For the Love of Reading: My Favorite Books of 2021 - Grit & Grace

It’s possible that all things 2021 are distant memories for you. Forging ahead with fresh focus towards 2022, you’ve set last year aside. If you’re a reader like me, maybe you’ve forgotten about last year’s reading goals (missed or achieved) and moved on to that pile of books you’re determined to get through this year. But maybe if you’re a reader like me, looking ahead with purpose is fueled by more than just a passing glance to what’s behind you. I’ve got a vague sense of what I’ll be reading this year, and that’s partly because I revisited what I read and enjoyed last year. For the love of reading, I look back and remember my favorite books of 2021.

Read on for my list of favorites. I’ve shared a little blurb taken from the official Amazon description. I’ll also share a few words about what I enjoyed most, along with a favorite quote. You can click on each book photo for more information or if you’d like to purchase your own copy.*

My Favorite Books of 2021

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come 

by Jessica Pan

About: An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver.

My Thoughts: As a fellow introvert, I found this book incredibly relatable. It was also incredibly funny, and I laughed out loud…a lot!

Favorite Quote: “When you believe something about yourself for so long but then finally challenge it, everything feels different.”

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

by Charlie Mackesy

About: Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book, following the tale of a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox and a wise horse who find themselves together in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love. The shared adventures and important conversations between the four friends are full of life lessons that have connected with readers of all ages.

My Thoughts: A dear friend shared some words with me when she gave me this book for my birthday. It’s the most accurate description I can give, so I’ll share them with you too. This book is like a warm hug.

Favorite Quote: “‘What do you think success is?’ asked the boy. ‘To love,’ said the mole.”

Everybody Always

by Bob Goff

About: What if we stopped avoiding the difficult people in our lives and committed to simply loving everybody? What happens when we give away love like we’re made of it? Bob teaches us that the path toward the outsized, unfettered, liberated existence we all long for is found in one simple truth: love people, even the difficult ones, without distinction and without limits.

My Thoughts: I think Bob Goff has the coolest stories, and has such an incredible way to tie those stories to the truths of God. His words freshly encourage and challenge me in the call and command to love God and others.

Favorite Quote: “Loving people the way Jesus did is always great theology.”

Mere Christianity

by C.S. Lewis

About: This classic by C.S. Lewis explores the common ground upon which all of those of Christian faith stand together. Bringing together his legendary broadcast talks during World War Two from his three previous books, Mere Christianity provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear this powerful apologetic for the Christian faith.

My Thoughts: I’m a huge C.S. Lewis fan. He’s so gifted in expressing the simple truths of what it means to be a follower of Christ in a way that makes so much sense.

Favorite Quote: “If anyone would like to acquire humility…the first step is to realize that one is proud.” 

The Ministry of Ordinary Places

by Shannan Martin

About: Shannan Martin walks us through her own discoveries about the vital importance of paying attention, as well as the hard but rewarding truth about showing up and committing for the long haul, despite the inevitable encounters with brokenness and uncertainty. With transparency, humor, heart-tugging storytelling, and more than a little personal confession, Martin shows us that no matter where we live or how much we have, as we learn what it is to be with people as Jesus was, we’ll find our very lives.

My Thoughts: This book challenged me and my thoughts about love. It specifically helped broaden my perspective on what it means to love others like Jesus does.

Favorite Quote: “God is calling to us from the world we’re in. He wants to meet us right here.”

*The YouVersion Bible App currently has a devotional based on this book – you can check it out here.

Faith Unraveled

by Rachel Held Evans

About: In Faith Unraveled, Rachel recounts growing up in a culture obsessed with apologetics, struggling as her own faith unraveled one unexpected question at a time. Using as an illustration her own spiritual journey from certainty to doubt to faith, Evans challenges you to disentangle your faith from false fundamentals and to trust in a God who is big enough to handle your tough questions.

My Thoughts: Rachel Held Evans was an author I’d purposely stayed away from for years because her thoughts on matters of faith were so “controversial” and radically different from mine, or at least that’s what I’d heard. So thankful for the opportunity to read her words for myself, and for the insight received from a different perspective.

Favorite Quote: “When we recognize that our theology is not the moon but rather a finger pointing at the moon, we enjoy the freedom of questioning it from time to time.”

Gay Girl, Good God

by Jackie Hill Perry

About: In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. She knew that Christians had a lot to say about gender confusion and homosexuality, but was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could? Read in order to understand. Read in order to hope. Or read in order, like Jackie, to be made new.

My Thoughts: Jackie’s struggles and challenges helped to establish and solidify her faith. and I really enjoyed reading about that journey of faith. A journey that’s radically different than mine, but no less beautiful or encouraging.

Favorite Quote: “God was not calling me to be straight; He was calling me to Himself. The choice to lay aside sin and take hold of holiness was not synonymous with heterosexuality.”

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

by Austin Channing Brown

About: Austin is a leading voice on racial justice, and provides an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals. In a time when nearly every institution claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice.

My Thoughts: Speaking of journeys that are radically different than mine, I was challenged in all the right ways with this book. It’s important to learn from people that have had different experiences than we’ve had. Listening to someone else’s perspective and experience is a really tangible way to love others. This book was just one small way to help me walk that out.

Favorite Quote: “Our only chance at dismantling racial injustice is being more curious about its origins than we are worried about our comfort…We can trust that the Holy Spirit is here…For only by being truthful about how we got here can we begin to imagine another way.”

If you’re looking to read more in 2022, these confessions from a recovering perfectionist might be a helpful read for you.

*This post contains affiliate links. I’ll receive a tiny percentage of any purchase made at no extra cost to you!