Saturday, January 29, 2022

2021 Reading in review

Now that we are fully into 2022, I'd like to take a moment to review my reading and writing life last year. 

When 2021 began, I had a couple of goals for my reading. First, I wanted to intentionally slow down and read fewer books. Second, I wanted to re-read some of the many wonderful books that adorn my shelves. Well, I didn't do much in the way of achieving this second goal, but lo and behold, I did manage to read fewer books than normal! (a few years ago, I noticed that I was reading around 100 books a year.) 

However, in 2021, I read 74 books! This total includes a handful of comic book volumes, some Gothic novels, some modern horror and vampires, a selection of classics, memoirs, homeschooling, and a couple of YA novels. I definitely started out the year strong, and then my reading drifted off a bit once fall time hit and various commitments (and the holidays) came. I went through all of my book posts so I can highlight one book from each month that I read. These books aren't always the "best" book I read that month, but they were good in some way and help touch on the diverse stories that I read. 

January: 4 books

Psmith, Journalist, by P. G. Wodehouse

This book is in the Mike & Psmith series, and it follows these two men they journey to New York City. Psmith becomes a sub-editor for a newspaper, and suddenly is thrust into the world of gangs and corruption. This book was hilarious, and a great follow-up to what I had read previously about Mike and Psmith.


Feb: 6 books

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. 

I spent over a month on this book, and it was well worth it. After their father, Fyodor, is killed, a group of brothers and the town try to figure out who is guilty of the murder. There are layers of sin, forgiveness, redemption, hope, and community packed in this novel, and it was beautiful. 

March: 12 books 

Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. 

This play presents the daily life of townspeople throughout a span of several years. We see characters grow, fall in love, and die. In its simplicity, this play is deeply meaningful and reflective, and I thought it was spectacular. 

April: 6 books

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. 

A group of young British schoolboys finds themselves trapped on an island just after WWII, and the gradually spiral into savagery. This book was excellent! Not only is the writing beautiful and the story thought-provoking (and rather relevant to our current world), but this book really speaks to me of hope.

May: 5 books

No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, by Sarah Frier. 

A journalist sets out to present the story of Instagram, and it was fascinating. From the discussion of startups to influencer culture, this book covers some really interesting topics. Especially since Instagram is a huge part of our culture now, I am very grateful that I read this book. 

June: 9 books

Home Education, by Charlotte Mason.

In this collection of essays, Charlotte Mason explores children ages 0-9 and their particular needs, abilities, and educational process. I love her huge emphasis on letting children "lie fallow" for the first six or so years of life, as well as her push to let children spend several hours each day in nature. This book was fabulous, and while I don't 100% agree with everything Mason says or believes, I loved a lot of this book and found it very helpful. 

July: 7 books

Egg and Spoon, by Gregory Maguire. (YA novel)

A poor peasant girl from a Russian village meets a wealthy girl whose train stops in their area--and her life is changed forever. The writing was hilarious, particularly Baba Yaga. The nasty old witch of Russian folklore plays a huge part in this story, and she was wisecracking, sarcastic, and very funny. This book was a ton of fun to read!

August: 8 books

Silas Marner, by George Eliot. 

When he's falsely accused of a crime, Silas Marner leaves his home and takes up residence at the edge of the small English village of Raveloe. He lives as a reclusive weaver whose only joy comes from looking over his money each night--until one day, when his money is stolen. Silas's journey and transformation in this story is beautiful, and even though this book is small, it packs a powerful message in its pages. 

September: 5 books

Irreversible Damage, by Abigail Shrier 

A journalist who began noticing the rate at which teenage girls are claiming gender confusion, Shrier dives deep into the topic of the transgender craze and the dangers it poses; and she does this from a progressive, liberal standpoint. Well-researched, insightful, and thorough, this book is extremely important as we face this current trend in our culture. 

October: 5 books

St. Martin de Porres, by Giuliana Cavallini

This was a beautiful biography of St. Martin de Porres, a Dominican from 17th century Peru. Rather than being told in a strictly chronological format, this book is more of a collection of stories about St. Martin, with some of the author's own reflections woven in. Honestly, some of the author's reflections were amazing; I love that she tackled some big topics like colonialism, contemplation-and-action, and the general path of holiness. 

November: 3 books

Unseen Warfare, by Lorenzo Scupoli, edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, and revised by Theophan the Recluse

This spiritual classic is full of wisdom about how we can pursue holiness and virtue in our lives. I really loved the interplay between the different perspectives in this book (it passed through the hands of a Roman Catholic priest, a Greek Orthodox monk, and a Russian Orthodox bishop). Even though I am not exactly the target audience for this book (since I'm not a monk), I LOVED IT.

December: 4 books

The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni

This was a gorgeous Italian classic, written in the 1840s and set in the 17th century. It follows a young couple, Renzo and Lucia, as their marriage plans are thwarted by a tyrant and scoundrel in their village. Though the story is slow-going at times, it's a beautiful novel with lots to say about humanity, love, and forgiveness. 

All in all, I'm really happy with the stack of books that I dove into. I had a lot of fun, and I read some really insightful volumes. I do wish I had spread it out a little bit; some months I read oodles of epic books, and other months only one or two were very notable, but that's just how it worked out. In 2022, I don't have any major reading goals, aside from my "re-read books" goal that I never accomplished last year. In my literary posts for the upcoming months, I'll make sure to mark books that are re-reads. 

I did really like slowing down my pace and tackling some "bigger books" last year, so I may try to do that again. Though at the moment, I can't handle anything too deep or big because my brain is mush most days ;) 

Slowing down also presented more time to do different projects like
the weaving class I took in Spring 2021. It was such a fun experience, and 
it's something I would love to get back to eventually!

I also like how slowing down on reading gave me more time to work on writing. 

One year ago, I began my blog newsletter, and that little random project has brought a lot of joy into my life. Reflecting on hope, and sharing little tidbits from my life and brain, has been so much fun. I've gotten some wonderful messages from people about my newsletter, and it always makes me so happy to hear that it's touching lives in different ways. 

I've also worked on my book proposal quite a bit over the last year, and it's now gotten a nice stack of rejections. Working on it and sending it out has been a really good experience, and I think it's definitely helped me grow as a writer. I don't know if anything will ever come of that project, but I'm at peace with working on it slowly, here and there, and seeing what--if anything--God wants to do with it :) One of my favorite quotes by St. Josemaria Escriva is "The apostle has no aim other than letting God work, making himself available." (from The Forge) I've been pondering that a lot lately, and I'm really trying to joyfully embrace it, trusting God with the present moment. 

2021 was a full and joyous year, and I am excited to see what the coming months bring! Thank you all for joining me on this journey! 


  1. Great quote from St. Josemaria Escriva!!

    What an awesome selection of books you shared here. Nice job, especially tackling some of those bigger ones. Three friends and I just joined Well Read Mom for the year and we're excited. We plan to take it at our own pace and on our own timeline and will only get together every couple months or do it via zoom, etc...mainly we wanted the accountability and ideas for reading more classics. Looking forward to it.

    Also, that's so neat you worked on your book proposal! I highly admire that!! I feel like writing has really gone downhill for me this year. Lots of "lying fallow" and experiencing life and spiritual pruning over here...we will see where that leads. ;)

    1. Isn't that such a good quote? I used to keep it on my bedroom wall when I was in high school, and so it's really stuck with me all these years later. It's so good.

      That's so great that you have jumped into Well Read Mom!! I think it's neat that you are taking it on your own timeline and pace, that's such a great idea. I hope you enjoy it! And I think that's beautiful that you've had a year of "lying fallow" and working on life and spiritual growth-all such important things that many of us (myself included) can struggle with making time for. Good for you! That is such a wonderful way to spend your time :)