As many of you know, I LOVE to read! I also love to read many different types of books depending on my mood or interests at the time. This year I read a lot of different books and found that I enjoyed almost all of them. Today, I want to share with you my top 5 books I read this year, according to different categories. I hope this list will inspire you to pick up a new book or perhaps a genre you don’t normally read. Let’s get to it…here are my top 5 books I read in 2021-all different categories.
The Four Winds- Kristin hannah
I am certain a lot of you have heard of this book as Kristin Hannah is a very popular author and The Four Winds has received a lot of praise this year. In my opinion, this book offers an abundance of what I look for in a good story. First, it tells the story of a strong and determined woman, who falls down but always picks herself up. I love a female character, who against all odds, fights for her family and for what is right. Second, this book has a rich history that opened my eyes to just how truly terrible the Great Depression was for people in the United States of America. The main character takes us on a journey from a farm in Texas all the way to California. Along the way, we not only learn about what it was like to live through the Great Depression, but also the Great Dust Bowl of the Great Plains area, and finally, the migrant camps located throughout California. A lot of what I read in this book was brand new to me. I found much of it to be disheartening but also fascinating. Third, The Four Winds, really speaks to the human spirit, both good and bad. It is when we are at our most desperate that our true selves come out. This book had me thinking of how I might have responded to similar situations as the characters in the book. Would I be as strong? Would I remain kind? or Would I allow myself to go to a dark place? It certainly is interesting to consider. If you love fiction, and especially if you love historical fiction, I highly recommend this book! https://bit.ly/3D7skYt
Losing control and liking it: How to set your teen (and yourself) free- tim sanford
Parenting teens is no joke—even when you have great kids. There is a reason each generation warns the next about how hard it is to parent teenagers. I know I have definitely struggled over the years. Obviously, I love my kids more than anything and only want the best for them, but every day seems to offer up new challenges and new decisions. As a parent, it is hard to know when to step in and when to let them figure it out on their own. I really struggle with this because of my personality type— which tends to be that of the “stickler”. If there is a right way to do something, then that is the way I want to go. I feel safe in the world of “right”. The issue is teenagers often challenge right from wrong. They have different ideas of what is right. All of this leaves me wondering, “How should I handle this?” while feeling like I am losing control. Tim Sanford’s book really helped me with this. He relieved me of a lot of the pressure I put on myself and gave me clear guidelines of when to parent and when to step back. He also reminded me to rely on God to help guide my children. Mr. Sanford is a Christian, so this book comes from that perspective. If you are a Christian, you will love his approach and even if you aren’t a Christian, I think you will find this book to be helpful and end up with a real sense of peace about parenting teenagers that you didn’t know was possible. https://amzn.to/3okB9YV
The Four Tendencies- Gretchen Rubin
Have you ever considered how you respond to expectations placed on you? Each of us has outer and inner expectations that we deal with on a daily basis. Gretchen Rubin, author of the book The Four Tendencies offers up the idea that all people basically respond to expectations in one of four ways. Once we understand which way we respond and how others respond we can better communicate with one another. Here is an excerpt from her website explaining them:
About the Four Tendencies
In just about any role we play—as manager, health-care professional, team member, teacher, coach, spouse, parent, or colleague, to name a few—it’s helpful to know our own and other people’s Tendencies. It’s hard to grasp just how differently we can all see the world. When we can see other people’s perspectives, we understand why, from their point of view, their actions make sense.
In a nutshell, remember:
- Upholders want to know what should be done.
- Questioners want justifications.
- Obligers need accountability.
- Rebels want freedom to do something their own way.
I learned a lot, not only about myself but also about those closest to me while reading this book. Surprisingly, I thought I would be in the category of Upholder but in fact, I am a Questioner. Once I understood who a Questioner is, it all made sense. A Questioner is very much my personality. If you would like to start out 2022 with a better understanding of yourself and others, give this book a read. https://amzn.to/3sdEH2O You can even get a head start and take Gretchen’s quiz to find out which tendency you are here. https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/ ***It will ask you to enter your e-mail but do not worry, you will not get a slew of emails from her. It is only to send you your quiz results.
The Hearts Invisible Furies- John Boyne
This book. Where do I even begin? It stole my heart. It honestly stole the heart of most, if not all of my book club friends. I think this was the most highly rated book in my book club this year. It was unlike any book I have ever read. The story is about a young boy, growing up in Ireland in the 1940s who is given up for adoption. As the years go by you get an inside look at what his life was like, how he grew as a person, his triumphs, and his failures. You will learn a lot about Ireland, the human spirit, and also what it is like to be gay, as Cyril the main character is gay. You will laugh, love, and cry while reading this book. It is a LONG one but I promise you it will be worth it. Cyril will run away with your heart even when you are not sure you want him to. This is a book that will leave you thinking about it long after you have finished it. https://amzn.to/3H2a30B ***There are a couple of sex scenes in the book that some may find hard to read but I do believe they are important for the character development of Cyril and what his life as a gay man is like in Ireland.
The stranger on the Road to Emmaus- John R. Cross
If you read my post about reading the bible (around Easter time this year) https://herheartstirs.com/my-top-7-tips-for-reading-the-bible/, then you may remember me mentioning this book. It was new to me this year but it is one I know I will go back and re-read many times. I have already done it! If you are looking to grow your faith and understand the stories of the bible better, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus is an excellent place to start. I know so many of us are intimidated when it comes to reading the bible, so starting with this book is perfect. It breaks down the bible into easy-to-read segments. The stories are understandable and their messages explained. The book will bring you comfort at a time when we all seem to be struggling. I know I have picked it up many times before bed when I am feeling stressed and need to feel calm again. I read a chapter or two and suddenly my world seems a little better. It brings me peace and I know it can do the same for you. It will remind you that indeed God is real, Jesus loves you no matter what, and that all of us are forgiven and welcomed into His kingdom. https://amzn.to/3J603F6
So there you have it, friends, my top 5 books I read in 2021. I hope this list gets you reading and exploring some different genres. Please be sure to comment below if you find a new favorite or have read some of these books already. I would love to read your thoughts on these selections and I know other readers would like to hear others’ opinions of the books I have listed above.