A year in reading: The books we loved to read in 2021 and our picks for 2022

by João Candeias

Published Jan 11, 2022

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Throughout the past year, we have been reading a lot. It's been helping us release the stress, and it was our way to "travel" and escape from the reality. We wanted to translate this passion into words and, that's why we created "Thoughts" to express our ideas about design and inspire you. As we are starting a new year, we introduce a new series in our blog - the "Book Club". Planned to share our book recommendations, we start this series by highlighting four of our favorite books of 2021 and the ones we want to read in 2022. Love reading? So enough screen time and kick off the year with a good handbook. Your eyes will appreciate it. Here are some books you might want on your wishlist.

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1. Talking to strangers: What we should know about the people we don’t know

João, bring us Talking to strangers: What we should know about the people we don’t know by Malcolm Gladwell. A book inspired by the tragic story of a young African-American, Sandra Bland, who committed suicide in a Texas prison three days later after being arrested. Her case is one of many cases about police atrocities and racist allegations that came to the public.

Unable to understand such a pointless loss, Gladwell began to look at the evidence and look for the cause. He addresses other headline cases to conclude that people tend to misunderstand each other based on certain general assumptions. As mentioned in the book, "We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues. We jump at the chance to judge strangers. We would never do that to ourselves, of course."

Talking to strangers is a fascinating book that shows us that our misconceptions can lead us to concern outcomes. In the present times, in which we are seeing a society more divided, what is missing is us listening to each other.

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2. The Power of Now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment

For Ana, the book The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment was her favorite of 2021. Written by Eckhart Tolle, the book’s format is a series of answers to questions that the author received over the years after experiencing a major spiritual breakthrough. Those questions allowed him to create this book for those who search for solutions to the meaning of living.

Centered on helping people know more about the "inner self" and to achieve spiritual enlightenment, it is a guide to living fully and undeniably in the present. It outlines how we can let the past stay in the past and move forward into the now. “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry - all forms of fear - are caused by too much future, and not enough presence."

Tolle gives examples of how life-changing influences can be made on people and lead them to another level of self-actualization. However, it can be challenging to put those thoughts into practice since we are senseless to face the truth. The result of reading this book is an experience that can be slowly or brief as needed, much like a journey to achieve enlightenment.

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3. Let my people go surfing: The education of a reluctant businessman

Tiago’s 2021 book choice is Let my people go surfing: The education of a reluctant businessman. It's a biography and a compilation of ideologies from Yvon Chouinard that helped him create one of the most successful brands in the world: Patagonia. The first part of the book is biographical, and it's essential to understand how the founder's personality influences the different philosophies of the company.

Chouinard openly shares tales from his own life and his business successes and failures. His perseverance is the central point for the success of the company. Being a climber from an early age brought risks that he overcame and learned to deal with without ever giving up. His values are replicated in the company's management.

This led us to the second part of the book. The philosophies of Patagonia. Building customer commitment and the concern for the environment is incorporated into the company’s decision-making and operations. This perfect alignment of these philosophies with the strong values is at the core of the business to create the company culture like replicated in the book “Patagonia’s image is a human voice. It expresses the joy of people who love the world, who are passionate about their beliefs, and who want to influence the future. A must-read for those who want to start a business to generate social impact and success.

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4. The Design that design does not see

Last but not least, Jorge picked The Design that design does not see written by Portuguese Design Professor Mário Moura. The book is a critical reflection about the design in contemporary society and it can be analyzed in two prisms. From the first perspective, the author investigates the relations in design between race, gender, and class. The purpose is to demonstrate that these categories are intrinsic to design. This means that the design is changeable due to the context in which it is entrenched.

The second perspective that Mário Moura address is the contemporary design identity. He focuses on answering two questions - "universality is an essential characteristic of design?" and "if the change in society changes the design?". To answer these questions, Moura "analyzes the neutrality of the design process itself by becoming aware that design itself is not accessible to everyone in the same way because there are actually distinct designs according to who practices the profession".

For all interested in design, this book is a reflection to understand how design helps produce objects and discourses that can reinforce or avoid segregation lines.

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Starting from the design on the cover that gives some sense of what we might find inside, books are a portal to our imagination. That's why we love to read and encourage others to do. So, if you don't know how to spend your lazy Sundays or winter rainy nights, we leave you with our favorites books from the past year. A collection of self-help, reflective and technical titles focus on setting better boundaries to fend your time and energy.

We will be updating this series throughout the year, and since 2022 is already here, it means that we are in a "new year, new books" state of mind. These are some of the books we can't wait to read in 2022 - Feck PerfuctionThe Laws of Human NatureSouth of no North; and Designing Design.

Stay tuned for more recommendations that you may like to add to your bedside table. Have a good year.

Happy reading!

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