I shared my reads of 2020 here on my blog, but this year, I decided to share them as I go. So as you read on, you will find a list of my reads and just my brief thoughts on each book. Why am I sharing this? Because I am inspired by other peoples book lists, but also, I find when I share what I read, I often get recommendations from those of you who read my blog. Which for me, is wonderful! Remember, these are just my views, just because I really loved a book, or really didn’t, doesn’t mean you will feel the same. Read the ones I don’t even enjoy, you might be surprised. Feel free to use the comments section to let me know what you think, or maybe share your recommendations.
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Last updated April 2021.
I entered 2021 reading Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Starting a new year, I had a famous quote on my mind “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” So it is with 2021; a whole new year with no mistakes in it yet! I know some think I am “sweet” to read the Green Gables series at the age of 38, but I challenge you to pick one up. They make such a refreshing change to so many of the best seller novels out there. This world really is a wonderful place, we just have to open our eyes and our hearts.
The Four Swans by Winston Graham. From my Book Shelf. There are 12 Poldark novels, and I must admit I am nibbling my way through them these last years; for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t want them to ever end. Secondly, I start thinking in Cornish, dreaming of Cornwall and how we should relocate to the Cornish seaside. Romance, drama, politics, comedy; it’s all in there. Graham has a way of writing that transports you to the Poldark world, you feel like you know the characters personally. I can almost feel that bracing wind blowing off the sea and up along the cliffs.
The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith. Kindle Read. Mma Ramotswe makes me want to sit in the sun and sip tea and enjoy the simplicities of life. These definitely fall into the easy to read category, and sometimes that is just what I need! This particular one involves Mma Ramotswe & Mma Makutsi setting off on a trip to the Delta, with some new shoes, and leaving behind a drama with Phuti Radiphuti, the fiance of Mma Makutsi. All the usual antics!
Arabella by Georgette Heyer. Borrowed from a friend. This novel was hilarious and I really did laugh out loud many times. First published in 1949, and I must admit there were quite a few words that left me reaching for the dictionary. Daughter of a poor clergymen attends her first London season in search of a husband, a wealthy one so as not to let the family down you see. Laugh a minute!
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. Kindle Read. This book had me laughing and almost in tears with heartache. Such life lessons about needing to put our hope and security in Jesus, and such a reminder of Mark 12:31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” This was not a Christian book, but the whole way through it had me thinking of how we are called to live; with our identity fulfilled in Jesus, and to love one another, with the love of Jesus.
Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris. Kindle Read. If you read the Tattooist of Auschwitz, then I think you will really enjoy this. Absolutely heartbreaking that people lived through these atrocities. These stories always make me take a long look at my own life; my grumbles and my complete lack of perspective at times. Cilka was the friend of Lale & Gita in The Tattooist of Auschwitz. An incredible story depicting the strength and lengths people went to survive.
The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen. Kindle Read. My mother recommended this book to me, and apparently there is a great tv series, but we don’t have TV. I must say it sounds a series worth watching! Amanda writes about her journey and her life with such honesty and openness. Her memoirs had me laughing my head off, gritting my teeth, clenching my toes and dreaming of the British countryside. She grew up in the city, became a shepherdess, married a farmer and had 9 kids. Just read the book!
Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Borrowed from a friend. I am totally perplexed as to how this book has such good ratings. I got almost half way and had to ditch it. It is poles apart from The Nightingale. I can only describe this book and it’s characters as absolutely childish. I rolled my eyes on nearly every page. I love a light read, but this was pushing things for me.
Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior. Kindle Read. This was hilarious and in a way it reminded me, in style, to A Man Called Ove. Grumpy, lost and heartbroken old lady finds happiness through crazy antics. Another reminder that this life here on earth is pointless without our eyes fixed on Jesus. We have choices to make; how we use our words, to build up or break down, both ourselves and those around us.
Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. From my Book Shelf. Pretty much the whole way through this book I kept thinking “But I do that”, “That is EXACTLY how I feel”. This book went down like a cold G&T on a hot Zambian Saturday afternoon … delicious and soothing with a sigh of contentment. If you love food, simple living and meaningful conversations at your table, this is a book you should read.
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce. Kindle Read. This is the same author as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and also of Perfect. All her books seem to be about out-the-box characters who feature along varied stages of the crazy scale! This book was about loneliness, lost love, post traumatic stress, heartache, fear, lost identity and opening yourself up to be vulnerable to allow unlikely friendships to form; to allow your self to love, and be loved. I was so sad this ended. I fell in love with these characters.
Beatrix Potter: A life in Nature by Linda Lear. Borrowed from a friend. This was nothing like I expected it to be, but what an interesting and inspiring women. There is a lot more to Beatrix Potter than her famous children’s stories! For me, the book started off rather slow, and I found it dragged in places. I skimmed a lot of it as some of it felt a little drawn out. I would still recommend it though. She is an example of what can be achieved when one puts their mind to something. Although, family money was rather helpful in her case!
The Stars are Fire by Anita Shreve. Borrowed from a friend. I have never read anything by Anita Shreve. This was a quick, light read. Quite a sad story of grief, loss of identity and freedom. All I kept thinking was, we need God. This life is hard and broken, without God we have nothing to hold onto, nothing to anchor us.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Borrowed from Book Club. I enjoyed this, also a quick read. Story about Chinese/Caucasian-American cross-cultural marriage, families and broken pasts. The story traces the life of a girl who is found drowned in a lake near their home. When we put our identity in anything other than Christ, we are setting ourselves and our loved ones up for failure. Heartbreaking story that was a reminder of the need to heal from our pasts and brokenness so we don’t project that onto our loved ones.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist by David Attenborough. Borrowed from Book Club. I confess I have abandoned it halfway. This book is made up of story after story from his early career (1950’s) where he travelled the world catching wild animals for the London Zoo. Whilst it is well written, I don’t like zoos, I don’t like wild animal interactions, so this was not really for me. I think I would like to read one of his later books.
Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior. Kindle Read. This was a quick read, which I chewed through, it was lovely! The whole way I kept wanting to throttle one of the main characters as she snowballed herself into one self-inflicted disaster after another! This story is set in Somerset, where I lived for a short while, so it was lovely to really picture the scenery. In a nutshell, this is a reminder to not lie and to communicate! Quite simple really?!
Knowing God by JI Packer (still!) and Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
On the bedside table:
Oswald Chambers Abandoned to God by David McCasland & Oswald Chambers, Be the Gift by Ann Voskamp, The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer