18 Books I Read/Listened in 2021

Ali Tamaseb
6 min readDec 20, 2021


This is now the sixth year I’m writing this post, hopefully, it has not become boring and you find a couple of books from this list that are new and you get to read over the holidays or next year. You can find the lists for the last four years here: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017.

Many of you know that I mostly listen to books on Audible while I commute. This year I also picked a couple of print books given I was spending more time at home. It was a blessing to read from different authors and about different topics.

Without further ado, here’s the list.

1) Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork

The story of Adam Neumann and WeWork. A little too harsh against Adam Neumann, but a fun read full of interesting tidbits.

2) No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

Love Reed Hastings’ culture of Freedom & Responsibility. I believe in a 100% ownership work culture.

3) Edison

An interesting biography of Edison. Slightly boring/hard to read.

4) Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos, with an Introduction by Walter Isaacson

Writings of Jeff Bezos to shareholders. Slightly boring to listen to it all.

5) No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram

Fantastic storytelling of the story of Instagram, its acquisition by Facebook, and how the work cultures between the two companies clashed.

6) Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

One of the most popular books in this space, trying to understand the history of nations and prosperity. I didn’t agree with many of the author’s points of view though on why some nations didn’t prosper.

7) Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

An easy read on the future of world and crazy technologies that transform it.

8) Management Essentials

Great and easy read on people management, prepared by the team at First Round Capital.

9) Super Founders: What Data Reveals About Billion-Dollar Startups

This is the year that finally my own book came out! It was hearwarming to see all the attention the book got. It’s getting translated in over 10 languages and being sold in 50+ countries and became the #1 bestselling startup and venture capital book. I have probably read my own book over 20 times this year during the editorial process.

10) The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness

Outstanding book on understanding our relationship with money and how our psychology affects our relation with wealth.

11) The Self Directed IRA Handbook

The American tax code is one of the most complex out there and Self-Directed Investment Retirement Accounts is one interesting way to use the tax code to one’s benefit. This was a great handbook.

12) The Defining Decade

A book by a psychologist going through common stories and problems twenty-somethings go through. Your 20s matter!

13) 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

The author interviewed hundreds of elder Americans, those above the age of 70, and asked them about their lessons and regrests about their life. Life is so short and so precious.

14) The Essential Guide on Fundraising and Understanding Limited Partners

A short book on having better relationships with the people who invest in venture capital funds.

15) Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Behind the funny character of Trevor Noah on standup comedies and nightly shows, is a many who grew up in South Africa, with a ton of paradoxes and problems given he was mixed race. This was an awesome read.

16) Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys

This is a great book narrating the story of how Trader Joe was started and how it grew to become the large business it is today. I learned so much about the retail and grocery business.

17) Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World

A truly outstanding book by the great Vaclav Smil, sharing statistics and numbers about the status of the world, from energy usage, to transport, to fertility and population growth. So many learnings, and so much to do for the future of the world.

18) The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects

A great book about solving the chicken and egg problem many startups face when starting. This book goes into the details of network effects and how to create and nurture network effects the right way for your startup to grow.

My Favorites?

I read many awesome books this year and now that I’m an author myself, I do appreciate each book and the years of work each author puts behind their book. It truly is a labor of love.

If you’re looking for recommendations on what to read, here’s my top 3 books of this year.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans

Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Stories to Help Us Understand the Modern World

Happy holidays and see you next year!



Ali Tamaseb

Partner at DCVC ($4Bn VC firm) and author of “Super Founders”. #1 bestseller new release VC book on Amazon. https://getbook.at/superfounders