With the demise of Facebook Notes, I wanted to preserve my annual year-end lists of all the books I’ve read in the past year. So if you’re looking for recommendations, you can find them all on this page.
My 2021 reading list began and ended with some escapist fiction of the best kind, where you completely immerse yourself in a world that you simply don’t want to leave for a while afterward. On a recommendation from my brother Jeff, I picked up Amor Towles’ “A Gentleman in Moscow” and finished with his “Rules of Civility” (while Towles’ newest book, “The Lincoln Highway,” remains on hold from my library.) Both were magical journeys in every way. Count Rostov and Nina offer a fascinating portrait of how to live a fulfilling life even while trapped in isolation — a lesson we’re all learning the hard way right now — while Katey and Tinker and Eve were poignant reminders of that thrilling, terrifying time in your mid-20s when you’re on your own in a new place and trying to find your way.
My fiction run continued with a few more Stephen King books, with “The Long Walk” being the best, and Maggie Shipstead’s “Great Circle,” an Amelia Earhart-esque tale that is easy to get caught up in.
For non-fiction, I enjoyed both of Mike Duncan’s books, particularly his new one on the Marquis de Lafayette, an honest appraisal of a sometimes mythical figure in American and French history. Joanne Freeman’s “The Field of Blood” was eye-opening and relevant in the wake of current events in Washington. Eric Nusbaum’s “Stealing Home” was a deserving winner of SABR’s Seymour Medal.
But the book that will stay with me the most was “Say Nothing,” by Patrick Radden Keefe, a wide-ranging history of The Troubles in Northern Ireland with a focus on one woman’s murder and subsequent cover-up. A master class in investigative reporting and storytelling, while showing empathy and compassion for just about everyone involved. I couldn’t put it down and then couldn’t stop thinking about it when I was done.
Without further ado, here’s my full reading list for 2021:
- A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
- Dust Bowl Girls: The Inspiring Story of the Team That Barnstormed Its Way to Basketball Glory, by Lydia Reeder
- The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic, by Mike Duncan
- Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, by Jennifer Wright
- The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War, by Joanne B. Freeman
- Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by Patrick Radden Keefe
- Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between, by Eric Nusbaum
- Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being, by Thompson M. Mayes
- Just After Sunset, by Stephen King
- Eddie Cicotte: The Life and Career of the Banned Black Sox Pitcher, by David Fleitz
- The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King
- Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella
- Take the Cannoli, by Sarah Vowell
- Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution, by Mike Duncan
- City of Dark Corners, by Jon Talton
- The Long Walk, by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
- Great Circle, by Maggie Shipstead
- Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles