The 100 Books I Read in 2021

The 100 Books I Read in 2021

I’ve met my yearly reading goals the last few years and I’ve challenged myself with bigger goals each year. My previous record for a year was 71 books. This year I decided to aim for 100. It got a bit tight toward the end (hence needing every single day of the year before posting this), but I was able to do it. I love learning new ideas and I’m grateful for the chance to read all of these books. It takes a lot of work to put a book together and it’s a huge win to be able to benefit from that work by spending a few hours reading it.

Below are the books I read since January of 2021 with my rating for them (5 being the best) along with a brief review. Any book without a number rating has been given to me by the author or publisher. Click on any of the titles below to get to a link to buy it. (Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

  1. The Spirit of Wine by Stephen Lloyd-Moffet (4). There are a few books that do a really good job of exploring the intersection between wine and theology and this is one of them. It’s become one of our recommended reads for Communion Wine Co.
  2. The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann (5). Perpetually rereading this profound beauty.
  3. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (4). I’m going to tackle some of the Russian classics this year. This book lives up to the hype.
  4. Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain (3). I’ve been more interested in how food is made and Bourdain was legendary for taking people on a journey with food. Although there isn’t much depth to it, this book is wildly entertaining.
  5. Is This Anything by Jerry Seinfeld (3). A collection of jokes spanning decades from one of the greats.
  6. Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King Jr. (4.5). A behind-the-scenes look in the midst of much of the conflict King faced. Offers more of a real-time perspective into what he was doing.
  7. The Unusual Suspect by Ben Machall (3). An interesting look at a guy who attempted to be a modern-day Robin Hood.
  8. The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale (4.5). Offers a nuanced look at how and why we need to change the way we view police in our culture.
  9. The Life Written by Himself by Avvakum Petrov. I was surprised how interesting this old classic of Russian theology proved to be.
  10. Work by James Suzman (3). A history of the concept of work. It offers a unique perspective on the subject and was interesting to consider in light of my recent radical career change.
  11. The Invisible Hook by Peter T. Leeson (3). This book explores the economy of the pirates of old. It offers a surprisingly interesting way to view this part of history.
  12. How I Built This by Guy Raz (3). This is a good overview into some concepts of entrepreneurs. It doesn’t dive deep as much as offers you a helpful collection of stories for examples to draw from in your own journey.
  13. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins (4). An insane look at the life story of a Navy Seal and one of the toughest dudes I’ve ever heard of. Provides a good motivation boost for whatever you are working on as well.
  14. Living With a Seal by Jesse Itzler (4). Jesse invites David Goggins to live with him and train him for a month. I’d recommend reading numbers 13 and 14 on this list back-to-back.
  15. Zero to One by Peter Thiel (3). This takes a look at the nature of progress and how to tap into it if you want to build something new.
  16. Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond (4). This is the book that gave me my “only fruit till noon” axiom. Very interesting look at how your body digests food.
  17. The Sprout Book by Doug Evans (3.5). Sprouts have become my new secret weapon and I have even been growing them myself. If you read this book you’ll realize how healthy they are for you and why you need to figure out a way to get them into your life.
  18. Weird by Olga Khazin (4). This is a good cultural perspective book that explores the nature of people who never quite fit in with others and why.
  19. Integral Christianity by Paul R. Smith (3.5). This book has parts that make you think (a lot) and other parts that don’t make much sense. While it may be difficult for a new Christian to navigate, I think this is one to ponder together with others.
  20. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (4.5). Such a brilliant book that allows you to get into the shoes of someone who risks it all to cross over the border into America.
  21. Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner (3). This is something that Michelle and I want to get more into in the future and Turner’s book offers a great 101 level introduction into the idea.
  22. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (4). I read this a number of years ago but thought I’d revisit it in this new season of mine. It’s hard to apply many of the ideas, but Ferriss thinks in such a different way that it prompts you to challenge many things you consider to be normal.
  23. Jesus and John Wayne by Kristen Kobes du Mez (5). A brilliant journey through the history of Christianity in America over the last handful of decades. A must-read for all my Christian friends living in the states.
  24. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (4). At this point, I’ll read whatever Larson writes next. This book is a great look at how Churchill handled the war with Germany.
  25. Still Learning by India Oxenberg (3.5). A riveting story from someone caught up fully in a bizarre cult. Allows you to see inside and get a glimpse into how certain leaders manipulate and abuse others.
  26. The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon (4). This is technically a cookbook, but it is so beautiful and so unique and so worth your time!
  27. A World Without Email by Cal Newport (3.5). While this isn’t Newport’s best work, he does a good job showing why we shouldn’t be as dependent on email as we are.
  28. Sphere by Michael Crichton (4). I read this years ago and decided to revisit it. This is a great novel and a really unique story with great character development.
  29.  Secrets of the Sommeliers by Rajat Parr (3). This was interesting for me in my current line of development but admittedly would be a bit much for the typical person.
  30. The Stand by Stephen King (3). This sucker was 47 hours on Audible and didn’t need to be. A decent story of a post-plague world but it didn’t wow me after all of that investment.
  31. On Writers and Writing by Margaret Atwood (2.5). I love learning more about the craft of writing, but this one felt a bit too nebulous for me. In addition, I listened to it on Audible and it was one of the few examples of books that are made worse by the author reading them.
  32. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dyostovesky (3). I was expecting this to top Crime and Punishment—which I read earlier this year—but to my surprise, I liked it far less. Still worth reading though.
  33. Stealing Home by Eric Nusbaum (3). A true—and very sad—history of Dodger’s stadium and the people who had to be displaced to make it a reality.
  34. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis (3.5). This is good sustenance for anyone looking to create something. It isn’t life-altering material but it is the kind of read you often need to keep you going.
  35. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (4). Finally got around to reading this classic and it was absolute enjoyment. A great story and the audiobook version makes Long John Silver a delight on the ears.
  36. The Story of Wine by Hugh Johnson (3). If you care a lot about wine—or happen to be building a company combining wine and Jesus—then there’s a lot to glean from this one. If not, you will likely find this quite a bit tedious.
  37. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss (3). If you are one of the weird people like me that enjoy books on grammar then you’ll find this worth your time. If not, at least read the title explanation on the back cover.
  38. The Cactus League by Emily Nemens (2). A story about spring training baseball in Arizona. While there is obviously a lot to interest me in that, I felt that the story overall didn’t develop as it could, and then it dropped off abruptly. 
  39. The Angry Chef by Anthony Warner (5). A total surprise gem. Loved this book way more than I ever would have guessed. Click the link to read my blog post as to why.
  40. The 99% Invisible City by Roman Mars (3). A behind-the-scenes look at infrastructure and what goes into cities. If you are even remotely engineering-minded you’ll find a lot to interest you.
  41. Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk (3). Another book on writing but actually focuses on the life of the writer in particular. Filled with plenty of engaging and bizarre stories.
  42. Extra Life by Steven Johnson (3). I thought this would be about how to live longer as an individual but explores how we are all collectively living longer. Offers a unique view of historical and cultural progress.
  43. Fifty Inventions that Shaped the Modern Economy by Tim Harford (3.5). This was surprisingly similar to books #40 and #42 on this list. It offers an interesting look at historical progress and how we got to here.
  44. Why by Mario Livio (3). An exploration of what makes us curious and why it matters. I love curiosity and I think we collectively need far more of it.
  45. You’re Leaving When? by Annabelle Gurwitch (4). An engaging memoir about aging and life and finding humor in it all. A really fun and thought-provoking read.
  46. We Begin at the End by Chris Witaker (4). A well-told fictional story that explores who we are and who we want to be. The characters are engaging and likeable and the story draws you in.
  47. The $100 Startup by Chris Guillabeau (3). Similar to #34 on this list, this book gives you a good dose of motivation and encouragement if you are trying to build something.
  48. Dear God by Bunmi Laditan (4.5). A beautiful surprise of a book. Click the link to read my review of it.
  49. Learning to Be by Juanita Campbell Rasmus (3). A refreshingly honest and vulnerable look at the pressures of full-time ministry and how one woman handled it when it became too much.
  50. Noise by Daniel Kahneman (3). A fairly heady account of why we often don’t make the logical and objective decisions we think we do. This is worth reading for anyone who makes major decisions for their job.
  51. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (5). This is a delight of a story and is incredibly well-written. Surprisingly engaging and moving. 
  52. K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner (4). This is a really good book on the history of baseball and the nature of the sport itself. Highly recommend.
  53. Harry Potter: A History of Magic by by Ben Davies (4). A really interesting look into the history of how some of the things in Harry Potter are magical concepts and items through the centuries.
  54. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (5). I’m leaning into the premise of this book as our family rethinks how we incorporate work into our lives. Passive income takes a bit of work up front but offers possibilities that most people don’t think are available.
  55. Jesus and His Jewish Influences by Jodi Magness (3). This is a scholarly look at how to view Jesus from a Jewish perspective.
  56. Adventures in Opting Out by Kait Flanders (3). A refreshing look at what it means to chart your own course, especially when that means departing from what is expected of you.
  57. We the Drowned by Carsten Jensen (4). This was a fun read all the way through as it follows four generations of a village dominated by the sea.
  58. Medieval Myths and Mysteries by Dorsey Armstrong (3). This was like taking a really fun history class that tackled the some of the things you had always wondered about medeival times.
  59. Machinehood by S.B. Divya (2). This book took a bit to get into and even then was a bizarre story. I give it points for creativity though.
  60. In Search of a Kingdom by Lawrence Bergreen (4.5). This help me put so much of British history into context. Essentially, how did the British become the world empire it did?
  61. AirBnB for Dummies by Symon He (3). This is a super practical manual on how to become a good host for a short term rental. As such, it isn’t necessarily a fun read or for everyone but it did help me quite a bit.
  62. Night by Elie Wiesel (3). This is a classic from a survivor of the holocoust. He brings out the way the experience shattered all sense of one’s humanity.
  63. Ghengis Khan by Jack Weatherford (4). Much like #60 on this list, this book helped me understand this period in history and some of the uniqueness of Ghengis Khan and his legacy today.
  64. How to be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg (2). The authors walk through a number of self-help books and how they were affected by the advice in each of them.
  65. Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger (3.5). This was one of those fun book that peels back the curtain behind much of what we do and explores why we do it.
  66. The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr (5). You need to read this. Barr does an incredible job talking about women in the Bible and throughout Christianity.
  67. A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston (4). You know him from Breaking Bad fame, now hear his life story told in a way that invites you into his world and also gives you the kind of behind-the-scenes content that you lilkely wonder about.
  68. The Thing Beneath the Thing by Steve Carter (3). Steve is a friend of mine and has done a great job at finding perspective in his own journey and then offering it to you for your own benefit.
  69. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (4). So much of the great migration was unknown history to me. I’m so grateful I read this book and learned more about this aspect of America’s past.
  70. Press Reset by Jason Schreier (3.5). Jason looks at the tumultous video game industry and the people who are often its collateral damage.
  71. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier (3). I had so much fun with the last book that I had to come back for more. This one focuses more on some specific games themselves and the crazy stories of how they were made.
  72. The Accidental Connoisseuer by Lawrence Osborne (3.5). Much of this gets bogged down into wine specifics that are unknown to the typical reader, yet Osborne still finds a charming way to take you along on his journey to develop taste in the world of wine.
  73. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela (4). Such a gift to hear Mandela’s perspective throughout his life. There was much to reflect on an he did a great job being vulnerable in the writing of this.
  74. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (4). I’m revisiting this series and reading them in the published order. This one is a classic.
  75. Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (4). Surprised by how much of this book I didn’t remember. This is the second book of the series that Lewis wrote.
  76. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis (5). This is my favorite book of the series. My favorite character (Reepicheep) takes a big role and the idea of exploring the unknown is front and center.
  77. The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (4). A great metaphor for the things that blind and contain us, often without us realizing it. This also feels like one of the ‘darker’ books of the series.
  78. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (4). A brilliant backstory on the creation of Narnia and the origins of the White Witch.
  79. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis (3.5). This is my least favorite of the series as it feels the most disconnected from the others. However, I found myself liking it more this time trhgouth.
  80. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis (4). While I love the ending of this book (and the series as a whole), Lewis wrote the tension into this one so well that I feel a bit stressed reading it.
  81. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (3). Not surprisingly, it reminds me of English classes and focuses on things. weshould be noticing in literature. Not necessarily the most fun of reads but a good reminder of what’s going on when good authors create stories.
  82. Dune by Fran Herbert (4.5). I still haven’t seen the movie yet but I did get to the book first. It took me a bit to understand the world Herbert created, but once you get comfortable it has a lot to offer. I was bummed when it ended which is the mark of a great novel.
  83. Letters to a Young Therapist by Mary Pipher (3). There’s a lot of overlap between therapy and ministry (although they are not the same and should not be done by the same people). Pipher offers an intersesting look into the world of therapy.
  84. Bullies and Saints by John Dickson (5). Dickson presents the topic as â€œAn honest look at the good and evil of Christian history.” Anyone who’s studied this subject knows there’s plenty of both. This book should be required reading for all Christians.
  85. Did You Just Eat That? by Paul Dawson (3). I wouldn’t consider myself OCD, but I can lean that direction in certain areas. While this book was fascinating in many regards, it also made me a bit more paranoid about the food I eat. Ignorance may be bliss in this regard. Ironically, this may be a sign of the talent of the author that it caused this effect on me.
  86. Let Us Dream by Pope Francis (3.5). The more I learn about Pope Francis the more I like him. This book offers a beautiful glimpse into his thinking about the world and spirituality.
  87. The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann (5). One of my all-time faves. This was my fifth read of it in five years.
  88. The Man Who Lived Underground by Richard Wright (2). I never did fully connect with this one. The power of the book is certainly the way it portrays racism and cultural injustices but the story itself didn’t resonate with me.
  89. How to be Human by Jory Fleming (3). This is a truly interesting look at life from the perspective of someone with autism. It helps to show areas we take for granted and also the beauty of those who are different than us.
  90. The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher (3). This was a fun story to read and the story is well-told. It felt a bit impausible at times but worth it nonetheless.
  91. The Power of Vulnerability by Brene Brown (4.5). I found this on Audible and it’s actually a series of lectures she gave. I was not expecting to like this as much as I did. There is so much life-perspective in this and I think all of us would benefit from a listen.
  92. Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett (4.5). I read this every Christmas as a setup to A Christmas Carol. If you like the Dicken’s Christmas book you owe it to yourself to read this.
  93. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (3.5). This book is all over the place with Sedaris’ life. However, his brilliant ability to make everyday situations hilarious and insightful makes this totally worthwhile. This is great writing that is fun to read.
  94. Piranesi by Susanna Clark (4). It took me a bit to get into the story but I was impressed by where it went. I will probably reread this again next year and I can imagine liking it even more.
  95. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (5). Brilliant. Must-read every Christmas.
  96. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (5). I’ve made efforts over the years to actually read the classics. This book gets referenced quite a bit so I was expecting that I wouldn’t be surprised by much. However, I liked this WAY more than expected and find myself continuing to think on it.
  97. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson (3.5). I’ve seen this book all over the place so I decided to read it. It’s a worthwhile read and a good premise. My biggest critique is that at times it feels like it was written by a junior-higher who just discovered the F-word.
  98. Notes on Grief by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie (3). This isn’t long but it doesn’t need to be. Such a profound look at an author dealing with loss and having the words to describe it.
  99. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (4). Another book I’ve long heard about and decided to read for myself. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. My favorite part is the way she helps you think about your relationship with stuff.
  100. The Bible (5). I read the NLT again this year using my reading plan of five chapters a day.

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.