The Best Non-fiction Books of 2021

Our favourite non-fiction books for the year 2021 encompass everything, from eye-opening money and investment strategies to reports on the global climate crisis and even our go to personal growth and self-help books.

by Uptime Staff / 2021-07-11

A good romance novel can be entertaining but non-fiction is a flavor all on its own. It can be informative, bold, raw and even a little humorous. We can even learn valuable life lessons from other people’s experiences, helping us build and become better ‘versions’ of ourselves. That is why our list ranges from identity memoirs, ‘working smarter’ shortcut tips to eye opening realities on where our world is going. No matter the nonfiction flavor, this list has something for everyone to read and gain invaluable knowledge in the process.

Aftershocks - Nadia Owusu

On Uptime

Identity crisis is a term we are all too familiar with. From a young age, we start to question who we are, and who we are meant to be. In her memoir, Owusu shows us that our identity stems from our life experiences, our roots, our culture and traditions, and even the color of our skin. 

But what are the core values we need to learn in order to build, understand, and eventually accept our identity?

  1. We are made up of a mixture of cultures; none of us are 100% anything. We need to embrace the multitude of mixed roots we come from, which adds to the layers that make us who we are - acknowledge their existence and presence, embrace them, accept them. 
  2. Our identity is in the way we talk; our accents, and the words we choose to relay our ideas and thoughts tell those around us who we are more than we think. They carry the story of our people and associate us to certain races or groups. They also show people the kind of person we are, be it loving, soft-spoken and gentle, or harsh, and full of hate. 
  3. Perception of reality is part of our individuality; when we try to figure out the story of our own lives, we tend to remember events the way we perceived them to have happened, not necessarily how they actually happened. Our minds do this to show us the us in our story that really matters, keeping the memories that shape us and rejecting those that don’t.

Effortless - Greg McKeown

On Uptime

In this 21st century that we live in, the concept of ‘working smarter and not harder’ makes sense in all aspects of our lives, and McKeown captures this concept by making a very persuasive case on how hard work doesn’t always yield the best results. In his book, he shows us how counterproductive working hard can be, and that clever hacks and finding shortcuts can lead to better outcomes.

But how can we work smarter and not harder?

  1. Changing the way we look at hard work. Instead of praising hard work and looking down on ‘the easy way out', we need to incorporate the word ‘lighter’ our work, because the less our minds are burdened with an overwhelming amount of work, the faster and easier the ideas flow, which gets the work done faster.
  2. Slow and steady wins the race. McKeown highlights the importance of resting, pacing ourselves and setting limits. We can do this by giving our projects reasonable time targets, setting daily minimum and maximum work-time allocations and no matter what, sticking to the plan.
  3. Enjoy. This means pairing our most important or essential activities with ones that we enjoy. Work and play can co-exist.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster - Bill Gates

On Uptime

Climate change affects every country in the world, and it’s getting worse by the day.  Bill Gates believes, however, that by using renewable energies and clean technology, we can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save the planet. 

The takeaways:

  1. Poorer and underdeveloped countries will feel the brunt and effects of global climate change more, due to their lack of sufficient resources that could help to adapt to increasing climate change.
  2. Governments worldwide need to encourage innovation and clean technology by actively changing and implementing policies that work hand in hand with private companies to reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. 
  3. We too need to help the planet by changing our mindsets and behaviors. Start with the small things, like eating less meat, changing how we travel, and the kind of energy we use in our homes and at work.

Get Good with Money - Tiffany Aliche

On Uptime

According to Aliche, instead of investing in shady get-rich-quick schemes and over-complicated money management systems, the secret to saving money and paying off debt, all the while pursuing a richer life is developing and implementing short-term actions that lead to long-term goals. In her books, she equips us with: 

  1. A simple technique that will help us budget and systemize our expenses.
  2. An assessment tool that shows our spending patterns as well as how much money we actually have.
  3. Effective practices to help us save for any situation - a rainy day, a big-ticket item and even investments.
  4. Detailed advice and steps on how we can manage our credit scores, as well as how to calculate our life, disability, and property insurance needs.
  5. Ways to plan, provide and protect our beneficiaries now and in the future.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself - Nedra Glover Tawwab

On Uptime

We all have boundaries, but not everyone respects those boundaries, be it our friends, colleagues and even family members. And yet, we do nothing about it, we struggle to speak up for ourselves. Tawwab has figured out a gracious way on how to tackle these boundary issues. 

In her book, she highlights: 

  1. How setting boundaries in our relationships can result in an increase of inner peace. 
  2. The importance of having boundaries: the different types of boundaries that exist, how they can be violated, how we can communicate and uphold these boundaries, as well as places in our lives where we need boundaries. 
  3. Accessible suggestions and strategies that can help us improve our own boundaries.

Under a White Sky - Elizabeth Kolbert

On Uptime

Global warming, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, extinction, are all ways in which we have started destroying the planet instead of cultivating it. And we are all responsible - directly or indirectly. 

Under the White Sky is a book written to bring awareness to the extent of the damage we’ve all done to the earth and how we fix man-made problems with man-made solutions. In the book, you’ll find: 

  1. The efforts taken to try and manage and control fish populations in rivers and lakes. 
  2. Details on how we are attempting  to save different species and ecosystems from the various pollution and mass destruction of the earth.
  3. The concept of "geoengineering," an attempt to reverse the effects of global warming by releasing small sunlight-reflecting particles high into the stratosphere, which will change the color of the sky from blue to white - literally rewiring the atmosphere.

For more detailed summaries and hacks of all your favorite nonfiction books, visit Uptime. 


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