One of the things I’m most proud of this year is that I prioritized daily reading more than I have in… maybe, ever? I’ve always loved to read, but in the past decade or so most of my reading has taken place during vacations as opposed to in my day-to-day life. I’d always have a stack of books on my nightstand, but I had gotten used to scrolling on my phone before bed instead of reading. In other words, like most hobbies, reading consistently takes practice. It wasn’t until I changed some daily habits that my reading starting to pick up.
Now, I read for about 2-3 hours a day, and I look forward to it every morning and evening. Some things that helped me read more, if you’re interested in prioritizing the habit more, too.
What Helped Me Read More In 2021
- Getting a Kindle // Look, I avoided this for a long time. For years. I’ve always (and still do) love a physical book. To me, there is nothing more magical or comforting than opening a new book. I love the smell, the feeling of the pages. The different colors and jackets and… well, everything. I can think of few things better. However, having a Kindle that I use as well has been amazing for my daily reading habit. Not only does it save me room while traveling, but it also means I can read in bed for as late as I want to without waking up Jake. For reference, I keep my Kindle in my bedroom for reading each evening before going to sleep, and I keep a physical book in our living room that I read every morning. This gives me the best of both worlds. Also: It’s waterproof!! SHOP MY EXACT KINDLE HERE
- No Phone in Bed // This, too, took me a couple years to perfect, but it’s a habit that’s drastically changed my life. After I’ve finished getting ready for the evening (pajamas, skin care, etc.), I put my phone on the charger on the other side of the room, face down (and/or on Airplane mode). I’d say it took me six months or so to not have the impulse to check something or scroll, but now the habit has stuck and I *love* it. I find getting in bed every night and reading incredibly relaxing, and I never struggle to fall asleep anymore.
- Morning Reading // This is a newer habit, but one of my favorites. When I started trying to wake up earlier each morning, it took me a bit of trial and error to find the morning routine that made me the most excited to get out of bed. Turns out, the lure of curling up on the couch with a physical book and a hot cup of coffee does the trick most days. It is often the best part of my day, and it kicks things off in a calm, peaceful, focused way. I usually read for about an hour, starting at about 6:30/7. I’d love to push this even earlier over the course of the year. We’ll see!
- No Rules // I read whatever I want now. It doesn’t matter the genre or if it’s what everyone is talking about or it’s highly acclaimed. I couldn’t care less about any of that now. I read whatever sounds interesting or fun with zero judgment these days. This has not only helped me enjoy reading more, but it’s also helped me discover new genres and authors and never get bored.
Alright, now on to the fun stuff…
My Favorite Reads of 2021
If you’re interested in shopping any of these from independent booksellers, you can. shop my Bookshop.org page here.
- Project Hail Mary (BUY HERE) // If you follow me, then you already know this. I read this book in May 2021 with zero expectations (other than being a fan of both the book and movie version of The Martian) and just… wow. I’ve never fallen so hard for a book in my life. I laughed. I cried. I learned. I just adored this book. If you’re not into SciFi, you’ll still like it. Trust me. It’s just a gem. Some of the science/math content can be dense, but it’s very easy to skim over. Don’t let that intimidate you. Oh, what I would give to read this again for the first time…
- Paper Palace (BUY HERE) // There was so much hype for this book that it made me think I would be disappointed by it, but I ended up loving it so much. I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting and I found the writing and language as beautiful as anything else I’ve ever read. If I were to summarize the plot, you probably wouldn’t get why it’s so special, but it is. I even made a playlist inspired by it because… I don’t know, Pisces things.
- Maybe You Should Talk To Someone (BUY HERE) // I listened to this on audiobook, but it really changed my life. It inspired me to find a therapist that I connected with and made me think more deeply about, well, human beings. Emotions. Everything. It’s funny, insightful, and really engaging.
- The One (BUY HERE) // An incredibly fun thriller. The characters and storylines are all so interesting and suspenseful that at times it got frustrating hopping between all of them, but in the end I think it made it even better. Don’t bother with the Netflix show version of this. Just read the book.
- The Push (BUY HERE) // Major trigger warning for this one… don’t suggest if you’re a new parent or have a history of PPD. I would honestly suggest proceeding with caution if you have kids at all. Still, to me, this is the perfect thriller. Admittedly it took me a bit to get into it because it’s written in a different way (the narrator is essentially speaking to her husband the entire time), but then I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down. And the ending shook me so much that I had to start reading something else immediately because it was so eerie. Really, though, the reason I love this book is that it is the perfect example of using a suspense-filled, creepy AF storyline to communicate something deeper. So many people talk about the joys of motherhood and entirely miss the anxiety of it, or the fear. I’m not a parent, but even as someone who would like to have kids one day, it spoke to me. To me, the book is a caricature of someone’s worst fears about becoming a parent… and so much more. I could talk about it forever. Probably one of my all-time favorite books, and what I aspire to as a writer of exactly one thriller which may or may not be published.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (BUY HERE) // This isn’t a new 2021 book, but I read it last year and… my gosh, it seemed impossible that everything people had sad about it could be true, but it all was. This book is incredible and smart and steamy and just lovely. Taylor Jenkins Reid is such a talented storyteller.
- The Rose Code (BUY HERE) // This one convinced me that maybe I need to read more historical fiction. I could not put it down, and I fell in love with so many of the characters. Even if you’re not into historical fiction, I highly suggest giving it a whirl.
- The Midnight Library (BUY HERE) // To me, this book reminded me of an adult bedtime story. It starts out very heavy (TW for suicide and suicidal ideation), but once you get into the groove of it, it’s so comforting and calming. It left me thinking about life differently, and for that reason alone, it gets a spot on my ‘best of 2021’ list.
I won’t write my thoughts on all of these, but I thought I’d quickly round up some honorable mentions from the year as well. I really enjoyed all of these. Click any of the titles to shop!