I love talking books and today I want to share my favorite reads of 2021. I have been an avid reader for most of my life. My first grade teacher read aloud The Twits by Roald Dahl to us, and my life was never the same. I read every book Roald Dahl ever wrote, and it forever solidified my love of books and my inclination towards the dark and twisty.
When I started having kids about 10 years ago reading took a quick backseat to catching a short nap, or knocking just about anything off of my forever growing to-do list. It took several years for me to find my way back to the practice of spending at least a few minutes each day reading something for pleasure. The biggest change I made was disciplining myself to pick up a book instead of my phone. Setting a timer for 20 minutes and making myself sit down to read conditioned my mind to get back into some better habits. If you are in the midst of a season that feels impossible to pick up a book, be encouraged! Try this small step for a few weeks and start building that habit back into your life.
I love pretty much every genre except self-help, and try to read a wide range of books every year. Want to see what some of my favorite reads of 2021 were? Here we go!
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Annie’s Favorite Reads of 2021
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula | This was by far my favorite book read in 2021. It is a collection of stories of men and women in church history that risked everything by going against a popular ideology at the time. Many were tortured, imprisoned, banished from their families and friends, and often times killed because they went against the government and remained true to the Gospel of Christ. Our current state of heightened stress over the last couple of years can so easily chip away at our resolve and willingness to fight. Reading about these men and women who have gone before us inspired me to bravery numerous times, and I think it will for you too.
The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me by Paul Joseph Fronczak | This was one of the most surprising books I have read. I found myself unable to put it down as each piece unfolded and shaped a truly extraordinary story. It is the story of Paul Fronczak, who realizes after taking a DNA test, that he is not who he believed he was his entire life. Secrets, family lies, and a couple of cold cases unravel as he searches for truth. This one will not disappoint!
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Haven Point by Virginia Hume | I loved this beautiful fiction novel that spans over 70 years, following three generations of a family. Each timeline stands so well on its own. Set on the coast of Maine, it combines community, a sense of belonging, and family drama that makes such a rich story.
The Push by Ashley Audrain | This is an intense psychological drama that had me guessing until the end, and gave me the creeps as I read the last page. It is the story of a young woman and her journey through motherhood as she attempts to bond with her daughter. Knowing things don’t feel right, but unable to determine if it’s her daughter, or her own sanity that is in question, she begins to question everything. If you like a book that rattles your nerves just a bit, pick this one up!
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane | When people ask me for book recommendations, this is at the top of my list. It’s a beautiful story of two families, tragedy, forgiveness, lasting friendship, and love. The characters are some of my very favorite and I love how the author pushes the boundaries in their relationships. It makes you question just how far your own forgiveness would reach in the face of tragedy.
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel | This is inspired by an amazing true story during WWII. It is about Eva, a young woman with artistic talents that allow her to be a master at forgery. She uses her talents to forge identity documents and help hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis. Forging these documents essentially erases the identities of these children. The thought of this doesn’t sit well with Eva, however she understands the danger involved with allowing any piece of their former identity to exist. She finds a way to secretly keep track of them through code in a book. Her book is found years later and she alone holds the answers to who these children are.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah | This is the first book I have read set during the Dust Bowl, and I didn’t want to put it down. It follows the story of one woman, her love for her children, her tenacity against all odds, and her journey to bravery. After several years of near starvation and sickness through the Dust Bowl, she takes her children out west with the hope of a better life. She is met with more hardship, unfair working conditions, and more years of barely surviving through the Great Depression. The author does a beautiful job of highlighting that we are a nation full of survivors in dire times.
Red Sails to Capri by Ann Weil | I’m not sure I would have ever picked this one up, however my good friend gifted this one to us, and I am so glad we gave it a try! When three men appear at Michele’s parent’s inn on the island of Capri, Italy, he knows things are going to get exciting. One is searching for beauty, one is searching for adventure, and the third is searching for something he can’t really explain. We all loved this story of adventure and mystery. After you have finished the book, be sure to look up videos on Capri and it’s “Blue Grotto”!
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier | Peter is a 10 year-old blind orphan that lives his life as a thief, somewhat against his will. One day he steals a box that ends up having three pairs of magical eyes in it and his whole world turns upside down. Jonathan Auxier is a master storyteller, weaving one of the most creative, exciting, and adventurous stories from the very first page. We were on the edge of our seats for days as we read this one! This one might be a little scary in a few points. If you have sensitive kids maybe read it first to determine if it would suit your family well.
That’s a wrap for my favorite reads of 2021! I hope one or more of these peaks your interest! Happy reading in 2022!