I couldn’t let 2021 end without highlighting my bookish endeavors from the year, but it was a struggle to figure out how I wanted to present this post. In years past, I would share data: the number of books I read, a breakdown of their publication years, how many books featured diversity, etc. But I’ve stopped tracking all of that – even the total number of books for the year. And yes, Goodreads gave me that little stat at the end of 2021 and I was astonished by all that I’d accomplished; it was – by far – my best reading year ever. But I’m trying something different here today. Instead of focusing on quantity, I’d really like to focus on what I loved. If you’d like to see everything I read in 2021, here’s my Goodreads shelf for the year.
So the first part of this post will be about authors who were new to me in 2021 or that I rediscovered after seeing the world through a new lens. I’ll move on to the two books that made the largest impact on my Stillness journey in 2021, then a smattering of books that I really enjoyed, and will close with the books that I reread almost yearly to welcome the seasons. I’m trying to keep it simple; there are a lot of pictures and very few words. I’ve done my best to make sure all of the books are clickable and the links should take you to their Amazon page for more information about them. These are all affiliate links, so if you decide to buy a book then I’ll get a small profit from the sale at no extra cost to you.
Ruth Ozeki is a Zen Buddhist Priest and novelist and has become my favorite author this year after reading these two books. They both play with Buddhist ideas in ways that are fresh and interesting. These were my two favorite books of the year.
I hadn’t reading anything by Anthony Horowitz before 2021 but was completely hooked on this series. Clever, fun, and wonderfully British!
May Sarton’s journals were new to me this year. I was drawn to Journal of a Solitude simply because of the title and then just kept reading. I went into her journals not knowing that she lived in New Hampshire (where I live) and was such a nature and flower enthusiast. So much fun!
I dabbled with Mary Oliver last year, too. Can you believe that I’d never read any of her work previously? In fact, 2021 was the first year that I really tried to read poetry in earnest. I’d like to do the same in 2022. I’m in the middle of a Mary Oliver collection right now and have a winter one waiting in the wings. Her laid back earnestness is inspiring to me. I’d welcome suggestions for similar poets to sink into in 2022.
I became a Claire Fuller completist in 2021! I read three of her books last year and the fourth (Bitter Orange) in 2020. She is absolutely a must read author for me. Her stories are full of strange characters, a certain discomfort, and endings that must be discussed.
This Richard Osman series was a delightful find! An eccentric group of people in a retirement community start a Murder Club in which they discuss cold cases. Before you know it, they’re investigating actual active cases that have hit close to home! It is laugh out loud funny in the most unexpected places yet thoughtful about some big questions in life. When I grabbed the links for these books I discovered that a third novel is due to be released in September 2022 – that one is definitely going on my TBR!
I reread The Little House Series last year. I technically read Little House in the Big Woods in late 2020, but included it here anyway. I read several of these books as a child but it was an entirely new experience reading them as an adult. What a terrifying time to have children! My favorite books in the series were Farmer Boy and These Happy Golden Years – both of which were new to me!
I recommend listening to these books on audio as an adult. They’re written for children and it was a more pleasant experience to have someone read them aloud rather than with my eyes. I found myself very annoyed with the writing and story when I read from the pages but was perfectly content to have Cherry Jones perform in my earbuds!
These were the two most profound books that helped me along my Stillness journey last year. I still think of that snail munching its way around the plant and all of the wisdom the author gained from it. And The Miracle of Mindfulness is a must read for anyone interested in building a solid meditation practice.
BOOKS I SIMPLY ENJOYED
What a strange little group! I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed O Pioneers!. I’m always nervous about the “classics” and worry that I won’t be able to sink into the writing and will have a difficult time deciphering the author’s meaning. That absolutely hasn’t been the case with anything I’ve read by Willa Cather.
I can’t believe that I left The Murmur of Bees unread for so long – it was a beautiful story set in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution and the 1918 Spanish Flu. When writing this post, I was reminded that Sofia Segovia published another book last year that I must prioritize in 2022.
The other four books in this section were 2021 releases that I found profoundly touching. And now that I’m looking at them, I’m realizing they were written by a diverse group of authors and all taught me about the lives of people with experiences different from my own. I’m seeking more books like these in 2022.
These are the books that I turn to time and again. As soon as the weather turns spring-like, I pick up The Hobbit. Visiting The Shire is the best way I know to welcome green grass, the warm sun, and hours spent barefoot in the garden.
I’ve read Thornyhold at least 5 times. I spend the summer waiting for September, which is when I settle in with this one and a warm cup of tea on the first cool nights of the year. Slightly witchy and full of plants and animals, it always gets me in the mood to tidy up my home and yard for the coming fall and winter. It’s like catching up with an old friend.
And Guernsey? I actually read this one twice in 2021! This is the book I turn to when I fall into any sort of reading rut. The characters’ love of reading and bookish discussion instantly reminds me why books are so powerful. And all of the letter writing? And flowers? The coziness knows no end, my friends. The movie on Netflix is a beautiful portrayal of this story and for the last several years I’ve watched it on Christmas Day after tucking the littles into bed. Perfection.
This was a lot – yikes! I have so many thoughts about how I want to focus my reading in 2022. I started thinking about this in November but would like to pull together something more formal for the new year.
But what do you think about my list? Have you read any of the books I shared? Do you have any recommendations for me in 2022? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!