've never heard of him to be honest, I might take a look though- I usually see what people on reddit have to say on it. if its a must read I buy the book, if its a maybe then I just download it from library genesis. 

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:11pm

Yeah that's the same way I felt about Dune too, it's a really interesting universe but I couldn't finish the first book yet.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 13, 2021 - 7:47pm

I really enjoyed "letters to a young poet" Do not read this in one sitting. Read one letter a week to give you time to think about it.  

Almost done with "Dune" your classic sci-fi space opera.

Just finished "Thinking in Bets" I thought it was very good.

 Currently reading "Walden" and "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau.

Sep 14, 2021 - 1:22pm

Ride of a lifetime - Igor great inner dialogue of M&A framework and inherent biz principles

Titan - Chernow - Rockefeller absolute G used scale to oblierate competition and talks through the rise of C-corps via holdingcos. Great historical overview of O&G as well. Hint bid Oil

Grant - Chernow - I think the depth of Civil War and reconstruction period is highly underrated. Grant fascinating figure as well. Echoes of today's media environment,, when the media or historians were quick to judge. The narrative not the facts led peoples perception of him. Reconsuctrion period good insight into the political sausage making as well

Sum of little things - great insight to consumerism and impact of branding. How people vote with their dollar based on their principles and implied social signals

Blood for Oil - insight to MBS fascinating, talk about a cutthroat figure / peep into the geopolitical framework

Profiles in Power - about JFK Presidency. Should be must read for anyone who tries to confer a opinion on political decisions and just an absolutely crazy time of history

The Discoveries- dan boorstein so many fascinating cultural nuggets and look into the rise of society & general progression of man kind

Have like 30 more. Love books please ping if any other suggestions

Most Helpful
Sep 14, 2021 - 3:02pm

Cable Cowboys - John Malone the father of EBITDA. Great insight into the formation of a broader industry coalition with cable mafia and navigating regulatory picture. Him using equity/JV to fund content players was genius. You'll notice amazon will do this occasion ahead of delivering a large contract to suppliers. Also the mans aversion to pay taxes is just beautiful

Deficit Myth - If your serious on macro or just investing your PA you need to have this book as the backdrop of your macro thinking imo

Amazon the everything store and unbound - the rise of amazon just remarkable, love that he targeted books because he knew they were a commodity and then his selection prowess / unlimited inventory would win vs. others. Unbound i think was super interesting just to understand the pros and cons of the amazon we know. Obviously, an insane amount of wealth, jobs, and consumer convenience created. One employee just talking about the conditions of working there (summarizing) "it was brutal, we pushed to our mental edges and the end of day i just convinced more people to spend money on amazon prime today on shit they don't need". Amazon ultimately a net benfiti to society but some interesting dark edges within the company .... think them bending 3rd party sellers over

Words that work - fucking genius and great interplay into both politics and marketing

Financial shenigans - more technical based and brilliant. But also just some hilarious fraud stories like krispy kreme just stuffing their inventory channelt

The One Device: Iphone story - great overview on the iPhone story. Apple definitely very shading on the supplier practices in FoxConn and general sourcing raw materials. Perhaps, more impressive is their press // narrative control and no really claps at them for this. Though it was really interesting that it was the app store that really drove initially sales and jobs actually against opening their development framework to allow 3rd parties

Seeking Wisdom - just fucking awesome. The navy boat captain principle was genius. So many good insights and stories. really pragmatic insights i though as well

Grand Strategy of the roman empire - not gonna lie skimmed a decent amount of these (fucking latin is brutal). However, i thought the political thinking as military strategy was fascinating. Miltary strategy of having condensed attacking power instead spread across empire and having zero tolerance for invasions was genius. Nuclear esque deterrent

Nelson's Traflghar - holy fuck was being a sailor in the navy brutal back in those days. Was a little too in the weeds on the battle for me. But British / France implications were interesting particularly post war. The freedom of the seas by the brits helped global trade develop and English language become the signature trade language

Empire of Pain - Excellent, must read given the COVID times. Just talks to the FDA/Gov't being hoodwinked and bribed by the big pharma players. It was just blatant ignorance or stupidity on the gov't part. Talks to the birth of the pharma industry/marketing and to some extent gov't lobby. To the sacklers credit maybe the best financial engineering and game theory on their part as it looks like they'll probably come out big winners. Does not instill faith in the FDA/govt. Opiod crisis is real and just a crazy story HBO Doc on it was great as well.

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:10pm

Really liked Ride of a Lifetime, will check out the others.

Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:18pm

it was so good. Still have his lessons printed out on my desk. Really loved the evolution of the business from them going to streaming with bamTech, but the turnaround story of him identifying animation was their core competency and going back to their roots with the pixar deal. The steve job interaction stories were great as well.

Another business book that I forgot to add was Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Made me want to quit my job and do a start up asap (I have not followed through yet). Him going to Japan and securing his first order without having a product was straight out of a Disney movie.

Sep 14, 2021 - 1:27pm

Always set out every year to read at least 12 books. I've only completed 4 so far, but every single one has been an absolute joy. My favorite by far has been Extreme Ownership. It's already changed my life and will continue to do so. It has reinvigorated my work ethic and desire to succeed.

1. 7 habits of highly effective people - Stephen R Covey

2. Digital Gold - Nathaniel Popper

3. Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

4. Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West - James P. Owen

Sep 15, 2021 - 8:51am

What were your main takeaways from Extreme Ownership? I'm like 1/2 through the audiobook; there's some actionable items but a lot of fluff in between. Seems to have relatively standard conclusions about being a strong, low / in-check ego leader that believes in their plan. Anything ground breaking towards the end? 

Sep 14, 2021 - 4:37pm

Anna Karenina was fantastic, I love Russian literature and need to dive deeper into it. I'm in the middle of American Pastoral by Philip Roth, and he is easily becoming one of my favorite authors. I read The Human Stain last year and it was like a breath of fresh air, his writing style is so different from anything I'd ever read before, and he is just brilliant at writing his characters. 

Sep 15, 2021 - 8:46am

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Quant (ˈkwänt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Sep 15, 2021 - 6:09pm

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"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn

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