It is that time of year: The time when everyone starts sharing with the world the books they read throughout the previous year, regardless of whether anyone asks or cares. Well, this is mine!
Looking back on the year 2021, I would like to take a moment to review and reflect on the various books I read throughout the past year.
Every year, I try to read as many books as I can in one calendar year. My goal is to read as many, or more, books as the year before.
This year I read significantly less than I have in the last few years. It was a really hectic and emotionally draining year. This left me with less time, and motivation, to read books. Regardless, I still read some great books, discovered new authors, and even learned a few skills along the way!
Now for the breakdown! The following is a list of all the books I read in 2021, along with a brief summary, and maybe a review, of some of the ones that stood out to me most.
When this book released, I saw some friends, and some people in my church, sharing posts about having read it. It caught my attention so I added it to my list. It was a difficult and eye opening read, but I am glad I picked it up. The sub-title alone is enough to turn off many people. Many Americans, especially those who consider themselves conservatives, tend to downplay, or ignore, the presence of racism in the United States. I know people who, because they do not experience racism in their community or in their social networks, don’t believe racism is really a problem. They see the stories of racial strife on the news as extreme examples in far off places that do not apply where they live. I am learning that this belief causes people to not get involved in the uncomfortable conversations about race, and this leads to big problems.
This book is not just a “he-said, she said”. It cites historical events, government enforced laws, and religious doctrine that were without a doubt, and un-apologetically, meant to harm and discriminate against people of color. Reading about how some American churches stood by and did nothing as their black brothers and sisters were treated as inferior in society was heartbreaking. Even worse, there were churches, and Christians, who promoted segregation, and would twist scripture to try to justify treating people as less-than human. Finding out that Christians, who should know that all humans were made in the image of God, were complicit in, or active parties to, racism is hard to swallow. Reading this book helped me to be more aware of what is going on around me, and made me realize the importance of standing up for the marginalized; the very people Jesus gave His life for. It was a very difficult read, and one I would recommend.
I love stories about cults and people who leave them. While I cannot remember if the community described in the book was actually referred to as a “cult”, the description of their lifestyle made it abundantly clear. Grace is a young woman who has lived most of her life in a religious community in the hills of Tennessee. Her community believes the world outside their perimeter has come to an end and is being ravaged by evil beings called “furys”. The only way to stay safe and alive is to never cross the red rope that marks the edge of their community. There are endless rules they must follow in order to stay pure and in the good graces of the community and its leaders. Grace begins to have trouble obeying these rules when some strangers from outside the community arrive at their border. Who are they? How could they have survived outside of the rope without being killed by the furys? What other things has she been taught that are not true?
This book is a warning against “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, religious extremism, and works based salvation. Grace begins to learn that all the fears that have crippled her and kept her back her whole life, have been lies. Will she really be devoured by demon-like beings if she goes beyond the red rope? Or is the biggest danger really on the inside?
Last year I read World War Z by Max Brooks. When Devolution came out in early 2021, I picked it up as soon as it released. A “green”, off-grid but high-tech, community in a remote area of Washington State find themselves completely cut off from civilization when Mount Rainier erupts. No longer able to depend on their regular deliveries from town, the members of this pampered, small community are faced with things they have never considered: food shortages, home maintenance, energy rationing, and even self-defense.
Mount Rainier’s eruption disrupted life for more than just Greenloop. Another group of forest inhabitants are now forced to relocate and scavenge for resources: Sasquatches! As if they didn’t have enough problems, with Bigfoot moving into the neighborhood, they are now at war! As readers, we learn the details of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre after-the-fact, thanks to a journal left behind by Greenloop resident, Kate Holland.
r/wallstreetbets, GME, AMC: these things were big news…for a short time. I wanted to try to get some basic knowledge to make sense of all the mayhem. I know a little bit more now, but I am still not a millionaire, so I guess I better keep reading. #tothemoon
I love these Outdoor Life publications! They read like a book, but are visually similar to magazines. The full color pictures, graphics, charts, and artwork are captivating. This book had a lot of very useful information and instruction on how to be more self-reliant, whether by choice, or by necessity. It was both educational and entertaining and is one I will be keeping on the shelf to reference as needed.
Joel Salatin is the undisputed lead voice when it comes to all things chickens. Naturally, when I started raising chickens myself, I ran across his name almost instantly. After seeing some discount chicks in a brooder at the local feed store one day, I unknowingly started an addiction to raising chickens for meat. To read about my experience raising meat birds, check out The Case for the Cornish Cross.
After raising that first round of pastured meat chickens, I knew I had to read Joel’s book Pastured Poultry Profits. It has a plethora of information about raising chickens, not just about how to sell them for profit. Joel covers everything you need to know in this book from buying or hatching chicks, building coop structures, what to feed, to even how to diagnose and treat health issues. If you have chickens, you should read this book.
In Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, Joel explains the absolute atrocity that is the industrial corporate food system. Ruled by out-of-touch bureaucrats, America’s industrial farming system is producing poor quality food while, at the same time, making it nearly impossible (and illegal) for local farms to compete. The reason local food is so expensive is because everything the local farmer wants to do is illegal. Not because their products are hazardous to the health of the consumer, but because their availability poses a threat to the wallets of government officials and their buddies in the USDA. Government wants a monopoly on food and they write laws to ensure they can have it.
This book had me shaking my head in disbelief as I read story after story of small farmers being punished by the government for simply providing their neighbors with food from their garden. You will be astonished to learn what things are illegal when it comes to food production. The best, healthiest, and most humane farming practices are illegal, with only very poor explanations as to why. That is why Joel promotes “circumvention, not compliance” when it comes to navigating all the many ignorant rules and burdens put upon the backs of American farmers.
I learned about Resisting Babel while listening to an episode of The Libertarian Christian Podcast. The book focuses mostly on David Lipscomb, a Nashville farmer and church leader. After the Civil War, David advocated for sole allegiance to the Kingdom of God, rather than to human governments.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:24 that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.“. I also have to wonder how a Christian can serve both God and government effectively, given that they are quite often in direct opposition of each other. I have heard many people say that Christianity is not political. The book argues that the Gospel is absolutely political! When we look closely at the claims Jesus makes, and some of the phrases and wording used in the Bible, we see that they are nods of defiance to Rome, the political ruler of their time. Phrases Christians use all the time, such as “Jesus is Lord” and “Son of God”, were an affront to Caesar in Jesus’ day.
The government wishes to make itself an all-powerful god. Christians know there is only one true God and He does not belong to any political party or nation. Christians should bend the knee to Christ alone, for there is no king but Christ. The points made in this book may just make you start questioning if political affiliation, and the attention you give to politics, is pulling you away from your mission of expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.
I make reading through the Bible in a year an annual practice. I talk in detail about finding a manageable Bible reading plan in both “Daily Pursuit” and “My Year in the Bible” so check those out when you have time.
This year I used the YouVersion Bible App quite a bit. I find reading a Bible, or any book, on a small phone screen to be less than ideal, but it is handy that you can read anywhere: in the waiting room, in the car, standing in line. It is hard to argue the convenience of a Bible app. However, I mostly used it for listening to the audio version of the Bible. This year I got behind on my reading plan by a lot! To catch up, I listened to the daily Bible readings through Bluetooth while driving. That helped me get back on track to finish out the plan within the year.
This is the least amount of books I have read in the past few years. I am disappointed that I was not able to read more in 2021, but finding the time and motivation to sit down with a book was just really difficult. However, I already have a good line up of at least three or four books that i cannot wait to read! So I am starting off 2022 strong with some titles I have been very much anticipating.
I think it is important to have certain books to look forward to. It helps keep you motivated and moving at a steady pace so you can get to all the ones you have piled on your shelves. I always try to plan ahead to have at least one book “on deck” for when I finish my current one. When I start to get halfway though my current book, I will go ahead and get my next one on order. I love the feeling of picking up a new book at my local bookstore!
If any of the titles I have listed above sparks your interest, I encourage you to drive to your local bookstore and pick up a copy. Make 2022 the year you resolve to read more! I have included links to some of the books where you can view and purchase them online (through an independently owned bookshop) or in-store. Now, more than ever, I encourage you to #ShopSmall and support the local bookstores in your area. Trust me, they need our business right now. When at all possible, try to seek out local Christian bookstores to support
What are you reading right now?
What new releases of 2021 did I miss? If you have any other book recommendations that you would like to share, I would love to hear from you! I am always looking for new and exciting titles to add to my list!
Add your thoughts or recommendations in the comments below, contact me through this site by clicking CONTACT, or reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.