When I was a little girl, a concerned teacher phoned my parents to report that I had spent the entire first month of preschool snugged up in a corner, reading, not talking to any of the other kids. My parents thanked her for her call and gently suggested that books were my happy place.
Books have continued to be my anchor. I have traveled to Mars, walked along the Thames in Victorian England, sailed past the pyramids on the Nile, held my breath as I opened a trap door along the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Through all these years, I have laughed and cried over love and death on white paper with black markings.
I began keeping a book journal in 2020 so that I could remember every book that I have read. In 2021, I recorded 48 books on topics that varied wildly, from non-fiction to science fiction to memoir to historical fiction to suspense, essays, poetry, self-help.
Here are ten from the past year that will stick with me for a long time:
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
- The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed Masood
- The Silent Patient by Alex Michaeledes
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
- Memorial Drive by Natasha Trewthey
- Perestroika in Paris by Jane Smiley
- The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
- Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford
- Homegoing by Yaa Gayasi
These ten books represent fiction, non-fiction, science fiction, memoir, thrillers, historical fiction. Some of them changed they way I think about things. Some of them taught me things I didn’t know. Some of them deepened my empathy. And some frankly just flat-out entertained me. All of them have one thing in common – they tell a compelling story.
I’ve read four books in the first two weeks of January. I belong to three book clubs, one each in California, Florida and Arkansas. I also belong to the Book of the Month Club, courtesy of my thoughtful daughter-in-love. I am constantly seeking new books to broaden my horizons. Let me know what books have stayed with you!