Books that I have read / am still reading in 2021

2021 has been an interesting year where the books that I read have spanned across some interesting varieties.

One of the reasons is a slight change of mindset – where I asked myself:

If I were slightly better financially, what would I spend more on regularly?

The obvious answer is travel haha, which is not achievable given the Covid situation and I probably need to be a bit wealthier to be able to travel comfortably regularly with my family.

The next answer, after some thinking, comes to be books.

As a visual person, I am always easily attracted to books with nice cover design but also always spend a lot of time thinking if it is something I would actually read upon purchase. This leads to me always not buying the books, and sometimes I regret it – a lot.

Stripe’s CEO Patrick Collison shared an interesting insight on Tim Ferris’s podcast on his reading habit, how he scattered semi-read books around the house, how he feel it is okay to buy a book and not read / complete it immediately. I love his perspectives a lot and decided I could be a bit loose when I come to making purchase decision on books.

Before going through the whole list of books I have read / am reading, I want to highlight one particular book:

How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis

How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His  Secrets

If you are looking to get wealthy by starting a business, look no further. Despite the title and the cheesy cover, this is as real and as straight forward as it can get, no bullshit. Also, this is not someone trying to sell you a course or whatever because the late Felix Dennis – a poet, tree planter and then a business man has passed away in 2014.

Get it, even if you are not ready or not sure what to start yet, it’s a fun and light read.

I might dedicate another post about this book in future.

But now, let’s move on. Here are the other books I have read this yea:

1. How to be Rich – Felix Dennis

(see above)

2. 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

This is my 2nd Murakami book, my first being “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage”.

So I went in reading 1Q84 expecting the same melodrama and boy I was confused and fell in love afterwards. It fried my mind and imagination in a good way. Hope to reread this some day when I’m less busy.

Finished in 5 days!

3. Lebron Inc. – Brian Windhorst

I went in reading expecting a biographical business book, but what I like the most is really how the book bring me through the sports marketing industry in US, particularly for the basketball sport.

I actually started googling about the sports marketing industry in Asia / Southeast Asia / Malaysia and I was blown away seeing how immature and underdeveloped we are when compared to US. Definitely tonnes of opportunities in the sports marketing space, considering how sports like badminton and soccer work across language, culture and even political differences.

4. 50 Years of Urban Planning in Singapore – CK Heng

Having lived in Singapore for several while surrounded by architect friends turned me into an occasional landscape design and planning buff.

The book touches on many aspect from historical to cultural, environmental, economical etc etc. It does get a little technical for a layman but it does speak the importance of a wholesome and longer approach to urban planning. Realistically the Singapore urban planning model really can’t be reproduce in whole at anywhere else in the world given the differences in culture, politics, governance, needs and local challenges – but there are bits and pieces that makes you see the city and its past+future very dfferently.

5. 海边的卡夫卡 Chinese Translated copy of “Kafka by the Sea” – Haruki Murakami

I bought this while still chewing on 1Q84. Decided to buy the Chinese copy because I found it cheaper and it’s been awhile I read a Chinese fiction book.

1Q84 is still way better but I should probably reread this one too.


Below are the books I am still reading and maybe do not plan to finish for various reasons, haha.

6. 公司与将军 Chinese Translated copy of “The Company & The Shogun” – Adam Clulow

I got this book from a book exchange and I picked this book because it sounded interesting to read about how two cultures met, trade and conflict during the Shogun era.

In reality, while this book does give interesting take and insights on the historical encounter, it is kind of dry and repetitive and full of historical details that don’t interest me. Will probably pick it up here and there.

7. WTF 23 Properties by 30 – Faizul Ridzuan

A biographical / property investment book by local property investor. There are some interesting tips and it kinda motivates me, but most investment were made during the KL property boom + little macro context is given. So I kinda skip around at the second half of the book.

I will probably just leave it as such.

8. The Undercover Economist – Tim Harford

Interesting book that I should pick up and continue reading. I think I got distracted by my newborn and other books / activities during my first read.

9. Platform Scale – Sangeet Paul Choudary

This is one hard book to find, I managed to got it shipped from India.

I am yet to finish this but I probably would. It is as what it said, a great manual and dissect at the online marketplace business, it definitely has given me a lens with better clarity while trying to understand the business model of various marketplace startups.

10. The Fish that Ate the Whale – Rich Cohen

A biographical book based on the story of Sam Zemurray, the businessman who control the banana business (and a lot more) of America from the late 1800s to early 1900s.

I am half way through and it’s been interesting + overwhelming.

11. Snowcrash – Neal Stephenson

This is a sci fi novel written in 1993 (I think) where the term Metaverse is first coined.

The reason I bought this book is that I am trying to understand the vision of Metaverse by the person who first thought of this idea / term. I have so far only flipped through a couple of page, so can’t comment much yet.

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