Books, 49 in 2021

In the beginning of 2021 I decided to keep track of what I read through the year. Not for any real reason other than to encourage myself to read more. I keep a list on my phone of books people recommend as well as a list on Instagram of books I see there.

It turned out to be a fun thing to keep track of. I like looking back and seeing the various books I read and loved (such as Cold Sassy Tree, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Turtles All the Way Down and Four Winds). Then there are the books I read and didn’t love (such as Educated, A Day Like This and The Handmaiden and the Carpenter). Special mention for The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson. If you haven’t read this and are in my age range, give it a try. It is a hilarious and sometimes serious memoir for growing up in the 1960’s. This was my second time through it and just as enjoyable as the first time!

I know Educated was super popular and what the main character overcame is truly amazing. But for me that book just went on for too long. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. So I decided not to finish it. As for The Handmaiden and the Carpenter by Elizabeth Berg, that was a strange read for me. I have read and loved just about everything Berg has written and read many of the books more than once. So during the holidays I thought it would be fun to read her interpretation of the Christmas Story. But I couldn’t get into her perception of Mary and Joseph. It felt very strange to me. This book seems to be one that people love or don’t- and I didn’t.

Sometime during the year, I picked up a stack of novels by Elin Hildebrand at the local used book store. I read them and they are ok. But very light – lots of fluff. Now that I have read a few of them, they are feeling formulaic and I think I am done with her for a while!

I will be keeping track this year as well. It has been crazy busy so the list hasn’t been too long for the start of 2022 but I am sure as things calm down, I will have more time to read. Currently I am enjoying Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear.

If you are a reader, and I know many of you are, share some of your favorites in the comments. I love having a list of suggestions!


Three Junes, by Julia Glass

Heal Your Headache, by David Buchholz

Before You Go, by Elizabeth Berg

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, by David Sedaris (audio)

The Tenth Circle, by Jodi Piccoult

All He Ever Wanted, by Anita Shreve

Something Rising, by Haven Kimmel


Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, by Ruth Hogan

The Innocent, by Harlan Coben

Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns

How to be Cool, by Johanna Edwards


The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

Happiness Sold Separately, by Lilly Winston

What to Keep, by Rachel Cline

The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris 

Looking For Alaska, by John Green


Accused, by Lisa Scottoline

Betrayed, by Lisa Scottoline

Frederick Douglas’ memoir


Redhead by the Side of the Road, By Ann Tyler 

Water Witches, by Chris Bohjalian

Summer of ‘69, by Elin Hildebrand

Fly Away, by Kristin Hannah


I See You Everywhere, by Julia Glass

7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Associate, by John Grisham 


Big Little Lies, by Lianne Moriarty

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman

Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green


Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah

28 Summers, by Elin Hildebrand

Barefoot, by Elin Hildebrand

The Ugly Cry, by Danielle Henderson


The Atlas of Love, Laurie Frankel

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson

Educated- 1/2 way but didn’t like it enough to finish it.


I didn’t record anything. Not sure what happened here and I can’t remember what I read! It was a very busy month – so who knows? Maybe I didn’t actually finish a book.


The Island, by Elin Hildebrand

A Day Like This, by Kelley McNeill

Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

Harvest, by Tess Garritson (Audio)


Where or When, by Anita Shreve

The Art of Mending, by Elizabeth Berg

Home Safe, by Elizabeth Berg

Strange Fits of Passion, by Anita Shreve

One By One, by Ruth Ware

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett (audio)

The Handmaiden and the Carpenter, by Elizabeth Berg

33 thoughts on “Books, 49 in 2021

  1. Brenda Furlong

    I will definitely check out some of these you have mentioned. I am wondering whether or not Amy is still accepting doll quilts for her dolls. I have so much fabric that would be appropriate. At my advanced age with so many aches and pains I find doing anything big is beyond me at the moment. I make mug rugs for special events, etc. and would love to make some doll quilts with my cute fabric. I have never made doll clothes but may try making the hospital gowns, but I would love to make the doll quilts. If you could let me know if she still needs them and send me the address. Thanks so much for all you do.

    1. Edith Csokmay

      Brenda, i sent a bunch to her last spring before we moved. I haven’t heard that she isn’t accepting any new.

    2. Bernie Post author

      Hi Brenda: I will send you (in a separate email) the mailing address for A Doll Like Me. She loves receiving quilts – so feel free to make some for her!! Thank you for being so thoughtful!

  2. Lee

    Thank you for your list of books! I feel as though I have similar thoughts about authors that you mentioned. You might like ‘The Push’. I loved it and couldn’t put it down which doesn’t often happen with me!

  3. CathieJ

    The only book that I read by Elizabeth Berg was “The story of Arthur Truluv” and I wasn’t crazy about it. I do love Kristin Hannah books. I recently read “The Bookseller” by Cynthia Swanson and I really like most any book by Kate Morton and Susanna Kearsley. “The Lions of Fifth Avenue” by Fiona Davis was really good also. Perhaps you will like a few of these.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Cathie – So many authors to try! I will look for the Cynthia Swanson book; it looks great. Also writing down the other authors. Thanks so much!

  4. Edith Csokmay

    Bernie, thank you. This was a great post. I do the same thing, keep a list of what I’ve read. It helps to motivate me. I loved the Four Winds. I’ve read some of Ruth Ware and many of Kristen Hannah. Many of your list I never heard of. If you like mystery thrillers my recommendations are D.M. Pulley. Her books are not serial, so any order works. She a local author for me and my favorite is The Key. And someone she recommended in the same genre is Greg Hurwitz. I read his Orphan X series. I also liked Fern Michaels’ Sisterhood series.
    Hope everything is going well for you.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Edith:
      Thanks for the suggestions. I have added your authors to my “to be read” list. I always love getting recommendations.


  5. Kathy

    Great list of books and you are the second person this week to mention about Bill Bryson’s book so that will be my next Barnes and nobles purchase. I just bought The Maid as I heard it was great and didn’t I see it is number one on The NY Times best seller list this week so anxious to start it. I too keep a list of books I read.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hey Kathy – I am betting you’ll love the Bill Bryson book. I read Maid a while back and LOVED it – hated the issue but loved the book. Also loved the series on Netflix. Totally worth watching, but do read the book first.


  6. Sandra Walker

    I’ve kept a reading log for EVER… and it’s so helpful, though I wish I’d made it in Excel so I could sort by various ways (titles, authors) but I’ve always done it, for years in Word, and for the past few years in Pages on my Mac. The Tattooist is one of my all-time favourite reads, and oh YES how I love Bill Bryson, have read several of his, and they are out-loud-guffaw the best! As for Elin, I read one and that was enough for me. Not a fan. I’ll be coming back to add to my always-growing list of Want to Read in my library profile! Thank you. 🙂

    1. Bernie Post author

      Sandra: I think you should google how to convert a table in Pages over to a table in Numbers. I bet it can be done and then you’d have everything in one place! Good luck. Also I am loving all of the suggestions left in the comments – loads of fun books and new (to me) authors. 🙂

  7. Diann@LittlePenguinQuilts

    So fun to read your book list and your thoughts, Bernie! Some I have read, and some I haven’t. I like Elin Hilderbrand, but her books are definitely fluff. I’ll have to look for the Bill Bryson book. I’ve been keeping a book log for several years now, and really like being able to look back and remind myself if I’ve read one or not!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Diann, I can (almost) guarantee you will love The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. It is such a nostalgic book. Bryson grew up in the mid-west (I think it was Iowa) and his stories are wonderful. Enjoy it and let me know what you thought of it.

  8. Mari

    Good list of books, Bernie, and how great that you made time to read. Reading is self-care. I loved Educated, but you might like the Louise Penny books featuring Inspector Gamache. They’re mysteries, but full of lovable characters, and they make me want to move to Montreal.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Mari – The Louise Penny books must be good because lots of people have mentioned them. As for Educated – maybe it just wasn’t the right time? Sometimes I have to be in the right mood. I read most of it and what she overcame was incredible. Maybe someday I will pick it up and read the last bit!

  9. Kay Welch

    Love the Maisie Dobbs series. Also, Louise Penny = Inspector Gamache series. I usually set myself personally reading goals each year. I didn’t this year. Some examples of my personal challenges – read 100 books, read only female authors (this was a very good year of reading, and another favorite – read: books set in the season, a particular place or country, a particular month, with a “blue” cover, a classic, a memoir or biography, etc. I’m an avid reader – one going in audio, on my Kindle, and one in hand all at the same time. I listen while i sew, read the kindle before bed, and curl up with a book & cup of tea to relax. I’ve discovered so many new-to-me authors via these annual challenges. Happy reading

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Kay:
      I love the suggested challenges. How fun to make a way to read different authors or genres. The other day I was in the library to pick up a book on crochet stitches that was on the reserve shelf for me. I was parked in the 20 minute zone so I wanted to quickly grab a novel to read. The closest fiction aisle was the end of the alphabet – I bent down and grabbed one of the last books in the Z section. Guess what? It was a great book titled ‘Not Our Kind’ written by Kitty Zeldis – I had never heard of her but I really enjoyed it. There are endless books out there and if I stick to my list of usual authors, I am missing out. 🙂

  10. Mary

    I would also recommend Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. It’s best to read them in order. She writes beautifully.

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Mary:
      Louise Penny sure seems popular – so many readers are recommending her series. I will check the books out. Thank you!

    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Carole – I just checked out the book by Kassia St Clair and it looks really interesting. I am going to see if I can reserve it at the library. Thanks for the suggestion!

  11. Cheree Hull

    I have read the Tattooist of Auschwitz and Frederick Douglass’ memoir–enjoyed both. I used to try to get 30 to 40 books read per year, then dropped it to 25 and honestly, I think I read maybe 3 or 4 last year? I was always a very avid reader–esp non-fiction (biographies, history etc) but lately I can’t even stick with an audio book while I sew? Not sure what’s up but I do miss it. I have been reading Jenny Doan’s How To Stitch An American Dream while waiting on appointments and such and have been finding it very enjoyable. It’s so light that it’s easy to pick up and put down whenever–reads more as if she’s talking to us so not the most well-book but at the same time, very personable so it’s all good.)

    1. Bernie Post author

      I bet the Jenny Doan book is a fun read. She has quite the story – I read some of it in a quilt book I received for Christmas. Fun stuff!

  12. Jay

    Love the Maisie Dobbs series. You might like the Mary Russell series, by Laurie R. King, too. Just finished Jamie Raskin’s book, Unthinkable; it was so moving. I like the Thursday Murder Club books, but so far, I think there are only two. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn was spine-chilling, especially because it was based on facts. D-Day Girls, by Sarah Rose, was another WWII story. Many of Kate Atkinson’s books are wonderful. Also, I’m enjoying Abbi Waxman, and pretty much anything by Nancy Thayer or Elizabeth Berg. Oh! And William Kent Krueger, Leif Engle and Ivan Doig are wonderful authors!

  13. Elana Goldberg

    Bernie, Thank you so much for the book info. I lead a book group at the Assisted Living Facility where I work as an art therapist. We just read a few you mentioned. Myself and many others enjoyed The Girl with the Louding Voice. American Dirt, and The Henna Artist (mostly because we brought in an artist to do henna, so this has been fun.) I also really enjoyed The Silent Patient. It reminds me a little of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, if you enjoyed that series. I’m looking at books for the next few months but trying to put out a survey to the residents to offer choices. It’s so subjective picking books for others, isn’t it? Where the Crawdad Sings was a wonderful read and everyone I know has loved it. Sometimes the hyped books really do pan out…but not always. Hope all’s well. XOXO

  14. Kathleen McCormick

    WOW! You did great. I listen to audio books more than read right now, which is a big change from so much of my life. I need to get back to it!

  15. Samantha

    My favorite book that I read last year was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I also loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye. I really enjoyed listening to the Agatha Raisin series on audible.


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