A list of my favorite reads in 2021. Enjoy!
God of the Garden by Andrew Peterson
If you’ve been around on this blog for any length or time you know that I absolutely love all books by Andrew Peterson. His second nonfiction book released this year and it is one of my new all time favorites. He talks about God as the great gardener and the ways God takes care of us. He marvels at the beauty of trees (while providing sketches of many of them for the reader) and English footpaths while retracing his steps to places from the past and how revisiting them can heal us. I cried my way through the chapter about The Yearling as he talks about grasping for childlike innocence that is long gone, and that led to listening to his album Light For the Lost Boy which was excellent in every way (definitely give that a listen on Spotify). I can’t recommend it highly enough.
To check out the review for Adorning the Dark, visit the review post here.
“Oh how I love that kid. I wish I could tell him what I know now: there is a presence in the woods that is older and stronger and kinder than the ghost that harries him. If he would stand still enough to let it, that presence would overtake the poison, seep up through his feet and into his heart like a magic vine, and transform the dark forest into a garden of wonders.”
“I used to wish the boy could find his way out of the woods; now I want him to know that the woods have always been enchanted, and he was meant to make a home there for a while.”
—Andrew Peterson, God of the Garden
Searching For Enough by Tyler Staton
What happens when the things that you believe just don’t seem to fit into the messy reality that you face?
Can doubt and faith exist at the same time? Tyler Staton explores this subject through the lens of Thomas, a disciple of Jesus.
Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey
This is the second book that I’ve read by the brilliant Sarah Bessey and I loved it just as much as the other. She talks about learning how to unlearn untrue things about God and religion and how that grew her faith. How sometimes months stretch into years that hold more questions than answers. How it’s alright to be out of sorts for a while. She shares her findings and notes and dreams, and you’ll ask yourself important questions as you go.
Dusk Night Dawn by Anne Lamott
I picked up this book at exactly the right time, like “it found me” type of situation. It is the most lovely cotton-candy colored breath of fresh air that made me laugh and reflect.
She talks about life with her new husband, her cat going missing, nights when the world feels heavy and dark, and relief when the Dawn arrives once again.
“Her encouraging words were a gentle breeze on my poor mind, and this is the work of the holy spirit and our operating instructions, to be cooling breezes to sad or worried people, including ourselves, in this sometimes hot, stuffy joint.”
– Anne Lamott, Dusk Night Dawn
Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren
For those who watch and work and weep. Tish Harrison Warren walks us through the Compline prayer and how the lines in it can bring comfort and strength to make it through the darkest of nights.
Handle With Care by Lore Ferguson Wilbert
I’ve followed along on Lore Ferguson Wilbert’s blog Sayable, for years now. So when she released her first book, I bought it instantly. This is a beautiful collection of thoughts on physical touch, in a Christian context. It’s not a rule book on what is allowed or forbidden, but rather an exploration in a topic not spoken of often. We are Spirit, Soul, and Body. How did Jesus use touch in his ministry? Is it healing or destructive? This book is thought provoking and excellently crafted. I can’t wait to read her next one.
“Though the world cannot touch Jesus, it can touch us. And Christ is in us. In a profound way, when the world comes into contact with us, it comes in contact with Him. In other words, we are the way the Thomases of this world gain their sight.”
—Lore Ferguson Wilbert, Handle With Care
Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
Love & Respect was by far the most practical of every marriage book that Conner and I read before we were married. Lots of marriage books talk about unconditional love, but I had never ever heard one talk about the other side of the coin: unconditional respect. Eggerichs explains that while a woman craves unconditional love (and literally spells out the everyday ways to accomplish that), a man craves above all else unconditional respect (and he spells out what that looks like too). Turns out that’s biblical too (the verse actually says it)! Those two things work together in a healthy cycle. For us, this was 1000% relatable and it has provided language for us to explain what works or hasn’t worked in any given day. Even if your marriage is the best and strongest it’s ever been, if you’ve been married 4 months like me, or if you’ve been married 40 years, I recommend reading this one if you haven’t already. It’s funny, honest, practical, and biblical.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Kvothe, the innkeeper, tells a scribe the beginning of his life story, and it’s turns out he’s not really just an innkeeper at all.
The Name of the Wind is one of the highest quality fantasy novels I’ve read. It’s a masterpiece, to say it plainly. How Rothfuss writes about cities, magic, music, and a character’s inner thoughts is exceptional. Kvothe is instantly likeable and as the audience for his story you laugh and grieve with him as more of his life is revealed. He’s looking for the monsters that turned his life upside down. He loves a woman who is intertwined in his life somehow but she vanishes without warning more often than not. He plays music that makes all who are listening weep. He escapes with his life an unnatural number of times.
It’s definitely the first in a long series, so don’t go into it thinking you’ll get all questions answered in the first book. The second is called The Wise Man’s Fear and I’m looking forward to reading it in the new year.
“You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”
“You are not wise enough to fear me as I should be feared. You do not know the first note of the music that moves me.”
“If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you’re lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
A young girl makes a deal with a monster in the night. She begs not to have to belong to anyone, and as a result no one on earth remembers her the moment their eyes leave her. She travels are the world over hundreds of years, getting to see all that she has dreamed of, but it is not the easy life she imagined, and the darkness follows her, waiting for her to give it up.
Until one day, Addie walks into a bookshop and meets a boy. And the strangest thing is, when she returns to the shop next, the boy remembers her.
I loved every moment of this book and out of the three V. E. Schwab books I’ve now read, this is my favorite. It has a dreamlike, romantic quality to it as Addie interacts with the darkness and the bookshop boy and the ghosts of her past.
Will Addie be forgotten again? Will she get to keep just one thing, or will the darkness take him too?
The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab
A smaller V. E. Schwab novel (her first actually). After The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue I needed another by this author and I read this one in exactly one sitting.
There are dark moors, suspicious villagers, children going missing from their beds in the night, and old stories about the Near Witch that are quietly mumbled. A stranger arrives in town, and more bad things start happening.
It’s a delightfully spooky, but not overly creepy story that is perfect to read near a crackly fire on a rainy night.