My Top Ten Books of 2021

2021 Top Ten Books

It’s that time of the year for retrospection.

After posting my Top Ten Songs of 2021, I’m moving on to a list of my favorite reading material. I’ve had the privilege to read sixteen books (and counting) over the course of the last year. I’ve been taking the time to reflect and write up a little “book report” on each one, shortly after finishing it, which I’ve discovered to be a really helpful practice. So, I’ll link to my full write-up for each book, in case you want to read more — but for the purposes of this retrospective post, I’m going to limit myself to five words for each book.

Anyway: Out of the sixteen books I read in 2021, here are my Top Ten Books of the year, in ranked order:

  1. The Hawk and the Dove, by Penelope Wilcock
  2. The Long Fall, by Penelope Wilcock
  3. The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen
  4. Hannah Coulter, by Wendell Berry
  5. Single Gay Christian, by Gregory Coles
  6. The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry
  7. The Measure of a Mountain, by Bruce Barcott
  8. The Hardest Thing to Do, by Penelope Wilcock
  9. Travels with Charley in Search of America, by John Steinbeck
  10. Tyler Johnson Was Here, by Jay Coles

And again, for those who would appreciate more context, my explanations for each selection are included with the listing (reverse rank-order), below:


#10 – Tyler Johnson Was Here (Jay Coles)

Racism. White Privilege. Systemic Oppression.

#9 – Travels with Charley in Search of America (John Steinbeck)

Travelogue. Slow. Observation. Montana. Steinbeck.

#8 – The Hardest Thing to Do (Penelope Wilcock)

Leadership. Transition. Faith. Compassion. Healing.

#7 – The Measure of a Mountain (Bruce Barcott)

Mount Rainier. History. Introspection. Ontology.

#6 – The Great Influenza (John M. Barry)

Eerie Echoes. Pandemic. Precedent. Misinformation.

#5 – Single Gay Christian (Gregory Coles)

Empathy. Insight. Identity. Calling. Memoir.

#4 – Hannah Coulter (Wendell Berry)

Wisdom. Time. Generations. Place. Characters.

#3 – The Way of the Heart (Henri Nouwen)

Mystery. Solitude. Silence. Prayer. Stillness.

#2 – The Long Fall (Penelope Wilcock)

Human Frailty. Mortality. Grief. Love.

#1 – The Hawk and the Dove (Penelope Wilcock)

Faith. Frailty. Transformation. Short Stories.

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