JS Rhos reading at Griffith Observatory

The most impactful books I read in 2021

Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had multiple books on the go. To me, reading is both educational and inspirational. Today I wanted to share the most impactful books I read in 2021 in the categories of business, self-help, fiction and poetry.

I read fiction because a good fiction makes me feel less alone and more connected to the world around me. I read self-help books because I believe they are vital to both my personal and business growth. I wrap it up with my favourite book of poetry, because I believe we all need a bit more poetry in our lives.

I read upwards of 40 books a year, and this list includes the ones that have impacted my life the most in 2021. I hope they both inspire and encourage you, as they did for me.

Business books

Atomic Habits – James Clear

Atomic Habits is one of the most impactful books I read in 2021 because it helped me understand the science behind how to build better habits. Habits that will help create me into the person I want to become. There are many books I love for how they inspire, but this one helped me create the life I envisioned in ways that are actually do-able. It can be a lot in terms of implementation, but if you take the authors advice you’ll realize a slow and steady approach is best.

We do not rise to our goals, we fall to our systems.” – James Clear

Business Made Simple -Don Miller

I’ve followed Don Miller since his Blue Like Jazz days when I heard him speak at my college in 2004. Since then he’s moved from writing memoirs to business books. Business Made Simple is essentially daily readings accompanied by videos through Business Made Simple University to make you into a better business owner. The book was good, but what I found even most helpful was joining the online university. The book highlights a lot of valuable business training, but the online courses helped me implement those changes. The online university was a great support while doing my re-brand last year.

“What’s the most important thing you can do today? If you can answer that question, morning after morning, you are in an elite group of professionals.” – Don Miller

You are a badass at making money – Jen Sincero

This book is what propelled me into my re-brand and started the snowball effect that truly changed my business last year. Jen is funny, she’s smart, and she calls you out on the fact that the life you’re living is the life you’ve created for yourself through your beliefs. And that a different life is possible if you change those beliefs. I read this book (and listened via audible) multiple times, because I loved it so stinking much. If your business or career isn’t where you want it to be, don’t hesitate. Buy this book now.

“You can have excuses or you can have success; you can’t have both.” – Jen Sincero


The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I listened to the Midnight Library via audible and found it profoundly thought-provoking. Narrated brilliantly by Cary Mulligan, the story takes you to a “library” where the main character gets to live out every version her life could have taken. It’s both heart-wrenching and hopeful. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely relate to experiencing moments of wondering how different life could be “if”. Being able to walk down those roads with the main character was fascinating, encouraging, and ultimately reminded me of what makes a life worth living.

“It was interesting, she mused to herself, how life sometimes simply gave you a whole new perspective by waiting around long enough for you to see it.” – Matt Haig

The Madness of Crowds – Louise Penny

Book 17 in the Inspector Gamache series, I bought this book the day it came out. Louise Penny is a Canadian author and this series takes place is rural Quebec. Being Canadian myself, I revel in all the quirks and idiosyncrasies of Canadian culture that are captured so well in Penny’s books. The series is technically a murder mystery but more than anything it feels like a study of what it means to be human. Comforting and beautiful, this is a series I will always return to.

“But they, better than most, knew that no place was really safe from physical harm. Anything could happen to anyone, at any moment. What made a place safe were the people. The caring. The kindness. The helping. Sometimes the mourning. And often the forgiveness.” – Louise Penny

Self help

Untamed – Glennon Doyle

What I loved about Untamed is that it’s not just a book, it’s a movement. While I would consider myself a feminist, the stories Glennon shared in Untamed challenged me and made me aware of some strong unconscious biases I had. Particularly in ways I was still keeping myself small to not rock the boat, as well as a lack of awareness around cultural norms that pit women against each other (especially when we succeed). I finished reading it with more passion than ever about consciously supporting other women, and stepping into my own power.

“I will not stay, not ever again – in a room or conversation or relationship or institution that requires me to abandon myself.” – Glennon Doyle

The Seat of the Soul – Gary Zukav

If you are philosophical and spiritual, this one is for you. It is the book that Oprah said changed the trajectory of her life, and one she keeps on her nightstand always. It’s a hefty and challenging read in term of concepts, but one I felt inspiring and fascinating.

“Every action, thought, and feeling is motivated by an intention, and that intention is a cause that exists as one with an effect.” – Gary Zukav

Burnout – Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski

I learned about this book via Brene Brown’s “Unlocking us” podcast. Sisters Amelia and Emily highlight ways that women experience burnout in our culture and how to address it. As roles for women have dramatically changed in the past 100 years, the book talks about how that has affected us emotionally and physically in our roles as parents and professionals. The authors provide many “aha!” moments, naming experiences you’ve always felt but never had the words to describe. They also offer tangible advice to stay sane in both roles and avoid burnout. A great read for any female trying to balance work and home life.

“The quality of our lives is not measured by the amount of time we spend in a state of perfection.” – Amelia & Emily Nagoski

Greenlights – Matthew McConaughey

I have never been interested in celebrity memoirs… until this one. I decided to download it on audible since McConaughey himself narrates it. And oh boy, was it an inspiring listen. The book consists of journals that McConaughey has been writing since his young teens, as well as the wisdom and knowledge that he has accumulated along the way. What makes it special is the meaning he’s been able to find the good and bad of his life. His reflection offers readers clarity on how he created a life he loves, and inspiration for them to do the same.

“More often than we care to admit it, we don’t get what we want because we quit early or we didn’t take the necessary risk to get it.” – Matthew McConaughey

The Morning Miracle – Hal Elrod

Slightly cheesy in its delivery, nevertheless this book helped me create a morning ritual that has provided clarity and purpose for my life. I perform a version of this morning routine nearly every day, and am very glad for it.

“Love the life you have while you create the life of your dreams. Don’t think you have to choose one over the other.” Hal Elrod


Devotions – Mary Oliver

Oprah once shared that she keeps books of poetry on her nightstand to ground her and remind her of wonder. She named her favourite to be Devotions by Mary Oliver. I have always loved Mary Oliver’s work, so I purchased one for my nightstand as well. Every time I read it I am pulled out of the stress of my day and reminded of the beauty in the world. It is gloriously beautiful, and I believe everyone should own a copy.

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver


I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of the most impactful books I read in 2021. If you choose to read one (or have already) and want to discuss please leave a comment below or write via my contact page. I always love discussing a good book with fellow literature lovers!

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