2021: 12 Months. 12 Books I Recommend

I was on a forum discussing personal growth and one of the members asked for book recommendations that they could study this year. The goal is one book per month for 2021.

This is part of my 2021 #WisdomWednesdays series, and if you have an area you would like me to explore, drop me a message with your question.

You should know by now that I read a lot of books each year, mostly in audio format, and in 2020 I reached 50 books throughout the year (including re-reads of some). I reviewed a good selection of them on this site (see the book reviews section), but I took a decision towards the latter part of last year to do more of what I say about studying books: i.e. actually study the material.

My Year in Books (according to Goodreads) is roughly summarised thus:

  • 13,000 pages read
  • Shortest Book: 50 pages
  • Longest Book: 880 pages
  • Health & Personal Development: 20
  • Fiction: 11
  • Reference: 4
  • Business: 7

I will continue to listen to audiobooks as the year rolls along, but I am embodying the less-is-more philosophy this year and spending more time studying in-depth the content of the books to get the most benefit out of them. I have lots of Kindle titles in my library and am reading and making notes on them as a preference over casual listening. As I mentioned in the earlier post, the brain retains more information relative to the attention you give the materials. Here’s the scale:

  1. Listen to an Audiobook once = Skimming/Casual
  2. Listen to an Audiobook twice = Cramming
  3. Listen to an Audiobook three or more times = Study
  4. Reading the Book = Learning
  5. Making notes, highlight and journalling = Deep Learning

This is backed by science. Here’s an excerpt from Lifehack:

When we listen to a lecture, the part of our brain that handles listening and language is engaged. This passes some information on to our memory but doesn’t seem to be very discriminating in how it does this. So crucial information is treated exactly the same way that trivia is treated.

When we take notes, though, something happens. As we’re writing, we create spatial relations between the various bits of information we are recording. Spatial tasks are handled by another part of the brain, and the act of linking the verbal information with the spatial relationship seems to filter out the less relevant or important information.

The equation is roughly like this (the little < means less than):

Audio < Reading < Typing Notes < Writing Notes by Hand

The 12 Books I Recommend

And this post is my recommendation for 12 books you should study in 2020 (level 4 & 5). The five items marked with a diamond (♦︎) are Amazon affiliate links (because I have not reviewed them on this site) and, if you decide to buy, I will earn a very small commission. The other links are internal to this site.

  1. The Motivation Manifesto, by Brendon Burchard
  2. Everything is Figureoutable ♦︎, by Marie Forleo
  3. Choose Wonder over Worry ♦︎, by Amber Rae
  4. Rich as F*ck ♦︎, by Amanda Frances
  5. Your Stand is Your Brand, by Patrick Gentempo
  6. The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday & Stephen Hanselman
  7. What it Takes to be Free, by Darius Foroux
  8. The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman
  9. The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz
  10. High Performance Habits, by Brendon Burchard
  11. Key Person of Influence ♦︎, by Daniel Priestley
  12. Gravitas ♦︎, by Caroline Goyder

These are 12 books that have had an impact on me and ones I have learned the most from. This is why I recommend them to you for a more detailed study in 2021.

However, my caveat to this is that you should consciously choose your own study list based on your personal goals.

If you want to learn more about business, find books you think will help you. If you want to learn more about writing, add those books (I studied Save The Cat last year for screenwriting, for example). If you want to learn more about health, relationships, history, politics, philosophy, or even your passions (hobbies), then add those. You could easily replace the books with online courses to grow (level-up) specific skills. I’m taking a free course from Jenna Kutcher right now about building your email list, for example. And while you’re here why not sign up to my email list? The form’s in the sidebar.

Build your reading list with intention and purpose to grow your skills and knowledge in ways that support you and not simply fill time because you think you should be doing it or chasing an arbitrary number-based goal of X books in 2021. You don’t have to study one book per month. Work at your pace. If this is new to you, start with one book and see how it goes. Remember to journal or (better) write notes so you lock in the learning, then move on to the next book.

The other books on my reviews list here and also my read list over on Goodreads (which covers everything I have read) has some great book ideas also.

If you have any recommendations for books, post in the comments below. Has there been one book that stood out for you last year (on any topic), or even that you have read in your life? Let me know below and have a great 2021.

This is part of my 2021 #WisdomWednesdays series, and if you have an area you would like me to explore, drop me a message with your question.

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