Favorite Books of 2021


I started off at this time last year with the goal of reading 50 books in 2021. It felt pretty ambitious, given my routine of full-time ministry and full-time parenting. However, I set out believing there had to be some time to reclaim. Late-night social media scrolling, drive time, or walks for exercise could all involve reading and growing from this input.

Well, turns out, I was right.

I ended the year, finishing my 70th book on December 31. For me, 70 books in one year definitely didn’t seem like it would fit when I started out. That’s the way it is with most things though, isn’t it? Just as we earn a degree one class at a time, this book goal happened as I finished one book at a time.

A few things I gained:

  1. I loved the constant input of ideas, stories, leadership principles! I primarily read non-fiction, and I love books on discipleship, leadership, inclusion, relationships, and visioning especially. Constantly listening to 2-3 books on these topics meant fresh input and ideas.
  2. God spoke to me. There were so many times the book that I was listening to that day was something God used to speak directly to my heart and my situation.
  3. I grew to appreciate new voices. I listened to different authors and perspectives, and this enriched my life.

One thing I lost: I did not have time to listen to podcasts as much as in previous years. With the exception of The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill – which was incredible and I highly recommend – I did not have time to listen to anything except the books I was reading.

The next question I’ve been asked a number of times is, how is this possible? I know, one book at a time, but how? Aside from cutting out some of my other listening as I mentioned above, the main thing that helps me is my reading is done by listening to audiobooks. My goal is to listen 30 minutes per day, 365 days per year.  I listen on my walks. I listen when I get home after a late night meeting. I listen when I clean the house at night after the kids are in bed. It works for me.

I am not setting a book goal for myself this year. I wanted to try it for one year. Now I believe I have established a habit and with this year-long rhythm, I will be happy to reach more or fewer than the past year, just as long as I keep reading daily. I finished my first book this weekend, which was a great encouragement to me, so I’m off to a good start.

What about you? What reading rhythm have you found that’s doable for you?

So, in no particular order, here are 15 of my favorites from this past year.

My Favorite Books I Read in 2021

  1. Abuelita Faith by Kat Armas 
  2. Invitation to the Jesus Life by Jan Johnson
  3. “Making All Things New” and “Who Are We? Henri Nouwen on Christian Identity” by Henri Nouwen
  4. Burnout by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
  5. Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change by Tod Bolsinger
  6. Subtle Acts of Exclusion by Tiffany Jana
  7. The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May
  8. Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Connie Burk and Laura van Dernoot Lipsky
  9. The Likeability Trap by Alicia Menendez
  10. The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr
  11. Soundtracks by Jon Acuff
  12. All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols
  13. Big Friendship- How We Keep Each Other Close – Sow and Friedman
  14. Boundaries with Kids – Cloud and Townsend
  15. Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life – Eugene Peterson and Eric Peterson 

Oh it’s so hard to narrow it down to fifteen, but there you have it!

Honorable Mention: Children of Ruin – Adrian Tchaikovsky – The one fiction book I read was with my beloved Caleb, a book we listened to together on vacation. The only one of its genre on my reading list.

There are so many quotes that I could share from the books above, but here is the one I will end with. A quote from Henri Nouwen:“Ministry is this: Take people’s brokenness and put it under the blessing. Remind each other that we are God’s Beloved.”

Do you see any books that might make it on your reading list for this year?
What were your favorite books that you read in 2021?
I love good book recommendations! I’d love to hear from you.