The Best Non-Business Books for 2021 Recommended By VCs

We are avid readers, so we like to compile yearly book suggestions and share them with you. The Exchange team opted to take up the role of gathering and distributing book ideas this year, with our own Danny Crichton having departed the fold for pastures more Luxurious. To get a diverse sampling, we asked venture capitalists to contribute their year’s favorites — not simply books published this year, but anything they read in 2021 that they wanted to highlight — and then divided the list into two sections.

Today we are talking about books that are not specifically about business. Tomorrow, we will flip the script and focus on business-related advice. There is a rough fiction focus today, and a nonfiction focus tomorrow, but dividing by content type ended up being the most practical method to divide our gathered recommendations into two clean pieces.

We received over 80 distinct recommendations in all, with many titles receiving several nods. Some science fiction works were popular among the technology investment team, which may come as no surprise. Before we go into the list, keep in mind that we will be asking founders to donate next year. This year, we took a more haphazard approach to data collecting. Next year, we will better organized, make a form, and allow more people to participate.

Regardless, let us talk about some of the finest non-business books by some of the startup industry’s most prominent business people. (In addition, The Exchange will be paywall-free today and tomorrow, allowing anybody to read it.) 

“Project Hail Mary” is a science-fiction frolic from the author of “The Martian” excellent) and “Artemis” (very good). It incorporates the aspects that Weir gained renowned for with his prior efforts, mainly problem solving and space. “Project Hail Mary” will appeal to fans of “The Martian.” Jake Chapman, a managing partner at Alpha Bridge Ventures, Zach Coelius, a managing partner at Coelius Capital, and Ted Dillon, an operating partner at Clean Energy Ventures, all had given it their stamp of approval.

The author of our most recommended section’s final titles is the same. Amy Cheetham, a Costanoa Ventures investor, recommended two books by the same author, so we have grouped them together. Both are historical fiction works, in case that makes a difference in your decision. According to the author’s website, “Nightingale” is being adapted into a film and has topped a number of bestseller lists. Despite the fact that we were unfamiliar with her work, Cheetham provided us with an author to research, which was exactly what we were looking to find with this project.