It’s obvious if you have followed along with this blog or if you know me personally that reading is one of my hobbies. I used to be an avid reader before I had kids; there was one year that I read over 50 books (I know there’s people that have read over 100, which is an aspiration for me at some point in my life). Although we have been stuck in our houses for the better part of nine months, I haven’t had that much time to read books; there’s been some personal reasons for that. I’ve been able to read some books this year, which each have their own lesson or tidbit of information that I may not have known before. These books are listed below and aren’t in any order in terms of preference. Feel free to add them to your 2021 reading list if you have not already read them.
Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern
I will admit I don’t listen to Howard Stern on the radio but have seen plenty of his interviews on YouTube with various guests he’s had on the show. I think he is one of the best interviewers of our time as he really gets into the nitty gritty about the guest’s feelings and may have them reveal something about themselves we wouldn’t have known. Howard highlights his favorite interviews throughout his radio tenure, including with Lady Gaga, Conan O’Brien and Donald Trump, and discusses his thoughts on each of them. If you are a fan of pop culture and want to find out more about your favorite public figures, I would recommend that you read this book.
I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth A. Silvers
The authors of this book hold different political ideologies but have remained close friends. This book is essentially a guide to having a conversation about politics without wanting to rip each other’s heads off. It discusses different ways in which to have political conversations, including the way to listen for understanding and by realizing that issues are not always one-sided. This is a great book that has tools that can be used as an alleviator for the politically divisive and identity driven political times that we are living in. Check out their podcast, Pantsuit Politics, which also continues a lot of the discussions from the book.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
I talked about this book in a blog post earlier this year (Take a Look, It’s in a Book) and the lessons that it taught me, especially during the early days of the pandemic. This book is about a woman that jumps to different years of her life at every New Year’s. The book was not only entertaining to read, but it also provided the lesson that despite how much we really want to move on and out of this pandemic, cherish the moments and be as positive as possible.
Your Second Act: Inspiring Stories of Reinvention by Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton was inspired to write this book from her own experiences as an empty nester, trying to find her way into new avenues in her life. She showcases various people that have found the opportunity to pursue their “second act”, including a woman who got into an ATV accident, became paralyzed, and then created a nonprofit based on empowering women. I wasn’t expecting this book to have such an effect on me, but I was pleasantly surprised as I have recently entered a new act in my life. This was a great book to read during the lockdowns, especially for those looking for a reset button.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
I will admit that this book didn’t wow me initially. It took until about 100 pages in before this really captivated me. The book is about a woman who seemingly has a cookie-cutter life until she sublets a house to a mysterious nomadic artist. Her renter pops the bubble in her perfect life and it just gets crazier as the book goes on. I would also recommend you check out the miniseries on Hulu; they both keep you on the edge of your seat.
The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek reflected on his life in this book, from his upbringings in Canada through his time isolating with his family during the COVID-19 pandemic. It gave me a new perspective on Alex Trebek as I discussed in my book review in August (Book Review: The Answer Is…Alex Trebek). It was eye-opening to read, but also had an underlying sadness to it as we knew that Alex Trebek’s time on this earth was fleeting (I read it in August obviously not knowing he would die in November).
The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
This novel is one of my favorites of all time. It tells the story of two women from different historical periods (they are connected in a way, which I will not spoil for those interested in reading the book) that are dealing with the same issues. The book is a mix of historical fiction, mystery and romance that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
I also had a hard time getting through the first 100 pages of this book. Once I was able to get over that hurdle, this book was a page turner. The main character, Lucie, struggles with her identity as a half-Chinese/half-American female while also trying not to fall in love with a guy that she met at her friend’s wedding. It’s written by the author that gave us the Crazy Rich Asians franchise, so you know it’s full of entertainment.
The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics by Salena Zito and Brad Todd
This book tells the stories of those in battleground states that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, going through the reasons why they thought he was the man for the job in the White House. While I may disagree with a lot of the sentiments from these Trump voters, it gave me a better understanding of their reasons. I would like to see a follow-up book to this in which the authors talk to these same people about recent events and topics such as COVID-19 to see if their opinions have changed about Donald Trump. If you are interested in getting more perspective into why the 2016 election turned out the way it did and why politics has changed so much, read this book.
The Wig, The Bitch, and the Meltdown by Jay Manuel
If you were a fan of America’s Next Top Model back in the day, you will more than likely enjoy this book. It takes the reader on a journey through the fictional reality show, Model Muse, and the journey that the main character, Pablo Michaels, takes in discovering his identity. It’s not literary gold by any means, but it’s one with which you can escape reality, which is something that we all need nowadays. There are easter eggs from the show sprinkled throughout the book that is “loosely” based on the show and Jay Manuel’s experiences with Tyra Banks.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
I never read Animal Farm when I was in school and have always been interested to (just call me a literary nerd). For those of you that have never read it, it’s about the overtaking of a farm by its animals who feel underappreciated but end up establishing a regime more overbearing than before. The themes in this book have stayed relevant over the last 75 years, including corruption and abuse of power, and seem more relevant than ever in recent times.