A compilation of books I read and audiobooks I listened to (so far) in 2021

Here are my past reading lists from 2020 and 2016–2019. I have also written on how I go about finding books to read.

Last updated: June 3, 2021

Books

  1. Small Days and Nights, Tishani Doshi
  2. Mexican Gothic, Silvia Garcia-Moreno
  3. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
  4. Caste, Isabel Wilkerson
  5. The Sound of a Snail Eating, Elizabeth Tova Bailey
  6. There There, Tommy Orange
  7. Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen
  8. Rules of Civility, Amor Towles
  9. Motherless Brooklyn, Jonathan Letham
  10. Exhalation…


This year, as college and the era of required reading ended, I decided to start being more mindful of my casual reading habits.

I have been writing short reviews of most of the books I read, linked in-line with the book entry.

Between 2016 and 2019, I aimed to read 36 books per year. You can find my reading list here, and here for 2021.

Over the years a lot of people have asked me how I find books to read, how to get (re)started with reading, and gain momentum. I made a post covering my thought process.

I am…


I had to combine the reviews for these two books because 1. I read one and listened to the other concurrently, and 2. their power only multiplied in combination. The two books examine inequality in elite colleges in America at two different stages — the admissions process and actual campus life, but have much in common. Most importantly, they illustrate how the same power structures reproduce across stages of college life. …


Photo by Dominik Schröder on Unsplash

I dragged my feet on reading Becoming because I assumed that it would be like any other celebrity memoir — hackneyed writing in big font with many cliches and platitudes, written to sell to a large audience of already committed fans. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was totally wrong. Becoming is an honestly and empathetically written book — Michelle Obama exhibits a surprising amount of frankness when discussing her struggles, skepticism of Barack’s political runs, the office of the First Lady et cetera.

The book truly shines in the first two thirds, when Obama writes about her…


Photo by Lianhao Qu on Unsplash

This book left me with a lot of thoughts. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is complex and I had to listen to the 24 hour audiobook at basically 1–1.2x speed (I usually listen to books at 2x) which meant it took me nearly four weeks to get through it all.

Zuboff is an academic and she doesn’t back off from using novel terminology or referencing obscure theory. She argues, and I agree, that given the phenomena she is describing as so novel, our lexicon needs to adapt accordingly. …


The Buddha in the Attic is a unique book — there is no single perspective or central cast of characters. Instead, we get to experience the lives of Japanese mail-order brides from their ship voyages to America till the second World War and their experiences of internment. The prose is extremely lyrical, with gems like “And so we learned to think twice before saying yes and looking into another man’s eyes, because in America you got nothing for free.” Though I was apprehensive about the writing style (in the anonymised plural perspective) at first, it soon grew on me.

It’s…


Daily Rituals is an interesting book that outlines the daily routines of people who are famous for their creative work. I turned to the book in the middle of quarantine season, when my own days had started to feel quite unstructured and I had hoped to find inspiration to organize my life in favor of my creative pursuits.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

I largely skimmed this book, reading the entries of the people I was interested (mostly authors I had read, architects, and artists). I think the concept is interesting and I am sure the blog it was adapted from was fascinating. …


Wuhan Diary is a collection of blog posts written by Chinese author Fang Fang, over the course of 60 days of Wuhan’s citywide quarantine starting January 25, 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The blog posts were originally written in Chinese and shared on social media platforms like WeChat and Weibo as an account of Fang Fang’s daily life under quarantine. …


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Having spent the better part of the last four years neck-deep in statistics, I didn’t expect learn much new material from this book but I was pleasantly surprised. In The Art of Statistics. Spiegelhalter covers all the topics you would expect to see in an introductory statistics lecture, but without agonising numbers and equations. Instead, Spiegelhalter focuses on helping the reader build an intuition for the topics through case studies and visualizations. …


Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

I am a big fan of Ezra Klein’s podcast and listening to Why We Are Polarized in the audiobook format made the book feel like a 7-hour long podcast episode.

In the book, Klein provides a detailed history of polarization in American politics, focussing on changes taking place during the 20th and 21st centuries. He draws on research in political science and psychology to explore how identities and political values align/diverge, and how the current moment in American politics is different from/similar to all the others. His central argument is essentially that the last two decades have given rise to…

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