Favorite Reads (and Re-reads) of 2021

2021 … what a year. Thanks to downtime in between leaving my job and having my baby, pregnancy insomnia, and lots of time on the couch snuggling a newborn, I read more this year than I have in the last few years. They weren’t a lot of bestsellers or new releases, but I got a lot out of them. Here they are, in no particular order:

First-time Reads

“The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning,” by Simcha Fisher

This book helped me ease back into NFP postpartum. It was a difficult read but an important one—and Simcha’s great sense of humor doesn’t hurt.

“Sorcery & Cecilia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot,” by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

This novel (and its sequels) scratched my itch for a fun read while pregnant. Nineteenth-century English society and magic—what more could you want?

“The Possibility Mom,” by Lisa Canning

I know Lisa through my work at Catholic Women in Business, and she never fails to inspire and support other moms, particularly moms who are struggling to find a way to live out their multiple dreams—wife, mother, and entrepreneur (or, in my case, writer and editor).

“Letters to Women: Embracing the Feminine Genius in Your Everyday Life,” by Chloe Langr, and “A Place to Belong: Letters from Catholic Women,” edited by Corynne Staresinic

I reviewed these collections of letters by Catholic women for FemCatholic. They really showed the range of gifts God gives women, to use in wonderfully diverse ways.

“Mom Genes: Inside the New Science of Our Ancient Maternal Instinct,” by Abigail Tucker

Such a fascinating read, especially as a new mom! (Did you know that the hippocampus, which plays a major role in memory, stops making new cells during pregnancy? Explains so much.)

“Jayber Crow,” by Wendell Berry

My first Well-Read Mom read, this novel was a beautiful look at a small town and a great reminder of the benefits of slowing down.

“Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” by Pamela Druckerman

Apparently, I have a French parenting style. (I didn’t agree with everything, but there was a lot of good.) This one was also fun to read.

“This Present Paradise: A Spiritual Journey With St. Elizabeth of the Trinity,” by Claire Dwyer

I read this one in two evenings for an article but will need to go back and dip my toes in various chapters more slowly over time. Possibly my favorite book of the year.

“Carmelite Spirituality: The Way of Carmelite Prayer and Contemplation,” by Cardinal Anders Arborelius, O.C.D.

I read this book for Lent, and it’s another one I’ll need to revisit—so much fruit here.

Re-reads

“The Lord of the Rings,” by J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my favorites, I hadn’t read it since high school, when the movies were coming out. I got more out of it this time. (I also didn’t skip over some of Frodo and Sam’s climb up to Mount Doom like I did the first time, so I didn’t miss this gem: “There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”

“Anne’s House of Dreams,” “Anne of Ingleside,” and “Rilla of Ingleside,” by L.M. Montgomery

I picked these up again looking for positive books about motherhood. So much fun!

“Reed of God,” by Caryll Houselander

This one was my Advent read—lovely reflections about Mary.

“A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens (audiobook read by Hugh Grant)

I’ve had trouble with audiobooks in the past, but I received an Audible subscription for Christmas and listened to this one while traveling to visit my in-laws. I really enjoyed it and picked up “The Hobbit,” read by Andy Serkis, next.

“Emma,” “Persuasion,” and “Northanger Abbey,” by Jane Austen

While I was struggling through the postpartum days, my husband encouraged me to reread my favorite novel, “Emma,” and it brought me a lot of comfort! I followed it up with my second-favorite Austen novel, “Persuasion,” and the only one I’ve only read once: “Northanger Abbey.”

What were your favorite books in 2021? What are you looking forward to reading in 2022? I’d love your recommendations!

4 thoughts on “Favorite Reads (and Re-reads) of 2021

  1. So many great books on here-and ones that I desperately need to re-read! I had planned to re-read a bunch of books (like Austen) in 2021, but I found myself listening to the siren song of the library most weeks and picked up new-to-me books instead. Off this list, I really enjoy a lot of these, but Pamela Druckerman’s book was hugely helpful for me when I was pregnant with my firstborn! It was very different from a lot of the parenting sentiments I had experienced growing up (which weren’t bad sentiments, but I have discovered that some attachment-parenting, co-sleeping, etc. things just don’t work well for me personally) and there were so many good things in there. Definitely some ideas that didn’t jive with me, but a lot of good stuff. In general, I just really like reading books about European parenting-it’s fascinating to learn how there are so many ways that people parent their little kids!

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  2. Thanks for linking to An Open Book! So many great books here. I love how different seasons bring us different reasons and opportunities to read and a different style of books that bring peace, knowledge, or whatever it may be that we’re seeking.

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