It’s important to note that this number could have shifted and grown a bit in the past five years, but likely not substantially based on the historical data.
Now, I know none of you are average. Let’s take a look at another number: CEOs read about 60 books per year — five times that of your average individual. Think about the additional knowledge and insights you can gain by reading (and yes, I consider listening to Audible as “reading,” too) that many books each year.
Be purposeful about the books you choose. Is there a particular topic you want to learn more about? Do you want to better understand the thought-process and decision making of celebrities, business leaders or historical figures? Do you want to explore the classics? Or get lost in a sci-fi thriller as part of a self-care routine?
As Stephen King said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Where do you want to go and grow in 2022? If you’re looking for your next read, check out the list below for my top 10 favorite books of 2021.
1. Invent & Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, with an Introduction by Walter Isaacson
This collection includes a range of topics from culture to failure to public policy to innovation, and the importance of what Bezos coined as the “Day 1 mindset.” Told through his annual shareholder letters, speeches and other interviews, this book highlights the core principles and philosophies that have helped Bezos create, build and lead Amazon and Blue Origin.
Whether you are a fan of Bezos or not, this book is a great investment of your time in order to learn how such a successful and influential leader has transformed the business landscape over the past two decades.
2. Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton
Michael Newton holds a Doctorate in Counseling Psychology and is a certified Master Hypnotherapist. In Destiny of Souls, Newton shares the stories of 70 clients and what happens to them between lives (between their incarnations). This book explores many spiritual and seemingly unanswerable questions about what life is like on the “other side.”
3. Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown
Fans of McKeown’s first book, Essentialism, will find his follow-up extremely helpful in gaining even more clarity about our most valuable resource: time.
Where Essentialism helped readers determine WHAT was most important, Effortless offers advice on HOW to make those essential activities easier so you can achieve results and avoid burnout. And who doesn’t want that!
4. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
Alright, alright, alright! Greenlights is an interesting look into the life of this creative actor. “Greenlights mean go — advance, carry on, continue.”
A lot of the book is pulled from McConaughey’s journals from the past 35 years. Yet another reason you should start a journal — you never know when you’ll need to reach into your files for your autobiography.
All-around, this is just a highly entertaining read, that also manages to hit you with some unconventional wisdom and deep lessons about living life with great satisfaction.
5. Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta, MD
Entrepreneurs and business leaders are pulled in many different directions on a daily basis. We’re called upon to make high stakes decisions regularly and to have the stamina to work long hours building businesses, closing deals or creating new opportunities for our team.
Keep Sharp is a great book that focuses on the importance of exercise, sleep, good nutrition and maintaining an active lifestyle (that goes for continuing to challenge the brain too, by “working” even after retirement). All simple things, but not easy when you’re constantly faced with the latest fad diet, exercise trend and demanding schedules — but a must if we want to be living our best life for years to come! Gupta’s book explains how.
6. No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology is Catching up to Buddhism by Chris Niebauer
No Self, No Problem is a fascinating exploration of Niebauer’s findings in neuropsychology that suggest our sense of self is actually an illusion created by the left side of the brain (much like the way a mirage in the middle of a dessert exists — like a thought, rather than a thing).
During his studies, he found parallels between the latest discoveries about the brain and the philosophies of Buddhism, specifically the practices that allow us to develop an awareness and manage basic mental challenges like fear and anxiety to alleviate suffering.
Niebaer also offers exercises at the end of each chapter to help you experience this idea of “no self” yourself.
7. The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger
In this book, Iger shares the lessons he learned while running Disney during the days of massive growth and innovation, including the acquisition of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and 21st Century Fox.
His detailed stories of how he made decisions, handled conflict, negotiated billion dollar deals and lead the company of over 220,000 employees worldwide is impressive and inspiring. Iger’s clarity of vision and commitment to seeing it through is a great reminder for us all.
8. The Bhagavad Gita Introduction and Translated by Eknath Easwaran
The Bhagavad Gita, which means “The Song of the Lord,” is the best know of all the Indian scriptures. Told through the story of the warrior Arjuna and his spiritual guide, Sri Krishna, the book is about the war within and the struggle for self-mastery to live a life that is meaningful, fulfilling, and worthwhile.
Though written down at some point between 400 BCE and 200 CE, the teachings are just as relevant today.
9. Will by Will Smith
Another great book this year, about the man behind the movie star. I didn’t know about some of his early success winning a Grammy or even some of his early film success at a relatively young age.
But what I really liked was his transparency about the mistakes he made as a husband, a father and a friend, and the lessons he learned from those experiences. Will is a true testament to what happens when your ego takes over, and what really cool things can happen when you surrender.
In typical Dalio fashion, he analyzes the new economic and political conditions of the world and looks back on history, studying major empires in the search for patterns and principles to explain the world today.
This book is dense in content, but easy to digest with lots of supplemental materials if you want to dive deeper. It is helpful to look back in order to understand what lies ahead — which are sure to be radically different from those we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. Dalio offers practical advice on how to successful navigate the changing world order and position yourself well for what’s ahead.
What were your favorite books of 2021? What’s on your reading list for 2022?
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies