I pride myself as an avid reader and have an Instagram highlight that shows every book I have read over the past few years. I recently started a Master’s degree, so some of my reading time was taken up with scholarly articles and other academic sources for research projects. My final assignment for my course was an autoethnography, where I monitored my social media and online activities for a period of 3 weeks. I am too embarrassed to share all of the shameful data here, but suffice it to say I could easily read 4 to 5 times more books every year if I stopped scrolling Facebook and Instagram. Hopefully next year’s round-up will be more impressive (at least in quantity?), but in the meantime, here are my favourite books from 2021, with hyperlinks to your friendly Kingston Frontenac Public Library.
- The Cure for Death by Lightning by Gail Anderson-Dargatz
This book has been around for a few decades, but a friend who lives in Alberta recently recommended it to me, and it is such a great read. This Giller Prize nominated novel is excellent.
- Foe by Iain Reid
I am biased because the author lives in Kingston, but seriously everything Iain Reid writes is so good. I found this gem at my local thrift store and it is a page turner. This book was passed around to everyone in my extended family this year and they loved it.
- There There by Tommy Orange
This story follows the journey of 12 individuals on their way to the Big Oakland Powwow. Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Literature, this 2019 novel has become an instant classic.
- Ayiti by Roxane Gay
This small, but mighty, book features 15 short stories. A beautiful debut for this author.
- Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams
This book was a bargain book from Bookoutlet.ca (my favourite online book shop) and it was a surprisingly excellent read. A book about leadership from the fierce political leader is funny, hopeful and honest.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
A friend had this on her bookshelf and offered to lend it to me. I hadn’t heard of the book, but have since learned this is a staple of writers everywhere. This is a quirky and funny book and it gave me confidence to contemplate putting my own thoughts down in a messy and non-committal way. I loved this one!
- Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
This book is promoted as A remix of the National Book Award-winning ‘Stamped from the Beginning’ for ages 12 and up. It’s accessible, funny and brutally honest and makes this the best “non-history” book I have read. Get this for the kids in your life and make sure you read it as well.
- Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen
Good Reads promotes this book at “Bad bitches: this one’s for you”. This was a raw and funny memoir / commentary detailing Bowen’s life through the lens of trap feminism. I wish this book had a soundtrack with it! Highly recommend.
- When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
I am a fan of smart academic types who write books for the rest of us. Pink consistently does a great job aggregating complex research into an easy to read book that has really helped me to focus on the schedule for my day to work with when I am at my best…and also I will never forget to ensure I book a colonoscopy in the morning. I highly recommend this (another great bargain from Book Outlet).
- Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger
Berger is another smarty pants professor who writes accessible books. This book was of particular interest to me as a marketer, as he delves into the forces that shape our tastes, buying habits, patterns and other behaviours that are predictable, yet surprising. Check out Berger’s Contagious as well.
- We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee
This book is based on the wildly popular Ted Talk and I first heard of Headlee and this book on the podcast How to be a Better Human. This book really helped me to work on ways to have better conversations, particularly when I am spending so much time behind a screen. This was one of my top holiday gifts this year.
Please leave your top choices for book recommendations in the comments below, as I am always looking for new reads and a reason to put my phone down. Happy reading!