Despite not hitting all of my goals for this year, one I definitely surpassed was reading 40 books – I ended up reading 43! I’m really proud of myself for beating my initial goal – especially since I went through some reading dry spells this year when my life got rather hectic.
I tried to maintain the diverse range of types of books I read last year that branched outside of my typical murder mysteries and fun romance novels, but included memoirs, historical fiction, and educational books. As I was reviewing my reading list, I’m also proud of the fact that the majority of these books were written by female authors or authors of color.
Below is the full list of everything I read this year, broken down into genres so you can head towards your favorite section for recommendations. I’ve also picked my personal favorite books from each genre and give a short explanation towards the end of this post if you’d like more personalized take.
- Take a Hint, Dani brown
- Love Your Life
- The Dinner List
- Honey Girl
- Act Your Age, Eve Brown
- The Kindred Spirits Supper Club
- One Last Stop
- The Lending Library
- People We Meet On Vacation
- That Summer
- Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
- White Fragility
- How to be Your Own Best Friend
- Witches, Midwives, and Nurses
- On Tyranny
- How to do Nothing
- The Hunting Party
- Slade House
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
- The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
- Cemetery Boys
- The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
- The Boy in the Red Dress
Historical /Memoirs /Historical Fiction:
- Too Much and Never Enough
- The Faggots & their Friends Between Revolutions
- Woman of Intelligence
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
- March 1, 2, and 3
- The Grand Odalise
- Art Life
- The Governesses
- The Bad Muslim Discount
- The Vietri Project
- The Lost Apothecary
- Trust Exercise
There are a few trends that I noticed in my reading patterns this year – namely, while last year I steered more towards informative novels by incorporating memoirs and educational texts into my reading list, this year I tried to balance those types of reads with more lighthearted novels as we entered the second year of the pandemic. I definitely still devoted time to learning about antiracism and the patriarchy, but also enjoyed reading some delightfully haunting horror books, interesting poetry, and lots of adorable romantic comedy novels.
While I genuinely enjoyed most of the books I read, there are a few standouts in each category:
- Romance/Lighthearted: The Dinner List – an unexpected favorite, I loved the whole premise of this book that asked the thought-provoking question: If you could have dinner with five people, dead or alive, who would they be, why, and how would this interaction impact you? That Summer – This is the second book I’ve read by this author and so far this book is my favorite of hers. This story of growing up and coming to terms with trauma shows how entire families are effected by toxic masculinity through the generations. Last Summer at the Golden Hotel – a fun, witty summer read that feels very Schitt’s Creek meets summer camp, when two families with decades of baggage must reunite to decide what to do with their shared hotel.
- Informative/Educational: Witches, Midwives and Nurses – this updated version of a 1970s pamphlet is both informative and relevant As a woman, I was shocked to learn about the history of the medical community and how their treatment of women holds true today. How to do Nothing – a truly eye-opening book centered on how we as humans balance technological advancements with a need to connect and preserve the natural world we call home.
- Mystery/Horror: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires – while I’m normally not the biggest fan of horror stories, this book had me on the edge of my seat and I read it in under two days! It’s like your mom in the 80s vs Dracula!
- Historical /Memoirs /Historical Fiction: Untamed – this memoir by Glennon Doyle just offered so much valuable insight and life advice. Woman of Intelligence – One of my surprise favorite books of this year about the fictional story of a 1950s housewife tapped to become a secret Cold War spy. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Another favorite, the much-talked about novel had so many plot twists and incredible characters as you go through the life of a fictional vintage movie star.
- Graphic Novels: March 1, 2, and 3 – this graphic novel trilogy is written by former Representative and civil rights activist John Lewis. It follows his early involvement in the movement in the 1960s through Barack Obama’s inauguration.
- Miscellaneous: The Lost Apothecary – this interesting novel ties a modern day woman contemplating a divorce to an isolated and jaded female healer running an apothecary in the 1800s.
I’m definitely happy to answer any questions or offer recommendations about the other books as well and would love recommendations for any books I did get to this year. Please leave your favorite 2021 reads in the comments!