The 3 Most Important Books I Read in 2021
I read a lot of books. Well, I have other people read them to me while I drive and work out (audiobooks) but I think that still counts. Since I’ve been keeping track, I average about 20 books a year. Some are amazing, some are awful and most are a different take on the same ideas. Every once in a while though, a book just connects with me and changes the way I see things. Here are 3 of those books from this past year.
Greenlights – Mathew McConaughey
You know, an alarming number of people around my age came out with autobiographies this year: Pryanka Chopra-Jonas (39), Dave Grohl (52), Will Smith (53), and this one, by Matthew McConaughey (52). Billed as not an autobiography, but more a compilation of life stories, McConaughey revisits journal entries he has been keeping since he was a child. Throughout the book, he pinpoints specific events that helped make him who he is today. He calls them greenlights; opportunities that present themselves and give you a choice of do or don’t do. My biggest takeaway was “it's not whether you win or lose, but that you accepted the challenge”. If you get the audiobook, it’s narrated by him, which is so much more entertaining.
The psychology of Money – Morgan Housel
I have been a student of behavioural psychology since my university days. In the last 15 years that has narrowed down to behavioural finance, as evidenced by my not-up-to-date reading list Here. Being someone who not only invests my own money, but other people’s, I feel as though I need to understand why we make the decisions we do when it comes to money. This book compiles about 20 of the biggest money issues and breaks them into short chapters. They always start with a story, for context, and then drive home the point with proven science. Takeaways include: the concept of enough, why comparing to other people is just dumb, the difference between rich and wealthy, and, what I’ve been saying for years, your rate of return versus your rate of saving.
Invention: A Life – James Dyson
Yes, the vacuum cleaner guy. In this autobiography, Mr. Dyson goes all the way back to his childhood and the state of Europe coming out of a world war. I was always under the impression he was an engineer, turns out he’s a designer who wants things to work better AND look good. His first invention was a wheelbarrow with a ball for the wheel. He famously made 5,126 prototypes before he sold his first vacuum. From there, he kept improving everything by asking questions. Most recently, they figured that if they turn the blades of an air purifier around and add 2 more, they can dry hair more efficiently. A large portion of the book talks to the entrepreneurial spirit that is missing in England, but the major takeaway is to never settle for the status quo. Just because it’s done a certain way doesn’t mean it can’t be better. Never stop asking questions.
Kenneth Coombs CFP CHS RRC
Ken has 14 years of experience in the financial services industry, is a Registered Retirement Consultant, and a Certified Financial Planner. Ken has written financial planning columns and has been a guest on financial radio and podcast programs.
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