Twenty four books to read in 2021

Adriaan Kolff
6 min readFeb 8, 2021

The best books to read in 2021. Personal favourites recommended by a curated list of entrepreneurs, business people, artists, professional athletes and creatives.

“Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body…”

In no particular order twenty four books to read in 2021.

1. Finding Freedom by Jarvis Jay Masters

This book was recommended to me by Manuel Quinziato, former professional cyclist who is a buddhist. His Buddhist teacher works with people on death row including Jarvis Jay Masters, author of this book. The book will make a lasting impact on you.

Recommended by: Karsten Kroon

2. The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischwili

Truly epic and utterly absorbing family saga from Georgia. A novel of seven exceptional lives lived under the heat and light of empire, revolution, war, repression, and liberation.

Recommended by: Gijs Groeneveld

3. Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Factfulness will help you to look at the world in a different way: through facts which are based on data. When you look at the facts the world is a better place than most of us think…in these turbulent times this book really helps to sharpen your vision of the world and the people in it.

Recommended by Anna Brandt

4. The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

In an interesting dialogue between “the philosopher” and “a layman” like you and me, the Adlerian philosophy is explained: how we as human beings are free to determine our own future. How can we ignore limitations that we only see ourselves and live a life of complete freedom? An interesting and not too cliché perspective on how to change your attitude and thoughts to live an awesome life :-)

Recommended by Michelle Wolters

5. Behave by Robert Sapolsky

Why read? Fantastic analysis of why we do the things we do.

Recommended by Natscha van Boetzelaer

6. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christi Lefteri

The beekeeper of Aleppo deals with the flight of refugees from Aleppo in Syria to Europe during the Syrian Civil War. While a work of fiction, it is based on the author’s experience over two summers volunteering in Athens at a refugee centre.

Recommended by Paul Cox

7. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Gives you a good idea as a business how to create a great experience for customers (e.g. peak-end rule and so on).

Recommended by Tim Dettman

8. Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche

It will change the view on your being in the world for good. It will make you question all human ethics, your own decision making. And will help you justify your being in the world. It’s not light on the soul.

Recommended by: Sebastiaan Tan

9. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

You can heal your life, highlights how our thoughts shape our life and how we can change our thoughts according to what we want, and therefore have the life that we desire by loving ourselves, being grateful for who we are using positive thoughts and affirmations (reinforcing that we are capable)😊.

Recommended by Nadine Naidoo

10. Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune is arguably one of the best sci-fi novels ever written, exploring the version of the future where humanity have spread across the galaxy and survived a war with thinking machines. A deep story that spans over 15,000 of years and gives a unique perspective into politics, society, environmentalism on a cosmic level. It’s not about the plot lines for me but observing the bigger picture the author paints around one of the very interesting possible scenarios of the future and it’s consequences.

Recommended by Andrew Bondarenko

11. Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl

This Roald Dahl novel dives into the absurd memoirs of Oswald. You follow the journey of the young Oswald, who discovers the miraculous sexual effect of the ‘Sudanese Blister Beetle’. He starts with selling it to rich business men and, with the help of a female business partner and professor, turns it into a scheme tricking some of the world’s greatest minds. An amusing and vibrant story; effortless reading guaranteed.

Recommended by Julie-Anne Siegers

12. The Salth Path by Raynor Winn

Just a good book. Go read it :).

Recommended by: Marijn Pijnenborg

13. Range by David Epstein

The General idea is for people to be successful in a particular field, you have to put in many hours and focus on one topic only. David Epstein explains that generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Most interesting take from the book: frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers.

Recommended by Nickel ten Doesschate

14. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

Finding ultra is an incredible but true account of achieving one of the most awe-inspiring midlife physical transformations ever. On the night before he (Rich) was to turn forty. A good book for you, because you also like to challenge yourself once in a while.

Recommended by Floris Evers

15. Fermats Enigma by Simon Singh

The mathematical assertion known as Fermat’s last theorem is undoubtedly the most famous conundrum in mathematics. The amateur 17th-century mathematical wizard Pierre de Fermat first scribbled this assertion in mathematics that could be understood by a 14 year old, and yet puzzled the world for over 300 years. Simon Singh delves into just why such a simple problem could prove so complex, and gives a whistle stop tour of the last 2000 years of mathematics along his way :)

Recommended by Charles Orr

16. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

This book will reshape your priorities and open your mind to the value of sleep. We often try to achieve better physical and mental states with diet, exercise, pills, or meditation. But often we bypass one of the most important elements: sleep. Learning how sleep can prevent disease and increase longevity, improve mood and quality of life will convince you to never sacrifice it.

Recommended by Olya Schechter

17. The Choice by Edith Eger

This book has the capacity to be of life-changing proportions. As Edith explores her own personal journey as a Holocaust survivor, she offers a key to a more liberating mind. A truly breathtaking read that provides hope and comfort to generations to come.

Recommended by Michiel Stock

18. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason & Theresa Puskar

Financial lessons, written in the 80’s about a fictional place Babylon on how to earn your money and what not to do. The lessons are relevant for everyone, no matter what your current financial situation is. Easy read, great metaphors and some valuable lessons. In a world where every business book is 10x too long, this one reads like a novel and you’ll have it finished within two hours.

Recommended by Duco van Lanschot

19. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Things are not what they seem. This book will stay with your for months after you have finished it. It impacts your look on other people in a humble way.

Recommended by Anja Montijn

20. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

Crime story, love story, life story, read it.

Recommended by Jan van Hövell

21. With the Old Breed about the Battle of the Pacific by Eugene Sledge

Harrowing to hear the stories of what those soldiers had to endure in awful conditions but at the same time, built a bond between them. I don’t think there are many on this earth that could endure what they did and it puts a lot into perspective when we look at what we’re having to endure now… Childsplay compared to them.

Recommended by Jamie Beaumont

22. Never split the difference by Chris Voss

In rebuilding the FBI’s hostage negotiation tactics, Chris Voss learns that human emotional factors are a functional part of all negotiations. Great for business and everyday life.

Recommended by Justine Lange

Are you curious what books 23 and 24 are? So am I. Add in the comments the one book you would recommend!



Adriaan Kolff

Co-founder of MatcHR, investor, entrepreneur. I write about entrepreneurship, recruitment & productivity. Follow me here or on LinkedIn.