I love to recommend a books to my friends. It’s just my thing. Fiction? Yes. Non-fiction? Yes. Self-help? Yes. Historical? Yes. You name a genre, I probably know of at least a few books that will absolutely change your life.
If you love fallacies, enjoy podcasts, and enjoy reading some absolutely mind-changing books (*gasp*), then that means you’re my friend, which means I give you book recommendations! And oh boy, have I got a list of books that you need to read in 2021. 😉
Before I give you the list, how do I define a life-changing book? One that never lets me see people the same way again and/or changes my thought processes. When I finished the last chapters of all of these books, I honestly felt like I was a different person, but definitely in a good way.
But back to the recommendations. Hopefully you’re not all shopped-out after Black Friday, because these books are definitely of the “Add-to-Cart” variety. They would make awesome Christmas gifts for your bookish friends and family, and even awesome-er additions to your 2021 reading list.
Or just curl up on the couch next to your Christmas tree and dig into one of these babies. Preferably whilst drinking eggnog and wearing Christmas socks? I guess it’s okay if you don’t, but still.
I have read many, many other books in my life (we love that #bookworm aesthetic) so it was hard to narrow things down to just a handful of books. To keep things concise, these books are predominantly non-fiction, but I do have a few fictional works to mix it up a bit. Enjoy!
The 10 Worldview-Changing Books I Recommend to Everyone:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
I LOVE Influence because of the way it illustrates that people have predictable, machine-like reactions to different strategies of persuasion. Want to know how car salesmen can be so darn effective? Or how the Chinese got American POWs to rat on each other almost effortlessly? Then read this book.
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
This book is incredibly philosophical, incredibly practical, incredibly challenging, and incredibly inspiring. I have watched many of Jordan Peterson’s talks on YouTube and am excited to re-read 12 Rules for Life over Christmas break. Peterson explains 12 rules that have helped him and his clients bring their lives back into order from the chaotic and sometimes immoral lifestyles of the western world.
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Nothing to Envy is an incredibly well-written non-fiction account of six ordinary North Korean citizens as they try to survive under the totalitarian communist regime that has taken over their country. This book is so engrossing that you honestly forget you’re reading nonfiction and not some horrific dystopian novel. It is a difficult read emotionally, but also so inspiring to see how each person eventually made their way out of North Korea and has made a life in the modern world.
Loserthink: How Untrained Brains are Ruining America by Scott Adams
Ah, Scott. My mom religiously listens to his daily podcast, and I know she’s awake when I hear Scott’s melodic voice drifting down the hallway. She (basically) bullied me into reading Loserthink, and I think it’s the one time in my life I’ll be grateful I was bullied. Loserthink talks about how we can retrain our brains to stop our loserthink habits and become more productive and balanced in our thought processes.
The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Disclaimer: I haven’t actually read this one yet! I know, I know, but it is on my reading list for 2021. I love the works of Russian literature I have read in the past, and am excited to dig into this one, even though I know it will be a challenging read. This real-life, autobiographical account talks about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s imprisonment in Soviet death-camps in Siberia, and the events leading up to and succeeding it.
10 Books that Screwed up the World (And 5 Others that Didn’t Help) by Benjamin Wiker, PhD
I read this book way back in high school, but I still think about it today! Wiker discusses books like The Prince, The Communist Manifesto, and The Feminine Mystique, the ideas they perpetrated, and how we can avoid their toxic influence today.
I Chose Freedom by Victor Andreyevich Kravchenko
This is a lesser-known account of a Ukrainian man who grew up along with the Soviet Union, and who witnessed firsthand its evils and its love for punishing efficiency and innovation. Kravchenko was originally an all-out member of the Party, but over time the little falsehoods he noticed grew into a mountain of lies that forced him to defect to the United States. I loved this book because it was the story of an ordinary man with an ordinary job, who didn’t pretend to be a hero and who admitted his mistakes.
1984 by George Orwell
Would it really be a life-changing book list if 1984 wasn’t on here? LOL. I actually read this for the first time this past spring during quarantine, and haven’t stopped thinking or talking about it ever since. It’s no wonder this book has been revolutionary since the day of its publication way back in 1949 and is still making waves in 2020. It’s short and easy to read, and I recommend keeping a highlighter handy to mark anything that catches your interest.
Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson has literally written so. many. books. Is there anything he hasn’t written about?? Intellectuals talks about the men and women behind the ideas that have impacted society for hundreds of years, from Marx to Rousseau to Hemingway to Chomsky, Johnson expertly exposes these individuals who were both brilliant and dangerous.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Last but not least, the books that make me cry every time I read them. LOL. But really. I wanted to include these here because Tolkien truly knew how to write and was one of the greatest wordsmiths of the 20th century. So many beautiful stanzas of both poetry and prose to linger over, and the inspiring reminder that good always triumphs over evil.
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