Best nonfiction reads of 2021

It was easy to choose; these are all the nonfiction books I read last year and they’re all truly worth a try.

BADASS HABITS

The latest from badass author Jen Sincero. There are a multitude of books on habits so why choose this one?

  • You like your advice served up no-nonsense style but with a sense of humor.
  • You want a detailed, easy to follow plan.
  • You’re ready to dig deep as this isn’t shallow advice. She wants to make you feel!
  • https://bookthrasher.com/2021/02/04/badass-habits/

UNAPOLOGETICALLY AMBITIOUS

Author Shellye Archambeau is a trailblazer in the business world – she was one of the first Black female CEOs in the US. This book is part memoir and part guide to success.

  • Learn her process of research, differentiating yourself and planning / strategizing.
  • Discover the difference between work-life balance and work-life integration.
  • Be inspired by someone who uses focus and determination to help create the life she wants.
  • https://bookthrasher.com/2021/02/14/no-apology-necessary/

TIME WARPED

Written by a BBC science broadcaster this is a guide to Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception (the subtitle). Author Claudia Hammond successfully blends research & studies with practical ideas & advice. Fascinating and kind of fun!

THE PREMONITION: A PANDEMIC STORY

This is a book about the COVID-19 pandemic and the US response to the crisis. It was so much worse than we knew.

I have so many thoughts about this incredible book researched and written by Michael Lewis. I finished it last fall then immediately started reading it again, pen in hand to take notes for a review that I never finished writing. It was bewildering to read because it takes you through the initial story, pre-vaccines. When I read it Delta was raging and it was a bit surreal to be looking back while in the midst of a terrible, preventable surge.

Now we’re on the tail end of another terrible surge – Omicron. It’s more important than ever to reflect and get some context around how we got here.

This is the story of the behind-the-scenes group of thinkers, tinkerers, doctors, and strategists who tried their best to sound alarms and protect the public. This is also a story of incompetence, indifference, pride, politics, and silos.

This is a story of stars aligning when these doctors and scientists came together to fight COVID. Their MINDS! I was so inspired while reading The Premonition. These are deep thinkers, planners, and notetakers. Creative and pragmatic and dedicated to their fellow Americans.

The cast of characters includes Bob Glass, scientist at Sandia National Laboratories. Dr. Charity Dean, public health physician and natural detective. Carter Mecher, ICU doc. Systems thinker and problem solver. Richard Hatchett, infectious disease specialist, National Institutes of Health. Lisa Koonin, the bridge to the CDC.

By the end of the book I was in awe of these people and thought of them as real superheroes.

Of course, where there’s a superhero there’s bound to be a villain. John Bolton in this case. Yes, he was in that room too, and didn’t do much to help.

I recommend anything written by Michael Lewis but this book, like his The Fifth Risk, are more urgent reads than, say, The Blind Side. He’s a master at laying a story out and fitting pieces together into a seamless, enjoyable, thrilling read, even if the subject is a global pandemic or the Trump administration.

RISING OUT OF HATRED: THE AWAKENING OF A FORMER WHITE NATIONALIST

This is a biography written by Eli Saslow. The subject? Derek Black, son of the founder of Stormfront, a white nationalist website.

I remember looking at Stormfront 20+ years ago. It was filled with vile stuff about Blacks and Jews and I felt like I needed to keep an eye on it, on what they were saying and thinking.

Derek was brought up in the white nationalist culture. And as an intelligent and inquisitive person he was a rising star and heir apparent to Stormfront. He created a children’s section on the website and started hosting a radio show. He was a skilled debater, ready to take down anyone who tried to counter his arguments.

Then Derek left home and went to college. One of the nation’s most liberal – New College in Sarasota, Florida. He lived a double life for a while, immersing himself in college culture, exploring new ideas all the while continuing with his radio show and white nationalist beliefs.

But Derek slowly starts questioning things. He meets a woman he connects with, a true intellectual partner. Once the truth comes out she sticks with him, gently but firmly challenging him to think for himself. I would love to read more about her, she’s an extraordinary person.

As the subtitle says, Derek has an awakening and eventually renounces his past beliefs. It’s not really a happy ending, though. He and his father helped build a nationwide network of like-minded bigots and racists. The last five years have seen a rise in the legitimacy of these groups. Look at all the confederate flags and swastikas that were on display on 1/6/21. Derek has used his newly enlightened voice to warn people and expose lies but I’m not sure he’s changing any minds.

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