I’ve been on an audiobook since the pandemic started. I have always loved reading, but since starting graduate school I’ve found it really difficult to sit down and read for pleasure. When the pandemic hit, I couldn’t move my body in ways I was used to (like going to the gym), so I started walking a LOT. Walking helped me get out of my head, get rid of anxious energy, and kept me feeling strong. What I loved about walking was that I could listen to an audiobook and just appreciate the beauty around me as I listened and learned. All that being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite books that I read during 2021.
- The Great Believers by Rebecca Makai: This book absolutely blew me away. There were some evenings where I could not stop listening to the book and had to find more things to do around the house so I could keep listening to find out what happened next! The story is beautifully written and captivating. It melds the joy and grief of human experience, art, and the painful history of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the U.S. I wholeheartedly recommend this book and have to thank my mom for sharing it with me!
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle: I have been dying to read this book since it came out in 2020. Both this book and Glennon Doyle’s other book, Love Warrior, feel so raw and I felt like she let me into her inner world. There are few times when we get to feel like we are a part of someone’s best and worst moments, and this book was one of those times. This book is great for those of us who feel shame about some of our mistakes or choices; Glennon Doyle shows how those very low points can lead to us to our best moments and our authentic selves.
- More Than a Body: Your body is an instrument, not an ornament by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite: I have followed Lexie and Lindsay’s instagram page for a few years and have admired them and their work. I decided to take the plunge and read this book for myself and for the work I do with clients who struggle with body image. I loved that this book doesn’t take the stance of body positivity, which is a concept that does not resonate well with me. As someone who has had a complicated relationship with my body, especially while struggling with IBS for years, body positivity has felt far out of reach. The book talks about the idea of body neutrality and body image resilience, which feels like a concept that can serve us all well.
- The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr.: This book was incredible, even if most of the deeper meaning seemed to go right over my head! Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors and this book was one of the first books to remind me of her beautiful approach to storytelling. This is not a book you can miss a few pages of–every page and element was important. This book is about many things, but I particularly loved the LGBTQ+ love story that runs through the book. An important note: there are scenes of sexual violence in the book that some might find triggering.
- The Guest List by Lucy Foley: This book was pure entertainment for me. If you want to get sucked into a different world and a mystery, this book is for you! There were elements of this book that I did not love and it felt predictable at times, but it did not disappoint. This is a great story to listen to while doing mindless tasks (cooking, laundry, etc.) because you can miss a few sentences and, frankly, you likely won’t miss anything too important.
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: This book was AMAZING! It might have been one of my favorite books of 2021. The character development and resilience displayed by the characters in this book were phenomenal. I loved the strong female lead and her growth and development throughout. The book brings in so many interesting themes (sexism, classism, etc.). I can close my eyes and still vividly imagine scenes from this book months after reading it.
- Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Amelia and Emily Nagoski: I read this book as part of my own therapy work! Burnout seemed to be a theme of 2021 for almost everyone I knew. I learned so much while reading this book. It is educational, but it also provides some very practical skills and worksheets to use to manage stress and decrease feelings of burnout. I love that this book does not place all responsibility in the hands of the individual, but also talks about the sociopolitical context that leads to burnout, especially for those who identify as women.
Have you read any of the books from this list? What were some of your favorite books from 2021?