Reflecting on 2021 Reading

I was curious about the books I read over this year, so I checked my list to reflect on what I read (or listened to). Some folks don’t count “listening” as “reading.” I disagree. I wouldn’t have any fiction in my life without being able to listen.

One, a PBS documentary on Ernest Hemingway got me into some of his work. Learning about Hemingway’s style and his time helped me understand his approach. It was also helpful to listen to his work on Audible. I’ve utilized Audible in my fiction reading and it has really helped me stay connected when I tend to drift on when reading fiction on the page. I also read non-fiction better in book form. I’m always marking up books, so listening to non-fiction doesn’t help me retain what I’m hearing.

From Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms was a devastating book. The book is set at the end of World War I and it’s a similar attitude in what I find in a lot of writing today.

N T Wright and Eugene Peterson continue to influence my spiritual life deeply. I re-read a couple of their books, along with soaking in Winn Collier’s fine biography of Eugene Peterson.

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem is new to me and I found it incredibly refreshing and healing when it comes to the issue of race and trauma.

Usually with fiction I am very simple. I continued to work my way through the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly. But I stretched a bit more with Hemingway and a new book and author: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. Both authors were fine with leaving the ending just hanging. The reader has an idea of what was next… but not really. It was haunting for me, but it was an emotion I ultimately did not mind.

Stephen King scares the soup out of me, but I did finish the “Mr. Mercedes” series on Audible. Will Paton as a reader is incredible. I can only take King in very small doses. He is so skilled as a writer, but I’m not a “horror” fan.

It seems my reading kept me listening to voices from across the generations. I still need the reminders of generations past and I drew from them. I found their writing kept me grounded in a tumultuous 2021 and brought a bit of a healing balm from the residual of 2020.

I have two new authors (to me) queued up to continue my learning on racism and justice, so that may start out my 2022.

The challenge for me to is to continue to read widely among generations and races. I have been deeply enriched by the diversity of voices, as well as challenged.

The NUMBER of books still bothers me. I get “revved up” at times wanting to read as much as possible. I set low reading goals so I can reflect more. This next year, I STILL want to read “slower.” More notes. More reflection. All of that is needed.

What are your reading gems from this year?

person picking white and red book on bookshelf
Photo Credit: Christin Hume, Unsplash

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