by | Jan 24, 2022 | 0 comments

I love reading.  It’s my very favorite part of my morning routine, so despite it being the “K” in WAKEUP+GO, I do it last as a little healthy “bribe” to myself!  If given an hour off, 99 times out of 100, I would choose to read.  I’ve been this way since I was a kid – one of the first times I remember being truly proud of myself is winning a summer reading competition at my local library!

If you love to read, too, I’m sharing all the books I read in 2021.  Because of my goal setting and affirmations, I exceeded my goal of 50 books for 2021 by just one, and read 51.  I’m breaking them all down below – enjoy!

Best Personal Development Books I Read in 2021:

These are in general order of my recommendation (most recommended at the top), although I encourage you to read the description to choose what’s best for you!

  1. Stop Living on Autopilot: Like a giant, impactful pep talk designed to shake you out of “just going through the motions” and start creating the life you want to live. If you’re ready to take accountability for your happiness, your career, your mood, your family, your life … this one is for you!
  2. Time Smart: These days, everyone feels like they don’t have enough time, and this book is written to help you stop feeling that way. The author, a Harvard Business School professor, gives techniques for improving your “time affluence”- I took away several little strategies to reclaim lost minutes.
  3. The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now: Written by spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, this book is filled with dozens if not hundreds of quotes that made me think about life. One of my favorites was, “Whether this moment is happy or not depends on you. It`s you who makes the moment happy, not the moment that makes you happy. With mindfulness, concentration, and insight, any moment can become a happy moment.”  The book helps us use mindfulness to live in the moment and enjoy life more.
  4. Unapologetically Ambitious: filled with incredible career and life advice for goal-oriented women, this book (written by the mother of a childhood friend!) will encourage you to set and achieve your goals, unapologetically!
  5. Girl, Stop Apologizing: there’s nothing groundbreaking in Rachel Hollis’ advice for being confident, but the way she writes is as if a great friend is speaking to you directly. It’s a quick, easy, and empowering read if you’re looking to believe in yourself a bit more.
  6. Try Softer: the thesis is simple: if we white-knuckle our way through life, we not only feel worse, but we also create disease and end up achieving less. There is a better way, through gentle care for yourself (which doesn’t eliminate wanting to achieve). This book is a bit religious, so have caution if that offends you, but it has some great points for those of us who tend to drive a bit too hard.
  7. The Secret: this is a true classic, which I have read before, but needed a mid-year boost to refocus on my goals and feel more connected to my ability to make them happen. I’m not a full believer in the “magic” of The Secret (I believe that we affirm what we want, which leads to taking action that leads to goal achievement), but I still love feeling inspired by this book!
  8. The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: The point of this book is so relevant and so necessary in today’s society. We’re all hurrying from one thing to the next, often without enjoying anything we’re doing.  The skeptic in me thought that some of the tactics the author presents were a bit too far to be realistic in today’s world, but he definitely pointed out several things in my life I’d like to change.  Another lightly religious one just in case this matters to you.
  9. Driven: I read this book to see if I was “a Driven,” which I don’t believe I am (in the way the authors characterize Drivens). However, it turned out to help me with a lot of clients who have so sharp a focus on things they’re passionate about but tend to self-sabotage in other areas. If you have a Navy SEAL mentality but still find yourself struggling to achieve some goals, this could be one to check out.
  10. Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life: Very religious, almost to the point of distraction for me personally. That said, the author makes great points about how our brains can play tricks on us and lead us to destructive thinking, also giving us ideas on how to change that natural circuitry.  I nodded several times but didn’t find myself making any change as a result of this book, which is why it lands last on the list … but I enjoyed all 10 personal development books I read this year!

Best Health Books I Read in 2021:

These are in general order of my recommendation (most recommended at the top), although I encourage you to read the description to choose what’s best for you!

  1. Food Fix: How to Save Our Health, Our Economy, Our Communities, and Our Planet–One Bite at a Time: It’s frankly rare that I read a nutrition book full of new-to-me facts, but this one fits that bill, landing it at the top of my list. It shares eye-opening insights about our food supply and food policies, which at times have seemed too overwhelming and too negative to even dive into … but Dr. Mark Hyman presents the information in an empowering and understandable way.  If nothing else, this book will make you more aware of the decisions you make in purchasing your food, and, if you’re like me, it will make you grateful for the access you enjoy.
  2. Eat Smarter: Use the Power of Food to Reboot Your Metabolism, Upgrade Your Brain, and Transform Your Life: If you’re ready to understand a bit more of the science behind how metabolism actually works, why sugar is so detrimental, why the quality of our food matters, and more … but you’re not ready to actually read nutrition textbooks and need to feel stimulated and interested, this book is a great combination. Shawn Stevenson uses tons of analogies to make the science easier to understand, and in doing so, writes a great overview of basic nutrition.  I seem to have one “nutrition overview” book per year near the top of my list (see previous lists below), and this is that book for the year.
  3. I’m So Effing Tired: A Proven Plan to Beat Burnout, Boost Your Energy, and Reclaim Your Life: Dr. Amy Shah gives great insight into one of the most common issues I help my 1-to-1 clients with: exhaustion and burnout. She paints the picture of how the food we eat and the way we manage stress can physiologically impact how we feel.
  4. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: a fun, easy read written by a therapist about several of her clients (and herself in therapy), this is relatable and helps readers discover some of their own potentially-destructive thought patterns. If you’re looking to introspect and feel “normal” through your struggles, this is a fun one!
  5. Unfunc Your Gut: A Functional Medicine Guide: Boost Your Immune System, Heal Your Gut, and Unlock Your Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Health: Dr. Peter Kozlowski, who I interviewed on my podcast here shares a great intro into how gut health impacts overall health, and gives several practical tips to improve your own gut health.
  6. Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease – and How to Fight It: Written by Dr. Benjamin Bikmin, a godfather of blood sugar and insulin resistance, this book makes a strong case against sugar in all its forms, and connects insulin resistance to virtually every chronic condition you can imagine. If you’re looking for science-based motivation to reduce sugar, this one is for you!
  7. Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up: Written like a combination of a documentary, a novel, and a medical study, this book draws numerous connections between the natural world and our bodies. It encouraged me to switch to buying mostly local produce, among other things, and I recommend it if you’re looking to feel inspired towards more natural, healthy living.
  8. Spontaneous Happiness: A New Path to Emotional Well-Being: This book, written by a fascinating Western-trained doctor who dove deep into functional medicine, makes the case that we can choose to be happy. He draws upon modern science, ancient religious traditions, and everything in between, and offers strategies to improve mental health overall.  I liked it and agree with many of his strategies but didn’t find it quite as inspiring as some of the other ones on the list.
  9. Ancient Remedies: Secrets to Healing with Herbs, Essential Oils, CBD, and the Most Powerful Natural Medicine in History: this is written like a nutrition textbook that you don’t need a degree to read. It could easily be a reference book, but I read it cover-to-cover to soak it all in.  It presents ancient strategies (including herbs, lifestyle practices, and dietary changes) for many of the most common ailments.
  10. When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection: I read this as I was trying to convince myself that I had the power to change my physical health with my thinking, and it helped me do that. Some of the case studies and statistics alone are worth reading, and I found it very powerful, but I will say that if you tend to spiral into “oh my goodness, I might have ___(fill in the blank with your choice of chronic condition)___,” this one might be one to skip.
  11. Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess: 5 Simple, Scientifically Proven Steps to Reduce Anxiety, Stress, and Toxic Thinking: Can you tell that I was really working on my own mental reframes this year? This one was good, but not great.  It just didn’t leave me feeling as inspired to take action as some of the other ones.
  12. Gut Reactions: The Science of Weight Gain & Loss: I liked it, but a) it’s WAY to scientific for the average person wanting to learn more about nutrition (think diagrams of molecules, and complex scientific processes), and b) it read more like a Masters thesis than an actual book. I’m glad I read it, but I won’t recommend it widely.
  13. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome: I had read this years ago, and it was ground-breaking then, but most of the science is old by now.  Still, if you’re dealing with adrenal fatigue, there aren’t a ton of books out there, so this could be one to consider.
  14. The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses: This is more like a reference book, but I read it cover to cover to understand homeopathy a bit more. Don’t recommend for the average reader!

Best Business Books I Read in 2021:

These are in general order of my recommendation (most recommended at the top), although I encourage you to read the description to choose what’s best for you!

  1. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less: I put it in business, because it helped me with my business and the way I set up my schedule and priority list, but honestly, I believe everyone would benefit from reading this book! If you feel busy but not productive, or stretched between a zillion priorities, this one will be eye-opening – it sure was for me!
  2. Believe IT: How to Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable: I’d call this “business lite” – it’s more inspiration than true business strategy. But, coming from the founder of a company that was sold for over $1 billion, any inspiration and advice is welcome!  Jamie Kern Lima’s story is genuine, exciting, and encouraging!
  3. You’re Invited: The Art and Science of Cultivating Influence: A great book about creating great experiences for your best consumers and creating special communities that bring people together in unique ways. It gave me great ideas for my Revitalize Health Accelerator, so if you run a community (or a service business), this is a good one to check out.
  4. The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success: The basic premise of this book is that most of us focus on what we didn’t achieve (the “gap” between where we are and where we wished we’d been), but it’s far more helpful to focus on celebrating our accomplishments (the “gain” of where we used to be versus where we are now). It’s a concept that I use literally every day in my work with clients, so it wasn’t ground-breaking to me, but it’s full of wonderfully poignant examples and makes the case for celebrating successes quite well.
  5. Make It Rain: How to Use the Media to Revolutionize Your Business & Brand: This book was fine, but I wouldn’t strongly recommend it. The main thesis is that we need to take advantage of press (via local TV spots, mostly), and the author shares how to pitch yourself and get media attention.

Best Other Books I Read in 2021:

These are in general order of my recommendation (most recommended at the top), although I encourage you to read the description to choose what’s best for you!

  1. Born a Crime: one of the most heart-wrenching non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time. Trevor Noah’s story of growing up in apartheid South Africa often sounded like something I would have expected in the early 1900s, and the way he was able to persevere and overcome is truly inspiring.  Told in a funny, easy-to-read way, I highly recommend this book!
  2. Man’s Search for Meaning: written by Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and incredibly wise human who shares so many deep insights on life, happiness, and the power of our minds.
  3. White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism: a re-read from 2020, I highly encourage this book for those who think they are “not racist,” but are not yet sure if they’re taking enough action to be truly anti-racist.
  4. The Truths We Hold: An American Journey: I loved hearing background of Vice President Kamala Harris’ life, career, and struggles. It’s not strongly political but is deeply human, and for me, it was nice to learn the person behind the title.
  5. The Moment of Lift: I thought this would be a goal achievement book, but it was actually a book about the work Bill and Melinda Gates and the Gates Foundation have done for all sorts of marginalized groups.  It makes the case for providing education and equal opportunity for girls, as well as several other interesting points about charitable work.  Not what I expected, but eye opening nonetheless.

Best Novels I Read in 2021:

I certainly don’t consider myself an expert in novels or any fiction reading.  I love reading “mindless” fiction on vacation and spend 10-20 minutes before I fall asleep each night reading fiction as well.  You’ll notice my style of novels is somewhere between a “beach read” and “real literature” – they’re lighthearted, happy ending stories of relatable characters that pull at your heart strings.  I’m not reviewing any of these, but if you like this style, I encourage them all!  These are only in the order in which I read them, not prioritized:

  1. One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow
  2. The Art of Inheriting Secrets
  3. Transcendent Kingdom
  4. Eat, Pray, FML
  5. Black Buck
  6. Heaven Adjacent
  7. Things You Save in a Fire
  8. Say Goodbye for Now
  9. Second Hand Heart
  10. Don’t Let Me Go
  11. Half a Heart
  12. The Last Anniversary
  13. The Good Daughters
  14. The Wake Up
  15. Where We Belong
  16. When I Found You
  17. Walk Me Home

Want more book ideas?  Check out these previous posts:



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Megan Lyons Headshot

Hi! I'm Megan Lyons,

the voice behind The Lyons’ Share. I love all things health, wellness, and fitness-related, and I hope to share some of my passion with you. Thanks for stopping by!
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