2021: An Intentional Reading Year In Review

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Time spent reading is precious .

In 2021 I resolved to cultivate a more intentional reading life.

I find it very stifling to choose what books I will read in a given period of time – but I also acknowledge that some reading guidelines are helpful as I seek to make the most of the reading time I do have.

Developing 5 guiding principles for my reading life in 2021 seemed to work well, and in my year-end review, I’d like to revisit those principles and highlight my favorite books from the year at the same time.

Full disclosure: I am not naturally an organized person. I am a creative at heart. My 2021 reading life was an exercise in becoming a bit more organized, but allowing myself to explore those “reading rabbit holes” I so desperately love.

2021 Reading Year in Review

Let’s go through the goals I made nearly a year ago – I’ll give a report on how I did with the goal, and then give you some books from that category I enjoyed.

Homegrown Book Picks

Hang on, and get out your TBR list! But first…

Follow Along This Year!

First, if you’d like to see what I’m reading – and everything I read in 2021 – you can connect with me in several ways:

You’ll be noticing more from me this year under “Homegrown Book Picks”, so I hope you follow along!

Including More Nonfiction

A few people who know me well assured me that if I found the RIGHT nonfiction, I would love it, and they were correct. I discovered an entirely new genre to me (or at least I discovered a name for it) – Narrative Nonfiction.

Each month I did try to include at least one nonfiction read – and surprisingly I began to gravitate toward MORE nonfiction. The following five were favorites this year:

Additionally, I had a few other nonfiction favorites. Each of these broadened my mind and inspired me to consider new and interesting ideas.

This Beautiful Truth, by Sarah Clarkson, truly spoke to me this year. My dad passed away in March and her words help me to see God’s beauty in even the most difficult circumstances surrounding my dad’s death.

Make Time for Middle-Grade Novels

I realized that I’ve truly been missing middle grades novels! Now that my youngest is nearly finished with high school we’re not reading middle-grade books aloud (although we do still read aloud!). In 2021 I sought to include middle-grade novels and share about them with the Homegrown Learners community.

One author I continued to fall in love with in 2021 is Michael Morpurgo. I gifted An Elephant in the Garden to a couple of teens I know, who loved it just as much as I did! Morpurgo’s books are poignant and easy to read. I plan to read more of them in 2022.

I read many more middle-grade books in 2021, but these are the standouts:

Give Me All The Historical Fiction

In 2021 I knew I needed to broaden my reading horizons a bit, but I also didn’t want to give up my favorite genre, historical fiction. So, I decided to just embrace the genre and take in as much as I could during the year.

I’m truly a historical fiction nerd, and I embrace that.

Hands down, my favorite book of the year was Once Upon a Wardrobe, by Patti Callahan.

This book was truly a magical escape. I read an advanced copy via Netgalley, and then after the book was published a dear friend purchased a signed copy for me as a gift. What a treasure!

I also seemed to read a lot of books based in Europe during the first half of the 20th century. I learned quite a bit about London society during WWII.

2022 will certainly include a lot of historical fiction, and I’m hoping to find nonfiction match-ups to help me learn more about topics I’m interested in. For example, I just finished reading The Woman Before Wallis this past week and now I’m on a hunt to find nonfiction books about Thelma and Gloria Morgan (Vanderbilt).

Tackle Those Classics

In my post from earlier this year, I wrote about trying to read a classic each month. I didn’t reach that goal, but I will continue to strive to read more classics in 2022.

And, what exactly is the definition of a classic? According to the dictionary, a classic is a work that is:

judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind.

I was delighted to discover Elizabeth Goudge in 2021 – and loved The Bird in the Tree. I copied nearly four pages of quotes into my book journal from that book alone!

Madeleine L’Engle also occupied a place in my heart. Her Crosswick Journals, which are personal reflections on her faith and family, were a balm to my soul. I gifted A Circle of Quiet (the first of the journals) this year because it meant so much to me.

Favorite classics this year:

Allow Room For Escape

From my blog post earlier this year:

I do enjoy reading for escape, so I will be choosing one “escape” book each month.

These books will be “just because” books – but I want to be very careful that they are free of foul language, explicit sex scenes, and social agendas.

This turned out to be an interesting goal. The older I get the more discerning I become. I want the books I read to feed my soul and intrigue me in some way. It’s hard to find “best sellers” that are free of sex scenes and social agendas. I found myself steering away from best sellers in 2021 (although you will see there are a few I really did like).

This last “escape” category was a little bit of a catch-all for me in 2021. There was definitely some fluff in the category, but also some best-selling literary fiction that I did enjoy.

Two authors that stood out for me this year were Sean Dietrich (Sean of the South) and Katherine Reay. I will be reading more of their books in 2022.

A BIG Goal for 2022

I want to continue the intentional reading I pursued in 2021, so those five categories/goals remain the same.

There is, however, one big hairy goal I am making.

Are you ready? (The people closest to me are shouting hooray but doubt I can do it.)

I will not buy a book in 2022.

and just in case I didn’t state that clearly…

I will not buy a book in 2022.

So, how then will I obtain books?

  • Read from my extensive stash at home!

  • Use the library and my Libby app.

  • Borrow from friends or find at The Little Free Library

  • Use my Scribd subscription — which is AMAZING! (If you want to try it you can read for 30 days free using this link. I can have as many audio and eBooks going as I want at one time!)

I have a crazy amount of books in my home, and I am looking forward to reading through them. Any whims that I have for reading will have to be satisfied without spending money on books – which my husband assures me will save our family a significant amount of money – and space!

I hope you have enjoyed this 2021 reading wrap-up and recommendation post.

I’d love to know if you had a favorite (s) book in 2021.

Let me know what it was in the comments below!

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