My 21 Books to Read in 2021

I’m not exactly sure what happened over the course of 2020, but I didn’t read much — which is exactly opposite of what one would assume. Instead I fell face first into binge-watching, and not wholly without reward — I’m quite thrilled to have met David and the entire Rose family. The truth is, television was just easier. Reading required brain power that I didn’t have in me this year. 

But 2020 was not without its literary wins. Of the few I did read, Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed”easily became one of the most transformative books of my less-than-40 years. Overall, though, I drifted more toward comforting rereads, and that’s okay. If anything, 2020 became the year of giving ourselves some grace.

But now I’ve been itching to get my nose back in the books, and so about a month ago I narrowed down a long list of wants into the catchy 21 Books in 2021. (I’m a sucker for a good list) The result? Several books are ones I started but didn’t get far; one is a bucket list read that’s really a demonstration in perseverance; one is a YA novel that my daughter has repeatedly pestered me to read. 

One unique item is the “March” trilogy, because it’s actually a set of graphic novels written by John Lewis. The only excuse I have for not reading them sooner is that, in complete contrast with my husband and daughter, I don’t enjoy graphic novels. I’ve always been a fast reader, and graphic novels force me to slow down. I have to look at each panel and use both words and images to absorb the story. But it’s John Lewis, and the illustrations are breathtaking, and I know this set is a must.

My daughter and I were obsessed with “Hamilton” when it debuted, and we even drove to Chicago to see it on stage for her tenth birthday. I bought the novel by Ron Chernow and the thing is, it’s interesting — the pages are just incredibly dense and it fell by the wayside. Twice. This time around I’ve got a reading plan that begins January 1, and if all goes well I’ll conquer this sucker by the end of July. 

Other books include “One of Us is Lying” by Karen M. McManus, only to appease my daughter. “The Five Love Languages” for Children and Teenagers, because the original was a game changer in my marriage. “The Hobbit,” because although I’ve never gotten into “Lord of the Rings,” Stephen Milligan assures me I’ll enjoy it. “The Gifts of Imperfection,” because I find Brené Brown’s work transformative.

I’ve made sure my list includes a good mix of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, and humor. And although I don’t consider it a ‘resolution,’ few others have excited me more. This new year will be better, by George, if for nothing else than more literary wins.

* This column first appeared in The Walton Tribune on January 2, 2021 *


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