During these unprecedented pandemic times, I have been reminded to always look for the silver lining. One of the positives that the pandemic brought on for me was a renewed love of reading. I have always loved to read but found less and less time for that simple pleasure. But, with more downtime (and alone time) on my hands than ever before I turned back to the printed pages (yes, I like a real book, with flip-able pages). I started reading each night before bed and quickly found that it was calming, relaxing and I got a much better nights sleep. It’s a hobby I have stuck with and therefore have read many great (and some not-so-great) books this year! Here are my top 5 reads from 2021…
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: I read this true story, by Rebecca Skloot early in 2021 as we were in the thick of the Covid pandemic, looking for help via vaccines. It could not have been more timely. The book is about a poor black woman’s and the cells taken from her, without her knowledge. Those cells went on to be some of the most vital cells in medicine, helping with things like the polio vaccine, in-vitro fertilization, gene mapping and much more. It was fascinating to learn how much the medical world used to be able to take from us without our consent and how that transformed the world of medicine. It was equally fascinating to read the beautiful story of Henrietta and her family.
- Next Year in Havana: This beautiful, yet heart-breaking portrayal of Havana, Cuba, by author Chanel Cleeton follows Marisol, a Cuban-American woman who sets out on a journey to learn about her Grandmother and her ancestors. Having visited Havana myself, as I turned page after page, I felt transported right back into the cities streets. As a reader who loves anything old-world and classic, I thoroughly enjoyed the portions of the novel that took us back in time to Havana’s heyday in the 1950’s. In the current state of the world, a time where travel is limited, this novel will take you to a new place, and teach you a lot along the way.
- Live Your Life: I started following Amanda Kloots on Instagram early in 2020, just as her husband, Nick Cordero was hospitalized due to Covid. I was enthralled with their journey, rooting and praying for Nick and his whole family as he battled this crazy virus that still plagues our world today. Sadly Nick lost his battle more than 90 days after he was admitted to the hospital. It was heartbreaking, because after following along each day, hearing Amanda’s updates, I felt like I knew them. While Amanda shared a lot on Instagram during those 90+ days, she and her coauthor, and sister, Anna Kloots tell the full story, and so much more in this uplifting yet gut wrenching story. It’s a lesson in how to be grateful and thankful for our loved ones and how to truly live your life to the fullest, since each day is blessing.
- Molokai: I happened to go to Hawaii this year for the first time, but this book was on my must read list long before I ever knew I would be visiting the enchanted islands that make up Hawaii. This novel, which has mostly fictional characters but is based on true events in history was an absolute page turner, one which I could barely put down. The author, Alan Brennert, so vividly tells the true story of the Hawaiians who were exiled to the island of Molokai when they were diagnosed with leprosy. At the time, it was a fast-spreading disease with no cure in sight. To avoid risking the loss of the whole population, they isolated those who were infected. This novel follows Rachel Kalama, a seven year old girl who is torn from her family and sent to Molokai. While it’s a beautiful display of the tropical island, it’s also a horrific display of how lonely the inhabitants of Molokai were. It’s also a redemption story of how they built a new life in a new place. If you enjoy it as much as I did, you are in luck as there are two sequels.
- Sin In The Second City: One thing I have discovered about myself and my book choices is that I apparently love to read stories that have a mix of fiction and non-fiction. This particular novel follows fictional characters through the non-fictional famed Everleigh Club in Chicago. The Everleigh was the most famous brothel in history. This story teaches us about the people who frequented the brothels, the women who worked in them and how they played out in history. An interesting and intriguing read all in one.
See more of what’s in my library here.
Signed with Style,
Save this post for future reading inspiration.