What I’ve Read in 2021

I’m just realizing I didn’t post this article when I wrote it. Never too late. I did read a lot again in 2021, and as always, I enjoy sharing my books and recommendations.

Thanks to the public commitment to this personal goal, for the fifth year in a row, I read more than 53 books. You can see what I read here.

In 2021 I’ve read 35 non-fiction and 18 fiction books. I’ve read 39 books in English and only 14 in Spanish, with 36% of them by women authors, . I’ve read books on history (3), politics (2), economics (3), biographies(2), business (7), and startups (3), and this year I was especially interested in the future of food and climate tech, reading 4 books on these topics… I read stories situated in Italy, Japan, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, and Brazil.

As every year, here is a selection of my top 10 books for 2021:

Business and Startups

1- Why Startups Fail— by Tom Eisenmann| From an HBS professor, a must-read for entrepreneurs and VCs alike. Not the obvious answers, and a sincere, no-bs summary of evidence and analysis.

2- The Code Breaker— by Walter Isaacson| One of my favorite books of the year. I wanted to understand the origin of COVID vaccines and what was behind, and I found a thriller, a biography, and much more, with Isaacson’s unique style and depth.

3- The Future of Money— by Eswar Prasad| As an economist, I have to review my understanding and opinions on cryptocurrencies and monetary policies, and this book gives a comprehensive, yet skeptic, analysis.

Non-Fiction

1- The Revolt of the Public — by Martin Gurri| Technology has categorically reversed the information balance of power between the public and the elites As January 6th unraveled, I found answers in this extraordinary essay.

2- Caste — by Isabel Wilkerson| Difficult to digest, painful, but with a thesis so compelling it should become the new understanding of race and intolerance in USA, with several similarities in Latin America.

3- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster — by Bill Gates| Fantastic in its simplicity, its structure, and depth, it could be criticized for his views but Bill Gates does an incredible job in bringing climate change to the public with a readable, essential book.

Fiction

1- Klara and the Sun — by Kazuo Ishiguro| My favorite novel this year. I can’t recommend it enough. Under a sci-fi facade, a deeply moving and original reflection on friendship, family and love.

2- Un Verdor Terrible— by Benjamín Labatut| A rare jewel, not exactly a novel but some history of science novelized, with a fast pace, amazing conciseness, and fascinating research. I will definitely read every new piece by Labatut. We are waiting!

3- Why Fish Don’t Exist — by Lulu Miller| Another hard-to-classify book. Not a novel, jet the story is emotional, interesting, and breaks the standards of typical classification. Plus, Stanford University is at the core of the narrative.

Finally, I want to highlight my favorite book this year, perhaps my favorite books in the last five years:

El Infinito en un Junco — by Irene Vallejo| This is everything I look for in a book. Page-turner, moving, informing, well written. Irene Vallejo has delivered an immediate classic, about the history of books and libraries. Learning from Irene is a delight, as her vast knowledge doesn’t feel like arrogant erudition, but rather like a friend that wants you to join her in what she has discovered. And I joined her and will thank her forever.

2022 is looking good in my reading pace. I’m currently at 42, so I might end up with more than 70 books this year. I enjoy my time reading, I enjoy myself while reading and I hope this continues to be a source of inspiration, dialogue and new conversations.

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Fernando Lelo Larrea

Venture Capital Investor. Entrepreneurship. Economics. Seeking Innovation & Impact.