Prioritizing reading time again was one of the best things for me in 2020. I worked reading back into a regular schedule, frequented the library, and had great conversations about books.
I want to keep a running list of the books I read this year, too. Just a quick star rating and short review for each book. No spoilers or lengthy descriptions. You can check out 2020’s list here.
I will add the same preface as last year — I am a bit of a harsh critic. I do not give out 5 stars very often, but I will also give a minimum of 2 stars if I finish the book. Attitudes toward books are so personal, so if you want to chat with me about why you loved a book below or why you didn’t, please do. And if my opinion is different than yours, that’s okay.
My goal was 50 books and I hit 50 on December 29th.
Here’s what I read in 2021:
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly – 3 stars
I loved the first (Lilac Girls), so I had high hopes for this historical fiction story, but it took me a long time to get through. I did not feel as connected to the characters as I had expected. Still a well-written story.
Think Like A Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day by Jay Shetty – 2 stars
I know there are a lot of Jay Shetty fans out there, but this book was just not for me. I liked some of his concepts and his advice, but parts felt repetitive and a bit hypocritical. Seemed like a collection of other peoples quotes and stories.
Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins – 3 stars
I enjoyed reading this one. David is super inspiring. While I don’t agree with everything, like training through crazy amounts of pain, etc, this book felt really authentically him and I am glad he told his story.
The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage by Kelly McGonigal – 3 stars
I don’t need convincing that movement is joyful. Much of my life is centered around the joy of movement. But I did appreciate Kelly’s approach and the stories she shared — especially the parts around ultra running.
White Ivy by Susie Yang – 3 stars
I am still unsure how I feel about this one. I read it in less than 24 hours and Yang is a talented writer. Ivy (the main character) isn’t exactly likeable, but I think this is what made the story so interesting. Ultimately, I got to the end and felt like…okay? A bit of a letdown.
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris – 4 stars
Second book of the year about meditation, but I much preferred it to Jay Shetty’s book. This one felt more relatable and less preachy to me. I will say I still do not have a regular meditation practice, but Dan’s words inspired me to do so.
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – 3 stars
Another book I feel conflicted about. I enjoyed the writing and felt connected to some of the characters. I won’t give any spoilers, but will leave it at this: the end did not sit right with me.
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – 4 stars
My first Colleen Hoover and I enjoyed it even more than I expected. A well-written story of complex characters and tough issues. Brought out a lot of emotions.
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 4 stars
I couldn’t put this down. I was enthralled with Evelyn Hugo and couldn’t wait to hear each husband’s story. Well-written and well-developed characters.
Quit Like A Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol by Holly Whitaker – 3 stars
I have so many thoughts on this. I am glad I read it. Coming from someone who just wants to choose to drink less in social situations, this landed with me most of the time. But at the same time, it felt written for well-off white women and seemed to make breaking addiction seem ‘easier’ than it is. I haven’t been there, so I guess I can’t really say, but I do think it is worth noting AA is a free option for recovery and that is valuable even though she doesn’t agree with the program.
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams — 3 stars
This was really slow in the first half. I loved the focus on words and was glad I kept reading, but it took me a while to get through.
Sky Runner by Emelie Forsberg — 2 stars
One star for Emelie being a cool person and one star for the amazing photos. It actually pains me to give this 2 stars since I read it for a book club where I’m going to get to chat with the author, but this read like a magazine to me. I wanted more. And I found quite a few typos/grammatical errors throughout which was distracting. Beautiful to look through though.
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas — 4 stars
Really glad Angie gave us this prequel. If you haven’t read The Hate U Give yet, I would still read it first, but you could also read Concrete Rose on it’s own. Angie tells a story so beautifully.
Confess by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars
I just really enjoy Hoover’s writing. Another quick fictional story that I couldn’t put down. Not my number one Hoover book, but still one I enjoyed reading.
Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen — 2.5 stars
I like Rachel. This is a quick read as a good intro to yoga, but I didn’t like how the photos cut into the text so often. Weird breaks. I’d say you could skip it.
Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi — 3 stars
A unique set of stories based on time travel. Worth reading, but I didn’t love it quite as much as I thought I would.
Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo — 3.5 stars
I definitely would read So You Want To Talk About Race first. I learned a lot in this one, but it seemed a little scattered I guess?
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — 3 stars
Another book I saw all over social media that I found to be a bit overhyped. I liked this. I liked the idea and the way it makes you think about your own choices is fascinating, but the character development fell a little flat for me.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah — 4 stars
I am a big Kristin Hannah fan. I was excited for her new novel, but it felt a little slow compared to others of hers. A really heartbreaking story, but I enjoyed it.
How do we know we’re doing it right? by Pandora Sykes — 3 stars
Essays on modern life from Sykes. This was an interesting collection, but nothing felt really new.
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin — 3 stars
Not my favorite Emily Giffin, but I still flew through it. Was in the mood for a quick fictional story.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — 2.5 stars
Quick read with a couple quotes I’ll come back to, but not that impactful overall for me.
Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey – 4 stars
My first ever audiobook since I wanted to hear him read it. Really happy I chose to listen because it made a road trip go by quickly and I laughed a lot. This one was worth the hype.
Mind of a Survivor by Megan Hine — 4 stars
I listened to this on runs for an athlete book club and really enjoyed it. Practical advice and really cool experiences to learn about.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall — 4 stars
So well written. A lot to think about.
Red At The Bone by Jacqueline Woodson — 4.5 stars
Wow. I wish I could read this for the first time again.
How Far Can You Go? by John Maclean — 3 stars
4 stars for the inspiration that is John. 2 for the writing (sorry!). I had the chance to chat with him on a book club video chat and he truly is an inspiration, but I enjoyed hearing from him more than reading the book.
The Woman In the Window by A.J. Finn — 3 stars
A thriller for the mix. A quick read where I wanted to get to the end. Part of it felt predictable, but I still enjoyed it.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid — 4 stars
Really enjoyed this. The focus on the sibling relationships being my favorite part. I have loved other TJR books more, but still even compared, enjoyed this one too.
Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Findlay — 3 stars
A collection of short stories in the form of a full length novel. Some stories were outstanding, but I felt that the way they were put together was a little confusing. I found it hard to go from one to the next and “reset” to take in a new person’s story. Worth reading, but took me a while since I felt like I had to have a lot of breaks in between stories.
Inward by Yung Pueblo — 3 stars
Some poems were great, but overall it felt very repetitive to me. I also had seen a lot of the poems on Instagram already.
Land’s Edge by Tim Winton— 3 stars
A nice short story that makes me appreciate Australia even more. Just something about the sea.
Breath by James Nestor — 3 stars
Interesting. I love this topic. I wish this had a little more evidence and everyday life examples.
How To Build A Goddamn Empire by Ali Kriegsman — 4 stars
I really enjoyed this — a book I will come back to again and again. Thank you, Ali!
Verity by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars
Read this in one sitting. A bit of a thriller, which I wouldn’t have expected from CoHo. Worth the attention it gets!
Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover — 3 stars
Not my favorite CoHo book, but still good. Just enjoy her writing.
The Way of the Runner by Adharanand Finn — 3.5
Really enjoyed getting to learn more about running in Japan. Now I want to run an ekiden!
Regretting You by Colleen Hoover — 4 stars
Just a CoHo fan. I read this while in lockdown still (my third CoHo in a short time) because I wanted the easy reading escapes. I wanted a bit more from the backstory on this one, but still really enjoyed it.
Be.: A No-Bullsh*t Guide to Increasing Your Self Worth and Net Worth by Simply Being Yourself by Jessica Zweig — 2.5 stars
The frameworks were a good reminder and helped me think about some things I’m working on, but most of the message actually felt pretty inauthentic. I shouldn’t have read this so close to reading Ali Kreigsman’s new book because I loved that one so much and couldn’t help but compare them.
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave — 3 stars
Quick read. First one I read after returning to the U.S. I guess I was expecting a bit more from it, so I felt a little let down, but still a good read.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng — 4 stars
I’m late to the party with this one, but really enjoyed it.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore — 3.5 stars
I liked this. Was an interesting perspective that felt different than other time travel stories.
Everything We Didn’t Say by Nicole Baart — 3 stars
Slower than I expected. I liked the writing, but it felt like a lot of the characters kind of got lost in the story.
Out and Back: A Runner’s Story of Survival and Recovery Against All Odds by Hillary Allen — 2 stars
There’s no doubt Hillary is inspiring. I would love to chat with her in real life. And I saved some quotes from this that I’ll refer back to. But as a book, it felt repetitive and a bit scattered.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune — 4.5 stars
I loved the love in this. Made me tear up a few times. I don’t usually read fantasy books, but I loved feeling fully immersed in this world.
The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times by Jane Gooddall and Douglas Abrams — 3 stars
I really like Jane’s work and the overall message of this book was nice, but I found the delivery pretty boring. It reads as a conversation, but a conversation that doesn’t flow well? I was kinda disappointed.
Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune — 4 stars
This one felt a bit slow the first half, but I enjoyed his writing and the overall message. I liked The House in the Cerulean Sea more. This one was a bit darker.
You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero — 1.5 stars
1.5? This was not good. I was in the mood to set new financial goals for my business as we enter a new year and was hoping to feel inspired from reading this. It fell really flat. I liked a couple quotes, but didn’t feel like I walked away with any real advice.
Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster — 3 stars
It was hard to rate this one. 3 stars I think? I didn’t enjoy this all that much. Felt a little preachy — like it worked for me so it HAS to work for you!! But I did feel inspired to start a few of the rituals that I don’t do already. And some parts were funny. I think in general I need a bit of a break from self-help books. A lot of what I read this year didn’t do much for me.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May — 4 stars
I really enjoyed this. A good perspective on seasons of life. This was a gift from my MIL and I opened it right before seeing my first snow in about 3 years, so it felt fitting.
That’s 50! I read a lot of great books and a lot of not-so-great, but I’m happy to share. Here’s to 50 new adventures in 2022.