It’s my favourite time of year. Not because of that whole Christmas thing, though that’s fine too. This is something better than that. I GET TO TALK ABOUT MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR. *AND* IT IS WORKBOOK SEASON!
If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you’ll know this is an annual tradition I’ve been doing since 2012. You can find all the yearly book lists here.
As always, this is not a list of the best books published for the year – just the books I read in that year. As they say in High Fidelity, the records are organised autobiographically.
How many books I read in 2021
First up: the big question! How many books did I read this year?
This year I read just over 200 books… up from last year, but nowhere near my 2019 record of 400 books.
WHAT FORMAT I CONSUMED BOOKS IN
80% of the books I read were on Kindle
20% of the books I read were paperbacks
I am definitely leaning back towards reading more on my Kindle, purely for middle aged reasons. I can see the backlit text better, I don’t get hand cramps from holding it and I don’t wake up my husband with rustling pages.
For a change, I didn’t really read any books on audiobook this year, except for re-listening to an old favourite.
RIGHTO! THAT’S ENOUGH PRE-AMBLE!
LET’S TALK BEST BOOKS!
One of the best books I’ve ever read. So much so I immediately bought a dozen copies to give to other middle aged women. It is OUR BIBLE. I struggled between wanting to gobble it whole and ration it so it lasted forever. Can not recommend enough.
Hands down one of my favourite books of the year. One of my favourite journalists realised he was getting jaded, so he sits in Brisbane city with a typewriter to ask people their love stories. Heartfelt, human, deeply kind.
Adored this book on contemporary intersectional feminism and self love – took lots of notes, and passed my copy onto my assistants too so we could do a wee work book group.
A really cute designed book on pronouns. Hooray!
I wrote about it here in detail, but I fucking loved this book documenting diaries through the ages.
Useful tome on habit creation & maintenance. I shared my notes here.
A cute memoir by a woman who tries out different self help protocols each month. Was inspired to read this because of my own 21 day challenges this year!
I love reading books by teachers about school. As a school parent, I like knowing the other side of the story and what it’s really like in classrooms.
This was written by one of my Book e-course students, and I bought it to support him and also as a bit of a joke because HAHAHAHA YEAH AS IF I REALLY NEED TO LEARN HOW TO GO FROM BEING JUST A MARATHON RUNNER TO AN ACTUAL ULTRA MARATHON RUNNER. I am not in the target market for this book at all. Anyway, I read the introduction, got hooked and read it in one night. It was actually really interesting even for an exercise hating hottie like me.
My new mate Tina sent me copies of her books and I inhaled this in one night. I love Tina’s brave spirit & strength in creating a life of her own.
I’ve read Ariel’s blog for… maybe 15 years?
An excellent book if your life has gone tits up!
Concise and useful.
Memoir of a doctor working in emergency. Gripping, funny and devastating all at once. Makes me appreciate medical staff even more.
Highly, highly, highly recommend.
Highly, highly, highly recommend. I paired this one with “How to break up with your phone” and they were the perfect duo.
Decluttering at the speed of life – Dana K White
Sane decluttering advice for people who aren’t naturally organised.
Excellent organisation advice for ADHD hoomans. My notes are here.
I love this chick on TikTok. This was a short, compassionate tome on mental health & cleaning.
Keep Going – Austin Kleon (re-read because it’s so great!)
Practices on how to keep creating, even when you’ve been doing it for a long while, or even when things are a flaming pile of dogshit.
Tender, Brave Spirit – Tammy Hudgeon
A visually stunning book on creative bravery. Absolutely adored it.
This year I turned into an epic Cal fangirl. I’ve been studying this book for most of the year, and still haven’t finished with it.
How to stop doing busy work and do the work you were born to do before you kark it.
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
I re-listened to the audiobook of Big Magic when I was in a creative slump. It’s solid gold.
I liked the relative simplicity of his approach to wealth creation. I follow something similar except instead of index funds, I invest in ethical managed funds.
I fell into FIRE world this year and got obsessed. I love learning from people who have decided to live a financial life less ordinary and work out a way to retire early.
How rich people actually invest their money. Completely fascinating.
I love stories of people building unique businesses in their spare time. This was so inspiring!
An interesting read on the process of purchasing businesses to grow then sell again.
Graphic Novels & Memoirs
Spring Rain – graphic memoir by Andy Warner
Touching and intense.
I bought this as a historical graphic novel for my kid, but decided to give it a go myself just to be able to talk to her about it. Surprisingly touching… the way he illustrates Helen’s world becoming illuminated with words and understanding was just beautiful. My only quibble is it ended too quickly on a kind of bummer event. I wish it had gone through and illustrated Annie and Helen’s life together.
Becoming RBG – Debbie Levy
Being an Australian, I didn’t know much about Ruth Bader Ginsbur. This comic biography was beautiful and such a lovely introduction to an inspiring woman!
Intense and stunning story of a girl living through Nazi Germany.
Same as above. Intense and beautiful. Read both in one bathtub sitting.
These are three of her books which form an autobiographical trilogy. They are all handwritten, illustrated and painted and just STUNNING. Fuck I love them… reading them and learning about Susan was a massive highlight of my year! She is so inspiring! She is a 74 year old author & illustrator who has been creating since the 1980s and has gathered the most beautifully connected, loyal group of readers she calls “Girlfriends”. I totally want to be her when I grow up!
Oh my word, this was a FEAST for the eyes. Hands down one of my favourite graphic travel memoirs EVER.
Gorgeous book on interior design by a multi-passionate creative. I should give you a heads up – there are a few Christianity references in this book. I’m not religious but was happy enough to skip those parts.
Lovely graphic memoir.
Graphic memoir by a Korean born girl who is abruptly transplanted to the USA and struggles to learn English.
I feel like I need to digest the strangeness of the last 20 months by reading comics about it. This was great.
Quarantine Comix – Rachael Smith
Same as above.
I didn’t know much about the lived experience of asexuality, so this was a useful window for me to begin to understand more.
I got obsessed by Lucy Bellwood this year. You can read about that here. I think I ended up reading her entire catalogue of comics. This was one of my favourites.
There’s something about the drawing and design of this book that I find utterly compelling. Ooof, I can barely describe how delicious it is.
Utterly heartwarming comic series about two teen boys falling in love. I GOBBLED these books up. GOBBLED.
Poignant memoir about grief and love.
The Road Trip – Beth O’Leary
I’m a big ole Beth O’Leary fan – The Flatshare and The Switch are previous favourites of hers. She manages to create visceral images of her characters, and real emotional tension.
My proudest moment of the year was when I was hanging out at my favourite bookstore that sometimes lets me work there, and a woman came in looking for this exact book. And I had JUST finished reading it that week, and already knew exactly where it was in the store. I’m seriously the best volunteer staff member they’ve ever had. HA!
Anyways, it’s a fucking great book, just like all of their books are!
The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang
Helen is another firm favourite of mine – she writes intensely emotional romance novels featuring people with Autism. HEART!
If you’re looking for some hot Victorian era gay erotica, HOO BOI DO I HAVE YOU COVERED.
Grief stricken chick decides to sail around the world to try and heal. Beautiful and emotional.
Alexis Hall is the cutest and the bestest. That is all.
Oh wait, sorry, Jasmine Guillory is ALSO the cutest and the bestest.
NOICE. GET IN THERE WITH THAT VICTORIAN SMUT.
I fucking love this chick’s books. They are always emotional and gripping without giving me the sads.
How lucky am I that Helen Hoang, Beth O’Leary AND Talia Hibbert all released new books this year!!!
I inhaled them WHOLE. Honestly, the year could have only improved if Tessa Dare had released one too!
Anyways, Talia’s books are hot AF and also include neurodiverse and inclusive characters. They are human and humane and just lovely.
Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (haven’t read the rest of the series yet)
After bingeing Bridgerton on Netflix I started gobbling up the series of books they are based on.
I’ve held off on reading the rest until I can watch more of the series.
Fucking brilliant. I laughed, I burbled with joy, I cried, I felt hope. One of the best romantic fiction books I’ve ever read. It feels wildly contemporary.
Emmie Blue is a lonely teenager who sends off a balloon with a letter containing her biggest secret inside, which is later found on a beach in France by a teen boy. And so begins their story…
When I read this to my kids, they made me read it over and over and over and over again all in one go until we had memorised the whole thing. We can recite the whole thing without the book now. Delightful and hilarious!
One of the biggest joys of parenting is being able to read some of my favourite childhood books with my kids.
Another one of my childhood favourites. More jolly times spent reading it to my kids. WEEEEEE!
Goal Getter Workbooks
And of course, I’m not going to talk about my favourite books of the year & not mention my very own Goal Getter workbooks. I made them for myself first and foremost to help me set my own goals for my life & business over 12 years ago… and am in awe of the fact that over 450,000 people have used them since then too.
Goal Getter Life workbook – set your goals for every area of your life for the upcoming year. Creativity, family, health, adventures, education, finances & more!
Goal Getter Biz workbook – plan out your business for the year ahead including revenue, expenses, marketing, team, philanthropy, work-life boundaries & more.
Goal Getter weekly planner – the companion weekly planner to map out your week’s appointments & goals.
Goal Getter daily to do list – use it daily to help you stay on track with your goals, tasks & healthy habits!
So hope this has given you some book reading inspo!
I love when I hear from you that you’ve stocked up your book piles with my recommendations!
Books have always been one of the most favourite parts of life, and I love that I get to share them with you.
With big book love,
- Daily-ish writings
- Weekly love letters
- Podcast: Leonie Dawson Refuses To Be Categorised
- A library of free treasures
- Goal Getter workbooks for 2022 & beyond!
- Calm Christmas Planner
- Salt: a hottttt romance novella (published under my pen name Lola Leigh)