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  • Writer's pictureMelina Meador

2021 Reading Thoughts

I so enjoyed the books I read in 2021 - hardly a dud in there! This was the first year that I read more non-fiction than fiction - by one book - and that was interesting but I am getting ahead of myself. I wanted to share my top books with you - I can't recommend these enough.

Non-fiction Books

Women Rowing North: Navigating Life's Currents and Flourishing as We Age/Pipher

- I have a new appreciation for my future self after reading this book. Pipher gives stories of what healthy aging looks like for women. As a psychologist she brings data and years of experience to her beautiful book. I'll read this again.

Lead Yourself First: Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude/Kethlidge & Erwin

- Inspiration for time alone. The authors make a compelling case that it's so much more than a luxury, it's essential. And not just for busy attorneys or something, but for stay at home moms, too.

She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventure on the Road and in the Wild/Straub

- Such a feast! Essays by women with amazing pictures. I read it, then devoured it immediately again. It was a great support to my 2021 day all alone in the wild. I hope to do that again in 2022.

The Supper of the Lamb/Capon

- Perfect for winter, though I read it in the Spring! It's just such a delight. Part memoir, part cookbook, part philosophical tome. Thanks Deborah for the recommendation!

The Rhythm of Life/Kelly

- Catholic writer Matthew Kelly asks, "What is healthy living?" and gives concrete answers in a folksy way. After reading this I deep dove into his other books and enjoyed them, too. But this was my favorite.

Works of Fiction

Death Comes for the Archbishop/Cather

- Set in frontier era New Mexico, this fictional work has lots of non-fiction events and it reads at times like a mystery, like a travel memoir, like a history text-book but all of it, so delicately and simply written. I love Cather's works, and this is one of my favorites. This is the only book I listened to on Audible of this list, and the narration was fantastic. I am actually just starting to re-read it on page, and I'm interested to see how that affects my experience.

The Yearling/Rawling

- I thought this sounded soooooo boring. But people I love kept talking about it. I was wrong. It is joyful, thoughtful, exciting, terrifying, peaceful, short, not boring. It's a coming of age story about 12 year old Jody in Florida. I loved it. It has made its way onto my top books of all time.

Jane Eyre/Bronte

- This is a re-read (my 5th?) and so it seems like it shouldn't be on here but I can't help it, it's just so good. And as I read it again this summer, there were fresh things that hit me and inspired me and grew me. Read it again, and again, and again. It's that wonderful.

Robinson Crusoe/DeFoe

- Kind of like The Yearling, I just didn't have any interest in this book. Once again, a friend's recommendation got me to pick it up and wow. The psychological study of Robinson and his years alone, his friendships, his early family life, the twists of his fate (he was... spoiler alert, a slave for a while!) there's just so much here to talk about. I was struck by the extreme prejudice of the time. It makes me wonder about the state of my own blindspots. I think it is human to have them, but reading thoughtful books - even in their imperfect view of the world (and that is all authors, by the way) - helps to grow us. I also just enjoyed the details of survival, the art of living when one is alone. It's a beautiful book.

Deep River/Endo

- Oh my. Lots to ponder here. It's so simply written, each sentence seems effortless. The translation is fantastic. Endo makes you feel compassion and empathy for the characters in such a powerful way. There are four stories set in the main story with everyone converging at the same time in India. I don't know how Endo did that. And the ending - perfect. If you read it, let me know, I want to talk about it with you!

A Tale of Two Cities/Dickens

- I don't really love Dickens. I think he's an amazing storyteller but awfully wordy. Except, maybe I'm wrong. Because another book of his, Hard Times, was almost on this list for this year, and this book, with its melodramatic twists was a stunner. It's so perfect for this time in our country's life, too. I loved it. Exciting and frightening and an amazing example of heroism. It's got it all.

I'm taking these books with me, they've become part of my interior life. And I'm so glad. I hope to read richly and deeply this year, too. I also hope to hit 75 reads again (which I juuuuust made in 2021) and yet, if I need to read less than that, I will be pleased. I just want to read the right books, the right books for me, the ones that draw me into the world's conversations. One reason it's nice to keep track of your reads is for reviewing, but also for motivation if Amazon Prime shows just seem too easy. :) I'm most competitive with myself.

This is the first year I also have a side goal: I want to read all of Willa Cather's books. I think I've read most of them, and she may be my favorite author, so reading all of them in a year will be a treat. I wonder what I will learn about her? Have you read a good biography of her because I'd like to do that, too.

Tell me about your reading year, did you find some stunners you want to share? And what are you thinking for 2022?

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