I have always loved to read. My dresser has always had a pile of books on it, ready to be devoured. My library wish list is always full of books I want to read. But then, after having kids, I found myself starting to ignore the book pile, and as it got higher and higher, it was harder to make a dent. After looking at a screen all day at work, making dinner and putting the kids to bed, I was rarely interested in opening a book before bed. It was easier to watch Netflix, or lately, scroll Instagram before passing out. But I felt like something was missing.
So, at the beginning of 2021, I joined a reading challenge. I would finish 36 books in one year. And spoiler alert: I met my goal. I’ll admit that it wasn’t easy. But, I rediscovered my love for reading and found myself hungry for new books and new genres and new authors. If you’re like me and have fallen into a reading rut, here’s what I learned and how to get back into reading:
- Reading is more than just a bound book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look, feel and smell of a good book. But for this phase in my life, I need an e-book for my Kindle and an audiobook to help me keep up with a story. I typically download both versions of the book and listen to and read a book at the same time to make sure I get through it and don’t lose momentum.
- Having an e-book on my phone has made all the difference. For those in-between moments when I don’t have my Kindle but have a few minutes to spare (waiting for the bus to drop off my kid at home, while nursing a baby, etc.), I can now pick up where I left off reading, instead of just mindlessly scrolling social media.
- I have loved challenging myself to find new books, authors, genres, etc. I have asked people for their recommendations and looked up what books to read based on my favorites. I read library newsletters and see what’s popular on Hoopla and Overdrive, my favorite places for getting free e-books and audiobooks.
If you’re looking for some recommendations, here’s a look at some of my favorites from 2021, followed by the full list:
My favorite books of 2021:
- “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- “Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride
- “The Color of Water,” by James McBride
- “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue,” by V.E. Schwab
- “The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig
- Honorable mentions: “Less by Andrew Sean Greer,” “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty
The hardest to read (but still good):
“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” by Ocean Vuong. My coworker called this “raw,” and that’s a great description. It’s a beautiful book, but man, some parts were hard to read for me.
The fastest reads/page-turners
“Someone We Know,” by Shari Lapena: I read this in three days. I had to find out what happened next!
“The Last Thing He Told Me,” by Laura Dave: I had to keep reading – it starts out somewhat confusing, but in a way that made me eager to find out what was going on.
“Leave The World Behind,” by Rumaan Alam: I stayed up late one night reading this and couldn’t put it down. I just had to find out what was going to happen.
The best audiobook
“Daisy Jones & The Six”: It has an amazing cast (Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber) and honestly was easier to listen to than read, because there are so many different characters. The audiobook has each person read their own section, and it felt like I was listening to a series of interviews as part of a documentary.
Best beach reads
- “One to Watch,” by Kate Stayman-London
- “People We Meet on Vacation,” by Emily Henry
- “Malibu Rising,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My List for the Year:
And here are all the books I read this year, in the order that I finished them:
“Someone We Know,” by Shari Lapena
“Somebody’s Daughter,” by Ashley C. Ford
“The Silent Patient,” by Alex Michaelides
“The Couple Next Door,” by Shari Lapena
“The Color of Water,” by James McBride
“Apples Never Fall,” by Liane Moriarty
“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” by Ocean Vuong
“The Other Black Girl,” by Zakiya Dalila Harris
“Daisy Jones & The Six,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Seven Days in June,” by Tia Williams
“Malibu Rising,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“The Four Winds,” by Kirstin Hannah
“Deacon King Kong,” by James McBride
“People We Meet on Vacation,” by Emily Henry
“Aftershocks,” by Nadia Owusu
“The Last Thing He Told Me,” by Laura Dave
“One to Watch,” by Kate Stayman-London
“That Summer,” by Jennifer Weiner
“Severance,” by Ling Ma
“Leave the World Behind,” by Rumaan Alam
“The Henna Artist,” by Alka Joshi
“Nine Perfect Strangers,” by Liane Moriarty
“The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern
“Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah
“Faye Faraway,” by Helen Fisher
“Less,” by Andrew Sean Greer
“The Midnight Library,” by Matt Haig
“The Invisible Life of Addie Larue,” by V.E. Schwab
“What Alice Forgot,” by Liane Moriarty
“Fake Accounts,” by Lauren Oyler
“If I Never Met You,” by Mhairi McFarlane
“In Five Years,” by Rebecca Serle
“Luster,” by Raven Leilani
“American Dirt,” by Jeanine Cummins
“Oona Out of Order,” by Margarita Montimore
Question for fellow parents out there: Have you read any of these books? What’s on your list for 2022? How do you find time to read?