What a year for reading. I went outside of my normal genres, intentionally paid attention to books written by people of color, educated myself on being an anti-racist, listened to more audiobooks than ever before and found that I do indeed have a love of romance novels and that they certainly have a place in my reading life. I read 62 books this year, surpassing my goal of 50 and really enjoyed it. I’m back to doing what I love again, and using reading as a form of escapism for stress relief, something I think most of us found ourselves searching for this year. Aside from escapism, however, I’ve returned to reading books as a form of education and expanding my mind and awareness. I dipped my toe in the water of female spies, sex trafficking, black lives, the American Revolution, writing, raising good humans and ways to love people. It was a fantastic reading year, and I wanted to share a few of the books that impacted me most.
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Books that Reminded Me How Much I Don’t Know
This book re-ignited my passion for historical fiction and books written in epistolary form. I’ve added all of the books by these women to my TBR, and plan on doing a deep dive into this time period in 2021. I was reminded of how much I did not know, and also my love of musicals as I followed this book by the Hamilton play when it came out on Disney+, and now have the soundtrack on my playlists. My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
Absolutely brutal. This book slapped me in the face, broke my heart and made me ache for humanity. The writing is very transformative, and caused me to greatly appreciate my own life, as well as research how I can help victims of sex trafficking. This book has many trigger warnings, but is worth a read to build awareness. Girls Burn Brighter: A Novel
Code Name Helene
My all-time favorite book of the year. There are passages in this book that haunt me, but greatly appreciate the amount of research the author did in this historical fiction novel. Nancy Wake is on my list of people to research in 2021, and I cannot wait to deep-dive into her biography. Code Name Hélène: A Novel
Romance Is Not Just Fluff
Using the Summer Reading Guide from the online Book Club I joined this year (Modern Mrs. Darcy), I was able to find many contemporary romance novels that were wonderfully written and broke the steroetype that I had told myself romance was. I also found my new favorite author, Emily Henry, who is definitely worth a follow on Instagram for anyone trying to be a writer, or wanting to learn more about the publishing industry. I can’t wait for her new book People We Meet On Vacation to come out in 2021.
My Favorites of the Year Were:
Books That Opened My Eyes to My Own Racism
This year made me realize that I’m not allowed to say I’m not a racist. It isn’t helpful and it is untrue. The systemic racism in our country is deeply embedded, and is going to take a lot of work to dig out. I am certainly an anti-racist, and am building my own awareness and knowledge to make my actions match this belief. My impact may be small, but I feel I must start somewhere. These are the books I read this year that helped me understand my own racism as well as a wider awareness to the experience of life as a person of color as compared to mine.
Clap When You Land (I found anything by Elizabeth Acevedo is amazing, her words and poetry are genius)
The Hate U Give -The audiobook is absolutely amazing if you can get your hands on it. I added this book to the list of books I want my daughter to read when she becomes old enough.
Becoming-Also a great audiobook.
My reading life this year reminded me of my true self, and I’m looking forward to what the next year brings. What was your favorite book of the year? I look forward to your comments! Happy Reading!