Reading has always been something that I’ve loved, ever since I was a kid. Throughout 2021, I set a small goal to read 15 books and I’m happy to report that I finished. I shared in this post that in 2022, I’m aiming to read 50 which is going to be a real challenge for me. But I’m excited about it and am hoping that if nothing else, it will mean I’ve added a lot of intentional reading time to my days vs. scrolling/binge-watching/wasting time.
The books that I read in 2021 were a mix of fiction, business-related and counselling/wellness-related so as I share my ratings and a thought or two, I decided to rank them in order of category. I’ve listed them in each category from favourite to least favourite
Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
2021 was the year of Taylor Jenkins Reid. It seemed like her books were on every list and every recommendation shared by a friend. But for good reason! I love her writing and Daisy Jones & The Six is my favourite of all her books (but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a close second!). This book was edgy, captivating all the way through and I loved getting to know the characters. 5 stars.
Anxious People – Fredrik Backman
If I had to choose a book that caught me by surprise, Anxious People would be it! I read a different Backman book the year before (A Man Called Ove) and while I liked that book, I didn’t love it. I loved Anxious People. I found it to be charming, a great story, I laughed and I even welled up a few times. A delightful experience and the last book I read in 2021. 5 stars.
A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
This book is powerful, hauntingly beautiful and will leave you feeling all the feelings. It is a truly beautiful account of life-long friendship, resiliency, identity formation, and compassion. The story follows a group of friends throughout their life as they navigate the hardships of life, the simple joys, the ups and the downs. This is a long book but I was captivated by the characters and cried more than once as I read their stories. 5 stars.
Trigger Warning for this book for many difficult topics – self-harm, suicidal ideation/attempts, addiction, child sexual abuse, domestic violence.
Transcendent Kingdom – Yaa Gyasi
I really enjoyed this book and thought it covered a number of complex topics so beautifully – family, addiction, religion, science, racism. It was devastating and powerful and I appreciated the gentleness and compassion that was brought to some tough topics. 4.5 stars.
Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
My second TJR of the year and I enjoyed this one. While it’s definitely #3 for me by this author, I would still recommend it as an easy and fun read. 4.5 stars.
The Last Thing He Told Me – Laura Dave
This book was easy to get through and I enjoyed it but I found it somewhat underwhelming. I did enjoy that it was a bit more suspenseful than what I usually gravitate towards and that led me to add a handful of psychological thriller type books to my 2022 reading list. If you’re looking for something easy to read and not overly complicated, this would be a good one to try. 4 stars.
Normal People – Sally Ronney
I was just chatting with a friend about this book over the weekend because it’s one of her favourites. This book is one that stuck with me even though I read it at the start of the year. The story itself felt quite simple yet the complexity of the characters was rich. I thought that Rooney captured the human experience beautifully but this book left me feeling kind of sad and disappointed. However, I think that’s intentional and sort of what real-life can feel like sometimes. If you’re looking for a feel-good book, this probably isn’t the one. But if you appreciate a more nuanced story, I would recommend this. I’ve also heard there is a tv show that’s quite good, so I’ve added that to my watch-list this year. 3.5 stars.
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
I didn’t love this book to be honest. It was fine, and I finished it but it was definitely my least favourite fiction book I read this year. The premise of the story is interesting and I appreciated the perspective but I just didn’t love any of the characters and found it to be a bit boring. 3 stars.
TBH, the business books I read this year are pretty “fluffy”. They’re mostly stories of women founders who have built brands because that was the headspace I was in this last year. I really enjoy listening to podcasts of this nature so jotted down a few “founder” books to listen to on walks. I find myself inspired hearing the stories of others, especially since the world of being an entrepreneur is a bit lonely at times. When I listen to these stories, it’s a good reminder of why I’m putting in the work now.
Work Party – Jaclyn Johnson
This was my favourite biz book I read this year. Jaclyn Johnson is the founder of Create & Cultivate, a platform that supports women in becoming entrepreneurs through the sharing of resources and business education. I actually listened to this book twice this year because I enjoyed it so much – it’s very much an account of how Johnson started and grew her business and shares lots of practical advice. 5 stars.
Blowing My Way To The Top – Jen Atkin
Atkin is the co-founder of the haircare brand OUAI and this book documents her story of founding this business. I appreciated Atkin’s scrappiness and her resourcefulness. It was an interesting story of bringing a product to life. 4.5 stars.
Fearless – Rebecca Minkoff
Another book similar to the last one, Fearless documents Minkoff’s start and rise as a founder of her line of handbags. It was interesting to learn about all the hurdles needed to start getting a product onto shelves vs being a direct to consumer store. 4 stars.
Crushing It – Gary Vaynerchuk
I have mixed feelings about this book. It felt a bit too “hustle-culture” for me at times and preached many practices required to be successful that I don’t necessarily agree with (read: overworking yourself, no room for balance) but I did enjoy hearing the stories of a bunch of successful entrepreneurs and found it inspiring mixed with some practical advice. This book is a follow up to Vaynerchuk’s first book “Crush It” and sort of felt like a giant endorsement of that book, but I must admit that it was well-endorsed because I’ve added his first book to my reading list for 2022. So stay tuned for that review. I liked listening to this one while getting my morning row workouts down. 3.5 stars.
The 5am Club – Robin Sharma
I was not a fan of this book. I found the format of it to be super annoying and reading it felt like a waste of time. I think the entire premise of this book could just as easily been summed up in a page or two rather than an entire book. While I do love the idea of “own your morning to elevate your day” and that concept/line actually stuck with me all year, the book was not enjoyable to me. 2 stars.
This category is looking pretty sparse! I have about 4 other books on the go that I didn’t finish up in 2021, so I will need to bump those into my 2022 reading and will share over on my Instagram stories as I complete them. But here are the two I did finish this year.
It’s Not Always Depression – Hilary Jacobs Hendel
This is one of my favourite counselling/wellness books and one that I re-read every couple of years. It’s actually inspired me to begin training in a particular modality of counselling because I believe in it so much. This book isn’t directed at practitioners (but fellow counsellors – you should add it to your list!) and I find it to be quite accessible and easy to understand. It examines how to move through emotions in a healthy way and how to move ourselves into an openhearted state. Highly recommend this book always. 5 stars.
Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
I think Brené Brown is brilliant (me and every other mental health practitioner out there) and love everything she produces. I read this book at the start of the year in a season when we were about to be moving and starting many new things (jobs, businesses, new house, new city), I appreciated the focus on cultivating community and a sense of belonging (one of my goals for this year). I may need to revisit this one but it’s one that I would recommend! 5 stars.
Great content! Keep up the good work!