I have always loved reading because I have felt it make me a better person.

Books make me a better person because they broaden my horizon, deepen my insights, and expose me to perspectives that are different from my own.

In fact, as I have been writing a book on vertical development and helping organizations vertically develop, I have come to the belief that it is essentially impossible to vertically develop without reading books.

(PS. I just decided on the title for the book and it will be: The Elevated Leader: Leveling Up Your Leadership Through Vertical Development)

During 2021, I was able to read or listen to 70 books.

Between this post and the last two posts, I want to share the top five books I read across three categories and why I value having read them:

  1. Non-Fiction Business/Self-Help (two weeks ago)
  2. Fiction (last week)
  3. Non-Fiction Other (today)

The Five Best Non-Fiction (Other) Books I Read in 2021

This category, if it is not clear, is non-fiction books that fall outside of business/self-help books. These are generally great mind expanders.

5. Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown

Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II

The author of this book wrote Boys in the Boat, which I loved. So, I didn’t hesitate to pick this up, especially since I am fascinated by WWII books. But, I wasn’t prepared for this book. Honestly, I have been ignorant about what Japanese Americans went through during World War II. This was such an eye-opener, and it made me want to be a stronger advocate for social fairness.

4. The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D.

The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting

This is the best parenting book I have ever read, and it is probably one I need to re-read on a regular basis. What makes this the best parenting book I have ever read is that it really is a book about vertically developing as a parent. If you are looking for a “to do” book, this isn’t for you. If you are looking for a “How can I BE a better parent?” you’ll love this.

3. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Whenever somebody talks about “caste systems,” my mind always goes to India. What the author did with this book, which was completely eye-opening to me, was powerfully articulate that the United States is the country that has historically operated and currently operates with a destructive caste system.

When the “Black Lives Matter” movement began, my knee-jerk reaction was that I found it divisive. After reading this book, I now understand the reason behind the movement. This is one book (among several) that I think every United States citizen should read.

2. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

This book looked at the history of human species over earth’s history in a 10,000-foot view. And, it was incredible. By taking this perspective, the author was able to identify major shifts and trends that were absolutely fascinating, including highlighting the contexts that led to the formations of different forms of governments and religions. I found it incredibly insightful.

1. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr, edited by Clayborne Carson

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.

Another book that I think every United States citizen should read. I listened to this book, which I highly recommend doing because they have integrated many of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches.

As a white male who grew up in Utah after the Civil Rights Movement, I have been fairly ignorant to what the conditions of our country were during the Civil Rights Movement and the events that transpired to end segregation and racial injustice. Not only did this book help me gain a greater understanding of these things, but it also helped me gain a greater understanding and appreciation for a principal leader of the Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King, Jr.