What I read in 2021


This year I consumed more reports on climate change and carbon market than books. COP26 was a landmark event for everyone whether working on climate change or not and it produced a lot of decisions and debates, resulting in hundreds of reports and opinion pieces. Before the COP26, we also had a launch of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report which automatically found a place in my reading list. Probably I should prepare a separate list of all the key reports that came out last year and helped us get more understanding and updates on how we are planning to tackle climate change.

Yet all these reading of reports on topics that I work professionally did not stop me from picking a couple of books on climate change and related topics. Both of these books, How to Avoid Climate Disaster and Dirt to Soil deserve to be read. The first one is good starting point for anyone to get acquainted with the climate change (although it has limitations, for someone interested in more comprehensive and easy to understand treatise on climate change, I recommend Climate Change – What Everyone Needs to Know by Joseph Romm). Bill Gates surely made more people to read about climate change with this book. The second book is an immensely readable journey of a farmer who moved from industrial agriculture to regenerative agriculture (in simple words: a form of agriculture that is more environment friendly and focuses on restoring degraded soil).

The other theme that dominated my reading last year was behaviour change, and things that influence our decision making. I came across the work done by Jonah Berger and picked all the three books he has written. Think Again and The Reality Bubble are the other two books that provided great insights in our biases, blindspots and need for revisiting our thinking process. Surely worth a read for anyone interested in these topics or just looking to get some entertaining facts (The Reality Bubble is full of entertaining examples and facts!).

I have been working on my note taking system, especially learning from the Zettlekasten method of Niklas Luhmann and How to Take Smart Notes is one of the best books that explains the whole process of Niklas Luhmann in simple words. But now I see a number of YouTube videos that have condensed the learnings in 10-15 minutes so you can learn the key principles without going through the book.

But the best non-fiction that I read this year, or probably in last 5-6 years is The Tyranny of Merit by Michael J Sander. This changed the way I look at the success, achievement and the role of society in our lives. His dissection of meritocratic hubris is hard-hitting and deserve attention of everyone. Those who argue for meritocracy must read it. In case you do not have time to read that you can watch this TED talk here https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_sandel_the_tyranny_of_merit.

Non-fiction books that I read last year
  • The Catalyst – How to change anyone’s mind by Jonah Berger
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
  • How to Avoid Climate Disaster by Bill Gates
  • The People Vs Tech by Jamie Bartlett
  • Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown
  • The Tyranny of Merit by Michael J. Sandel
  • How to Take Smart Notes by Sonke Ahrens
  • Contagious by Jonah Berger
  • Think Again by Adam Grant
  • The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong
  • Ek Desh Sarah Duniya by Shirish Khare
  • Awara Mashiha by Vishnu Prabhakar


My fiction picks were my comfort reading and guilty pleasures. I liked Anthony Horowitz’s style of murder mysteries and read a number of them. Best Served Cold found a place in my reading list as I was looking for some new Indian writers in this genre and Bhaskar Chattopadhyay was better than I expected. Jo Nesbo’s The Kingdom was a deviation from his usual stuff but was an engaging read for character building and different treatment that what I had expected from his previous books. The most overhyped book was The Last Thing He Told Me. I had seen thousands of great ratings of this book on Goodreads but it was disappointing. Keigo Higashino’s latest book The Silent Parade had flashes of brilliance that we experienced in The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of A Saint but I was expecting more from him.

Apart from the books I finished, I left Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Probably I will finish Pachinko in sometime but Shuggie Bain did not entice me enough.

  • Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Best Served Cold by Bhaskar Chattopadhyay
  • The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz
  • Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
  • Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
  • The Kingdom by Jo Nesbo
  • The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
  • The Red Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
  • The Thirst by Jo Nesbo
  • Mercy by David Baldacci
  • A Gambling Man by David Baldacci
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  • Fair Warning by Michael Connelly
  • Silent Parade by Keigo Highashino


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