My 2021 Reading List

For the year 2021, I set a goal to read 15 new books once again as 15 was my goal last year that I didn’t quite hit… I came so close again this year by finishing the year with a total of 14 new books read! While I tend to be an over-achiever, not reaching this goal for the second time in a row will not set me back.

Whether or not I reach my goals does not define me. Sure, I do love the accomplished feeling that washes over me once I complete a goal that I’d set. But am I a failure if I don’t reach it? Absolutely not! I will just keep trying, again and again, until I am able to reach it. And if I’m unable to reach the same goal 3+ times in a row, I will sit down, evaluate and make sure my goal is actually attainable.

In case you are wondering, yes, my reading goal for 2022 is 15 books. Maybe I’ll buckle-down and get halfway done before June to help ensure success this year?

So, nevertheless, here’s my list of 14 books that I read throughout 2021. Nine of these fourteen books are considered part of the self-help genre. Four of these books are autobiographies and one book is a collection of short stories. While autobiographies aren’t technically self-help, my opinion of that differs. We learn from the mistakes of others and reading someone’s life story with all of the ups and downs they experienced can benefit our own lives in many different ways.

I hope that you’ll find a few of these books intriguing, will add them to your reading list and will be able to benefit from them as I have. Enjoy, my friend!

  1. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo This is an eye-opening book which I truly believe that all white people should read. DiAngelo dives deep into the racist thinking that most of us were taught and really helps the reader to understand that while it’s not our fault we were conditioned to think certain ways, it is our job to change that. I learned so much from this book and have been able to put some great practices into place that allow me to do better. You can find this book on Kizzy Books and support black-owned businesses with your purchase.
  2. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud I am a firm believer that the universe will send things your way when you need them most and this book finally came off hold at the library and into my hands at the perfect time. I was in the middle of needing to set boundaries with a friend at that time and this book taught me how to be able to do so without hurting my friend in the process. It also really helped me to understand that I had been “running over” my partner and not respecting any of his boundaries, which I was then able to work towards changing. Growing up, I lived in a boundary-less household so I am thankful for books like these to teach me the skills that I wasn’t able to learn as a child. You can purchase this book here.
  3. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight I literally knew nothing about the creator of Nike until I read this book. As a budding entrepreneur, this book contained valuable lessons that will help me make decisions throughout my career. It was also incredibly encouraging to read about the struggles of the beginning days of Nike, which is now such a massive, well-known brand. It gives me hope and the courage to continue pushing on, even when it might not make sense to others. Whether or not you are in the entrepreneurial world, I recommend you read Knight’s life story. Click here to find and purchase his book.
  4. I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brené Brown I believe this is one of Brene’s first publications (please correct me if I’m wrong!) and I honestly didn’t know that it existed until a few months before getting ahold of the library’s copy. Just like her many other books, she uses her research in a storytelling format to help the reader really grasp and understand how shame affects us. While this book was very helpful when I read it, I feel like it would’ve done wonders for me had I been able to read it back in 2019 when I was struggling. As always, Brené’s books are a must-read and you can learn more about this one on her website.
  5. Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Kerrazzi This book is all about how to successfully network and keep hold of those relationships that you create. While I love to talk to people and am good at networking because of that, I was able to learn a lot from Kerrazzi! Networking is a powerful tool, especially in the professional world, that everyone should learn. Reading this book will be able to help you learn how to navigate networking and, even more important, keeping those established relationships alive long after first meeting. After all, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Learn more about the book here.
  6. The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner I could NOT put this book down! It was so fascinating to read. Buettner not only did a lot of research, but he actually went to each of the four Blue Zones and interviewed many of the centenarians who live in these regions. I’ve actually changed my lifestyle a bit to better my health after reading and understanding all of the information given in this book. He’s got a few other books on this topic and I plan to dive into those in 2022. Find a copy of this book here.
  7. I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown This is such an important read! Brown’s story really helped to open my eyes to a world that I’ve been blind to for most of my life. Her perspective challenged the way I was taught to think and has helped me to grow and move forward with correcting those biased ways of thinking. As white people, we have got to do better with creating a truly diverse and equal America. This book is only 185 pages and is in a storytelling format so I’m holding you accountable to read it. Find it on Kizzy Books and support a black-owned business with your purchase.
  8. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski This book came to me at the most perfect time (don’t you love when that happens?!). I was in the middle of a massive burnout from my job at the time and reading this really helped me to better navigate and make decisions to help my mental health. This book has tons of research that focuses mainly on women because for centuries, women have been taking on excess stress unnecessarily due to society’s outlook on us. I recommend that EVERY woman read this book and take highly into consideration the research and suggestions that are given to help decrease your stress load. Learn more about the book here.
  9. If You Want It Done Right, You Don’t Have to Do It Yourself!: The Power of Effective Delegation by Donne M. Genett A wonderful, quick-read on the power of delegation in the workplace. The author gives practical advice and strategies to implement in order to relieve personal stress while creating a happier work environment for your employees. I loved how they used a storytelling format to explain how the importance of being as detailed as possible and what happens when you aren’t. Highly recommend for anyone in management or anyone who owns their own company! Learn more about this book on GoodReads.
  10. Naturally Tan by Tan France ** spoiler alert ** I really enjoyed this autobiography because I found that I related to Tan France way more than I thought I would. He talks a lot about race and what it was like for him, a Pakistani boy, to grow up in England along with all of the troubles he faced. While reading, I learned more about his relationship with his Utah-born-and-raised husband and I couldn’t help but fall in love with them as a couple. I’m a white woman and I am dating a man who was born and raised in India. It was very important for me to read Tan’s perspective as race is a topic that we’re often discussing in our household. Also, I am currently attending school for fashion design and Tan secretly went against his family’s wishes back in the day to attend fashion school. It was extremely encouraging to me and also a wonderful reality check about owning your own fashion line and the work that comes with it. My dream is fueled even more now but my expectations are in a much better, more realistic place. Thanks, Tan! Find his book here.
  11. The Good Stuff from Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family: How to Survive and Then Thrive by Karen Casey While I found this book to be helpful overall as it challenged my ways of thinking, I was not a fan of the religious talk nor the interwoven toxic positivity. This book was published in 2013 before toxic positivity really came to light, so I won’t harp on that part too much. As for religious talk, the book began with using lots of phrases like “the God of your understanding” which I really appreciated as I currently am on my path to figuring out if there’s any religion that I’m interested in following. Hearing stories of those who have overcome their own traumas and personal challenges was very uplifting. My family of origin was incredibly dysfunctional and learning that some of the dysfunction actually helped me become the woman that I am today was such a wonderful mindset shift. Before reading this book, I didn’t realize that I gained many great skills while in “survival mode” while growing up in a chaotic household. I appreciate the effort put into this book and the vulnerability of those that the author interviewed who chose to share their stories. Purchase a copy of this book at Barnes & Noble.
  12. Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing and Hope by Karamo Brown I honestly knew very little about Karamo before reading this book. While reading, I learned that we’re both from Houston, TX which made me feel a little extra connected to him within the first few pages. 😉 His story is so inspiring and not only makes me want to do better in my own life, but he also gave me some fantastic ideas on how to stay “on course” for achieving my big, wild dreams. Definitely recommend that everyone read this! Purchase a copy of his book on Simon & Schuster.
  13. Over the Top: My Story by Jonathan Van Ness WOW. Just, wow! JVN’s personality shines through in his writing! It felt as if I could hear him talking to me as I was reading his story. The biggest takeaway from this book was learning that “the most positive people you’ll ever meet have been through some of the roughest, toughest struggles in life”. While that quote is definitely paraphrased, it resonates with me to this day and sends chills down my body when I think of it. The truth within JVN’s shining joy and positivity is because of his struggles and I connect with that on a very deep level. Whether or not you tune into Queer Eye, this book is a must-read! Learn more about this book on JVN’s website.
  14. The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa by Alexander McCall Smith I love learning about other cultures and hearing/reading stories from around the world has always been so fun for me. I randomly saw this book at the library and decided to take it home with me. It’s a collection of short stories from Zimbabwe as the author grew up there. In each story, there is a valuable life lesson given which is often similar to the life lessons given in other stories I’ve heard/read from other parts of the world. It’s so heartwarming to know that while these stories took place in a different part of the world, that we’re all connected and all the same at the core. Learn more about this book of short stories on Alexander McCall Smith’s website.

After checking out my list, which of these have you added to your must-read list? Drop a comment and share your thoughts! 🙂

Want more books to add to your reading list? Check out these articles to learn about other self-development books that will inspire you to work on becoming the best version of yourself!

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