It’s been four years since I started adding a weekly book review to My Fab Fifties Life blog. At the time, many of my followers and friends were asking me for book suggestions, knowing how much I read especially while traveling. So Reading Wednesday was born and quickly became one of the most popular aspects of our blog. So today I once again share my year of reading, my fourth annual reading round up.
Fourth Annual Reading Round Up
My reading year runs from July to July…not to be difficult but just because July was when I did my first reading round up. You can see my past reading round ups by clicking here – for 2018 click, and for 2019 click and for last year 2020 click.
July ’20 to July ’21
In 2021 I read 84 books. I wasn’t trying to beat my previous year but I did by one book. My goal is just to love and get lost in books…and 84 books is a lot of books to love. Most of my books were read on my Kindle. A dozen or so were in good ole fashioned hardback and paperback. And another dozen or so were Audible books that we enjoy when on our car trips.
I might mention that we do not own a television. A lot of people find that astonishing…but we really have no desire at this time in our lives to have a TV. Instead we read – a lot – thus creating my fourth annual reading round up.
My Reading Year In Review
I wrote 52 book reviews again this year, culling the best of the best from my 84 reads. I rarely write a book review about a book I didn’t like. Since I have so many books to choose from I usually write about only the best. That’s not say I don’t occasionally slam a bad book or boring author…but it’s unusual. If you want to find all the book reviews from 2021 just click on the Reading Wednesday topic on the blog or click here.
My Top Five
Of my 84 books from the past year (July 2020 to July 2021) below I share twenty of my favorites, and five of the best. It was really hard for me this year to choose twenty favorites….I loved so many of the great books I read this year. But choose I did and they are listed here, beginning with my top five in order of the best in my opinion. Here you go;
- The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel – You know it’s something special when a book ends and you just can’t stop thinking about it. My heart was heavy when this remarkable novel ended…I loved it. Mantel is a brilliant storyteller and we are transported to 16th century England and the court of Henry VIII.
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab– We have all read or at least heard of stories where the protagonist sells their soul to the devil. We have also had a variety of books available over the decades about time travel. In addition there are so many books floating around out there about magic and curses, witches and spells. But here in V.E. Schwab’s remarkably unique novel we find a beautiful, touching, sad but heartfelt story that covers all of these topics.
- The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri – Books about war and war refugees are certainly not rare. But this story is incredibly rare as it deals with the plight of the worn torn region of Syria and the dangerous and nearly impossible lives of refugees trying to get to Europe.
- Peace Like a River by Leif Enger – Written in 2001, Peace Like a River is the story of Reuben Land and his family and their small town life. Once again, Enger’s character development is perfection, as we fall quickly in love with Reuben, his brother Davy, sister Swede and father Jeremiah – a miracle worker in Reuben’s mind. The family finds itself on a cross-country trek in search of outlaw brother Davy, after a murder takes place. The journey include miracles and adventure and tests the family’s faith to it’s core. Along the way the family will befriend strangers who touch their lives and find peace like a river in family, friends, love and faith.
- Virgil Wander by Leif Enger Virgil Wander nearly dies in a car accident, only to come out of the experience with a new life awakening. As he heals he begins to notice more clearly people and things in his small Midwestern town life. Given the small town setting, as you might expect, Virgil’s story is accompanied by a wide range of characters that Enger brilliantly develops. In fact the character development of this cast is one of my favorite things about this story; from the sudden appearance of Rune, a kite flying old man, or the reappearance of the town’s prodigal son Adam Leer, to the life-long residents like down on his luck Jerry, town drunk Shad, widow Nadine and Mayor Lydia. These are the people who make the plot of Virgil Wander unfold in a humorous and captivating way.
Fifteen More Favorites
And fifteen more I adored and couldn’t put down in no particular order;
- Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
- The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett
- Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare’
- News of the World by Paulette Jiles
- Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Hamnet by Maggie O’Farell
- The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
- Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
- Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
…and so many more!!!
Read for Joy, Read for Understanding, Read for Life
I hope you enjoyed my fourth annual reading round up. Reading has made me a better human being. A more caring, patient, understanding and tolerant person. Reading and travel provide me so much insight into our tiny planet and the people and cultures who share this space. If you can’t travel I beg you to read. Explore different cultures, religions, histories and stories through books. I guarantee you will become more empathetic, more aware, more curious and a better earth steward through books. And if that happens, my work is done here.
My current read is The Song of Achilles
Read last week’s book review Unsettled Grounds by Claire Fuller.
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