2021 BOOK LIST

Every New Year is filled with the promise of new beginnings – a chance to start over, to become our best selves.  But this year feels bigger. It’s as if the entire planet is impatient to heal – cautiously optimistic of the change that lies ahead.

When I look at the books that stuck with me from 2020, they’re stories that forced me to deepen my understanding of big issues that shape our world, from health to wealth, from identity to leadership.  A few of these books have already changed how I lead my life. All of them helped me gain a new perspective. 

Long-form reading demands something from us – patience, openness to new ideas and even resilience to distraction. As we grapple with a year when we try to figure out what “normal” looks like, these lessons will be more valuable than ever.

Here are a few books that I plan to read (or reread) in the new year. I hope at least a few of them help you in 2021. Happy reading!

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

The story follows two timelines that slowly intertwine. The first timeline describes the life and adventures of a young girl named Kya as she grows up isolated in the marsh of North Carolina from 1952–1969. The second timeline follows a murder investigation of Chase Andrews, a local celebrity of Barkley Cove, a fictional coastal town of North Carolina.

Read it here.

GRACE WILL LEAD US HOME

Four years after the racially motivated murders of nine African-American parishioners at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, a new book by Charleston Post and Courier reporter Jennifer Berry Hawes explores the aftermath of the killings and the extraordinary narrative of grace and forgiveness it produced.

Read it here.

EDUCATION: A MEMOIR

In “Educated,” Westover recounts overcoming her survivalist Mormon family in order to go to college, and emphasizes the importance of education to enlarging her world. She details her journey from her isolated life in the mountains of Idaho to completing a PhD program in history at Cambridge University. She started college at the age of seventeen after having had no formal education, and her book explores her struggle to reconcile her desire to learn with the radical world she inhabited with her father.

Read it here.

AMERICAN DIRT

This book documents the brutally tough journey of a Mexican mother and her son who are forced to walk to the United States after a cartel murders the rest of their family. How far would I go to save their lives? Would I make the same sacrifices? And of course, the answer is “yes.” This is a beautifully written, engaging story that gives you enormous empathy for the millions of people who are forced to emigrate from their homes each year.

This book has sparked impassioned conversations about cultural appropriation, about who gets to write which stories in the realm of fiction, and how represented communities should respond. My wish is that there be more opportunities for these types of stories to be told by those with first-hand experience. It’s why in our work at Worldreader, we support local authors and publishers – so they can bring their unique experiences to life in the most authentic and honest way.

American Dirt was also a part of Oprah’s Book Club. (swoon)

Read it here.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE

This is more of a “fun” read, but I am so excited to get my hands on this book!

Little Fires Everywhere is a 2017 novel by American author Celeste Ng. It is her second novel and takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where Ng actually grew up. The novel is about two families living in 1990s Shaker Heights who are brought together through their children. The author described writing about her hometown as “a little bit like writing about a relative. You see all of the great things about them, you love them dearly, and yet, you also know all of their quirks and their foibles.”

As of 2019, Little Fires Everywhere was also made into a Hulu original series!

Read it here.

THE RED RIBBON

In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned.

​The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

The author, Pepper Basham, is also a local author here in the Asheville area so that is super neat! Make sure to check her other books out!

Read it here.

If you have any other reading suggestions for me, please drop them in the comments below! I would love nothing more than to hear from you all!

XO,

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