The 10 Best Books I Read in 2021
At the beginning of this year, one of the things I want to overcome is my fear of public speaking. It’s not that I can’t speak in front of a crowd. It’s just that I find it difficult to be coherent and express myself clearly when I’m speaking to others.
I tend to jump from ideas to ideas or I would retrace my point before I complete my sentence. And sometimes, when I looked at others, I lost my train of thought. I got distracted and forgot what I wanted to say.
Speaking is not the same as writing.
When it comes to writing, it’s perfectly fine for me. I can get all my ideas out and then rearrange or organize my ideas in a logical manner. But for verbal communication, you have to organize your thoughts as you speak. I find this to be more challenging, especially when I’m an INFJ and I’m much more intuitive than rational.
I also tend to withhold my opinions in large groups. Sometimes, I keep to myself when I sense others aren’t open to a different point of view. Other times it is because people who are the loudest and quickest often control the flow and direction of the conversation.
Words come to me much slower. Especially if I’m listening attentively, I’m not forming any thoughts in my head. Even though I feel something off with what others are saying or I have an opinion, I might not have the words to express myself on the spot. When I do have the words, the conversation usually moves on to another topic.
So writing has always been my channel for self-expression. It allows me to express my truth completely and freely. Something I don’t get to do when I’m in groups.
Exploring the Messiness of Life
This year, I worked on my throat chakra and verbal communication. I have a desire to speak and share my insights verbally. First, I took this Mindvalley Quest, Speak and Inspire, by Lisa Nichols. There are many speaking exercises in this course and at the end of it, I got better at speaking spontaneously.
To practice further, I started a Monthly Q&A. I get my subscribers to ask me questions while I pre-record my answers in a video format. At first, I took many takes to record one segment. But as I progressed, I was able to speak more coherently and naturally in one single take. I also did three interviews this year. I told the interviewers I didn’t want to know the questions in advance so that I could be more present and authentic with my answers.
Apart from reclaiming my voice,
this year is also about exploration.
Heading into this year, I wanted to complete my book on loving the body. But I felt a bit restless, my mind was in a mess, and I couldn’t focus on my writing.
In February, I explored a new advertising platform for my books. Then, in May and June, I went off tangent and spent too much time optimizing my advertising campaigns and testing new strategies I learned. In August, I was committed to taking Ryan Tedder’s songwriting course on Monthly.com. (Ryan Tedder is the lead vocalist of OneRepublic.) I had to write three songs in a month! So I had no time for anything else. (Click here to listen to one of my songs). In September, I was caught by the covid news and information around me. Lastly, in November and December, I started learning about investing properly.
I got stuck and was distracted multiple times while writing my book. But I did gain some new knowledge and explore some things that I had wanted to learn. I also gained new insights into myself, my emotional patterns, and my new desires.
Even though I was writing on and off this year, somehow I managed to complete my book in December. I’m editing it right now and it will be published early next year. So lookout for it.
This Year the Donation Goes to…
This year, I read 39 books. Some might think that staying at home more during the pandemic, one might read more. I actually read much less than in previous years. I realized I read a lot while I’m taking transport and since I go out less, I read less too. Also now that I’m at home most of the time, I spend more time watching online courses such as those in Mindvalley than reading. So for next year, I’m going to cut my reading goal from 100 books to 50 books.
Follow What I Read:
You can follow me on Instagram or Goodreads to see what I have read.
Every year, I have a “pay it forward” tradition and donate an amount based on the number of books I’ve read or I will top it up if I read too little like this year. (You can read my yearly posts here.)
This year, I donated S$100 to Canossaville Children and Community Services. They have a campaign on Giving.sg called, Dollar Match: Canossaville Digital Fund. This campaign is about using technology to empower children with severe to profound hearing loss. Through iPad applications, students who have difficulties with speech can finally find their voice and communicate more confidently with others, especially with their families.
Don’t take your healthy body and body functions
This campaign resonates with me on a few levels. First, I always donate to a charity or an organization that is related to education. Technology education is something I’m grateful for. With technology, I could make a living from my writing and doing what I love. Second, it resonates with my theme this year which is about finding and reclaiming my own voice. Third, my latest book is about loving our bodies. We often take our body functions such as hearing and speech for granted. It’s important to appreciate what we have. Lastly, the organization in Singapore, Tote Board, is matching my donation with an additional 40%! So the total donation will be S$140.
My Top 10 Favorite Books: 2021 List
I have a rule though. I only feature one book from the same author for my list. So even if I like two to three books by the same author this year, I only select the one that I like the most.
Disclosure: Please note that the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase, but it will be at no additional cost to you.
1. The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent by Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks
“You are the creator of your own experience, and no one else has power within your experience. And that is true for everyone.”
I have read many books but there are only a few authors whom I totally resonate with. One of them is Abraham Hicks. I can watch any video from them on any topic and I will feel an immediate, emotional uplift.
My favorite spiritual teachers are those who can make me laugh. I resonate with Abrahmah’s teachings so much because they are able to talk about serious matters in a light-hearted manner. More importantly, I receive a wider perspective of life through their words.
This book is to remind us of the importance of deliberate creation and allowing. Finding joy in the creation process is more significant than focusing on ultimate desires. Through various processes shared in this book, you’ll learn how to change your vantage point on many different topics such as your physical body, relationship, work, and finance.
2. Dying to Be Me by Anita Moorjani
“All illnesses are just symptoms of imbalance. No illness can remain when your entire system is in balance.”
This book is written by a fellow empath. I’ve been wanting to read this book for some time now and I finally read it early this year when I’m researching for my new book.
This inspirational memoir is about the author’s journey from fighting cancer for almost four years to her near-death experience and how she completely healed from her illness. Even though I don’t have any near-death experiences myself, I resonate with what she has written. I can relate to the pure joy and love she felt when she was in the other realm.
Coming from an Asian country and an empath myself, I can also relate to her desire and pressure to please her parents and others.
3. Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold
“We can carry not only knowledge but also moods from the lucid dream state to the waking state.”
This year, I started practicing lucid dreaming and I read a few books on lucid dreaming. This classic book is one of my favorites.
Written by an American psychophysiologist who specializes in this field, Stephen LaBerge is also the person who developed the popular lucid dream induction technique called MILD in the 1980s. But in this book, you will find many other techniques to help you get lucid and maintain lucidity.
Even though this book is based on the author’s scientific research at Stanford University, it is written in an accessible style that is suitable for beginners to read. I also like how the techniques are presented in a step-by-step manner and how practical this book is.
4. Dreaming through Darkness by Charlie Morley
“The shadow is our dark side, but not dark as in ‘negative’ or ‘malign’ rather dark as in ‘not yet illuminated’.”
I actually first learned about lucid dreaming through Charlie’s course in Mindvalley. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. Taking the quest made me feel like a kid again!
He wrote a few books on lucid dreams and this is the book I love the most. I find it more personal and deeper than the rest. This book is about meeting and embracing your shadows through your dreams.
Apart from transforming our dark shadow, the author also introduces the term, Golden Shadow. It’s our good qualities such as our untapped talents, potential, and childlike vitality that we suppress and hide from others. If you want to unlock your creativity and also make friends with your fear and anxiety, this book is for you.
5. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
“The Ego, however, is not who you really are. The ego is your self-image; it is your social mask; it is the role you are playing.”
Success is the ability to fulfill your desires with effortless ease. If you are struggling with your life or finding it challenging to manifest what you want despite all your efforts, this book is for you.
Based on the seven natural laws of the Universe, this book dispels the myth that success is the result of hard work. In this quick read, you will learn simple spiritual principles and practices that can easily be applied to all areas of your life. By understanding your true nature and learning to live in harmony with the natural laws, this book will change your worldview and your life.
6. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
“The Enneagram is a tool that awakens our compassion for people just as they are, not the people we wish they would become so our lives would become easier.”
If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will know that I am an Enneagram Type 4. This book on Enneagram is written by a fellow Type 4 and a Type 2.
Filled with personal stories and examples from the authors, the book is both witty and engaging. Unlike most Enneagram books too, the writing tone is less academic. So it is accessible to all types of readers.
Written from a Christian perspective, you will learn to be more understanding and compassionate not just towards yourself, but towards other people too. But even though I’m not a Christian, I still find this book relatable and easy to read.
7. Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette
“Before you can connect with your spiritual guides, you must first become aware of your own beautiful spirit.”
This book is about making contact with your spiritual guides. For the longest time, I have known myself as intuitive. Every impulse or message I receive, I attribute it to my intuition. But I wasn’t aware of spiritual guides until I did the Mindvalley Quest’s Duality two to three years ago.
Filled with insights and anecdotes, his book opens me up to the various divine companions that might be available to me. It gives you a good breakdown of how each type of spiritual guide helps you. Some protect you from harm and make you feel safe, while others are messengers and offer you guidance.
If you want to ask and receive additional support in your life or you just want to feel supported, this uplifting book is for you.
8. How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.”
Thich Nhat Hanh has been in my chart since 2016. But this year, I thought he won’t be because I didn’t read any of his books two weeks before the end of the year.
I thought I would take this opportunity to recommend some new spiritual authors instead. However, when I finished this book, I knew I had to add him to the list yet again. It’s funny how his words always seem to come at the right moment when I need them the most.
Due to some old emotional patterns, I was feeling somewhat insecure, angry, and guilty one day. So I took a nap to break the momentum. When I woke up, I felt inspired to read this book and his writing speaks directly to my heart. After reading this short book, I felt rather centered and peaceful.
I’ve read 38 of his books so far. I realize how important it is to be reminded of mindfulness. There are no grand or out-of-this-world insights in his books but reminders are all you need sometimes.
9. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön
“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves.”
Other than Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön is another spiritual author that writes about Buddhism in an easy to read and accessible manner.
If you are going through a difficult time and you are struggling with intense, emotional pains such as fear or anxiety, this book is for you.
In this book, the author helps you to understand why fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth. When her husband left her, she felt her whole world collapse and she felt angry and afraid. She shows you how Buddhist teachings have helped her to overcome this pivotal moment in her life and how she eventually became thankful for the experience.
Through twenty-two short chapters, you will learn how to deal with the ups and downs of life.
10. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
“Great offense and poor defense translate into under accumulation of wealth.”
After making a big blunder in the stock market in 2020, I decided to gather more knowledge in investing. But after reading a couple of investment books, I found them to be all pretty dry.
This is not an investment book. But as I was looking through my reading list, this personal finance book stands out.
Millionaires aren’t always like the stereotypes we imagine them to be. Many of them are rather frugal and don’t own fancy possessions like big houses or posh cars. They live in a modest neighborhood and they are like our next-door neighbors. On the contrary, those who have an expensive lifestyle aren’t always wealthy. As per the authors, they are great at offense (i.e. earning money) but poor at defense (i.e. investing and saving money). So they don’t accumulate wealth and might even be in debt.
Filled with examples and stories, this is a fun read for beginners who want to be financially independent.
Below are a few other books I read in 2021 which didn’t make it to the list, but worth mentioning:
- Limitless by Jim Kwik
- Adventures of the Soul by James Van Praagh
- Meditation by Osho
- The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr and HeatherAsh Amara
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Abraham Verghese
Hey there, I’m Yong Kang, best known as Nerdy Creator. I’m an author of seven books. I write about spirituality, self-compassion, and mindfulness. I love reading books, especially non-fiction. The list above is a combination of what I have read and my research. Each year, I create a Top 10 list of my favorite books.