Every Book I Read Last Year

One silver lining about all of the lockdowns and stay-home orders last year was that I ended up getting a lot of time to read. A couple of years ago I did a review of the books I had read that summer, and I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the books I finished in 2021.  Here it is: every book I read last year!

thinking fast and slow book in front of stack of books
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Let's Get To Work

Thinking, Fast and Slow
5/5
Deep Work
3.5/5

“Who you are, what you think, feel, and do, what you love—is the sum of what you focus on.” – Cal Newport

Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
2.5/5
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
1/5

Gender, Race, and Sexuality

The Tragedy of Heterosexuality
5/5

“In other words, the tragedy of heterosexuality is about men’s control of women, but it is also about straight women’s and men’s shared romantic and erotic attachments to an unequal gender binary, or to the heteroerotic fantasy of binary, biologically determined, and naturally hierarchical gender oppositeness.” – Jane Ward

Brunch with one of the most thought-provoking books of the year
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life
5/5

“I am done living in a world where women are lied to about their bodies; where women are objects of sexual desire but not subjects of sexual pleasure; where sex is used as a weapon against women; and where women believe their bodies are broken, simply because those bodies are not male. And I am done living in a world where women are trained from birth to treat their bodies as the enemy.” – Emily Nagoski

Communion: The Female Search for Love
5/5

“There can be no love without justice.” – bell hooks

The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth
4.5/5

“Jemar Tisby accurately writes, ‘Racism never goes away. It just adapts.’ The same is true of patriarchy. Like racism, patriarchy is a shapeshifter—conforming to each new era, looking as if it has always belonged.” – Beth Allison Barr

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
4.5/5

“The irony is, if these so-called meritocratic institutions actually valued science over religion, they could make use of the evidence-based solutions that do already exist.” – Caroline Criado Pérez

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
3.7/5

“It’s work to do the emotional labor of pointing out problematic racist thinking, policies, actions, and statements while desperately trying to avoid bitterness and cynicism.” – Austin Channing Brown

She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman
4/5

“Every man should make a mantra of Rhett Butler’s infamous line to Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind: “You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.” – Ian Kerner

Hood Feminism
3.4/5

“There’s nothing feminist about having so many resources at your fingertips and choosing to be ignorant. Nothing empowering or enlightening in deciding that intent trumps impact. Especially when the consequences aren’t going to be experienced by you, but will instead be experienced by someone from a marginalized community.” -Mikki Kendall

Books I Learned A Lot From

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence
5/5

“It is understandable that the perspectives of men and women on safety are so different–men and women live in different worlds…at core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.” – Gavin de Becker

Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know
5/5

“Scientists morph into preachers when they present their pet theories as gospel and treat thoughtful critiques as sacrilege.” – Adam Grant

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself
3.4/5

“Focusing on how others might respond is one way we ruminate, which impacts our ability to act.” – Nedra Glover Tawwab

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
4/5

“I am away from the office and checking email intermittently. If your email is not urgent, I’ll probably still reply. I have a problem.” – Florence Williams

Beach Reads

Red White & Royal Blue
5/5
American Royals
4/5
If I Never Met You
4.5/5
Take a Hint, Dani Brown
4.5/5
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
3.5/5
Anxious People
3.6/5

“Anyone can nurture a myth about their life if they have enough manure, so if the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, that’s probably because it’s full of shit. “

Good in Bed
3.5/5
The Marriage Game
3/5
The Other Woman
3/5
All Adults Here
3/5
The Bromance Book Club
3/5
Friends and Strangers
2.5/5
The Hating Game
2.5/5
Eat, Pray, #FML
2.2/5
The Kiss Quotient
1/5
Reading Anxious People on my couch

Trauma & Narcissicm

What Happened To You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing
4.5/5
Love Warrior
4.6/5

“I explain that addictions are safe little deadly hiding places where sensitive people retreat from love and pain. No one can touch us there, so we feel protected. But since love and pain are the only things that grow us, we start dying as soon as we hide.” – Glennon Doyle

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
5/5
Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving A Relationship With A Narcissist
4/5
Walk Through This: Harness the Healing Power of Nature and Travel the Road to Forgiveness
2.5/5
Reading Why Does He Do That with the two foster kittens

This Was A Fun One

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life
3/5
The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest Country
2.6/5

“Being an immigrant is not for the admin-phobic.” – Helen Russell

Daily Dose

Self Love Poetry: For Thinkers & Feelers
5/5

Fantasy Fave

Rhythm of War
5/5

“Yet boldness can be one step from foolishness.” – Brandon Sanderson

One With Good Quotes

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy
2.5/5

“My argument is obviously anticapitalist, especially concerning technologies that encourage a capitalist perception of time, place, self, and community. It is also environmental and historical: I propose that rerouting and deepening one’s attention to place will likely lead to awareness of one’s participation in history and in a more-than-human community. From either a social or ecological perspective, the ultimate goal of “doing nothing” is to wrest our focus from the attention economy and replant it in the public, physical realm.” – Jenny Odell

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
3/5

“How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad. What are they supposed to do, go back to digging up roots? No, they double their efforts and keep slaving away.” – Yuval Noah Harari

Will Be Gifting This Book!

Untamed
5/5

“When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.” – Glennon Doyle

To Be Honest, Not Sure I'm A Fan

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
1/5
The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient
1.5/5

“Paradoxically, it is possible that in dying, we will be more alive than we have ever been. The prospect of death will, at last, make us fully aware of how beautiful, how wonderful our life is.” – William B. Irvine

Some Data About What I Read

In total I read 44 books.

I read a lot of ‘beach reads,’ as I enjoy them in between more academic or heavy topic books.  I felt like the books touched on a wide array of topics, though none were financial-related this year! I think this is mostly because I read most of my financial content through blogs these days, though I do have a few finance books on my read-list for next year.

Though I felt like I read from a lot of different perspectives this year, I wanted to check out whether this was reflected in the gender and race of the authors. Here’s what I found out.

How Many Books Were Written By Female Vs. Male Authors?

I think it’s valuable to look into the diversity of the authors of the books you are reading. I frequently see reading lists made of all-male, all-white authors. In order to start considering different perspectives on different issues, it’s worth finding out how homogenous your reading list actually is.

I’m happy to see this year I read a lot of books by accomplished women, as well as books by men who are in the tops of their fields.

What About Race?

Interestingly enough the distribution for books by authors of color vs. white authors matches the same percentages as the difference in race. Every author who was a person of color was also a woman, which means I didn’t read any books by a man of color. 

I definitely have room to improve here– I hope to read more books by people of colour next year. I clearly need to work on this, because the books on my to-read list below also doesn’t include any men of color. 

As one reader pointed out to me after my post reviewing my summer reads, it’s not enough to split reading into ‘Black and white’. It’s important to read books from people with a range of cultural backgrounds and differing political views. How else will we challenge the way we think?

Books about feminism are not just for women; books about racial justice are not just for racial minorities (in fact, it would do the world the most good to consider the opposite). If you are white, read the experiences of authors of color. If you are a man, read the experiences of women. If you are American, read about what it’s like to live in another land.

Is that not what reading is for, to get out of your own skin and get to see life from an entirely different perspective? I read a lot of books this year where I was not necessarily the target audience, yet I learned the most from these.

 I’m taking recommendations in the comments!

On My To-Read List for 2022

The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Arundhati Roy

House on the Cerulean Sea – TJ Klune

The Psychology of Money – Morgan House

Queer Magic: LGBT+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World – Tomás Prower

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World – David Epstein

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Somebody’s Daughter – Ashley C. Ford

Sunreach – Brandon Sanderson

Wallet Activism – Tanja Hester

We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngoni Adichie

Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep and Dreams – Matthew Walker

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty – Florence Given

Currently reading....

Eloquent Rage 

A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower

by Brittney Cooper

What About You?

Have you read any of these books?

What’s on your reading list?

What should I add to my reading list?

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26 Comments

  1. That’s a wide ranging list, I tend to get stuck in one genre but I see several on your list that look very interesting. A couple of my favorites from 2021 are-
    Chatter by Ethan Kross
    Four thousand weeks by Oliver Burkeman

  2. Why We Sleep (by Matthew Walker) and Metabolical (by Robert Lustig MD) are two books I read in 2021 that have stayed with me. Months later, I still think about them on a daily basis. I can’t say that about many other books I’ve read in 20+ years. I bought Metabolical for several holiday gifts. Untamed is also excellent and I’ve encouraged others to read it.

    1. Great to know two more that are worth the read. Ones that I think about every day are always the ones I want to gift! I’ll add Metabolical to my list.

  3. The Australian ABC recently ran a three part series on Australian literature called The Books that Made Us. It was hosted by actress Claudia Karvan and featured her interviewing a heap of well known and newer Aussie authors about their writing. It was such an interesting series and I’ve already read one of the books they featured (Honeybee by Craig Silvey).

    1. Very cool! Out of curiosity I checked out some Aussie authors and I’ve read a few of the popular ones and didn’t know the author was Australian!

      1. I wanted to love Midnight Library, but I read it a few weeks ago and I was very disappointed. I found the premise excellent in theory and I love “Sliding doors” style stories. Maybe I had too high expectations, but I found the style mediocre, the dialogues and the ideas for various storylines full of clichés. I found the story simply naive. It’s such a pity, this could have been a great book.
        It’s just my very personal opinion and I’m glad others enjoyed it.

  4. I read The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel last August and it still sits with me.

    Thanks for sharing your book list!

  5. What am amazing book, “Thinking fast and slow”. There are so many incredible levels, nuances and untapped abilities within our marvelous species and this is just one of many recent tones that pulls back a layer or two

    1. Hi MeTheMillennial, thanks for taking the time to comment, which led me to your blog. I read about your journey to quit your high-paying job, congratulations! I definitely recommend The Gift of Fear for straightforward, practical advice on trusting your own intuition. In the end it actually made me feel safer rather than more scared, because I feel more confident in being able to trust myself as well as identify dangerous situations.

      1. Thank you so much and you are welcome.

        The job was destroying my soul and left me zero time to pursue any passions I had in life, one of which is writing.

        Yes it was quite the scary thing to do, but 4 months later I am so glad I did. In fact I am kicking myself I did’t do it sooner. I got my life back and I now have time to follow my passions and interests outside of work.

        Gift of Fear is in my cart haha will let you know once I get through it.

  6. Thank you for this list and for your excellent blog! I seem to be reading similar authors, so I’m immediately downloading those from your list that I haven’t red yet. 🙂

  7. I read the seven husbands of evelyn hugo in 24 hours, SO good. I would also recommend color of law, three women and the vanishing half.

  8. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer fundamentally changed my life and I recommend it to everyone I meet.

    Juliet Takes A Breath & Last Night at the Telegraph club are great queer YA books by women of color. Priory of the Orange Tree is an awesome & diverse epic fantasy. The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee is an essential anti-racist book, as is This Bridge Called My Back. Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller is an astounding & moving memoir/biography.

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