Top Books of 2021

Saturday, January 8, 2022

My top reads of the year post is one I love to share but feels like gathering every last thought and emotion I've experienced for the last 365 days into a pile. Considering I tend to be drawn to some darker fiction and heavy non-fiction, it's a lot to sift through.

My goal this year was to read 100 books and I made it to 83. Not too shabby. So here is how I'm choosing to break it down. I'll list my top four fiction and nonfiction, and if you want more, every last book I read has its own monthly reel on my Instagram.


Note * I never read, learn, or listen to anything about a book prior to reading it. I just dive in and see where it takes me and I quit if I don't like it.

1. The Push by Ashley Audrain: This was one of the most intense books I have ever read. I won't tell you what it's about because I don't want to ruin it, but it falls into a genre that really resonates with me that I like to call "dark motherhood." I love when an author can beautifully articulate the scary, unthinkable sides of being a mom. It's like the Steinbeck side of motherhood. Others titles like this are The Need, A Life's Work, Nightbitch, and Nothing To See Here. I'd also put the new Netflix movie The Lost Daughter (based on a book) in this category. This particular book had me needing to pause and take a break because it left me so on edge. I've heard it called predictable but it's only predictable in the way that you're just praying the whole time it can't be what you think it is.  It left me with goosebumps crying. One of the best books I've ever read.

2. Monday's Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson: I've read several of her books but this one, holy cow! She writes some pretty dark stuff but this one takes the cake in my opinion. I was reading this at a park watching my child play and I felt wrong for having these words filter through my brain at the same time. Again, I don't want to ruin it but if you want your jaw to be on the floor, read it. 

3. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Epic is the word that come to mind when I think of this story. I legit yelled out loud at the story several times. It really puts you through the ringer emotionally. There is epic love, drama, spice, and just more DRAMA. After reading this, Circe by the same author is now on my list. An adventure of a read.

4. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover: I never would have imagined that a Hoover book would make my top four! Her books are usually the romantic fluff I need to break up some heavy non-fiction but this one she wrote from the heart. It was the most eye-opening perspective on how hard it is to break the cycle of domestic abuse and leave someone who is abusive. That was not a background I had any real experience with and I think so many people are quick to judge a woman and say that she should just leave a man who hurts her but it's not that simple. This perspective is just so important to have out there for others to gain some compassion into a really hard subject. At the end of the book Hoover shares her mother's experience and it was just so beautiful that she wrote this for her. I was bawling and emotionally wrecked by the end. 

Honorable Mentions: Fiction

*Clap When You Land: FUN and full of twists and turns. It's YA but I'm cool with that.

*The Things We Cannot Say: Gut wrenching historical fiction

*The Henna Artist: These characters really take up residence in your head by the end. Great story.


1. What Happened To You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing by Oprah Winfrey & Dr. Bruce D. Perry: As a teacher and mother this book hit me hard. Teaching in inner-city Chicago for 12 years, this book made me realize how deep and early trauma can start in children and how it impacts their education and ability to learn. It also brought home what I've always held in my heart as the most important part of teaching, which is to take time to establish a relationship of care and connection with a student before you can expect them to be a student and meet an academic expectations, or function in a classroom or social group. An amazing read for teachers as well as parents. And with the current state of the world, teachers need to be trauma informed to help kids moving forward.

2. More Than A Body by Lexie and Lindsay Kite PhDs: Moms of girls, READ THIS! It's so easy to think you're doing the whole "body positive" thing right with your daughters but this book really gives you all the answers and right words to say. If your daughter is older it would be such a great thing to read together. Written by sisters Lexie and Lindsay, this book shares lots of their own experience as well as stories from their work with women. Just a great way to really sit with the idea of not just trying to focus on accepting every body type but make it simply that your body is the least important thing about you. Body neutrality is the name of the game and knowing you are so much more than just a body!

3. How to Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera: Im a big fan of Dr. Nicole and her Instagram account. I was so pumped to read her book because it really breaks down trauma into its main types, how people get to the places they are in adulthood because of their trauma responses and most importantly, just like the title says, how to do the work to get you to the other side. Spoiler: it's not an easy read or journey but it's really really worth it in the end. I think this book comes at such a great time in life where a lot of us are suffering from differences of opinions with people we love. It gives you a very easy path to understanding and finding compassion but also how to set hard boundaries. It's the work we all needed to do most in 2021 and it helped me so much.

4. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski: The science of sex! It's presented in a super easy-to-digest way and is highly informative. It's stuff that is really important to know as adults so you don't think anything is "wrong with you" and helps you think about how to present sex and body knowledge to your kids so that they make smart informed decisions in their life. You will probably learn a lot about yourself and your experiences, plus reframe some of your previous thoughts along the way as you read. Also Emily just sounds like she would be the coolest friend to have to answer all life's weirdest questions. Wish her phone number came with this book!


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