2021 was a great reading year for me (thanks to my son being a little older!) – and I was able to read a mix of different genres and topics that were a mix of new 2021 releases plus a few from years prior.
As I reflected on the books I’d read over the year, several books stood out as great reads that were so memorable and enjoyable…
If you’re looking for a few book recommendations or inspiration for your 2022 reading list, I hope you enjoy this list!
Author: Lauren Graham
This was by far my favorite “fun read” of 2021. I read it while feeling pretty low (at the time my son was experiencing growing pains plus I was feeling really sick) so I really wanted a book that felt light and fun – and this book definitely fit the bill!
If you’re a fan of Gilmore Girls, you will especially enjoy this book since it gives fun behind-the-scenes insights from filming Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Graham writes with such excitement and enthusiasm about her career and life – it’s truly so enjoyable to read from her perspective.
If you’re in the mood for something light, enjoyable and funny – I highly recommend it!
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic is such a wonderful book for anyone who enjoys writing or other creative work. I read this book after hearing over and over again how powerful a book it is – and it still exceeded my expectations!
First off, Gilbert’s writing itself is so beautifully crafted – it’s just page after page of reminders of the incredible talent that Gilbert is. So for anyone who admires great writing, it’s a pure joy to read and admire from that perspective alone.
But even more than that, this book is deeply encouraging for anyone working on creative projects… without coming across in a Pollyanna-ish sort of way. Gilbert shares how she’s managed to write for so long and the things that have kept her going – including overcoming self doubts plus the habits that she’s leaned on along the way.
There are countless helpful gems throughout this book – it’s an incredible book for any writer or creative… especially any needing a slight boost in encouragement.
Author: Michelle Zauner
This book has won numerous awards (named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Time, NPR, Washington Post, Vogue, and more…) and yet I find it hard to express exactly what makes it such a captivating book.
Dani Shapiro’s review of this book is probably the best way I’ve seen it described: ““I read Crying in H Mart with my heart in my throat. In this beautifully written memoir, Michelle Zauner has created a gripping, sensuous portrait of an indelible mother-daughter bond that hits all the notes: love, friction, loyalty, grief. All mothers and daughters will recognize themselves—and each other—in these pages.”
It’s an incredibly touching and sentimental book about a Korean American woman dealing with the loss of her mother while trying to reconcile the pieces of her life and their relationship.
Initially, I was drawn in by the story of being raised by an immigrant parent (having been raised by South American parents myself). I was deeply touched as I read moments of similar experiences I’d had growing up (like that incredible protectiveness I think the children of most immigrants feel when they sense their parents being wrongly misjudged because of an accent or understandable misuse of a word or phrase).
If you’re looking for a book that takes you deeply inside the relationship between a mother and daughter, or the complexity and beauty of growing up in the U.S. while being raised by an immigrant parent, you’ll find that and much more in this beautiful memoir.
Author: Lisa Miller, PhD
This book was probably my biggest surprise of all the books I read in 2021 – both in terms of being a book I decided to read, but also in terms of being one of my favorite books of 2021. I didn’t expect to love it so much, but it touched me deeply and stayed with me well after I finished it.
In it, Dr. Lisa Miller walks us through her career and research surrounding the powerful and positive impacts of spirituality. I never knew that spirituality in young adults correlated to a lesser likelihood of depression and substance abuse, plus greater chances of being in healthy relationships – and what was especially surprising to me was the significant protection against depression it can provide. As a parent, this is something that really stuck with me…
I also loved that the definition of spirituality throughout this book transcends any one religion – instead it focuses on qualities like altruism and a sense of oneness. There were also stories of people from different faiths and views interwoven throughout the book, and so to me, this book felt very inclusive.
It’s hard to sum up everything that makes this book so special – but I think much of it comes from the touching stories that the author shares from her own life as well as those of her patients. Carefully weaving those stories together with impressive research was a powerful and touching combination…
If you are curious at all about the benefits of spirituality, or want to read some encouraging stories and research about spirituality without a focus on any one religion – this book does a wonderful job of that. I think it’s also a great read for any parent. It’s definitely a book that has stayed with me and given me some helpful and deep takeaways for both myself and my kids.
Author: Jamie Kern Lima
This book is an exceptionally moving and uplifting book written by Jamie Kern Lima, founder of IT Cosmetics, in which she shares the ups and downs of creating her mega successful beauty brand. I loved her openness and disarming honesty throughout this book.
Because Lima doesn’t hold back in this book, I found myself completely moved by her resilience and courage facing the many harsh obstacles along the way to creating her success. Again and again I found myself cheering for her and completely immersed in her story.
If you’re looking for something to light you up and help you feel more inspired about any goal or dream you’re working towards, I highly recommend it!
Below are a few more books that I found to be highly moving, impactful & helpful…
Eat a Peach: A Memoir (by David Chang)
Such a beautiful, raw and honest portrayal of a chef’s path to success while being open about the many doubts and fears he faced along the way (and continues to experience). He also shares his experience with bipolar disorder in such a beautifully vulnerable way.
Although a first glance a book about the importance of how we breathe might seem completely uninteresting – this book is so interesting and well-written. Nestor shares a wealth of knowledge in this book all while keeping the story surprisingly entertaining along the way. If you or anyone you love struggles with snoring, sleep apnea, etc. this book has some really helpful gems in it. (And even beyond those issues, it has really helpful info that I think just about anyone could benefit from.)
I love hearing people’s advice for creating a long and happy marriage – so I was excited to give this book a try. In it, Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue interview 40 well-known, longtime married couples about their best marriage advice. I loved the variety of couples and views represented in this book – and although understandably not every interview resonated with me, I found several couples whose interviews really did (especially Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan’s interview). Those stories made this book completely worthwhile to me, and I’ve thought back to that handful of stories and their advice more than a few times. If you enjoy reading about love and happiness, I think you’ll find a handful of interviews that deeply resonate with you too.
I wanted to read at least one book in 2021 that dealt with the environment, and I picked this one up after hearing Bill Gates interviewed on Armchair Expert. It was interesting – and most important to me, it gave me an idea of what things are most impactful in helping the environment over the next several years so that I feel like I’m making decisions that truly have an impact. I also really appreciated that the data throughout is cited and referenced at the end. A great book if you’re interested in learning more about helping the environment.
I hope you enjoyed this list & found a few new books to consider!