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This is a list of my 16 top books from 2021 I read this year. On January 1st of 2021, I made an audacious goal for myself. I wanted to read 52 books this year, one for every week of the year. In 2020, I read a total of 16 books, which I understand to most might still be a huge win. However, I wanted to challenge myself to do a lot better. I wanted to not only become a better reader, but fall in love with reading even more. Growing up I was a HUGE book fanatic. Yet somewhere in adulthood I lost a bit of my drive for reading in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
So this year I made the goal of 52 books a year, and at the beginning of December I hit my goal. My total count for the year was actually 59. So, with reading a lot of books in 2021, I have some top books that stood out to me among them all. I’ve received a lot of requests to share my top book recommendations from this year, which is what this blog post is.
If you want to see the full list of every book I read in 2021 you can do so right here on my Goodreads account. Keep in mind I don’t endorse or necessarily agree with absolutely every perspective of every book I read.
Below are my top books I read in 2021. These are my favorite 16 books that I loved and highly recommend.
My absolute top book from 2021 was Redeeming Love. This was a reread, but was still my favorite book I read this year. I originally read Redeeming Love when I was in college, but I had forgotten most of the plot. So this read felt like new, and WOWZA did it not disappoint. Without giving too much away, the book is based on the book of the Bible, Hosea, where God tells Hosea to take a prostitute for a wife, loving and pursuing her with his whole heart. The story is one of gut wrenching heartache, God’s redemption, and His unending love that never stops pursuing us. Trust me on this, if you only read one book from this entire list, make it this one.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know this book was all I talked about in the month of December. But truly, after Redeeming Love, it’s number 2 on the list of my top books I read this year. In 2021 I was introduced to Colleen Hoover as an author, reading 3 of her novels. All 3 are on this list because she’s THAT good. GIRL can WRITE, and every single one of her books I’ve read thus far I’ve read in nearly one sitting (if I wasn’t a mother and had more free time, 1000 percent I would have read them all in one sitting.) It Ends With Us is a romance novel that wraps itself into your heart before slowly crushing it in the most beautiful way possible. I don’t want to give anything away about this book, but I do want to give a slight trigger warning for domestic abuse. If you read this one, grab a box of tissues because it’s a gut wrencher. It’s a story that will stick with you loonnngggg after you read the last page.
I read Traction early on in 2021, and it absolutely revolutionized the way I do business. It’s literally like a full blown business management course in a book. Gino gives you worksheets to fill out as you go, and if you actually implement what he teaches it will revolutionize your business. My business partner and I based our company retreat for my education company The Heart University all around this book, and it helped the backend of our business SO freaking much. It helped us get more organized, gave us a framework for weekly team meetings, structure our team in a way that made sense with the right people in the right seats, and quite literally so much more. If you’re a business owner wanting to scale your company in ANY way, read this book.
Colleen Hoover topping my list because she’s my favorite new discovery of 2021. Which is why November 9 is number 4 on my top books from 2021 list. I’m NOT kidding, the ONLY reason put down this book was to feed my children and sleep. And this book was so good, it was PAINFUL to put down. It’s mainly a romance with some mystery and slight suspenseful notes. The story involves Fallon and Ben who meet on November 9th, and through a series of events decide to meet back up every year on the same day, November 9th. From the first chapter this story pulls you in and refuses to let go until the very end. Wow. Just wow. I loved it.
The Circle Maker challenged me and wrecked me in the best way possible. It will force you to evaluate your prayer life and pray boldly. While reading this I realized that my prayer life had weaned to a mere “God, please let me not get sick this week,” or something equally as simple. This book will challenge you to submit your requests to God in BIG ways, and pray circles around your life, work, children, and legacy. I was filled with SO much faith to pray wildly daring prayers, prayers that show your faith in God on full display, prayers that couldn’t possibly be answered unless God works miracles. If your prayer life (or heck your faith in general) needs a reboot, I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Coming in at number 6 on my top books from 2021 list is The Silent Patient. This was my favorite suspenseful thriller I read this year. I’m a big fan of books with plot twists that make your jaw drop, and this book did that for me. It’s been hyped up a lot, but in my opinion it’s worth the hype. The book is about a woman named Alicia, a famous painter. One day Alicia’s husband comes home from work and she shoots him 5 times in the face, then never speaks another word again. The book follows a criminal psychotherapist, Theo, as he goes on a mission to find out what happened and make Alicia speak again. I finished this book on an airplane and my mouth was GAPING open at how shocked I was. Thank God for Covid (ONLY time you’ll ever see me type those words ha…) because my mask covered my shock for all to see.
The last time I read a historical fiction book was “The Book Thief” in high school. I’m not the biggest history buff, but I do enjoy historical fiction books when the plot is dang good. The Nightingale did not disappoint in that regard. It’s a story about two sisters living in Nazi invaded France during WWII. This book is just so powerful, beautiful, and made me want to research WWII history like a mad woman. The story was so well written, and I felt like I was in France in WWII, living & experiencing the brutal atrocities of it all. This is an absolute must read for anyone. Plus there’s a movie being made starring Elle and Dakota Fanning as the two main sisters, and I cannot WAIT.
This book was my first Colleen Hoover book I read. I realized after reading reviews once I finished it, that thrillers weren’t her normal genre and that this was a huge step outside her normal romantic, cry fest wheelhouse. Yet it’s one of the most twisted, sinister, mind boggling, crazy, dark thrillers I’ve ever read. The fact that this was her FIRST thriller….. I have no words. Trigger warning: this book is dark. It’s twisted. It’s messed up. If you have a light stomach for darker themed books I would avoid this one. However, if you’re a sucker for thrillers that include mind boggling twists, this one is a definite must. The end of Verity had me REELING for days thinking, “What the HECK did I just read….”
I read the Mark of the Lion series (A Voice in the Wind being the first book of that series) immediately after I read Redeeming Love because I couldn’t get enough of Francine Rivers. I also read Verity around the same time, so I needed a serious break from thrillers and to step into the kind of Christian fiction that Francine Rivers does so well. A Voice in the Wind moved me. I cried and felt closer to God while reading it. It takes place in First Century Rome during Biblical times, and reading this story made the Gospel come alive to me in a whole new way. I devoured this book in a couple of days, it’s just SO dang good. The other two books in this series are just as good, but this one was my favorite, making it number 9 on my top books of 2021 list.
Parents, this one is for you. This was a definite favorite of the non-fiction books I read in 2021. One of my good friends, Chelsie Antos, recommended this one to me, and I’m SO glad I read it. The book discusses and gives practical advice for parents on combatting our over overscheduled, hyperconnected, overstimulated world that affects our children more and more. Kim John Payne gives advice on ways to simplify childhood for your children, from their toys, screens, technology, their routines, their schedule, current events and the news, and even the words we speak around them. As soon as I read it I threw out half of my daughter’s toys that were either broken, electronic, not cognitive or educational, or overly stimulating. She didn’t miss a thing haha. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
This book was SOOOO incredibly refreshing to read. Imagine Simplicity Parenting, but for us overworked and hyper-busy adults haha. I really love Jefferson’s writing style. It is relatable and super fun to read, but still gives you a good kick in the pants. This book gives really solid encouragement and advice to stop hustling in the rat race, and learn to just BE with Jesus. It’s phenomenal. I’m excited to read his new book Take Back Your Family in 2022.
I read this in November of 2021, not realizing it literally just came out in late September 2021 until he mentioned Covid. It was really amazing and encouraging to read a book that spoke on the last year and a half and what’s been going on underneath the surface from a Christian worldview. This book is about waaayyyy more than just the pandemic, but it speaks to the heart of living in our culture in 2021 as a Christian and dealing with cultural lies that are being pushed as facts or truth just because they make headlines or are popular. John talks Biblically on how the devil is a master manipulator of culture by deceiving people to believe things that aren’t the truth. I can’t recommend this book enough.
This book is just a fun, lighthearted, fun romance. I enjoyed it a lot and read it super quickly. Its about Gus and January, two writers living in neighboring beach houses on Lake Michigan. Gus writes literary fiction. January writes romance. They are both struggling with writer’s block, so they make a bet to write their book in each other’s genre. It has depth and is a beautiful, fun read.
I read this at the very beginning of 2021, and I remember speeding through it. I really like Lisa Jewell’s thrillers and this one stuck with me. The entire book made me squirm, yet the epilogue made me straight up bawl. It’s the story about a mother who deals with the loss of her daughter Ellie, after she disappears one day. Gone without a trace. I will say I saw the twist coming pretty early on, and the ending could have been better in my opinion. However, it still kept me intrigued and engaged (plus I bawled at the epilogue) so it makes my list.
Number 15 on my top books from 2021 list is Everybody Always by Bob Goff. This was such a wonderful, whimsical, and encouraging read. Bob has a way of telling stories in such a magical way that make you see the world in a beautiful, uplifting light. This book encourages and challenges you to love everybody in extraordinary ways, especially the people who annoy you, make life difficult for you, and even people you should straight up loathe (like Ugandan witch doctor’s who sacrifice children). Everybody, Always is beautiful, and I would recommend every single person read this book. The world would be a much better place if we all did.
The second historical fiction I read this year, after The Nightingale, was The Alice Network. This book takes place in both Nazi occupied France during WWI, as well as England and France immediately after WWII. It follows two drastically different women, Charlie and Eve, who meet begrudgingly and go on an adventure together. The book dives into the world of spies in WWI and it’s so fascinating and wild to read. If you like historical fiction, this book is a definite must.
And there you have it. These were my top 16 favorite books I read in 2021. These books are my personal standouts from everything I read. In years past I mostly just read thriller and business books, so this year I’m super proud that I expanded my genres a bit. Next year’s goal is to read an even broader expanse of genres, including some classical books.
Do you have a favorite book I should read in 2022? Leave it below in the comments! And if you’ve read any of my top books from 2021, let me know! I want to know your thoughts on any of the above 16 books!
P.S. Like this blog post? If so, you might also enjoy 18 Software Programs & Apps EVERY Business Owner Needs.
Lindsey Roman is photographer, business coach, podcaster, and entrepreneur based out of Lawrence, Kansas. Her heart beats for teaching creative entrepreneurs branding, marketing, and social media strategies, while empowering them to own their God given gifts. She loves outdoor adventures, spicy food, and a good game of Catan just as much as she loves teaching women to be all God made them to be.
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