As I mentioned yesterday, I only finished 50 books in 2021. For some people, that might seem like a lot of books to finish in a year. For me, that’s definitely much lower than usual — and I know it was because of not setting weekly goals for much of the year.
But even though I didn’t finish as many books as usual, I read/listened to some real winners! Here were my top six books I finished in 2021:
This was my very favorite audiobook of the year! This is based on the true story of a Jewish family during World War II who were separated all over the world and how they ended up surviving and eventually being reunited. It is deeply moving, gripping, and heartbreaking. But at the same time, it is the story of love, family, and perseverance against all odds.
One thing I noticed was how creative and determined each of the family members was to beating the odds, coming up with outside the box ideas, and not giving up. When all around it felt like everything was crumbling and hopeless, they chose to keep pressing on and keep holding on to the will to live.
Of all the parts of the book, I think the sections that most impacted me were thinking of what it would be like to have young children during the Holocaust and how deeply difficult it would be to try to care for and protect a baby or child in the midst of so fear, uncertainty, and straight up disregard for human life. I can’t even begin to imagine and this book helped me to have a glimpse into just how horrific that would have been.
Note: There is a little bit of language and, as you can imagine, some intense and graphic topics are touched on. However, I felt like the book did a good job of not going into unnecessarily graphic details and stayed true to the story and experiences.
Verdict: 5 stars
And this was my top read of the year — the one that most deeply impacted my life! If you read one book from this list, please read this one.
I just couldn’t give this book any less than five stars! It chronicles in beautiful and brutal detail David Platt’s week-long trek in the Himalayas. He takes you on the journey with him to experience the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and bone-chilling cold he witnessed. But the cold wasn’t the most chilling part of his week, not by any stretch of the imagination. He pens so vulnerably his encounters with great poverty, trafficking of little girls, and human suffering, the likes of which he didn’t even believe existed.
This book is his honest account of questioning his long-held beliefs about God, suffering, and what it truly means to give your life to follow in Jesus’ steps. He doesn’t give a lot of answers in the book; he mostly just shares stories, asks questions, and challenges you to stop living a life of complacency.
It’s a well-written book that draws you in with the engaging story line and leaves you taking a really deep look at your heart, your choices, and your perspective. I highly recommend it — and can’t stop talking about how it has made me examine life with fresh eyes and ears to the need around me — and around the world.
Verdict: 5 stars
This book wasn’t at all what I expected and I almost didn’t keep listening after the first few chapters because it threw me off… but I’m so glad that I did because it ended up being such a beautiful story.
I loved getting to walk in the shoes of a mom who has a child on the autism spectrum and to feel more empathy for what she is experiencing and walking through. The book also made me think of how everyone is carrying heavy burdens and how many people are probably walking around with secrets and burdens and struggles that we don’t know anything about.
Note: This book contains a little crass language.
Verdict: 4 stars
If you feel like something is missing in your spiritual walk, if you have always struggled with wondering what you believe about the Holy Spirit, or if you are tired from trying to power through life in your own strength, I think this book this book will encourage and bless you.
I appreciated Jeannie’s honest words of how she’s wrestled through what she writes in this book. As someone who — just in the last few years — has began to truly understand the Holy Spirit and what it means to live life relying upon upon Him, I resonated with so much of this book. I highly recommend every Christian read this book and take it to heart… it just might completely change your entire life!
Verdict: 4 stars
I listened to this audiobook and found it to be a really engaging story (that was also well narrated). While some of the story felt fairly improbable and impossible, it opened up my eyes to another World War II story I’d never heard of before: Jews who hid in the sewers in order to survive the Holocaust.
If you want to read more of the real-life accounts of Jewish people hiding in the sewer, check out this site. And now I want to read The Girl in the Green Sweater, a first hand retelling of surviving in the sewer for 14 months and also the book, In the Sewers of Lvov: A Heroic Story of Survival from the Holocaust. (Have any of you read either of these?)
Verdict: 4 stars
I read this book a number of years ago and loved it. Silas and I just finished reading it together for his summer reading project and I loved it even more — especially since the main character has cleft lip/palate and we could relate even more to him because of what we’ve walked through/experienced with Baby D.
This book sheds light on the importance of kindness, empathy, and compassion. And how our words and actions can make such a difference in someone’s life — both positively and negatively.
Verdict: 4 stars (Note: I edited some of the language in the book while reading the book aloud to Silas.)
Honorable Mention: Charlotte’s Web
I finished reading this book to Kierstyn last week. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Charlotte’s web and we really enjoyed reading it together (or at least I enjoyed the story and she seemed to at least grasp a tiny little bit of it from the pictures in the book!).
The one thing I had forgotten was that the book could be very sad (Charlotte dies) and possibly scary to sensitive kids (Before Charlotte saves his life, Wilbur is going to be butchered and the book alludes to this multiple times). I also felt like there was definitely some bullying from the animals and some shaming. I know, I know, I probably am over-analyzing these things, but I think it’s important that we call these things out to our kids and have conversations about it.
That said, I’m giving it four stars because I really enjoy the story overall and think it’s a worthwhile classic book to read aloud as a family — especially if your kids aren’t highly sensitive, enjoy animals, and are between the ages of (maybe) 6-10?
Note: This book has three books by E.B. White in one book and we read them all. We especially enjoyed Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.
Verdict: 4 stars
Honorable Mention #2: Books by Charles Martin
I asked you all for recommendations of good, clean fiction with depth. Many of you recommended Charles Martin as an author. I listened to a number of his audiobooks this past year and really enjoyed them. His writing is raw and real and his stories pull you in… but they also have a lot of underlying meaning and make you think.
Most of them are not overtly Christian, but have Christian undertones. If you are looking for a new fiction author, definitely check out his books!
What were the best books you read in 2021? Any that I must read in 2022?
Coming soon: My Reading Goals for 2022