I read a lot. I love to learn, I love to grow, and I love to go to another time and another place in stories. Here are some of the best books I read in 2021. These books were not all published in 2021, rather they were ones I read in 2021. Today’s post is all fiction. My favorite non-fiction books and podcasts have their own posts.
We fostered two litters of kittens this fall. I often read with a kitten (or 4!) As I prepared to take the picture above, a son hurried over to ensure there was a kitten included.
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Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I spent my childhood roaming the halls of Bethany House Publishers and reading books under the desks in the typesetting office. It stands to reason, then, that most of the fiction books I read are from Christian publishing houses. The books I enjoy the most teach me something about the time period, the culture, and even geography. Bonus points if the author can make me laugh out loud.
Some of the best Christian historical fiction authors I read this year include Erica Vetsch, Francine Rivers, Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Jen Turano, and Jody Hedlund.
Sarah Sundin always weaves a great storyline. Her characters have depth. The plots are not cookie-cutter. If you like WW2 history, check out her books. How would YOU have reacted in Nazi Germany? When Twilight Breaks gives a great glimpse into how the German people could be so blind to Hitler’s evil. I also gained a greater understanding of how all the other countries wanted to preserve world peace even if it meant sacrificing people groups and parts of countries. Through this book, the atrocities of the Nazi party become personal.
At the start of the year, my Sunday reading time was limited, so I looked for a collection of novellas. I discovered 7 Brides for 7 Texans and 7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers which are both written by the same group of authors. Each of these books is one full story with seven parts. In the first one, seven brothers are given one year to find wives or lose their inheritance. Then each author writes the story of one brother. I enjoyed a chance to get to “know” a bunch of authors in quick reads that had a unifying thread. I really liked both of these books and discovered some good authors.
Jen Turano always makes me laugh out loud. To Write a Wrong was no exception. Pick up any of her books for a nice escape into a clean Rom-Com book.
The Wingfeather Saga is one of my all-time favorite sets of books. The 4-book journey is a beautiful, amazing, captivating, and heart-rending story of love, courage, redemption, family, and hope. The first time I opened book one, I was hooked from the first page. I told my husband that the writing reminded me of The Princess Bride (the book) with its footnotes and humor. That was just the first page! As the book progressed, I knew it was one that needed to be read to my kids. My two older boys (tweens) had already read Narnia and Lord of the Rings. I knew they’d love this, too. And they did. Passionately. In 2021 I finished the full saga for the second time and it was even deeper and more heartbreakingly beautiful than the first time.
Suspense & Drama
Suspenseful books are another favorite genre. I know that I won’t finish reading until I’m done with a book, therefore, I am careful not to start one unless I have enough time to finish it before bedtime. Lynn H. Blackburn’s Dive Team Investigations was one of my favorite series from the year. The characters are all bigger than life, but I can suspend that when I’m reading. I enjoyed the police drama. Even the human trafficking one (In Too Deep)was very good. Trafficking is a huge problem in today’s world and I know that if I focus on, especially before bed, it negatively impacts my sleep. This book was done in such a way that the reader sees the problem, but it didn’t give me nightmares.
I broke up with the Harbingers series this year. Written as binge-worthy “episodes” by four authors*, each episode has kept me turning the pages, waiting to see how the team makes everything work out. And that’s why I quit reading them.
Humans through the ages have known that spiritual beings are not to be trifled with. In fact, most evil spirits hold great power. We do not control them. Jesus does. The name of Jesus and His power through us does. These books neglected Jesus. (With this set of authors I found this VERY surprising.) As a whole, the series shows that a team of humans can defeat and confound darkness. That is incorrect. A good TEAM cannot save us from evil. Only Jesus can.
This series left out the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It also left out the gospel message. All of us fall short of perfection; all of us sin. It is only through Jesus that we can be saved. A good team will never be enough.
*Authors include Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, Bill Myers, Alton Gansky, and later, Jeff Gerke.
Who are some of your favorite fiction books and authors? What should I read in 2022? Comment on my Instagram post @EstherY.RN or join the discussion in my Telegram group.
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